A Remembrance of Bill Catching
by Francis “Mike” Nevins
Bill Catching died on August 24, 2007. He was born in Texas in 1926 and broke into the movie business as a stuntman in the late 1940s, just as theatrical features were beginning to be displaced by television. He doubled stars and did stunt work on a huge number of early Western and action-adventure series including Boston Blackie, The Roy Rogers Show, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Sea Hunt. Later he became stunt coordinator for long-running prime-time series like The FBI, Cannon, and The Fall Guy. For those whose interest is Latino-themed Westerns, his main claim to attention is that he doubled Leo Carrillo in The Cisco Kid TV series (1950-56). He was the last survivor of the three men whose recollections contributed so much to the chapter on the series in my book The Films of the Cisco Kid (soon to be republished in an expanded edition by the Arizona State University Hispanic Research Center as The Cisco Kid: American Hero, Hispanic Roots). Here are a few samples:
They made a body pad for me to double Leo. I loved it because you'd bounce around in it when you hit the ground.Early Cisco director Al Herman
I was doubling Leo on top of the elephant. The old gal's name was Emma. . . . I had never ridden an elephant before, and she was shuffling along pretty good and the camera car's in front, and the director told the trainer, "Make her go faster." And they speeded up the camera car and the trainer yelled "EMMA!!" Man, she shifted gears like a car, and started forward so fast the leather thing around her neck that I was holding to broke and I rolled backwards off her. That was the tallest saddle fall I ever did.Bill and I talked on the phone countless times, but the last time I saw him was a few summers ago. While in Tempe to do some work with the Hispanic Research Center, I was asked to take a crew and drive across the state to his ranch near Yuma and conduct a videotaped interview with him for eventual use here and perhaps on other ASU projects. To see Bill and hear him in his own words—as visitors to this Web site will certainly want to do for many years to come—just click where the screen indicates.