The History of the Marshal 
Part IV


The undertakers were normally Groundskeepers and every hour when a gunfight would take place, the selected Groundskeeper would stop sweeping and go suit up as an undertaker and then after the gunfight, return to sweeping up the grounds. Performing in the gunfights was a huge honor for the chosen Groundskeepers and it was also a great break in the daily activities of sweeping and cleaning the park. When Marshal Ron left, Bill Kelsey was appointed Gunfight Coordinator (whatever that was) and one of the first things that Bill did was to improve and fully script the undertaker act. The undertaker (or Doc Ptomaine) script was designed to provide comic relief from the "violence" of the gunfights and also show the kids in the audience that the outlaw was not really "dead". The very first Doc Ptomaine was Woody McLeroy, who also had a long career at the park performing many different jobs. Later on, Don Hand accepted the role. Don and Woody, according to Wild Bill, really personalized the Doc Ptomaine (head undertaker) character, but it took too much rehearsal for everyone else. So, Bill came up with Lance, the Apprentice Undertaker, who was sort of a storekeeper/village idiot kind of guy. That way, if an under-rehearsed grounds guy forgot the lines, he could just play dumb. Two of the Groundskeepers, who were undertakers for the longest time, were Don Hand and Bob Trifilo. Woody, Don and Bob all added their flair as Doc Ptomaine. No doubt, if you became an gunfighter, most often you spent an internship as an undertaker (or as a Doc Ptomaine) before strapping on a gun. Only a few park entertainers jumped from line employee to gunfighter without spending time as an undertaker. Gary Ross is notable as an undertaker for not only performing that task for a long time, but also being pictured in so many gunfight publicity stills. Gary Ross and Don Hand are probably the two most photographed undertakers/Doc Ptomaines you'll see on postcard pictures or in publicity stills.

While Chuck was Marshal, he brought the Stunt Show to the Village in 1970 And 1971. Randy and Curt were the first outlaws in the show, Allen was the first Silver Dollar Sam (the bartender who provided comic relief) and Chuck was the MC and the Marshal. The Stunt Shows had a few comic skits to start the show, followed by a slow motion fight and then ended with a bar room brawl. In the Spring of 1972, Chuck, Curt and Randy left the Village and wrestled lions and tigers and other assorted beasts at Marine World, Africa USA. Chuck, Randy and Curt also performed consulting work, putting together stunt shows for other California amusement parks. In either late 1974 or early 1975, Chuck returned to the Village with Stunt Shows featuring the Fall Guys. The Fall Guys performed the Stage Show while seasonal entertainers continued to perform the hourly street gunfights. The Stunt Shows remained a fixture at the Village until it closed in 1980. During his return as the Stunt Show Director (as a Concessionaire, so to speak), Chuck also assisted with entertainment projects like writing the script for the magic show and smoothing out Chryle Bacon's (trick rope artist) show performance. Chuck is a brilliant entertainer and excellent judge of what audiences like.

 

 


   Frontier Village - Marshal History Part V