The High Chaparral
He catches your eye the first time you see him. Thereís something about that cowboy in the blue shirt. It might be the strong self-assurance thatís so obvious in every gesture. Or maybe itís the thick black mustache or dark wavy hair that gets your attention. But from the minute you see Joe Butler, you wonít forget him. Youíll start watching for him in every scene, forgetting to pay attention to the unfolding drama when Joe appears somewhere in the background. Heís there, pushing a wagon in front of the open ranch gate to stop an onslaught of marauding Apaches. Heís dancing by with a saloon girl in his arms. Throwing punches alongside his comrades to defend someone's honor, or just for fun. And when heís in the forefront of the scene - arguing with the boss, standing by his brother, getting thrown in jail to help a friend - the story is that much richer. This is not a stereotyped cowboy but a real man who puts family loyalty before his own beliefs, is willing to quit his job when his ethics are questioned, enjoys his liquor and a good practical joke, and gives his heart and soul to making the High Chaparral the best it can be. As played by Bob Hoy, Joe Butler is a complex character that enhances each story of The High Chaparral.
Biography of Joe Butler
Joe Butler and his older brother, Sam are taken in as orphans by Ben Lynch and raised alongside Lynch's three sons in the town of San Felipe. Though they are fed, clothed, and treated fairly, Lynch does not act toward the Butler boys as he does his own children. Perhaps it is this lack of a true family that bonds the two Butlers. As adults, they ride together - not always on the right side of the law.
Buck Cannon signs the Butlers on as some of the first ranch hands on the High Chaparral. Sam is made foreman. Joe repeatedly shows the strength of their bond by deferring to Sam's judgment and requests for support, even when his own opinions are contrary to his brother's. Sam knows he can even speak for Joe (The Price of Revenge). Because Joe is a hard worker, skilled in many tasks and dependable, he is well-liked and respected by all members of the ranch. If Joe ever decided to balk at an order, Sam knows he will have trouble will all the other ranch hands. When the elder Butler leaves the ranch for a time, it is Joe that is pushed by his fellow ranch hands to be the new foreman (Jelks), because as Sam has told him previously, "the men look to you just like they look to me." (A Good Sound Profit.)
He is a man of strong feelings and convictions. Joe tends to see things as black and white, and this makes him sometimes act out of emotion. He almost quits the ranch when he is acting as foreman and John Cannon wants a ranch hand fired just because he doesn't like him (Jelks). He is willing to leave a wounded man to perish in the desert because the man is a notorious thief and murderer who steals from the rich and keeps it for himself (Tiger By the Tail). And he digs in his heels about caring out the duties that help the boss seemingly help the Maximilianistas, the enemy of the Mexican people, until Sam asks him to do it for his sake (A Good Sound Profit.) But he is not so hard-headed that he can't see reason, and with logical or heartfelt requests, Joe does the right thing in all these cases.
All men are created equal - no better and no worse than he - and Joe treats them accordingly. Buck, Manolito and Blue may live in The House, but they are also his pals. His only fear is the wrath of Big John Cannon - he'd rather face the Apache. Women, on the other hand, are not meant to be acting like a boss. (Lady Fair).
The Bunkhouse Boys
Joe is the consummate cowboy. He can ride, rope, lasso, brand, keep a herd of cattle in line, shoot, and knock a man out with his fist. He takes all his work seriously. The High Chaparral becomes his home - one he is proud of. As he tells John Cannon, "We've all got a lot at stake to let the Chaparral go to seed..." (Jelks). He risks his life again and again to ensure the safety of the ranch as well as the people on it - receiving an Apache arrow in the leg twice (The Arrangement and Alliance ), and a bullet from a henchmen of a Mexican revolutionary. (An Anger Greater Than Mine). He is thrown in jail and faces a firing squad while trying to save Manolito (The Firing Wall). Unarmed, he tackles and fights an armed man who holds Victoria hostage (Jelks).
But Joe's life isn't all about work. He enjoys the beverages of the saloon in Tucson or the cantinas across the border ("Sam, you oughta know better than to lend me money when I'm drinkin.'") The evening hours are passed playing poker in the bunkhouse. He's not above playing a joke on Blue that leaves the young man face down in the mud when it's the boss's son's first time at giving the orders (To Stand for Something More). And he'll fight his own brother with pleasure to win the attentions of a girl (The Covey). Fighting seems to be high on the list of entertainment - Joe is quite happy to throw punches at fellow ranch hand Ira when its part of a convoluted plan to save Manolito (The Firing Wall) and relishes taking part in all the brawls the bunkhouse boys get into.
Without Joe Butler, The High Chaparral would not have functioned quite the same. He is at its very heart. As he grows over the years he leaves his mark, effecting every single person on it as well as the ranch itself for the better.
Best episodes that feature Joe Butler: