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Have a story to share? Now featuring Daktari Fan Fiction!

Have you written stories about Daktari where you’ve imagined yourself as part of the action? Several of our readers have done so and I am happy to post such stories on this site.

Here are some simple guidelines:

  1. Stories should run between 600 and 1000 words. I cannot accept longer stories but will consider serializing longer stories if I believe they will be of interest to my readers.
  2. Contact me at daktaritvshow@gmail.com with an initial inquiry and a summary of your story. DO NOT send any unsolicited stories as they will not be read. If I believe the story will interest our readers, I will request that you send me the story.
  3. Once I have decided I want to run a story, please submit it as an attached Microsoft Word file. Do NOT put in any extra returns (but you can add points between paragraphs). Please do not format the text in any way (no indents, headers, etc.). Please do NOT use a double space at the end of a sentence.
  4. Before sending, check carefully for correct spelling and grammar.
  5. People are likely to comment on your story–please be prepared for that.

I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories!

 

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I found my Cheryl Miller scrapbook!

Recently while cleaning out the basement I found my Cheryl Miller scrapbook! I had been totally convinced that I had thrown it away because the cover had been covered with battery acid but thankfully I was wrong.

Now I am going to share it with you!

The book is quite disorganized as you will see — I was twelve when I assembled it and had no sense of order. 🙂 I plan however on restoring the book and organizing it better.

Giveaways coming!

I have many duplicates of some of the glossy photos and they are in good shape. Over the summer we’ll devise some contests so that you can enter for a chance to win a glossy photo of our girl! Stay tuned.

And now for the big reveal … click here to view my scrapbook.

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RIP Erin Moran

I was so sorry to hear of Erin Moran’s untimely demise. Here is a tribute to the cute little girl who was loved by man’s best friends, and all her friends on Daktari and Happy Days. RIP Erin.

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You can watch Cheryl Miller now on Facebook

Thanks again to Walter for this find! You can see Cheryl Miller’s new page (under Cheryl Kasselman) here: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.kasselmann.1?fref=ts

I do not have permission to post her picture here but you can see it on her Facebook page. It was taken by a fan at the July autograph show.

Welcome to Facebook Cheryl!

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What happened to Africa U.S.A.? Details on the flooding which destroyed the compound

Recently a reader known as “squeapler” left a series of lengthy comments on the post about Africa U.S.A. (The story of Africa, U.S.A. and its proprietors, animal trainer Ralph Helfer and Daktari producer Ivan Tors) regarding the floods which destroyed the compound. I decided to create a blog post to highlight these comments as they give a full story as to what happened.

My thanks to “squeapler” for this wonderful information!

gentle benHello again. I found a little more information about the floods at Africa USA in doing my research for “Gentle Ben”, based on California newspapers from the 1960s I accessed through Newspapers.com. It seems like there were indeed two major floods. The first one, which is the one discussed in the Cleveland Amory TV Guide article, happened in Dec. 1965 and is the one that caused Bruno the bear (later the main actor in “Gentle Ben”) to be swept away. He returned on his own a few days later. Several other animals were also mentioned as missing but perhaps not drowned as the news articles mention that the chewed carcass of a cow was found, giving the impression that one of the big cats had eaten it.

The second flood occurred in January 1969 and seems to have been much worse. Prior to this flood, Tors was planning to open the compound to the public for tours and had sought a zoning variance to do so. However, when the flood occurred the water rose so quickly that apparently not all the animals could be rescued from their cages in time, and were shot to prevent them from drowning. The animals that were shot included 3 lions, a jaguar, two tigers, and one or two bears (not Bruno as he went on to appear in 1970s films).

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com daktari season 3 cheryl miller paula tracy yale summers jack dane

Then on Feb. 25, 1969, there was apparently more flooding (the news article talks about there being two 100-year floods in 30 days) and two alligators and two hippos broke loose and were seen going down the flood-swollen Santa Clarita river. A spokesman for Africa USA was quoted as saying the animals were extremely dangerous and once the flood subsided, “big game hunters would attempt to destroy them from helicopters.”

Shortly thereafter, there was a $50,000 fire also at the complex, although no animals were hurt.

Animal affection trainer Ralph Helfer in the 1960s

Animal affection trainer Ralph Helfer in the 1960s

After this, Tors decided to concentrate on his planned “Torsland” park in Florida (which I understand from the documentary on him, never happened, although he did have a number of his animals at the Homosassa Springs Attraction in Florida through the 70s) and Helfer decided to abandon the Africa USA complex and move the operation to a new location near Fillmore in Ventura County.

It seems like in the “Beauty of the Beasts” account, Helfer (or some editor) conflated the two floods as the article talks about shooting “Gentle Ben” and then having Bruno wash away. “Gentle Ben” and “Gentle Giant” did not come out until 1967 which to me would mean that they were probably filmed during 1966 at the earliest (possibly even early 1967) so it seems unlikely that they were shooting “Gentle Ben” in 1965.

photo provided by Ken Lynch

photo provided by Ken Lynch

Here are some of the newspaper sources I used. There are lots more than this on Newspapers.com – the local California papers covered all of this in pretty good detail.
“All you need is a Coke and stout heart”, Redlands Daily Facts, Dec. 31, 1965, p. 2.
“Wild Animals on Loose – Swept away by Los Angeles Floods,” Eureka Humboldt Standard, Jan. 18, 1966, p. 2.
“Three Dead Lions Reported Stolen From Africa, U.S.A.,” Redlands Daily Facts, Jan. 31, 1969, p. 3.
“6 More Victims of South State Storm,” San Mateo Times, Feb. 26, 1969, p. 12.
“Africa U.S.A. Fire,” Long Beach Independent, Mar. 4, 1969, p. A-7.
“Tors Will Abandon Flood-Damaged Africa U.S.A.,” Fresno Bee, Apr. 13, 1969, p. 12-A.
“HELP – They Don’t Quit,” San Bernarndino County Sun, Feb. 20, 1970, p. B-5.
” ‘Africa’ Opening,” Long Beach Independent, Jan. 26, 1971, p. A-8.

Check out this post for the exact location of Africa U.S.A:  Just where was Africa U.S.A.?? Now we know …

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Rarities! Two vintage promos and a spotting of the soundtrack album

So my brother-in-law who lives near LA sends me a text message with this picture:

He considered getting it for me but said the vinyl was in poor condition. <sigh!> This is one item I have wanted since I was a kid. Oh well. It’s a record store somewhere near LA if someone wants to find it. 🙂

Our friend Ken from Down Under sent these awesome vintage promos for Daktari. Do any of you remember these? I immediately recognized the episodes:

http://www.tvobscurities.com/2010/05/daktari-episode-preview/

 

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Cheryl Miller’s first TV appearance, and rare behind-the-scenes videos

My thanks to my Aussie friend Ken Lynch for these great finds!

Bachelor Father

Cheryl Miller’s first TV appearance was in 1957 on “Bachelor Father” starring John Forsythe. She was 14. She has a very small role — fast forward 20 minutes in to see her:

Here’s some screen caps from her appearance as “Nancy:”

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Rare behind-the-scenes footage

Ken recently found a website called the Producers Library, an independent stock footage and video archive library.  A search for Daktari revealed a number of very interesting pieces of behind-the-scenes footage (with and without sound) featuring Marshall Thompson and lots of footage of the animals used in the TV series.

http://www.producerslibrary.com/product_list.jsp

There are two particularly interesting clips of Marshall Thompson and the show’s producer talking to camera, plus the Studio 2 clip that opens with a view of Cheryl Miller’s dressing room door, followed by Yale Summers’ chair with his name on it.

The blond woman in the films is Toni Helfer, the first wife of Ralph Helfer.

You can download and save these clips to your own personal collection.

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First glimpse of Cheryl Miller in “Mountain Man”

cheryl-miller-in-mountain-manBack in 1976, Cheryl Miller co-starred in a now hard-to-find movie titled “Mountain Man.” Also known as “Guardian of the Wilderness it stars Denver Pyle, Ken Berry, Donald Shanks and Cheryl. From imdb.com: “It is the supposedly true story of Galen Clark, the man who created Yosemite Park. In the twilight of his life and regretting that he hasn’t accomplished anything significant, Galen decides to travel out west to die in the wilderness. After spending some time in nature, however, he gets his spirits back and decides to make his home there, bringing his daughter and her family out with him. Together, they start a new life in the forest with their animal friends.”

Here is a clip from the movie — Cheryl makes a brief appearance at the 2:35 mark:

Thanks again to Walter, the “wonder man” — he finds so many great things! He wants to find the full-length version of the movie and I bet you he does! 🙂

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Cheryl Miller 1966 “in great form for Daktari”

I was so pleased to see this picture on eBay — this was one of my favorites from my lost scrapbook. I remember my best friend wrapped the photo like a gift and hid it in a tree and led me on a delightful treasure hunt to find it. I was so thrilled and will always remember my childhood best friend for that. 🙂

cheryl-in-good-form-for-daktari

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