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:







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:”



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.


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.




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!




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 …


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! 🙂





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. 🙂




Tons of new YouTube videos on Daktari — wait until you see!

YouTube has had scant few videos related to Daktari but the release of all four seasons on DVD has certainly changed things. I did a random search yesterday and came up with a ton of stuff!

First, this gem:

The Legend of Ivan Tors

This is an hour-long documentary — I didn’t even know it existed. Eagerly looking forward to this:

Here’s a trailer to Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion:

And here’s an adorable tribute to Jack and Paula:

(I think I may have posted this before, but it’s worth posting again.)

This is just a sampling. There are several lists on YouTube with much to see:

YouTube lists

Popular Daktari and Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion Videos (13 videos — this one includes a trailer for “The Man from Clover Grove”)

Popular Videos – Daktari (200 videos)

Ken discovered a playlist that features (to date) 11 of the 33 episodes of Angel in which Marshall Thompson starred in 1960-61:


Annie Fargé and Marshall Thompson www.marshall-thompson.com

Annie Fargé and Marshall Thompson www.marshall-thompson.com

Angel was about a young scatterbrained Frenchwoman, Angelique “Angel” Smith, played by Annie Fargé, who comes to the US and marries a young architect, John Smith, portrayed by Thompson.



Cheryl Miller to appear July 9 and 10 at The Hollywood Show in LA

UPDATE: One of our readers, Susan, got a chance to go to the show. She graciously shared her pictures with us:

autograph show composite july 2016

She described her meeting with Cheryl:

She is beautiful inside and out. She took all the time to talk to us very sweet. We got the v.i.p package and that includes a 8×10 professional picture. She was very gracious and took that picture of us:  me, my daughter and granddaughter. My daughter ask if she could take a cell picture of me and her, she said yes, I was in front of her table and she was behind her table and she said, “We are going do this right” and she came way around the tables and took a picture next to me and my granddaughter. How nice was that. She was also very gracious in signed a pictures for my granddaughter and me. She is extremely nice and very pretty.

Thank you Susan! We are all very envious! 🙂


The Hollywood Show is the largest autograph show in the country. According to their website, over 80 stars will be at the show for photo ops and autograph signing.

Cheryl Miller was there in 2015 and will be returning this year:

00 cheryl miller at the hollywood show

I am told by a source who saw her last year that she still looks as lovely as ever even as she celebrated her 73rd birthday this year.

cheryl miller of daktari today

This source, by the way, recently commented on a previous post, The Story of Africa, U.S.A.–she was an assistant director on Daktari and recalled some great stories. I’m encouraging her to share more. Check out her comments on that post for a fascinating inside look–her name is Lynn Guthrie. She has worked on many shows including The Waltons.

My brother-in-law collects autographs and goes to The Hollywood Show all the time–I texted him last night and asked that if he was going, if he could stand in for me and get a picture and an autograph. Unfortunately he and his wife are moving during that time so it may not happen this year. But who knows?? 🙂

Maybe some of you can go and do the same!

Check out The Hollywood Show’s Facebook page (that’s where I got the picture).