A "Corral" Story
by Bill Raymond

It was 1965. Bob Hope had not yet bought the property. Lucky Bergman had left, and Jim Howell, the Ranch Foreman, had taken over the duties of Show Director. I had been gone for almost a year and a half, working at Old Tucson, in Arizona. I then returned to California, and had been working several months at Africa USA as an "animal handler". On weekends, I had returned to my first love, the shows at Corriganville.

In our version of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, we were not exactly historically correct. Ray had opted for a version that would show the action that had been given to the event in many of the movie interpretations over the years. For one thing, in our version, the character of Billy Claiborne was shot off of the roof of the barn in the middle of town that we used for the OK Corral.

When I first started at the Ranch, the part of Claiborne was usually played byeither Gary Edwards or "Cherokee" Jim Babcock. The fall from the roof wasalmost always done as a double-stage fall. The stuntman would take a shot reaction and roll off of the loft roof of the barn, landing on the stable roof of the barn. He would then, struggle back to his feet, take a second shot reaction and roll off of the stable roof, landing on the ground between the barn and the blacksmith shop. Occasionally, Jim Babcock would do the fall as a single-stage fall, taking his shot reaction at the top of the loft roof, rolling off the loft roof onto the stable roof, continuing in a single fall, rolling on off the stable roof to the ground. When he did this, he would gain so much momentum that he would clear almost the whole ten feet between the barn and the blacksmith shop, hitting the wall of the blacksmith shop at the same time he hit the ground. - I was always impressed with this.

When I went to work in Old Tucson, I was determined to make "roof falls" oneof my specialties. I ended up doing single stage and double stage falls,regularly, from almost every roof in town. I also worked hard on training myself to do High falls (dives from the tops of buildings, cliffs, or any other high object. I found this to be very good therapy for my one great fear - hights)

When I returned to Corriganville, Steve Gillum was doing the roof fall in the OK corral show. He was doing it as a double stage fall. Well, never one to be satisfied with the status quo, I set about to see if I could make the show a little more exciting. I got together with Steve, and we worked out what I considered a beautiful piece of teamwork.

Steve and I worked out what we were going to do. And decided to spring it as a surprise on everyone. On the day that we were ready to spring our surprise, we needed the help of one other player. So, I pulled Duke West, who was going to be playing Doc Holiday, aside and told him what we had planned. I asked him if he would help out and keep it a secret. He was more than happy to oblige.

Showtime came. I was playing Tom McClowery. As the dialogue between Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton was taking place just before the gunfight started, I eased myself into the barn and climbed into the loft. I crawled out onto the loft roof and remained hidden on the backside of the roof.

The gunfight started. Steve made his dash into the barn, climbed to the loft and out onto the roof. As soon as the fight was on, Duke started yelling, "Tom's disappeared. Where's Tom?" Steve stood up on the roof and fired down at the Earps. He then took his shot reaction and rolled off the loft roof. I remained in hiding, watching the edge of the roof where Steve had disappeared. We had worked it out so that Steve, upon landing on the stable roof, would crawl back up the roof, place himself under the eaves of the loft roof and reach up and grasp the edge of the roof with his hand. As soon as I saw Steve's hand, I jumped up and fired down at the Earps. Duke yelled, "There's Tom", and let me have a blast from the shotgun. I hit the loft roof and rolled directly over the top of Steve. As soon as I had cleared Steve's head, he stood up and Duke instantly let him have the second blast from the shotgun. Before I hit the stable roof, I was able to look back and see Steve taking his second shot reaction. I hit the stable roof, rolled twice, and was over the edge, heading to the ground. I hit the ground, rolling furiously to clear an area for Steve to land. I hadn't made more than one roll when Steve hit the ground and we both ended in a heap against the wall of the Blacksmith shop.

The audience reaction was a very satisfying roar. And after the show, the reactions backstage were unanimously approving. Unanimously from the cast, that is. Jim Howell was not amused. He was upset with the fact that we had put the gag into the show without checking with him first. We were never allowed to perform that routine again. It was a shame. The teamwork between Steve, Duke, and myself had resulted in one of the prettiest stunt routines ever performed at the Ranch.