Dear Larry,REB_0286

I know that you were very keen on horses a number of years ago. Are you still breeding and working with horses? What breed are they? My favourites, and probably the most expensive are Arabians and Australian Quarter Horses.

Sharyn,
Australia

No horses right now….just too much work and a lot of Vet bills.  I had Arabs, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds and Warm Bloods.  I like Quarter Horses.  I think the Amer Quarter horse is now almost two distinct breeds.  I do not like the big boned quarterhorses that work on ranches.  I like the fine boned and smaller and more refined quarter horse in the cutting horse business.

 

Dear Larry,

You didn’t go shirtless on CHiPs as much as your co-star Erik Estrada. Your female fans would have loved more shirtless Jon Baker. Why didn’t you tale your shirt off more? Of course you were acting & not modeling for a hunky calendar, LOL.

Sincerely,

Tara Smyth
Canada

Tara – Bo Derek in the Movie 10 almost took off her towel once but did not.  I have always thought that the suspense is more exciting than the naked body.  The naked body should be reserved as that special gift.

 

Dear Larry,

I’m sure you’ve been told countless times how you were someone’s role model or hero. Who were your role models or heroes when you were growing up?

Laura,
Washington

Laura – mostly athletes and coaches.  I looked up to Johnny Unitas  and crazy Joe Namath in football, and Bob Cousy and Big Bill Russell in Basketball;  My high school coaches (Coach Hittner, Coach Mafonni and Coach Connor) were my mentors and I had one really good teacher Howard Strauss in Enlglish and lit.  There was a Sheriff in Rawlins Wyo who was the true lawman, Sheriff Chuck Ogburn and he was the real deal.  Mentors change as one matures, hopefully.

 

Dear Larry,

As a longtime fan I know a little about your background and that you had two brothers. How did they feel about your fame? Did they watch CHiPs? I sure hope they were proud of you!

Harry,
Chicago, IL

My brothers (Randy and Andy)  had a good time predicated on the environment we grew up in……we laughed, fought and partied together.  Randy went into the Marines Corps and I followed his footsteps.  Andy is a barber in Phoenix, Arizona and Randy died a sad and lonely death to alcoholism.  My older brother was very proud of me and used to brag in different places as I would hear back….but he would never say much to me.  Sometimes they would be having a beer in some bar and I would get a random phone call and they would ask if I would mind getting on the phone with some lady next to them or some guy.  At least I was worth a kiss or two for them…..LOL

 

Dear Larry,

Hello I’m Wim Lambrechts, live in Belgium and CHiPs was really my passion when I was 10-12 years of age, collecting all kinds of magazines, writing to them to get a picture etc . A few years ago I was in LA and visited the location of CHP HQ in, what I think, is more or less downtown LA.

After having parked my rental car at the parking I was quickly addressed by a CHP officer who might have found our presence a bit strange. He confirmed the building used in the series was demolished and a new one was rebuilt a few years ago (as I could clearly notice), such a pity .

Did the interior shootings also took place inside this building (briefing rooms, the hallway, …)?

The officer also told me some characters in the series were based on real CHP officers ?

Also: I recall the introduction of the new motor cycles (season 3 I think) was very noticeable and made the series even more attractive to me. Was there any reason you recall for this introduction: were these the machines that were actually being used by CHP ?

Many thanks!

Wim
Belgium

Wim,

 I did not realize they tore down the old Central Building.  I know they remodeled it and made it look much nicer.  Most of our Interior Shots were shot at MGM with a set that was built by the art department to replicate the actual Central Division Headquarters.  I hated those days because they were long and boring being inside a huge sound stage all day and doing as many pages of dialogue as possible.

 Our Motorcycles were Kawasakis, and the first year or two we rode the 900cc engine which I really liked.  Later we got the newer versions with the 1000 cc engine which had less torque than the 900s.  These were the old chain driven Motorcycles but the really would take a beating.  When we did the Chips 99 (reunion movie) the CHP was now riding BMWs so we rode those.  The BMW is a much different bike and in some ways better and in other ways substandard.  The BMWs are shaft driven bikes so they have instant torque and there is no worry about a high speed chase with a chain breaking.  They seemed to handle better and were comfortable to sit on.  I did not like the small pegs for our large riding boots as I was used to the large running boards for your feet.  I also found the rim and frame to be subpar as it would bend when we did jumps and stunts off a curb or something hard.  They were damaged easily with the stunts and so we took the Kawasaki, and put the BMW ferrings on it to look like a BMW when we had to do stunts.

 The CHP puts out a request for bids each year they decide to buy new motorcycles.  Sometimes the best bid is not the best motorcycle and it has a lot of parameters like what is the cost of the buy back on the used bikes; what is their maintentance program and such.  Anyway, whatever they bought, we rode.

 

Dear Larry,

I was at the reunion last fall and had the time of my life. You looked like you were too and I loved the essay you wrote about the experience. What was it like seeing everyone again? Did you all just pick up where you left off as if no time had passed? I was so amazed to see you all still have that wonderful chemistry that made the show so special and didn’t miss what’s his name at all! Bless you all!

Danilynn
Little Rock, AR

Danilynn,

 Thank you for attending the reunion as you all made it special and I am very grateful for your loyalty and your EXPENSE with respect to travel.  I think there was a mutual respect amongst us all and when we met it was like seeing your family member that you had not seen for a long time.  I did not have time to catch up as much as I would have liked to but I did get caught up a little and it was a blast to just sit and listen.  I had and have so many questions for each of them and I have filmed some of the interview with Robert Pine and need to get busy and do the rest of them.  Teams are always made up of good and bad players and it takes leadership and navigational skills to handle bad players.  I think you saw the TEAM sit on stage the night of the reunion, and I think that each player was allowed to indulge in “dunking his own ball.”  Congrats to each of the players and congrats to the wonderful audience who truly made it possible for the team to indulge.

 

Dear Larry,

Your fan page on Facebook and website are amazing. I’ve never had more fun! Sue does a great job. How does it feel to know that all these years later people are still loving that old show and Jon Baker?

Pearl
Galveston, TX

Pearl,

Well Sue had done such a good job I feel like it has not been many years since we did CHIPS.  Not sure if that is memory, or just her allowing me to indulge with you all.  I feel great about CHIPS.  It was a lucky time to be on TV with only 3 major networks, and a lucky time to wear a tight uniform on a phallic symbol (the motorcycle).  It was a lucky time for a young man who was transitioning in his maturity to be seeded with so much “richness”.  It was a hard time for my children because they just could not evolve under this constant cloud called celebrity and CHIPS kids.  Being a celebrity Dad provides some benefits, but it also provides a lot of baggage.  Derek and Heidi carry those bruises for sure.

 

Dear Larry,

I believe in angels and believe that some walk among us to help us appreciate life’s little miracles, teach us important lessons, and help us at our darkest times. Have you found any angels in your life?

Maria
Mexico City, Mexico

 Ahhhhh Maria.  I believe in Angels and I believe that every person has an Angel in them and it comes out and makes sudden or quick appearances.  I love seeing that evolution and enjoy that spiritual journey.  The eyes sparkle, the lips smile, and the SPIRIT shows itself with a warm HUG.  God Bless you Maria…..Hug yourself, hug mankind!

 

Dear Larry,

You mentioned once that when you were doing CHiPs you’d watch the dailies every evening. What did you think when you were watching yourself as Jon? Are you one of those actors that doesn’t like watch themselves or did you enjoy it?

Paul
Pittsburgh, PA

Paul,

I enjoyed watching the dailies because it was an education.  The initial evolution of an education as an actor is you learn a lot about filmmaking.  You see the various compositions of the camera angles and you begin to formulate how you prefer the show to be shot.  In my case I like to fill the frame with a lot of material and have raking shots.  Next you begin to see different lighting examples and you see that you photograph better with certain lighting conditions and so you begin to request such.  You see that one side does actually photograph better than the other side etc.  You learn to do less instead of doing more on camera.  The next step is the step of marketing evolution that warrants your vigilance.  Marketing of yourself, can quickly be construed as narcissism and or can grow into over indulgence and eventually narcissism.  I think my Wyoming background grounded me and made sure I was not over marketing myself by flexing and posing all the time.  It would have been easy to do so, but it can be like a boomerang.

 

Dear Larry,

I know you and Erik had your differences, and always wondered how things went during the episodes you directed. Was Erik cooperative? What was it like directing him and yourself?

Sam
Colorado

Sam,

I do not think that Erik and I had many differences, at least I did not have that perception of him.  Once in a while his agents or managers were rude and manipulative but he was OK most of the time.  Erik always said that it is important to keep your friends close and your enemies closer to you.  Therefore, not sure where I really stood with Erik.  He was always negotiating to have a salary equal or greater than mine, or to have his name appear first and to own a percentage after he wrecked his motorcycle.  I think his agents and Erik felt that was the proper thing to do.  I think it was tacky, but it was not the end of the world and did not cause me to dislike Erik.  We are all products to some extent of our upbringing, and I saw Erik for what he was.  A handsome Latin youth struggling with his celebrity identity.  When I directed Erik, he was a gentleman and was cooperative and helpful.

 

Dear Larry,

Was there an episode of CHiPs you wish they’d done but didn’t? Any topic or storyline you wish you could have explored? Where you happy with your character?

Ella
Boise, ID

Ella,

I would have loved to have done a jet fighter sequence or something that had to do with military aviation.  I love jet fighter planes and flying them. Ella, I was not really happy with most of my character.  The writers were good writers and episodic TV has timelines and it is crazy busy.  However, I think there could have been a lot more to my character than was written.  Now, you have to be careful with “a lot more” in balancing a show who’s star is bigger than life.  Sometimes it would throw the show out of balance if they wrote too much drama for Jon Baker.  So it was a fine balancing act of the straight man with the bigger than life Ponch character.  Writing subplots and hues for my character would have demanded a lot of intensive time and provocative discussions.  Ponch’s character was easy to write for and that is what we got.  I was happy with Jon’s character being able to reason from principle and to be a mentor for Ponch and viewers.  I think that part of Jon was rich and helpful.  I am surely very grateful for the role of Jon Baker and my time on a very successful long running TV Series that was broadcast for 30 years in 100 foreign counties……that just does not happen today.  Thank you Ella and thanks to all of you for my employment!

 Gratefully……Larry Wilcox

 

Want to ask Larry a question? Send it to AskLarry@larrywilcox.net and watch this space for Larry’s answer in a future edition of Ask Larry!