Don admitted to being a bit nervous about the interview but was immediately comfortable with the three. My Hollywood ideas were a little unfounded, he said. I was really flattered that they wanted my opinion on anything. After the interview, Don took the three to Palo Duro Canyon and out to eat in Canyon. One question the producer asked was Did Then Came Bronson change peoples attitudes about motorcycle riders? Don said it had softened his fathers attitude about bikers. His father, a survivor of Iwo Jima in World War II, had said his son would never ride motorcycles because his friend, also a survivor of that battle, had bought a motorcycle upon his return to San Francisco and had a fatal wreck before leaving the city limits for his trip home back East.
I wonder what my dad would think if he knew how involved I got with Bronson, Don said. Bronson was a role model for Don when the TV show started in 1970. He was somebody you could look up to; he was cool, Don said. He was like a cowboy who rode into town. All the girls fell in love with him, and all the guys were jealous. What teen-aged boy would not think that was cool? Every week Bronson would ride into town and find someone in a dilemma and help solve it. Then he would ride on to a new adventure the next week. The co-star for the week was always a big star. I wanted to be like Bronson and be a good guy, not cuss, be a decent human being, Do unto others, Collins said. Has he succeeded? I think so, he said. I am not perfect, but I try to be a good person.
When he was in seventh grade, he also tried to look like Bronson by wearing his signature wool Navy watch cap and by clenching his jaws for hours to make them like Bronsons square-cut jaws. After a visit to the dentist for jaw pain, Don realized he was causing the pain himself with his excessive clenching. Don owns DVDs of the movie and all 26 episodes of the one-year series. He has watched the movie 100 times but has watched some of the episodes only once or twice because they were so poorly written, some by guest writers. Don said the program addressed social issues that had not been addressed at that time such as depression, autism, homelessness, and addictions. After leaving Canyon, the crew flew to Dallas to interview Parks best friend and to Austin to interview his son. I am hoping they have room for me with all the movie stars they interviewed, Don said. I may end up on the cutting room floor. If I do, thats OK.
The documentary, Long Lonesome Highway: The Story of Michael Parks will be released next year. Don bought his first motorcycle, a Honda 100, when he was 15. His father was already anti-cycle, but to have one made in Japan sitting in his garage was even worse. So Don found a British-made Triumph and convinced his father it would be better. However, Triumphs were known to leak oil, and his lived up to the reputation, leaving oil puddles on his fathers garage floor. When Don came home one day, he discovered that his father had lifted the 500-pound Triumph and thrown it into the dumpster. It took Don and four of his buddies to haul it out of the dumpster. After that he parked the Triumph in the garage on a piece of cardboard. Don, who will be 62 in April, estimates he has ridden half a million miles, a wild guess on his bikes. His only wreck was when he was on his way to meet the parents of his Canyon High School girlfriend. He is not sure what happened, but he credits his new full-faced helmet for saving his life. His new t-shirt was in tatters when he arrived at the parent's home. He does not think he made a very good first impression.