We're in the Pix For ‘Route 66’ (Whew, Boy!)
Dallas Times Herald - March 13, 1962

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“Starring George Maharis” - by Rick Dailey

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We're in the Pix For ‘Route 66’ (Whew, Boy!)

Staff Writer

The road leading to the news stories in Dallas was full of bumps and grinds -- grinding cameras, if you please -- as the Times Herald got its kicks on “Route 66.”

For more than six hours Tuesday, during the height of deadlines, bulletins and rewrites, the vast city room went Hollywood.   Batteries of glaring lights, veteran movieland technicians and Broadway actors burned their talents brightly.

The result will be seen in about six weeks on CBS television, during an hour-long network showing of “Route 66,” which will start Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Extras ought to look the part to the nation, all right.   They’re Times Herald newspapermen.


By mod-morning, the TV group’s three big trucks, the Honey Wagon (holding wardrobes and dressing rooms), the Blue Goose (with cameras and sound equipment) and the grips-props-electrical van pulled up at Herald Square for a full day’s work.

A scene showing two Dallas policemen hurrying into the Times Herald was shot first.   It drew a large crowd outside.   That was nothing compared to the throng that filled the corners of the city room “set” from 11 a.m.  until 6 p.m., while the indoor shooting was under way.

Several hundred people came and went along the shadowed edges of 10 lights that blazed up to as much as 10,000 watts apiece during the day.

One technician, Paul Harris, a 32-year Hollywood veteran and a member of the “Route 66” location crew since shooting for the series began in July, 1960, said he “can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen the show” which appears every Friday night.   “Our work schedule is that busy.”

In the actors themselves, there were plenty of real-life vignettes to keep the real-life reporters on hand pencil sharp.

Billy Smith, for instance.   Aware of the TB production, Times Herald copy boys unaccountably showed up at work Tuesday wearing white shirts and ties for the first time in memory -- all except Billy Smith.

So director David Rich (who also directed the hour-long “Naked City” to appear Wednesday night on ABC-Channel 8) picked Billy to play the role of a copyboy in a fat walk-on part.

“I haven’t appeared in anything since the 7th grade, six years ago,” said Billy edgily.   “It was a school play, I was a Chinaman and didn’t have a line.”   He’s still batting 1000.

J.  L.  Howe is a Dallas policeman who has a West Dallas beat.   The father of four who lives at 3216 Mayhew is 26.   He’s always wanted to get away from it all and wind up as a versatile Hollywood stunt-man.   So he got a part in the TV show.   They cast him as a Dallas policeman.

Broadway character actor Duke Farley flew in for one day, to play a key role as Times Herald city editor.   Bushy-browed, grey-haired, Irish-looking and portly, he’s one of those TV character actors you’ve seen “a million times and never know his name.”

Chatting softly about his World War II days at Camp Hood and then when he was a German prisoner of war, Mr.  Farley walked 10 paces into the glare of lights and transformed himself with each step into a grouchy, growling city editor.

It takes our real-life city editor a 20-minute drive from home to office to do that.


Another of those seen-them-a-million-times perfectionists, Arthur Hill, played the role of star reporter, a leading part in the “Kiss The Maiden All Forlorn” production of “Route 66.”

Mr.  Farley remembered his city editor role from “Front Page,” when he played in that great newspaper epic years ago.   But Mr.  Hill played his reporter’s role in a lower key.

“I was thinking of the journalism students I knew in college,” he explained.   They’ve gone on to sedate, quiet jobs on papers in Toronto and London.   Mr.  Hill is a Canadian.   Mr.  Farley is from Boston.

Their accents fit fine on The Times Herald, though, just as Dallas is so close to the real Route 66.

Chosen for a speaking part on the rewrite desk was an actual Dallas newspaper person, though, so producers of the show could get one authentic accent.   They picked Fairfax Nisbet for the role.   She is with a morning newspaper in Dallas.

No one on The Times Herald staff looked enough the part to be heard in the Times Herald City room.  

Dallas Times Herald - March 13, 1962

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