I hope you had a Happy Halloween. I have a question about the gloves that Jon wore. Why did Jon have different motorcycle gloves than everybody else? I do understand the country boy wearing his horse riding gloves but he was not a renegade. He was a follow the book type of policeman. And were they more comfortable that regular leather motorcycle gloves? Because the regular gloves that everyone else wore were the basic black gloves for motorcycles back in the 70s and even now I still see that style out there.
There was really no magic to my gloves. The real CHP officer that my character was patterned after was a handsome guy named Robert Hayden and he rode the motorcycle in the opening titles on the freeways with his tan gloves. He was also the Defence Tactical Teacher at the Academy and I would guess that is where the baton came from. Last, in picture making you always want some visual differentiators if the actors are covered with the same clothes and a HELMET. So anything like a baton or color of gloves help with distinguishing such characters, notwithstanding, the obvious……………the TEETH. LOL
Love your column! I have a question about the clothes on the show. When a scene called for Jon and Ponch to be out of uniform, I noticed a lot of things used more than once, like a pink shirt with white stripes on the arm, a Hawaiian shirt (which you really rocked!) and some other things. Were the clothes Jon wore your personal items or provided by the show? It seemed like you may have had some favourites!
JOAN – The wardrobe guys, Shelly and his brother Daryl provided the entire wardrobe and picked them out. Sometimes the clothes represented a partial taste of the actor. Like Jon would wear Wrangler Jeans because he was a cowboy and Erik would wear Gucci shoes because he liked them and he was a New Yorker who had those tastes. Sometimes we would get some of the clothes and shoes and stuff for free and just take them home. Actor’s can always promote free wardrobe if they want through some creative product placement. I used to get free guitars, motorcycles, jet skis and the like! It was fun to have Christmas once in a while, including the free black Cornice Rolls Royce.
I like your character in Chips and read your opinion in this forum. Seems your character in that series is not different with the real life?
Love and hugs from Indonesia
NURI – I think the character was pretty much the same as I am in real life. This was basically a buddy movie or TV series and both characters had their place. The other characters shored up the series and were used to spice it up if you will. I always felt that the other characters were not utilized to their maximum potential but often it is a fine line so you do not derail the momentum of the show and its often pre-defined velocity.
First I just wanted to say a big thank you for making growing up in the 70’s enjoyable, your show had a very big impact on a nine year old’s dreams. I wish today’s kids were exposed to such positive role models on TV especially shows portraying law enforcement officers in general. What children see on TV really influences them, and for some children TV characters are the only true role models, heroes or father figures they may have in life. I speak from experience because I was one of those kids and I thank you.
I have a technical question and I hope you can help me out. I have four 1978 Kawasaki police bikes with one semi restored with the other three a work in progress. Yes I’m afraid my hobby has gone extreme in that I have the period correct Motorola radios for the bikes as well as the Motorola GE “X” stamped rear radio boxes as used on the show. But there is one detail I just can’t find anywhere and it’s in regards to the siren model make and number used on the show. I assume the siren sound used in the chase scenes was dubbed in at the studio later after filming, but obviously the studio had to sample it from a real siren from that era. I know you’re busy and this may be difficult to answer, but if you can help I would greatly appreciate it. I just can’t seem to find the correct make and model number siren that matches the tone used in the show. Thanks for your help in advance.
Joe Smerko in Pennsylvannia
JOE – There is so much research on parenting and media that concurs with your good TV for a kid mentality. The majority of learning takes place during the very early years of pre school and early education. The film business has often sacrificed the culture for a dollar by making violent movies as a daily staple. We seemed to be intrigued with San Quentin and the cell block of murderous personality all tatted up. We as a society have lost our leadership vector and I believe that policemen, judges, teachers and parents have sacrificed the life long educational journey of a wise and sensitive mentor and leader and exchanged it for the almighty Dollar/JOB M.O. The penal system is out of control with mentally ill patients in prisons; policemen arresting kids for marijuana and it may be a 3rd strike and they get 14 years to life in an ADULT Prison. All of these reactions of control and punish are just that…..reactions. I am so worried for and about the youth of our country and our next few decades of erosion. All I can say is that I am very grateful for CHIPS and its rewards and continue to try and educate myself on the enormity of psychology and parenting that we must learn and pass on. I wish media would stop with their M.O.; I wish authority would re-learn sensitivity and spirituality, and discard the mantra of control and punish. We are here to love, to teach and to model for each other. I hope that Jon Baker did some of that in his media lifecycle!
With respect to your siren questions I will do some research. First, all sound editors have an enormous library of sirens and sound effects. I would guess that they picked one in their library and used it, even if it was not the true sound of the sirens on the bikes. However, I am not sure. There is a movie motorcycle rental place nearby with all the old police bikes down there on Roscoe Blvd. I will go down and take some photos and see if I can get any info on those bikes….as there must be 50 of them parked there. It may or may not help but I will try.
What bike was nicer to ride, the KZ1000 from the series or the BMW from the movie? Thanks and have a great day.
CHRIS – We rode three (3) different bikes during the various times on CHIPS. The first bike was the Kawasaki 900, and the next was the KZ1000 and the last the BMW. I really enjoyed the first one, the 900, because it seemed to have so much torque and you could do stunts with it and just beat it up and it just kept on running. You could do wheelies with it easier than the 1000s. The BMWs were a very smooth bike and very nice to ride. The BMW felt like a nice glove to slip into and responded very well as they had no chain. You could do a wheelie accidentally in almost any gear. The negative of the BMW for me was they were aluminium and had little pegs for your big boots instead of the running boards. The wheels were light and would bend when you did stunts or jumped off curbs and such. So, they became rather dangerous to perform stunts on and we went back to the Kawasaki. We took the Kawasaki, and covered it up with BMW ferrings and stuff and used it for all of the stunts. I did an enormous amount of PR for BMW and indulgently asked for one or two free motorcycles for doing such P.R. They said NO, and let me “borrow” some of their bikes for 3 or 4 months and then return them with no payment whatsoever. I selfishly thought BMW was very arrogant but……uh……I did have to remind my actor’s ego that…….hey, they are BMW, Mr Wilcox……a rather impressive global empire of sorts and you Larry Wilcox are just the flavour of the month so get over it! LOL
Is it true that all the horses that were used on CHiPs were yours? I’ve read in the past about how much you loved them. Do you still? How many do you have these days? Do you have pets as well? You strike me as the animal lover type! Love this column and hope it never stops!
Salt Lake City, Utah
Rod – Yes the horses were all mine. I had several horses I used on the show and the two I liked best – my stallion Alamitos Review- a quarter horse that I roped with some days and a a dapple gray mare called Sugar Plus that I also used for roping and rodeos. My stallion was sometimes not good for a rodeo because he would get too studly and that can be dangerous. Kind of like a teenager with too many hormones.
We have dogs and cats and yes I enjoy animals. However, my wife MUST have animals with her most of the time. We no longer have horses….just an empty Barn with a motorcycle, a Quad, and some tools.
Loved last month’s column! It’s so lovely that you enjoy your fans because we certainly enjoy you! Do you have any favourite fans or fan moments? Funny stories? I can only imagine the stories you could tell about the crazy 70s and all those female fans! God bless you!
Oh Colleen, the FANS were my HEROes, my savior and my transition TOOL. Without wallowing in the Woe is Me stories, I came from a pretty poor and dysfunctional background. Somehow, I was given a “leg up” as cowboys say. That means, simply put they helped you in to the saddle with a boost, or a helping hand. The pain, and anger, and lack of parenting that I was a product of was given time to heal with all the indulgent tools and desserts that a young mind or soul so desperately needs. In many cases they were false rewards but they still provided healing. The unresolved injustices in my life were set back and I was allowed a whole new identity, a whole new person. It was through these times of being someone’s hero, or idol that I began to slowly recognize and identify my own dysfunctional THOUGHTS which were now habits that I had fallen prey to and could not find any sunlight. As I transitioned, I was blessed with money, toys, indulgence and people clamouring to see this guy…..who was almost surreal…..as it was ME. Once the tiny flower began to bud, and I continued to educate myself on all of my psychology and thoughts, I became strong enough to have my own roots, and my own stalk and my personal petal or petals. People of poverty are often never given this “transition tool” and outsiders cavalierly stand by and just admonish and blame. In my case, I am so grateful for the subtle and overt gift of fans because, they were unknowingly my support group during my youthful transition to a healthier and whole adult.
As one gains depth and hues in their life the needs change and the perceptions change. I suppose that fans at first were wonderful and we “used” each other in ways neither realized perhaps. As one grows in life, Fans are sometimes confusing to me because I see no real reason for them to be a Fan of Me….as we are the same. I think that because I was raised with so little in life, that I have always had a soft spot for the blue collar hard working Joe, and the deeply felt sorrows and needs of those people. I also still thoroughly enjoy observing their sincere happiness with family and simple pleasures and it is why I like the phrases which say something like…..only a poor man really knows JOY and its depths. To this day, I always want to stop by the highway in Camarillo California where the 20-30 Latin workers or stooped over all day picking strawberries to make enough money for a meal that week, surely not a living. I have this need to go and work with them and to talk with them and to listen deeply to their wisdom and their insights because it is so raw and honest and has not been tainted with money and false ego. I feel the pain, of many people, and I cannot do much except say a prayer and give them my sincere and patient ear. Listening with love and observing with a warm paternal kindness is key.
My memories of the fans in Brazil were spectacular and quite a boost to one’s self esteem. I have often said I was lucky to have been adored like ELVIS for a few hours and extremely lucky that it did not continue beyond that! Fans have cried sometimes when we have talked and they were not whackos crying but crying because I cared; some Fans were so smitten I could have done anything I wanted to and with them and that was and is scary; and some acted aloof and fished if you will and those were filled with amorous times; and some were so excited they could not talk and would shake and that was troubling. I think the parents who asked me would it be an imposition (as if I should be asked….used to blow my mind as if I was some King or something) to come over and shake their little boys hand or kiss their daughter on the cheek who had missed a big school event or something to come and see Jon Baker. I would always oblige and my heart was always given another ounce of God’s love reflected in the eyes of the PARENTS. Later I wondered if someone refused an autograph or something to my own young boys, how they or I would feel. I knew what a responsibility and a reward this so called celebrity was.
Sue Walsh has always been a fun friend that came from the ranks of the Fans along with her other supporters. I am always grateful for her contributions, and her husband’s allowance of such benevolence. I hope God blesses her, as I cannot do so as we are equal mortals.
My name is Cristine Davis, and I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I used to talk quite a bit with you in the chatroom in the late 1990’s, around the time of CHiPs’99.
Anyway, my question is: What are your children, Derek, Heidi, Wendy, Chad and Ryan doing these days?
I am sorry but I do not remember but I am sure we had good talks in that old chat room. My children are almost all grown and I always want to respect their privacy so I will not share much about them. Each of them have there very own special gifts and have fascinating conversations with our family from time to time. They are all gifted in various ways and are loving and sensitive souls who give more than they take. I believe they were deeply punished by society’s emotional and physical bullies as a result of their father pulling up in his 930 turbo Porsche or his Rolls Royce to pick them up. I was such a punk and did not realize the burden they carried and carry today. As a result of it, I try and keep their lives private and special. I try to continue to learn about thoughts, choices, psychology and parenting. I am amazed that at my age I am a robust student of Parenting and find it sad that my quiver has so few arrows. Remember when Parents used to tell you when you were in love with your first girlfriend or boyfriend? Remember they would say…..I would like to meet the Parents. There is and was a great reason for that question because one parent does not mean you are not worthy but it often (not always) means you may have some baggage or a lack of education with your Emotional IQ. Life Skills need to be taught and modelled and I am still studying and learning. Today I called my son Chad and told him I loved him so dearly, was so proud of him, and said sorry for scolding him last night. The learning continues as I try and parent from a SAFE and NEUTRAL environment and not from an Angry environment. But, thank you for asking, as these offspring are my true contribution to the world. The Wilcox Family is a family of spirit, work ethic, tenacity, and support. I want them all to perpetuate a more WISE soul.
Many of us need to deal or cope with many challenges and problems during our whole lives, such as profit and loss of many ways. Sometimes it is not easy to stand ourselves firm, especially with our hopes and faith. We live in a world that can’t or doesn’t want to offer us a promising future all the time. And I’m pretty sure most of us have been through serious situations in a specific moment of our life. As all of us, maybe you have or had some bad moments, but I realize that you always have high hopes, high priorities, high spirits and this is really fantastic! What do you do to encourage yourself and family to see our world with good prospects?
All the best and Hugs,
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Maristela- oh this question troubles me sooo very much. I think and I emphasize THINK, I know deeply what you are saying. I wrote a script once called….”Tell the World We Are Here” and it really was about my fear of being left in the jungles of Vietnam. I wondered how I got there, and why and how long I would watch this surreal movie about war and death. When I went to my family funerals I wondered why this was my reality and why they were taken from my heart. When I went to Africa, sometimes I would quietly weep in my hotel room, knowing they had no HOPE. When I visited the women who were told by the Witch doctor in their village that they were condemned as a Witch and had to leave their children and husband and walk to the desert to die……and they were rescued by this advocate group for women to survive. But all they had was some rice to eat daily but at least they were not dead. As I shared my EYE with LOVE and concern for them, the reflection in their eyes was void…..as all hope had vanished and they were the walking dead. I so worry about people that you are obviously referring to and know so well. I will now humbly share with you what I have done in my own little way – First, FROMM used to say that your envelope or your bubble or your own mind is or can be your own special retreat. You can go inside and create your own reality and enjoy it as the Jews did when they were being tortured. For me, there have been many times I have used this tool as escapism and it may work for others. I have shared it with my sons who I sent to some tough military Marine Corp training for kids and for survival training I made them go through. I explained this is what and how they do it instead of reacting. Another tool I have used that gives me HOPE has been to write. For some reason writing is cathartic for me and it helps me figure myself out or attempt to make sense out of emotion mixed with logic. A personal diary is fun and healthy and should be very private and confidential. I have always been very creative with coming up with business ideas or creative solutions. I always tell my kids to find a solution and to not wallow in the misery. So, finding solutions in my world of American Capitalism has worked well in the past. When this last legal episode interrupted my life and my families’ reality I was very troubled and angry at my government and the FBI. Someday I will discuss this in detail as it is an amazing story ….at least it is to my child and adult psyche! This was so surreal and even today, when I have to interface with so called Legal Authority of any kind; I find their lack of trust, and condemnation, and blame very problematic and the precursor for a malignant reaction. So, I have become an advocate for the many layers of people who cannot defend themselves, who do not have the education to explain their mental illness, or their inability to process logic, or their rage and frustration. For me, helping others with a PURPOSE is so healing for me. Last, I know that America just does not understand the depths of poverty and it pisses me off. I would think that all of us should try and help put some tiny micro financing together for these people who cannot come to America and be creative. We need to help them with a solution which in many cases is to find FOOD. What an existence. I would love it if our lil group could donate to help them start a business or donate for a bag of rice. This is why we were born!
I watched the Halloween episode of CHiPs last weekend. It had Jon and Ponch patrolling at night, which was a rare thing. What was it like filming at night?
Calgary, AB Canada
Aaron – filming sometimes fakes you out. Sometimes we would do Day for Night which means it was actually day time but the cinematographer made it look like Night and sometimes we would do the opposite….Night for Day.
However, a few times we actually shot in the night on purpose and those were late hours into 2 am or so. It was not my favourite time to film that is for sure. The only good thing about it was the Girls and Extras looked prettier and I suppose, vice versa. LOL
What was it like directing CHiPs, especially when you had to direct yourself?
Palo Alto, CA
Paul – It was a blast directing CHIPS and I at least got some intellectual stimulation by doing so. I had studied camera direction with my Bolex back in the Lassie Days and had edited most of my little 8MM films so I knew camera direction often better than the script supervisor and or the Directors. Crossing the line in film direction can be helpful and manipulative to the viewer so I enjoyed it. It will usually thoroughly confuse the actors and the crew.
CHIPS was a six day shoot and it required a really quick set up and then move to the next set up or shot. We would often shoot 10 pages of script or more a day and that is moving. So directing CHIPS was like trying to speed up a Pizza Assembly Line and the most important thing was to at least have a master shot, a medium shot, two over the shoulder shots and MAYBE two extreme close ups with a cutaway of one or two inserts to use if there was a screw up. That is DIRECTING 101. However, that level of Directing is really just exposing film. It lends little to interpretation and so called “painting”. I had fun trying to paint here and there and I enjoyed the discussions with the art directors and actors and the Director of Photography on these subjects. The Gaffer, who does the lighting, is the single most obvious parameter to me, as a B film is so obvious with the lighting. Once again, a filmmaker, like a PARENT, should study everything he can for the rest of his life and try to find ways to change his “stroke and hues”. It was a blast and probably not fun for my other cast members to have to indulge me. I do NOT like or believe in directing yourself and I believe that you miss something or some level because your mind as a director is constantly whirling with many parameters. Thanks….I miss directing but do not miss directing people who think they are movie stars.
After leaving the show after its 5th season in 1982, you continued making many good movies, appearances and productions, and nowadays we read that you’re committed to various philanthropic and charity projects. Reading your comments, we realize that you’re always worried with children and youth problems especially. Could you tell us about a little bit? As a father of five, what do you think we should know or do in order to protect the children and at the same time to make them ready and safe to face a world which concepts and its natural course are developing so fast and different, compared to the past generations?
MARI – No I cannot as it would take volumes. I am working on my documentary called Flowers and Gardeners about Youth and the parents’ choices in a complex life in America. Here we seem to have lost or sacrificed the value of the family for profit and business. In an attempt at brevity, I would simply say that Parenting classes are a must for your whole life; life skills are necessary and are not taught in schools; emotional IQ is very important and learning how to harness and direct such is key. Understanding and empathizing with mental illness and labels and disparate cultures and religions is another key. Becoming an advocate which must be one of patience, diplomacy and tenacity is very important. Schools and admin are often emotional problems themselves and so we can attack or politely help them as if we are helping others; Policemen are often the problem and not the solution and so we can help them with materials, films, education and other subtle tools; Congress making Laws about minimum mandatory sentencing for 14 yr olds is sickening and represents this cavalier control and punish mentality of many Americans when Rehab is better and more productive. Learning how to deal with a teenager who tells you daily to F…Off by creating a neutral ground with no violent reactions is key and a learned behaviour. The subtle changes in kids come from the Gardeners education….meaning the Parents. Good luck with a life long education.
Thanks for your questions, and a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours. See you next month! –Larry
To ask Larry a question, send an email to AskLarry@larrywilcox.net. He is happy to answer questions and offer advice and will answer as many letters as he can in this column each month. He regrets that he is unable to send private replies. When you send your questions in be sure to include your first name and location!
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Copyright 2011 Larry Wilcox