Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Custer, & Sand Creek

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


Captain Louis Edward Nolan carried the orders that launched the infamous charge of the Light Brigade. Flynn’s Captain Geoffrey Vickers is based upon Nolan.

Those of you who think that Errol & Olivia will never see the light of day—shame on you, for it is perhaps the most important book that’ll I’ll ever write. Certainly it will be the most challenging, and that is because of what must be mixed into the telling of the story of E&O. This isn’t an easy mix of detail for if nothing else their eight films are a mix of reality and fiction. In their eight films together, three of Flynn ‘s characters were originally based upon the pirate Henry Morgan, Louis Edward Nolan, and the gunman Wyatt Earp.

In three others, he played J. E. B. Stuart, Robert Devereux, and George Armstrong Custer, while only one of Olivia’s characters was based upon a real person—the magnificent Elizabeth Bacon Custer.

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Elizabeth Bacon Custer in 1864 or 1865. Libbie, as Custer and all her friends called her, was an exceptional human being. She could accept Custer, her man, her love, for what he was, and for 57 years after Custer’s death at the Little Bighorn, she preserved his image. When, in 1867 Custer risked all to confirm that his Libbie hadn’t become a victim of cholera, when he appeared and they they spent a wondrous day making love, she would forever call it that “one perfect day.”

Of course, Maid Marian and Robin Hood are based upon legend. I have read that Flynn’s character, Robert Lansford, in Four’s a Crowd is also based upon a real person during the early part of the 20th century. To date, unfortunately, I have not been able to confirm this.

In case you aren’t aware of it, my toying around while creating blogs is in realtime in my life looking for directions that may drive the manuscript. How do I dig, how do I explore? I’m constantly on the alert for a Flynn/de Havilland connection. Did he smile at her, did she slap him, did he inappropriately touch her and better did she enjoy it? But here, I’m constantly searching for the spine of their films–the screenplays. Make no mistake, Warner Bros. paid their screenwriters a lot of money to create. These writers were constantly under high pressure to write sparkling dialogue and plots that advanced at lightning speed. Screenwriting is an artistic craft, but like all writing it is a collaborative effort. Don’t doubt this, for I know this from what seems a lifetime of seeing words printed. The only time wherein I can take full credit is when I speak, for then it isn’t the written word; rather it is how well I have prepared and how well I keep my concentration for I don’t know what I’m going to say until I say it. I’m never more alive than at these moments, … the only exception being when I’m with a special lady.

We all need that “one perfect day.”

Doubt it not, Errol craved to explore Olivia’s delights and she in return wanted to taste him. It would never be, and that alone is enough to write a book. But there’s so much more that it’s mind-boggling. The major question here is how do I mix and match facts in a way that results in a page-turning manuscript that captures Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland?

From the moment they saw each other during the tests for Captain Blood in 1935 their physical attraction for each other was in place, and it would drive their lives in eight films. It wasn’t to be, but that doesn’t distract from their reality or the film performances they created. The Lord only knows how many books have been printed about “how to act.” Probably 90 percent of them are avoidable (at all times). Simply put, acting is grabbing your gut feelings, your soul, your inner being and bringing it to life on stage or on film. This isn’t easy to do, but Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland did it. And that is why their scenes together are so alive with life. A simple fact with one bottom line—great acting.

They made eight films, three westerns, two swashbucklers, one comedy, one historical-adventure w/tragical overtones, and one historical tragedy. In all of these films one thing shined though and sizzled with life, their real-life feelings and desires for each other.

I discovered pirate Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk and his shy love for Brenda Marshall while a boy. Soon after I found again him in They Died With Their Boots On. He was George Armstrong Custer and Olivia de Havilland was the love of his life, his Libbie. Although unknown at the time, these films would dictate my future.

They would dictate how I would view womanhood and love, they would dictate my view on life, and ultimately they would dictate my career (if one can consider “writing” a career).

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This image, slightly reworked and the beginning of art, was taken during the filming of Errol and Olivia’s last full working together as actor and actress. The scene didn’t exist when they shot their famous and often thought their last screen performance when they shot the so-called “diary scene.” There’s a great story behind this scene; it will be in the book.

Of Flynn and de Havilland’s films, They Died With Their Boots On is the most important for the simple reason that it celebrates their acting capabilities on film. They had aged, had accepted each other as human beings while knowing that their earlier desire for each other would never come to pass. This was a major accomplishment in their lives for it allowed them to not only move forward but gave them a relationship that was real and not based upon physical desire. They could pinch and squeeze and hug and caress and not feel threatened, … they could accept each other as a man and a woman that had desires that would never reach fruition.

When two people realize this about each other it allows them to become friends for all time regardless when they see each other. It gives them a love that transcends time regardless if they had ever been intimate.

You are again front and center to how I research a writing project. I must grasp for my players’s souls as I attempt to know them. Know this, I can only write about what I discover. Errol and Olivia are much more accessible than Ned Wynkoop and his Louise or George Armstrong Custer and his Libbie. Why? How? Simple, … there is a million more documents related to E&O as opposed to Ned & Louise or GAC & Libbie. As a writer/historian I must explore everything I can find on E&O, digest it, figure out what happened that dictated their life, times, and relationship.

This isn’t an easy project, and worse, it’s loaded with false leads and out and out lies. On the plus side as OU Press stalls with its progress in moving toward completion with a signed contract for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, E&O gains momentum as research and writing move forward. My desire to complete E&O is huge, and if the press’s passive approach to their desire—me completing a final Sand Creek manuscript from date of signed contract—stalls to the point of E&O driving toward manuscript delivery, I won’t sign the Sand Creek contract unless it is rewritten to state that my delivery will be three years after the conclusion of the E&O manuscript.  There are two major driving forces behind the above statement. The most important of which is at the moment I am working on E&O five-six days per week, and I’m having one hell of a good time.

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You are looking at one of the images that will appear in Errol & Olivia. Most likely all the images will be colored artwork. Since I like breaking rules, this is the current plan (and let me tell you right now that if this comes to pass I will take some heat, venomous heat). Most likely the book will include 30 images when printed. Will soon submit a series on Flynn’s westerns for magazine publication, and the submission will include this image. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

1) FIRST AND FOREMOST, I could dedicate the rest of my book-writing future to writing about Flynn and de Havilland. 2) Although there is a novel wherein Kit Carson will play a major character and a major novel with Ned Wynkoop the leading player, in the nonfiction world, after Sand Creek, only a manuscript on Kit Carson looms in my future. Although I have written and spoken about George Armstrong Custer for years, all pitches to do a second book on him have been greeted with negative response. To date all talks about a nonfiction book on Carson have also met with negative response. I want to write a nonfiction book on Carson, and I want to tie my professional life to Wild Bill Hickok (but in a theatrical way). If these projects falter (if Sand Creek stalls only the publisher can address the reason why, for both they and I have worked diligently to move this book to reality), by default E&O, all future book projects on Flynn and one on de Havilland may well be my future.

If so, ‘taint too bad of a future.

Geronimo, Sand Creek, Mike Koury, & challenging me

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


I’ve reached the stage of my life wherein I’ve got to push my writing world. A few years back when Wild West published “When Wynkoop Was Sheriff” in 2011, George Carmichael, a writer I met when we both took a fiction class at UCLA (I was still working in the film industry—yep, the Dark Ages), said: “You’ve finally written an article with a little bite.” Not quite the comment I wanted to hear, but a good one.

“A little bite.” …  

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I’m currently working on a Geronimo/Apache article for Wild West magazine. Think it is going to have a little bite. Thanks George.

This image of Geronimo (left) is a detail from the dust jacket for Gatewood & Geronimo (art © Louis Kraft 1999)

Something else is going to have a bite—Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. Research (and I already have a lot in house) began in April, and is now continuous. If all goes as I hope, it will have “a big bite.”

I know a fellow who has “a little bite” to him named Mike Koury. I met Mike when I spoke before an audience for the first time at an Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) two-day event (I think in Fullerton, Ca., in 1987). Mike’s a great speaker. I’m a firm believer that you learn from what turns you on and from what turns you off. The key is why. Why do I like it or why don’t I like it? Simple question … Back to Mike. He delivered a great talk; full of life. And not a lecture; rather a story. I loved it. If you’ve seen any of my talks and like them, you’ve got to give all the kudos to Mike Koury. On the flip side, it you don’t like them—sorry Mike—he deserves all the blame.

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lk, Layton Hooper, and Mike Koury at the La Quinta Inn & Suites on the morning after the Order of the Indian Wars symposium in Centennial, Co. Layton put together the symposium (April 20, 2013), was responsible for me speaking about “Wynkoop’s Last Stand, and kindly (along with his wife Vicki) made me a member of his home while the OIW wasn’t housing me at the hotel. (Photo by Frank Bodden)

I had a good time with Mike in Colorado last April when I spoke for the Order of the Indian Wars symposium in Centennial (will again speak for them in Tucson this coming September), including a nice morning and afternoon with him, his pretty wife Dee, and Danny Martinez (Danny and I have shook hands over the years, but didn’t really know each other until this past April when we spent a little time together).

Also present at the symposium was Deb Bisel and her friend Michelle Martin (who I met for the first time, although we knew each other long distance). More on the ladies at another time, other than to say that they were with Mike after the symposium had ended and we were partying at the hotel. I asked them to step outside so I could take a photo of them. After getting it, I asked the ladies to kiss Mike, and they readily agreed. I snapped away, my eyes turning into little green $$$ signs; my mind doing backflips—would Mike Koury be paying for me to have a summer home in Colorado, the state that has 100 days of sunshine (that’s right, I’ve deducted 200 days from what I consider false Colorado advertising, which claims it is “the land of 300 days of sunshine.”).

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Michelle Martin (left), Mike Koury, and Deb Bisel outside the La Quinta Inn & Suites after the Order of the Indian Wars symposium on April 20, 2013. (Photo by Louis Kraft)

Joking aside (but not with what I view as false advertising), it’s a cute picture so I’m sharing it in the hope that it doesn’t get anyone in trouble.

Over the years Mike has pursued what is important to him, and he has lived the life of his choice as he has pursued his interest in history (in particular, the Indian wars, but it goes way beyond the Indian wars). … In a time long gone an Order of the Indian Wars tour visited Sand Creek (at the bend in the dry riverbed below the monument as perhaps documented in mixed-blood Southern Cheyenne George Bent’s map) which was then located on the Bowman ranch (private property) in southeastern Colorado. Marissa was young. At the time of the OIW tour we had been tracking George Armstrong Custer in Montana (I believe the time was somewhere around September 1987). I called Jerry Russell, who then ran the OIW, and asked if we could join the last day of the tour and see Sand Creek?

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Jerry Russell holding court above the bend of the Sand Creek dry bed that was then part of Bill Dawson’s ranch, and which is now part of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, in September 1987 … I’m currently reading Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013), and the book is a mixed bag. There are many errors dealing with 1864-1865 (lots of notes regarding them), but Kelman’s assembly of the various factions that had to work together (land owners, NPS employees, Arapaho and Cheyenne descendants of Sand Creek, historians, would-be historians, government officials, and pro- & anti-POVs on what happened in 1864 and how it should be presented to the public (other than a fair amount of repetition by Kelman) is a pretty good investigative read. (Image © Louis Kraft 1987)

Jerry was always good to me, and said yes. Timing was such that Marissa, her mother, and I were able to complete a private tour of Custer’s night march on June 24 and follow his movements (including the Crow’s Nest) over private property with Jim Court, who had been superintendent of Custer Battlefield NHM. When we were on the west side of the LIttle Big Horn where the Indian village was and where the 7th Cavalry attempted to cross the river or feinted an attempt to cross the river and were repulsed (Medicine Tail Coulee), a drunken Indian charged up in a pickup and had an angry encounter with Court. My ladies were in Court’s van and were safe (reason: mosquitoes all over the place). The Indian, who I believe was Crow, appeared ready to attack Court, who handled the situation calmly. Thinking the worst was about to happen, I positioned myself behind the Indian to aid Court if the need arose. Luckily it didn’t.

We got down to Pueblo, Colorado, late the night before the OIW trip to the private property Sand Creek. But it was a push to get there (I did all the driving) and I was burning with fever. My ex-wife, who grew up in the medical world, saved the day. We bought rubbing alcohol, I stripped, and she rubbed it all over my body (sorry—no photos). I became ice cold, but it worked and the fever was gone the next morning. A few years later she pulled off the same feat at Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

Back to Mike K. (who was also on the 1987 OIW Sand Creek tour), … I came up with a great idea for an article for True West (this was long before Bob Boze Bell took it over, revamped it, and turned it into what it is today): modern-day Indian wars historians and how they approach what they do.

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Mike Koury, owner of The Old Army Press in Johnstown, Colorado (which creates documentaries), has been the driving force behind the Order of the Indian Wars since Jerry Russell’s death in 2003 (am unsure of the date). (Art © Louis Kraft May 2013)

It would feature four people, including Mike and Jerry Russell. True West loved the idea. But when it was time to go to press, the owner of the publication saw the article, held the presses, and canceled “The Good Ol’ Boys” until Mike could be purged from it (which meant it ran in the next issue or the one after that in 1990; an easy cut, for Mike had a section all to himself). It turns out that Mike had perturbed the publisher. I don’t know what happened between them, but I like it when someone (Mike, me, … whomever) perturbs someone else.

“Challenges” is perhaps a better word than “perturbed.” Standing firm for what you believe is important in the writing/historical world. Enough said, other than Mike is a jewel, and I’m glad I know him.

Back to today … I must challenge myself. Every day. To walk, to exercise, to research, to write, to sell, to enjoy another human being, to sleep. This is obscure, as it should be.

Living is fun, that is living and doing what drives me (I’m not talking about writing here). Especially when related to people. You probably won’t believe what follows, but ’tis true—I’m shy, especially when I’m interested in a lady. This has been a curse throughout my life. And it’s never going to improve. That said, I get along with people. Always have. There’s another curse in my life; some people want more from me (usually more than I can provide) or become jealous over nothing (read something that doesn’t exist or never happened). At the moment I’m caught between two worlds. Huh??? I haven’t told you anything, other than perhaps I don’t have a girlfriend.

Vagueness is heaven. Sorry.

And for those of you that think I push the limit whenever presented with an opportunity, realize this: I love life; certainly mine. Sometimes that word “challenge” is key, … I’ve got to challenge me, my failures, my insecurities, my hopes. Once in a while someone gets pulled into my challenge and is pushed. If it’s you, realize that you aren’t the target, I am, so please don’t get upset. Also know this, if I didn’t like you, didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t involve you.

Trust me on this one.

Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Robin Hood, & good friends

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


I’m certain that some of you are fearful that Errol & Olivia (E&O) has fallen between the cracks as I figure out how to survive in the wondrous city of Los Angeles. I like a number of fantastic areas in our great country—New Mexico and Colorado (minus the snow) are front and center—but it is damned hard to know L.A. as I have for almost a lifetime and not thrill over all it has to offer.

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This image captures the beginnings of romance in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). The scene happens after Robin (Errol Flynn) has shown Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), who is his prisoner, why he has become an outlaw. It has shocked her, and has opened the door for a major change in her life. I hope this image has caught your attention. If so, read on, for I will share some thoughts about the film below.

We can talk about the weather, theater, restaurants, culture, and on and on and on, … but it is the people. People make our world move forward and thrive, and in L.A. we have it all—people wise. Everywhere, people, just people—all colors and races. L.A. is truly a melting pot, truly a microcosm of what our great country is based upon.

Last night I again saw people from all walks of life as I ventured into Hollywood to view The Adventures of Robin Hood (released 75 years ago this month) at the Egyptian Theatre (thanks to my good friends Robert & Annette Florczak, who made my presence reality). Robert brought three of his students to enjoy the film, and they did!! Nam & Greg Maradei rounded out our Flynn/de Havilland contingent, which had the best seats in the house. Nam and Greg (I also met three of their friends last night), along with Annette and Robert, have become some of my best friends. Certainly when home in L.A. I don’t have any recent photos here to share of them (my camera is a dinosaur, and I didn’t shoot an entire roll last night), but soon (I promise). My ongoing project, Errol & Olivia, has brought us together over the years, but it has moved beyond the ongoing search for two people and their place in time  (Flynn & de Havilland). It has grown beyond E&O, to people I enjoy seeing at any time for any reason. (Now, if I could only add a small friend to the mix.)

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Film cover art that was originally created for a video cover, and which has since been used on DVD covers. If has also been printed as a one-sheet at least once.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is Robert’s favorite film, and if you don’t know him, along with being a good-good friend, he is a Flynn expert, and my constant go-to person, my literary companion, as we move forward with our manuscripts dealing with Mr. Flynn. Being an insider to Mr. Florczak’s work, I can tell you right now that when it is published, it will be a must-have book.

Whenever I view a Flynn, de Havilland, or for E&O, a Flynn/de Havilland film, it is, of course, for enjoyment, but now more importantly it is for critical review. Simply put, what do I like and what don’t I like. Or, said another way, what works on screen and what doesn’t work on screen. All my book projects are long to reach publication (I began researching Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek in the mid-1980s), and there is a reason for this, my reason. I need to discover the person or people I’m writing about. I must discover them, and it cannot be based upon secondary writing that may or may not be error-riddled. (That said, there are some damn good secondary books that are trust worthy, and which I cherish. Thomas McNulty’s Errol Flynn: The Life and Career, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2004, is one such book.) Each subject has its own built-in pools of quicksand that can quickly kill a book. Of course the general reader may not see the errors, which in turn makes them “truth.” This sentence is key to my writing world, or saying the words differently: this is what drives me, … how to find what is hopefully the “truth,” clean, as much as possible, from errors. Errors can happen, depending what is found in the research and how it is interpreted. Sometimes a key piece of information isn’t found, and its absence can lead to a conclusion that isn’t true.

Those of you who think that E&O will never complete, rest assured, for it will see print. Patience is the key. Beginning on May 22, research again resumes at the Warner Bros. Archives, and the project will again consume two-three days per week of my time. Since Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway will soon have a three-year delivery deadline, it is safe to say that E&O will dominate a good portion of my time each week except when I’m on the road (no projected trips until September for a Gatewood & Geronimo talk in Tucson and beyond). Progress will make large jumps this year.

Trust me.

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Lobby card (1938) depicting a tense moment after Robin Hood climbs into Maid Marian’s room to thank her for saving his life, and it grows to more, much more. This scene, along with almost all the scenes in the film, is memorable.

Back to Robin and Marian (E&O), … Errol and Olivia certainly share some magical moments on screen, but last night it was Olivia’s performance that grabbed me and didn’t let go. …

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Eyes have so much to do with film acting, and Olivia’s eyes are alive, and offer an entry into Maid Marian’s inner being.

it’s always good to have time pass before studying a film again, especially when writing about that film. Livvie’s (as she was sometimes called by Errol and others) character development is a wonder to see in the film. The balcony scene, always a favorite of mine, does have a few blips in it, but these were/are director problems; film angles/cuts that pull the viewer right out of the scene. Executive producer Hal Wallis should have jumped on them, and insisted that they be reshot, even though there had been a change of directors. … Over the years Wallis has picked on de Havilland, and often rightly so, but her Maid Marian is one of the acting delights of the film (and there are many … Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Alan Hale, and on and on). Her performance is a thoughtful growth from a young woman, who at first refuses to accept that the world she knows is corrupt, into a woman that has fallen into love, which in turn instills her with courage to do what she must. There is an eroticism to her performance, that only last night grabbed my attention. …

Oh yeah, research and understanding go hand-in-hand, and they are ever changing.

Those of you who know me, know that I like blades, especially swords. The final duel in Robin Hood between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne) is a wonder, and the reason is multi-faceted, beginning with Flynn and Rathbone’s preparation long before the fight was filmed.

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Artwork created from a photo taken during filming. It has appeared in at least one book and has been a magazine cover.

Sword fights, just like dance, are by the numbers. Everyone knows exactly what the other person is (or people are) doing at all times. If not, a sword fight can quickly spiral toward disaster with someone being hurt (I almost lost an eye once; and I wasn’t a happy camper). It takes a long time to choreograph a duel, with creativity being the key (BTW, it is impossible to duel with broadswords as they did in Robin Hood, but in my humble opinion if the fight had been true to the broadsword, the climatic duel would have been dull or worse, boring). Flynn and Rathbone are never boring in this duel—never, for the duel is a cinematic triumph of dramatic action, and it set the meter of excellence in which all future swashbuckling duels would be compared. It started with fencing master Fred Cavens, who worked with Flynn and Rathbone, and who designed the fight. But it is much-much more, and all of the pieces are intricate and mandatory for a duel to reach full potential on film, and include camera angles and framing, lighting, and editing. These elements take life during filming when the choreographer (fencing master Cavens) works with the actors (Flynn and Rathbone), the director (Michael Curtiz), and the cinematographer (Sol Polito; Tony Gaudio also worked on the film), who in turn works closely with the film crew (lighting technicians, and so on) to create the vision that director Curtiz desires. After the film is in the can (developed and printed), the editor (Ralph Dawson) takes over, but under the keen eyes of executive producer Hal Wallis, whose instinctive feel and magical decisions again and again made the Flynn/de Havilland films shine with life and vitality. And you can bet that Mike Curtiz made his view on the editing known, for he shot what he wanted, and would have vocalized what he wanted the audience to experience in the duel.

Rest assured, some of today’s views have already been added to and expanded upon in the manuscript.

A little long, … sorry, but I wanted to share what one portion of research is like (not all takes place in a lonely archive), and how it can add to a writing project. More on E&O in the future. Promise.

 

Wild Bill Hickok, Geronimo, & that ‘Bad Man from Kansas’ called Ned Wynkoop

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


Image of Wild Bill Hickok in 1867 (lk personal collection)

Not quite the blog I thought I’d publish today (no big deal, for I’ve been shooting from the hip since I was five). An unexpected phone call changed today’s direction. The phone call dealt with gunfighters. Hell, if I have any say in my future I will someday play James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. Not holding my breath, but fingers are crossed. … hell, my fingers are always crossed. I know Wild Bill, and I’ve tried (apparently not forcefully enough) to play Bill in a stage production of Johnny D. Boggs’s great novel East of the Border, which deals with Hickok doing a season of theater with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody in the East. Not to give the plot away, but when Wild Bill realizes that when he fires blanks too close to dead extras lying on the stage floor that the flame burns them. Bill thinks it is a hoot to see dead men jump and scream out in pain. This is a part I could dig my teeth into.

Neither Johnny D. or my director, Tom Eubanks, have demonstrated much interest in me playing Mr. Hickok. I can’t figure out why, for this is type casting. (I guess that there’s a sadistic streak in me—No! I shouldn’t say that; bad advertising.) Another director/producer pitched me on doing a feature film (a la Twilight Zone) featuring a meeting/standoff/shootout between gangsters and gunfighters with me playing Wild Bill (and with me writing the script). This is a no brainer, for I’m Wild Bill.

Holding my breath? No. I never hold my breath, unless it is for a lady I want in my life.

I just enjoyed a cool phone call from a documentary film company, regarding a series of films dealing with gunmen. They actually came to me because of a peripheral gunman who eventually was hung for a murder, he may or may not have committed, named Tom Horn. He played a minor role in Lt. Charles Gatewood finding Geronimo, Naiche, and the remnants of the warring Apaches and getting them to surrender to the U.S. in 1886, which ended the last Apache war. I know Gatewood, and I know Geronimo. Alas, I don’t know Tom Horn, for he was a minor player in the dramatic end of the Apache wars.

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This is Mr. Johnny D. Boggs, one of the best writers working today. However, after he reads the next line or two, he’ll belt on his trusted Peacemakers, grab his favorite Stetson, and climb into his favorite Mustang, and drive to California with blood in his eye, … and it won’t be for past mistakes by your pal Kraft. No sir, Mr. Boggs will be a headin’ to clear the air. I’m already boarding up Tujunga House. First, let me point out that Mr. Boggs is a deadly shot, in print or in person, and he has been gunning for me for at least the past year. ‘Course you can see by this nice portrait of Mr. Boggs, that he has changed the look and feel of the gunmen we have come to love and cherish. He has done it with not only color, but with design. … I can just picture the next costume design for the next feature dealing with Wild Bill, Billy the Kid, Wes Hardin, or the Sundance Kid. Not to push my luck too far, let me add that if you want to read not a good, but a great book of fiction that deals with those long gone days of yesteryear, those long gone days when a man was a man and a woman was a woman, you owe it to yourself to buy any Johnny Boggs book you can get your hands on. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ve got my word on this. Mr. Boggs is one of our writing treasures.

I viewed their video advertising the upcoming series for the Military Channel, … impressive!! No overstatement. Great quality, focus of subject, and featuring Johnny Boggs, my good bud. Boggs is such a good friend, that when next I set foot in New Mexico I’m certain that we’ll stand each other off with fingers twitching inches above our Army Colts.

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lk art based upon a Johnny Boggs photo in 2008.

Mr. Boggs and I’ll saunter toward each other, lips tightening, broad-brimmed hats yanked low over our squinting eyes, breath thinning, and pulse racing. Payback time has arrived. Feet separate us, and there is no way either of us could draw, cock, fire, and miss. The time of reckoning will have arrived … But instead of yanking our irons and spitting death, … we’ll embrace each other. Two friends, glad to see each other again. Johnny smiles, as do I. “Good to see you,” he says. “And you, amigo,” I murmur. ‘Tis true. Two friends … together again. He smiles a second time, but there is an evil tint that clouds his smile. His grin widens, The color of his eyes darken; it is almost as if the sun has lost its sparkle. “Hell’s still a comin’,” he whispers. “Am lookin’ forward to it,” I drawl. Two friends—today, tomorrow, forever. …

Tom Horn … OUCH!!!!

Cool project for the Military Channel, one I’m in line with, but one I can’t buy into from what I’ve just heard from Jerry Holleran (a good conversation, one that instantly caught my interest). But? There’s always that damned “but” … But, Jerry hinted that they found me via my new website/blog, hinted that he was aware of my writing dealing with Charles Gatewood, Geronimo, and the final Apache surrender to the U.S. Government. … That’s good! What the hell are you complaining about Kraft?

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Geronimo in Texas, mere months after his standoff with the Prefect of Arisipe in Old Mexico. He is cool in his new boots, breechclout, coat, button shirt, and brimmed hat. He is also a concerned man—concern for his peoples’ future. This is a portait of a man facing his future and wondering if he had made the right choices. (artistic rendering © Louis Kraft 2013)

If they want a gunfight—I can deliver one (or two). Not with Tom Horn, but rather with Geronimo (or Ned Wynkoop; see below). That’s right, Geronimo (with Gatewood backing him) as the old warrior/mystic confronted the Prefect of Arispe, Jesus Aguirre. Geronimo had become the most hated man in two countries (the U.S. and Mexico). Aguirre burned to eliminate the Apaches (murder them), while Geronimo lived to protect the remnants of his loved ones. Geronimo gripped his Colt. According to Gatewood, his eyes turned red; an ungodly mix with yellow. Aguirre gripped his revolver, sweat dripping down his temples. Tense seconds passed. In a flash someone would die. …

I know where my money would have been placed.

Ned Wynkoop fought for Indian rights. This turned him from being “a badman from Kansas who wore buckskin britches and carried a revolver and Bowie knife in his belt” to perhaps the most hated white man in Colorado Territory. Before daring to stand firm against what he considered the murder of innocent people, Ned Wynkoop, who, as a sheriff in Denver, thought nothing of breaking pals out of jail or standing up to a friend on the “field of honor” with the intent of killing him.

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Portrait of Ned Wynkoop. (© Louis Kraft 2007)

Good with guns, but also a man before his time, Wynkoop not only dared to stand firm in his beliefs but had no problem with stating that the best way to end the Indian problem (in 1868) would be to extend American citizenship to Indians and allow their representatives seats in congress. Johnny Boggs, in his review of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, commented, “No wonder Wynkoop wore a gun.”

I am in that good spot where I want to secure a gig, but can’t for I can’t talk about something that didn’t exist or happen. Can I push Geronimo, Wynkoop, or maybe even Wild Bill? Hope so. We’ll see.

You can bet I’ll contact the producer and chat.

Buying time … Errol Flynn, Ned Wynkoop, & a bad word

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


I thought that tomorrow I would return to the USC Warner Bros. Archives to continue research on the Flynn/de Havilland book. Not to be, for USC has entered finals, which means that the library system shuts down. As the archives is now part of the library system, it also shuts down. I now won’t be able to research at the archives until May 22 and I’ve signed up for all three available days (Wednesday through Friday, May 22-24).

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lk, Diane Moon, & Olivia de Havilland. We are at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Ca., in June 2006. Olivia is being honored. “She,” Olivia would whisper to me upon meeting Diane this night, “is exquisite.” And she was–hell, Diane is beautiful. I have tried so hard to eliminate her from my past, but she is front and center in much of my writing projects, and I can’t do it. This isn’t because of the memories, for they are good. All I can say, is that we are no longer a couple; it ended in 2011 (and I hope that this satisfies her). My past is mine, mine, never to be jettisoned to the circular file, and doubly so when related to what I write about. I have stated the truth about Diane’s & my past, we are no longer a couple. Enough said about a relationship that no longer exists. I should add that Diane and Olivia liked each other and spent time together again in 2009.

 

I’m good with this; hell, I’m good with everything. There is absolutely nothing to get upset over.

Look on the bright side, …

I delivered the final Sand Creek proposal to Chuck Rankin at OU Press last Sunday, April 28. This will lead to him pitching the proposal and us agreeing to and signing a contract. Until that contract is signed, I have time to complete a bunch of articles that are long overdue.

At the moment I’m struggling to remember what I said about Wynkoop in Centennial, Colorado, last month. Read that I’m trying to write an article based on the talk. This is important stuff, for it defines Wynkoop, it defines his guts to stand firm against the press, the military, and the U.S. government, for he absolutely refused to again be what he called an “accessory to the crime” of systematic slaughter of American Indians. This, my friends, took guts.

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This image was created during a rally for Grant’s bid to become president of the USA in October 1868 at the Cooper Union in New York City, two months before Wynkoop also spoke before a standing only crowd at the same hall. Image from Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (November 7, 1868). lk collection.

When questioned about solving the “Indian problem” at the famed Cooper Union in Manhattan in December 1868, Wynkoop dared to say that the best way to solve the situation would be “to extend American citizenship to the Indians and allow their representatives seats in congress.” Oh yes, this man was light years before his time.

And Mr. Flynn—he had to deal with nasty stuff in the 1940s that not only didn’t go away, but after his death worse accusations surfaced that he never had the chance to contest. If you have read a lot about him, you hopefully realize that some of what you may or may not know but have read is not true. Of course, a lot of what you’ve read is true. The good and the bad (don’t know if “bad” a good word choice here), are keys to why people are interesting. (More about this in another blog.)

I’ve told you a little of about Mr. Wynkoop but really nothing about Mr. Flynn. … But my views are strong here and they are going to lead to the usage of a foul word (more than once). If you will be offended, stop reading right here.

And Wynkoop’s reward? The circular file for he refused to march in line with the extermination of a race of people. Fuck that!

Flynn’s reward? Bullshit and lies that his family has not been able to question in court for the simple reason that you can defame the dead in the USA. Great court system we have. I don’t need to repeat the offending phrase here, for you already know what it would be.

New York publishers push the bullshit of the American frontier that the public has knowledge of and buys. There are only a handful of story ideas dealing with the American past (for example: the Alamo, Custer’s last stand, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, among a handful of others). They’re not interested in the truth; rather they’re interested the rewording and reworking of the same stories over and over again. Their goal is to sell books. Since this is the only way they can avoid going out of business, I must agree with their policy. I can agree with it, but I don’t have to like or buy into it. Do you want that infamous word one more time? Why not? Fuck them! (BTW, this four letter word that begins with an “F” is now in the dictionary, so it shouldn’t shock you.) Ladies and gentlemen, some of you (and certainly me) have used this word to the extent that it is now a part of our accepted English slang word usage. Congrats! And thank you, for I’m no longer a gunslinger using a foul and unacceptable word.

In life, we have a choice. What matters, or lies and bullshit that we at times (certainly me) must sell out to and swallow because we want to put food on the table.

There is a lot of crap that has been written, published, and accepted by the public as truth. As the saying goes, “If it is published, it must be true.” Hog wash! And those of you that believe that if something is published that it must be true—shame on you. Shame on you!

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Wynkoop in 1867. (Art © Louis Kraft 1990)

The intent of this blog was simply to say that due to the shutdown of the Warner Bros. Archives I would have the time to complete a Wynkoop article, two shorter articles on Geronimo and the Apaches, and to finally pound away on a Marilyn Monroe article before returning to the land of Errol & Olivia (2 days a week, and sometimes 3, until completion) and Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway (4 days a week upon signing of the contract and delivery of the final manuscript three years from the date of the contract signing), along with 1 day a week for talks and articles (thus me needing to get as much of this done now). There is a Gatewood/Geronimo talk coming this fall (and I’m going to have to figure out how to cheat on time here, figure out how to buy extra time). … And I haven’t even mentioned Navajo Blood. Yikes! Perhaps it is good that there is no lady in my life, for I don’t think she’d be very pleased with me.

Other than being lonesome at times, all is good and I’m enjoying walking into my future.

Do you know me? I don’t think so

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


Ladies & Gents …

Do you know me? You may think you do, but I don’t think so.

I would love to add photos to this blog, but can’t because some people, if they saw it, wouldn’t be pleased (the photos would be gorgeous, but, … always that damned “but.” …). My apologies. Actually I have one I like of good friend Glen Williams. It follows.

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This is my good friend Glen Williams on a great road trip to Arizona in 2012. Good times. Glen is one of my closest friends. He and his pretty wife, Ellen, live in Texas now, and I miss the closeness we had when he lived in SoCal. Will hang out with him and Ellen later this year—good times to come. (Photo © Glen Williams & Louis Kraft 2012)

We’re a lot of things that grow and mature over time. We have good and we have bad, and that is what makes us interesting. Every person I write about, every one—Errol Flynn, Ned Wynkoop, Geronimo, Olivia de Havilland—every one has good and bad in their lives, and that is what makes them interesting, what makes them worth writing about.

If you visited me and opened the wrong closet door you would be buried under several hundred pounds of bones. Does this make me a bad person? No. Does this make me an interesting person? Maybe.

By now you’ve seen that I have every intention of mixing my writing life with what is important to me. Let’s be up front here—women drive my life; mainly two—Marissa and my girlfriend … at the moment I don’t have a girlfriend, which gives you a hint where this blog is headed. Bear with me, I’m just a fellow who rambles.

For decades I have lived in two writing worlds. One allowed me to do damn near anything I pleased without batting an eye, while the other allowed me to write about what was important to me. Two lives, but one is about to end. Those of you who know me and know of both worlds know what will soon happen (probably by summer). Adios amigo–rest in peace. If you want to make a bet, place your money on Flynn, Wynkoop, and the reality/fantasy that I have lived since being a boy.

But there’s something else that drives me, has always driven me, and has always been in my life up until the shocking year of 2011. There is a hole in my life, a hole so large that perhaps it will never be plugged.

Rihanna’s “Stay” summarizes my life. I could say some words here that mean a lot to me, drive me, but might shock you. I’m toying with saying them, but I won’t. I’m good at description, and I’m also really good with dialogue (so be careful with what you say to me.), so I could perhaps turn you on, or shock you. Is this what I want to do? No.

A quick return to my writing world, … there’s a memoir coming, and trust me, for I will turn you on and I will shock you. Life goes in many different ways and the “good, the bad, and sensuous” are all part of it. “Ugly”? No, there’s no “ugly.” Sorry Clint.

We’re again talking about two worlds, but not the two worlds I just mentioned. For now we’re talking about the professional world (technical or freelance) and the personal world. I’m cocky as hell in the professional world (again, technical or freelance), but a lamb in a darkened woods with wolves moving in for the kill in the personal world. There are things in the personal world that I can never share with you, but know that I talk to Jesus about them every day—they are that important to me. I need to live to 120+ to protect the most dear thing in my life. But there’s another part to my personal life, and this needs to be plugged to again make me complete. I just sent an email to my good friend Glen Williams about what looms before me. It isn’t for  here … perhaps when you know me better. Perhaps never. I’m free with my thoughts, with my desires, … but normally only for close friends, for they know what drives me. I thought about opening up more here after emailing Glen, but changed my mind. I’m a normal guy, which means I’d shock the hell out of you.

Sorry, but we’ll need to save the juicy stuff for the future.