During the later years in his life, Jock took to wearing a full beard but his handsome features still shown thru. The ladies at the Sarasota School of Performing Arts loved him! I was impressed at how well he was received by young students who were in diapers when he played TARZAN. The beard, he thought, was an asset to get him character parts since he was past playing the leading man roles. One of the films shown was an episode of the TV show B.J. AND THE BEAR in which Jocko played the villain. He was proud of that saying, “Did you notice how I was in that? …crazed!” The beard helped.
That night after the school was out, Jocko said, “Hey, let’s see if we can go visit Burt.” Burt Reynolds is a Florida boy (FSU… go ‘Noles!) who has a home (and theater) in Jupiter, Florida, located geographically across the state from Sarasota. Jocko and Burt were good buddies. Burt’s main squeeze was SALLY FIELD who was Jocko’s step-daughter. Reynold’s film about a stuntman (HOOPER) was, in part, based on Jocko’s life. I mean how cool would that have been… David Rothel, Jock Mahoney and I cutting across state to Jupiter (the ONLY way to get there is via Alligator Alley) to see BURT REYNOLDS! Unfortunately, when Jock called, Burt was out of town. Major bummer. And Tarzan missed a shot at fighting a gator… in real life.
The next day Jocko gave lessons in stunt fighting using the students in his demonstrations. Too bad hand held camcorders had not as yet been invented so all I have is still pictures. Wonder if David Rothel has a copy of the video that his students made? They also ran the films I brought including a DURANGO KID Western in which Jock doubles Charles Starrett. Hopefully I’ll have a clip from a Durango to show you what he routinely did in the series. Jocko told me that stuntmen were paid by the gag so he was always coming up with new and exciting gags for Durango and then selling the director on using them. Jumping from one roof to another would be one gag. Jumping off the roof would be a second gag. Landing in a buckborard and whipping the horses at full speed would be a third. Jocko would string many such gags together and that made Durango one of the most exciting characters in B Westerns.
Jock went from stuntman to supporting roles to almost co-starring in the DURANGO KID series. In the last couple years of the run he would be third billed after Starrett and comic SMILEY BURNETTE. It was a good training ground for an actor and it led to Mahoney starring in a couple serials for Columbia and the RANGE RIDER TV series for Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions.
I befriended Charles Starrett in 1970 when I interviewed him for Paragon magazine. As Durango, he was my number one childhood hero. He made me his “agent” and I vowed to keep Durango riding as long as I live. To that end I’ve reprinted nearly all of the DURANGO KID comic book stories in 3 issues of THE DURANGO KID, 71 issues of BEST OF THE WEST and in many special books like WESTERN TREASURY.