The "Reel Cowboys" weekly breakfast club at Big Jim's Restaurant in Sun Valley will now come to order. Well, as orderly as a bunch of wranglers can get. Around the table gather a slew of rugged character actors and behind-the-camera movers whose credits comprise a history of the classic age of TV westerns: John Locke ("Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train"), Joe Cranston ("Wyatt Earp" and "Bronco"), Mike Masters ("Wild Wild West" and "Bonanza") and veteran bad guy Mike Reynolds, who claims to have shot everyone from Ernest Borgnine to Kevin Costner. James Drury, a.k.a. "The Virginian," is out of town.
Between bites of steak and eggs, as the microphone is passed around the table, mustachioed members in Southwestern shirts and bolo ties discuss club business, engage in bits of good-humored tussling and, yes, reminisce. The announcement of a wake for Iron Eyes Cody sets off a round of "cowboys and Indians" movie mishap anecdotes, from the one about the bonnet set afire to the day a rain dance produced real rain. That reminds Masters "of the time John Ford kicked Jay Silverheels off the set." Which reminds club president Al "Big Al" Fleming, who plays Buffalo Man on CBS' "The Magnificent Seven" and comes in at 6 feet, 8 inches in his Stetson, of a Sam Peckinpah story. "Hey, we oughta do a book!" says agent Steve Stevens, who handled the late actors Slim Pickens, Amanda Blake and Chuck Connors.