What did Hari Rhodes really think of Daktari?

We are pleased to feature this guest post by one of our contributes, Ken Lynch:

A December 2015 posting on this website recently spotlighted the ‘forgotten’ co-stars of Daktari – Yale Summers and Hari Rhodes. I say ‘forgotten’ as most commentaries on this TV show concentrate on Marshall Thompson and Cheryl Miller.

I have previously tried to redress this situation in an April 2014 posting on the website which revealed some surprisingly outspoken and honest comments by Yale Summers on what he thought of his time in Daktari.

Recent research has also revealed some similarly themed comments by Hari Rhodes – proving once again that all was not as it seemed behind the scenes!

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com yale summers jack dane hari rhodes mike makula1

Hari Rhodes joins Daktari

Hari Rhode’s career prior to joining Daktari in 1966 is well documented in his biographical information on this website.

Interestingly, it would appear that Rhodes was not actually a part of the original cast of Daktari. It is highly likely that Don Marshall was first cast as Yale Summers’ fellow intern but was then replaced by Rhodes after just three episodes (see the Daktari Season One Episode Guide opening narrative for further details).

Despite his apparent late entry to the fold, Rhodes remained with the show for all of its four seasons. Summers, however, left the show after the third season.

Hari Rhode’s Relationship with his Co-stars

In over 70 episodes of Daktari, Hari Rhodes and Yale Summers worked side by side assisting Marshall Thompson’s character at the Wameru Study Center. To the viewer, their on-screen relationship was amiable and strong at all times.

But it was very surprising to find at least two newspaper reports commenting on the fact that their off-screen relationship was not so friendly!

An article in the 21 October 1967 edition of The Deseret News indicated that “a feud has reportedly broken out on the Daktari set. Co-stars Yale Summers and Hari Rhodes make biting remarks about each other all day.”

Then an article dated 27 March 1968 in The Milwaukee Journal went even further stating that “Hari Rhodes was not the unhappiest guy in town when his Daktari co-star Yale Summers decided to leave the show. It’s been easier for Yale to get along with the animals on the series than to get along with Hari these last seasons. But, at least to Yale’s credit, he hasn’t been telling outsiders about the feud.”

yale summers, marshall thompson, hari rhodes

Rhodes’ apparently negative attitude towards his co-stars may not have been restricted to just Yale Summers.

When the 4 September 1969 edition of The Pittsburgh Press reported that Africa USA had been deluged by floods, it included a quote by Rhodes that “when that happened the whole cast lit up sparks to celebrate. You got psyched up about that place, driving up and back every day. I knew every tree, the fence. The whole cast hated that show, except for Marshall Thompson, who pranced around as the Daktari.” Rhodes reportedly used falsetto at the end of that statement!

Marshall Thompson, Hari Rhodes and Judy behind the scenes in “Little Miss Nightingale”

Marshall Thompson, Hari Rhodes and Judy behind the scenes in “Little Miss Nightingale”

While it is disconcerting to read these accounts, it is probably understandable that the working relationship between the co-stars could have broken down under the pressure of the daily shooting schedules for this top rating TV show.

Hari Rhodes’ Relationship with Animals

Hari Rhodes was never as comfortable with animals as his co-stars Marshall Thompson, Cheryl Miller and (to a lesser extent) Yale Summers.

Never was this more evident than in the opening scenes of the first episode aired, “The Elephant Thieves”. Watch the (German-dubbed) YouTube clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejzhHhmM7is – particularly at the 3m30s mark – to see just how uncomfortable Rhodes was!

Despite this, it has to be admitted that he appeared more comfortable when animals were sedated or during fun sequences with escaping animals.


Happy 50th Anniversary, Daktari!

On Tuesday, January 11, 1966, Daktari premiered on CBS-TV at 7:30 pm. The first episode was “The Elephant Thieves.”

Happy 50th Anniversary, Daktari!

combined cast2

combined cast1

Check out all the episodes here in our extensive and detailed episode guide.

What are your favorite episodes?

 Mine are:
Season One: Return of the Killer (Parts One and Two–this is the episode that introduced me to Daktari), Wall of Flames (Parts One and Two)
Season Two: Return of Clarence, Cry for Help, House of Lions, Countdown for Paula, Terror in the Bush (#1 favorite), A Bullet for Hedley



Yale Summers and Hari Rhodes

Eye candy for the ladies:-)

Hari Rhodes of Daktari

Yale Summers


Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion is a charmer

00 return of the killer wall of flamesI treated myself on a cold and rainy day to a bit of a Daktari marathon, watching “Wall of Flames” and “Return of the Killer” from season one, and concluding with “Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion.”

richard haydenIt’s been a long time since I saw this movie and I have to say it held up pretty well. While it does tend to ramble (but then doesn’t Daktari tend to do that anyway? :-)), it was cute. Clarence is adorable–how I’d love to have that big cat cuddle me the way he did Richard Hayden’s character, Mr. Rotbotham.

05Cheryl Miller’s Paula was a bit sassy in the film and Marsh Tracy could be a bit of a curmudgeon at times. How I wish Betsy Drake could have continued her role as Julie on Daktari–such nice chemistry between her and Thompson and Miller.

Cheryl Miller and mary lou from Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion, from Glamour Girls

Cheryl Miller and mary lou from Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion, from Glamour Girls

The scene with Paula trying on the dress, all girl but obviously a tomboy at heart, was sweet. The last post talked about how Clarence essentially chose her for the part and you can see the shared affection. Cheryl was fearless with that python, my goodness!

I caught several clips from the movie making it into the credits for Daktari.

Anyway, enjoyed the nostalgia trip–here are some pix from the movie. If you have the movie, treat yourself, it’s a nice escape.


Cheryl Miller: Daktari Star Charms People and Animals (from the Desert Sun, April 1966)

Walter unearthed this cool article; as you will see, it has some new information.

desert sun april 1966-640


She has blue eyes. They sparkle. She has blonde hair. It glutens in the sunlight. She has personality, a charming smile, a determination, and a way with animals. Cheryl Miller sat in the shade at the Spa, very relaxed. She was here this week sampling the hotel health program.

The female lead star of television’s hit program “Daktari” has a five-week rest from filming in television’s Africa, the Mojave Desert here in California. She is a young actress obviously moving into a big future.

Before she made the Daktari scene she starred in “Clarence, The Cross-Eyed Lion,” the Disney comedy about a jungle animal doctor’s daughter who becomes the bosom pal of a cross-eyed lion. And there have been other animals in her life too. There have been six “Flipper” shows this season, and the monkey when she was in Disney’s “The Monkey’s Uncle.”

Los Angeles born  Miss Miller had an early entry into show business. She started working twenty days after she was born. But her serious acting and stage and film work has been in the past five years.

SUNSHINE DAYS The spa Is really shining these days for Cheryl Miller, lovely young star of “Daktari,” television’s hit series this season. She has been enjoying the desert this past week at the Spa Hotel.

SUNSHINE DAYS The spa Is really shining these days for Cheryl Miller, lovely young star of “Daktari,” television’s hit series this season. She has been enjoying the desert this past week at the Spa Hotel.

However, that first part came when a baby boy was needed who did not cry. Cheryl Miller didn’t cry. She had the part. Two years ago she auditioned for the part in the cross-eyed lion film. “It was funny how I got it.” she said. “The studio had been interested in several girts from London. They flew them over, but the lion wasn’t interested in them. Ivan Tors,the producer, asked me if I would go up to the lion. I did, and Clarence just rolled over and fell asleep in my lap. It was the first time he had ever done that I got the job,” she smiled.

“From then on Clarence became very possessive and would not let anyone come near me. Now I’ve been replaced and he’s that way with a sofa,” said the vibrant actress.

Of her successful series, the blue-eyed young lady commented: “It’s a wonderful experience to be in a series in a starring position, and to be in one that is a success.”

Daktari is one of the shows (and there are not many) that has been booked for next fall.)

About the big screen. Cheryl Miller said she would wait until next summer before making any more moves in that direction. “I am negotiating offers at the moment. I am really looking forward to it. Television has given me the biggest boost of my life, but of course I want too make more films,” she said. “I also hope to do musicals.”

Family Show

“Daktari is a family, educational show,” she said, in each of the episodes we try to inform about the various types of animals, their habits and the the methods used to capture, cure, and care for them.

In the big business of films and television all is not strawberries and honey. It has its rewards, which can be mighty material, but it also has its human and realistic risks. For instance, on location in the Mojave Desert this past year at Christmas and New Year’s Eve the cast and crew found themselves in the middle of a flood .”We were carried out on a fiat-, bed truck forty-five m rates before the dam broke. That was real-life adventure all right,” she recalled.

She is exuberant for life and enjoys every moment. “If you can’t enjoy it you might as well not be alive,” she smiled.

Cheryl Miller is very, very much alive. She is enjoying success. Inevitably she will enjoy much more.

Thanks  Walter!




Awww! Jack and Paula … if only …


More on Cheryl Miller as the Dodge Girl

Our intrepid friend Walter found this cool article on a Dodge website:

Late in 1969, there was a changing of the guards at Dodge. The spokesperson for Dodge cars and trucks, Ms. Joan Parker, was leaving the job of promotion to a new woman. Miller was blonde, tall and blue eyed with a killer smile.  Her new tag line was “You could be Dodge Material.”During late 1969 and all through 1970, Miller was seen on brochures, print and television ads. The big auto exhibitions used her image to promote new models including the Challenger at the Chicago Car Show. Fans often saw her sharing booths with Sheriff Joe Higgins. Then, as suddenly as she’d arrived, Cheryl Miller was gone. Ever wonder what became of her? We did.

Attachment-1 dodge girl4
Cheryl Miller was born Feb 4th, 1944 in Sherman Oaks, California. Her father was an architect and her mother worked as an accountant for Sears department store. Cheryl had a typical childhood of the 1950s and graduated from Ulysses S Grant High School, majoring in Science and Music. Miller followed up her musical education by studying at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Miller seems to have been destined for a life in showbiz. She’d been discovered by Ivan Tors while appearing in an episode of Flipper. By the mid 1960s, things started going into high gear for Miller. March ’65 saw her promoting Home Seamstress cabinets in her local newspaper. In July, she was chosen by Walt Disney as the “Typical American Girl.” A production deal to star in “The Initiates” was struck by Creative Company in the fall.

cheryl miller dodge girl second year

postcard promo from 1971 with Cheryl Miller.


By late November 1966, Miller was one of 12 Hollywood Deb Stars and got drawn into the vortex of automotive promotion with an appearance at Special Speed Cars show held at Topanga Theatre which was actually in Woodland Hills, California. There were a lot of other emcee, hosting duties and even a hit television series called Daktari  from 1967 to 1969. This is probably where most people outside of California had exposure to Miller. Cheryl was married in December 1968 to Stanley G Shapiro, a stockbroker. Usually this would squelch any further show business aspirations but Cheryl continued with a return to her initial interests in the arts. She was developing a nightclub act featuring what she termed as “good music” in January 1969. It is unknown if the revue ever occurred but in August, Miller was tapped by Dodge to replace Joan Parker for the 1970-1971 year.

Here is a strange coincidence; Parker was from the East Coast raised in Warwick, New York. Miller was from the West Coast, raised in Sherman Oaks. Parker was leaving the auto PR business to marry a stock broker in LA. Miller had just married a stock broker and entering the auto PR business. Another weird coincidence is Miller and Shapiro were divorced by 1971 which is the final year of Miller’s car promotion run. You’d be hard pressed to find a matching set of book ends. It’s almost like Vanishing Point but with people instead of cars.

scene from Dr. Death, Seeker of Souls

Scene from Dr. Death, Seeker of Souls

Scene from The Man from Clover Grove

Scene from The Man from Clover Grove

The big question remains, what happened after the Dodge Material Girl era for Cheryl Miller? If you like the show business world, you keep on working. First, Cheryl got a role in NBC’s soap opera, Bright Promise starring as Samantha Pudding. NBC’s soap effort started in 1969, right about the time Daktari ended its run and Miller was hired by Dodge to replace Ms. Parker. By 1972, Bright Promise was on its last legs and was getting crunched by Edge of Night. Miller entered the movie world with a role in Doctor Death, Seeker of Souls, a 1973 horror flick. Miller was one of five unfortunate ladies to succumb to John Considine’s evil aura. From there it was a role in a mid 70s comedy children’s movie, The Man from Clover Grove.  Eventually Cheryl phased herself out of movies and big productions. She gained a family life and had a child in 1980 named Erik Seidenglanz. Today, he is known as a concept artist and was a noted child magician.

Posted 23rd October 2014 by Patrick Smith


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