SIERRA debuted Thursday September 12, 1974 on
NBC. This 60-minute, 13 episode series was filmed entirely in Yosemite National
Park, known as Sierra National Park for the series. Jack Morehead, Yosemite’s
Chief Ranger and Technical Advisor for the series stated, “No other parks were
used for filming, although if the series had been successful, there were plans
to go to other parks in addition to Yosemite.”Airing against The Walton's at 8 PM, this is a program
about Park Rangers and their dealings with lost hikers, enforcing park
regulations, coping with visitors, and Search & Rescue incidents. Sierra
starred James G. Richardson (as Ranger Tim Cassidy) and Ernest Thompson (as
Ranger Matt Harper), with Jack Hogan (as Chief Ranger Jack Moore), Susan Foster
(as Ranger Julie Beck and former nurse) and Michael Warren (as Ranger P.J.
In a crossover episode titled ‘Urban Rangers’, Kevin Tighe and Randolph
Mantooth appear in Sierra as their EMERGENCY! characters. Story:
Johnny and Roy arrive at park headquarters, (in Randy's Land Cruiser) to
participate in a cross-training program between the LA County Fire Department
and the Sierra National Park Rangers. For Johnny and Roy this involves Mountain
Rescue training. Some of the other story lines are: They participate in the
attempted capture of Cruncher the wayward bear. Johnny tries to date Julie, the
only female Park Ranger assigned to the unit, but keeps getting interrupted.
Roy considers a career change to become a Park Ranger.
Johnny and Roy go off alone on an easy day climb as part of their
training and come across an injured climber, Johnny stays with the injured
person and Roy goes for help. Roy, while running to get help, trips, falls, and
sustains a head injury becoming unconscious; he is carrying his climbing helmet
- not wearing it. The Park Rangers, noting that they are over an hour late in
getting back go searching for them and find Roy still unconscious. The Rangers
transport Roy to the park hospital; find Johnny and the injured climber and they
too are rescued. While visiting Roy in the hospital, Johnny, learning that
Ranger Julie is now unavailable, tries to make a date with Roy’s nurse.
Executive Producer for Sierra
is Robert A. Cinader and produced by Bruce Johnson for Mark VII Limited in
association with Universal Television. Jack Morehead, Chief Ranger of Yosemite
N. P. when Cinadar approached the National Park Service about approval for the
series, and permission to film in National Parks,served as the shows Technical Advisor. Dick Friend recalls that at Robert
Cinader’s request Morehead and he spent several days together, along with some
of LA County’s paramedics, while they were planning Sierra. Friend
stated, “Cinader brought him down to Los Angeles and we all took one of our
weekend cruises to Catalina on Bob's boat. My job was to tell him what I had
learned, and in Bob’s words, “see how show biz works”. Note that the Chief
Ranger in the Sierra series was named ‘Jack Moore’.
Tidbits: Randy’s brother, Donald Mantooth,
appeared in Sierra’s ‘Holiday’ episode and appeared in two Emergency!
episodes. John Denver wrote SIERRA's theme song but Denny Brooks, a long
time friend of Denver’s and acoustical guitarist, sang it. W. Preston Wood II
collaborated on writing the pilot (The Rangers) and wrote two Sierra
scripts as well as for Dragnet, Adam 12 and twenty-two episodes of
Emergency!. Hannah Shearer, (later a writer and producer for Emergency!)
was Sierra’s Research Assistant.
Photos of the Tyrolean Rescue off Lost Arrow spire, 3000 feet above the
Yosemite Valley as seen in the debut episode of Sierra, from the personal
collection and courtesy of Park Ranger Butch Farabee, retired. Butch was the
Training Officer in Yosemite NP during the 1970's.
Thanks also to Richard Yokley for tracking this all down for us!
Click on the thumbnails below for some screenshots from the show.