MARCH 1999

This is a monthly newsletter for communicating information about Then Came Bronson, Michael Parks, and related items of interest, to the general public. It is not affiliated with MGM, TNT or any other company or organization.

Below is a list of short-cuts to various sections of this page. Although you may want to read the page through from top to bottom the first time, I put these in so that, if you want to find something later, you can go right to that section (by clicking on the hyperlink).



March 1999. It was 30 years ago this month that Bronson came crashing through our tv sets and into our lives. The first airing of the pilot movie, on NBC, was March 24. Those of us who caught that first showing had to wait over 4 long months for the movie to repeat and another 6 weeks for the series to begin. It was agony. Then, in one year it was gone, unless you were lucky to have some station in your area showing reruns. What could we do to heal the pain?
We went out and bought motorcycles. That's what! Bought navy blue watchcaps and traveled around like we were Bronson. Played Michael Parks' records until we knew the words by heart, so we could sing them while out on the road. We haunted Harley dealerships and other motorcycle shops. Browsed news stands for cycle mags with anything on TCB. Took a Bronson novel with us to a diner to read over a cup of coffee. Carefully, even reverently, we built the Bronson Motorcycle model, and displayed it proudly.
Time passed, and some of us sold our bikes. Magazines and memorabilia faded into oblivion, or at least into the attic. Some of us still rode. Many of us kept the songs in our heads. Occasionally, as we sat at an intersection next to a biker or a man in a station wagon, we thought of that opening scene: "Takin' a trip?..."
But the memory did not die; unlike Nick, it did not go over the "high side." At most, it merely slept. Now, with the internet connecting thousands of people with each other every day, the remembrance comes to the forefront as we sit at the computer... and type in the words "then came bronson"... and click on the "Search" button...

With fresh snow on the ground and Spring not as close as the groundhog would have me believe, I have been feeling "cabin fever." But my escape options being limited to what's on my bookshelf, I cracked open John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America (published in the 1950s, I think). It's the autobiographical story of a guy who did what Bronson did, but many years before, and in a pick-up truck with a camperback unit. He, like Bronson, wanted to see what was out there in this great country, wanted to get to know the people close up, and see the landscape first-hand, rather than in magazines or on television. He started from Long Island, NY, and headed across the northern part of the country. Then turned south along the west coast, stopping for rest in a forest of Giant Sequoias, then headed southeast, and eventually ending up where he started from. If you could take the story and swap the truck for a motorcycle, you would have an excellent Bronson novel! (I won't spoil it for you by telling you the adventures he finds, but it's good enough that I've read it a half a dozen times since 1970.) I'm sure you can find it in your local library or a used book store, or regular one, if you don't mind paying full price.
Some other books I have enjoyed over the years were the autobiographical ones by Richard Bach, who flew biplanes across this country and wrote about his adventures (long before he wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull). Four of the titles I remember were Biplane, Nothing by Chance, Stranger To The Ground and A Gift Of Wings. There's also his fictional book Illusions, The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah (1977), but that may be a bit esoteric for some people.
If you don't mind spending a whole year traveling around the shore of a quiet lake, pick up a copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. One of the best books ever written.
Another book comes to mind: Blue Highways, by William Least-Heat Moon. It's much like Steinbeck's book, only more recent (mid 1980s?).
There's also Walk Across America, and its sequels, by Peter Jenkins (1980). And there's Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig (1974). Its a fascinating journey not only across this country but also into the mind of a man struggling with the ghosts that haunt his past. But that might be a bit intense if you're just looking for a travelogue book.

One day in a record store, I got to talking about Michael Parks and TCB with a guy who owns a recording studio. He told me that a biker buddy of his was a real fan of the show. So every year he makes a fresh tape of the instrumental theme to the show so the buddy can pop it into his cassette player, installed in the fairing of his motorcycle. Apparently he just can't start off without that song playing. But I can understand that. I had all of Michael Parks albums on 8-track: ka-chung! (For those of you too young to remember 8-track players, they made this annoying clunk as they moved to the next two song tracks of the cartridge. Ah, the good old days.)

Well, enough of my rambling. On with the newsletter!


[Here's their site address, with email function:]

Their web site has a new addition: a "review" page for listener comments and reviews on the new CD.

[They also sent along the following item:]

Nothing is scheduled in time for the March newsletter [regarding a "Then Came Bronson" story]. Bill has a handshake agreement for MP to be on the Mike Murphy show in KC, but no specific time has been scheduled. Also, we're test marketing in the Fort Smith, Arkansas, area. The CD is out to several radio stations: KMXJ "Mix 96", request line 501-785-9996 (T-Bone and Tiny's Blues show on Tuesday evenings is what we're targeting), and KLSZ Rock 102 (in neighboring Van Buren), 501-575-0102 (Chef Eddie's Blues Review on Sunday evenings is what we're targeting). The CD is available at 2 retail stores in Fort Smith: Warehouse Music and CD Warehouse.

Feel free to include any of the Fort Smith stuff if you want to, though the audience base would be pretty narrow. It could help us, though, if you have any Arkansas or Oklahoma readers. And I'll let you know when any interviews are actually scheduled.

Bill used to talk to MP once a week or so, but lately he's lucky to reach him once a month because of MP's busy filming schedule. As Michael would say, that can be good or bad...or good and bad.....


The following may be of interest to all the motorcycle enthusiasts who enjoy your web page. This is a story I remember reading years ago, and Michael confirmed it when I recently spoke with him.

After "Then Came Bronson" left the air, the studio sold the motorcycle from the series to Michael (for a fairly nominal sum I believe). A private school, one that Michael's son was attending, was trying to raise money (a constant need for private educational facilities). So Michael donated the Bronson Bike to the school. They held a raffle for the Bike and raised quite a lot of money.

I thought this was a really nice story when I saw it many, many years ago. Does anyone know where the Bike is now?

Best Regards,
Listen Recordings


[There's an interesting email in the fan mail section, that ties in with the film Parks is presently doing! - jonpf]


Click here


If you're a fan of Ann-Margret (who starred in Bus Riley's Back In Town, with Michael Parks), here's a web site for her:

And another one:

Here are a couple of images (thumbnails only) of posters from the movie, one on Spanish:


To email me, click here!

There's always been some discussion about what bikes were used in TCB, and that included the Sportster's smaller stand-ins (with the "disappearing cylinder"), including the one used in the pilot movie (for the beach scenes and the hillclimb contest). Some called it a Yamaha, a Suzuki, a Honda, an H-D Sprint, Baja, or Rapido, and other brands. Twice, Bud Ekins, the motorcycle customizer for TCB, has said that it was a CZ, provided by his Triumph/CZ dealership, though he couldn't recall which model. Recently, I tracked down a web site for CZs and abstracted the following part, with photos, for the late-1960s 360cc ones. And I have included a scan of the non-Sportster bike, used in the hillclimb, from a lobby card for the pilot movie. When I look at the photos, it looks like Bud is right (not that I doubted him). Check out the gas tank, engine, seat, front wheel, and exhaust, especially.

Here's the CZ site that the following abstract comes from:


1967, CZ 360 side pipe

It would seem that the 360 side pipe went into production while the 250 twin pipe was still being built. The 1967 brochure that the above picture came from still shows the 250 twin pipe, but the 360 is shown as a side pipe model with a chrome sided tank. It is not known if this chrome sided tank ever came on a production bike, but the tank is very similar to the tank used by Roger DeCoster in 1967 when the CZ team toured America racing the Inter-am series.

CZ 360 side-pipe

CZ 360 side pipe

1968-1970, CZ 360 side pipe

The above 1969 360 side pipe (type 969/01) is owned by Less Packer, of Wiltshire, England. 250 & 360 side pipes are hard to tell apart, most of the bikes produced had the orange paint scheme, but some yellow bikes did come off the assembly line. The CZ works bikes of this time period featured innovations like Femsa electronic ignitions and double cone expansion chambers like the one tried on Fredrichs bike in 1969.

Here are the three photos together:

Click here to see a full-sized view of this image of the lobby card bike.


And here's another CZ site:

[Email from a fan:]
Does anyone have a picture(s) of the Bronson Sportster's right side? The right side of most any Harley-Davidson is its most photogenic yet every picture I find of the famous Bronson bike is of its primary (or left) side. I'd like to see what type exhaust is on the bike, etc.

[Here are two from the 1969 XLH Sportster used on TCB, and one from a stock 1969 XLCH. Hope these help! - jonpf]

[I got the following reply to my question about the diamond-shaped insignia on the chromed primary cover of the Bronson Sportster engine that I mentioned in a previous newsletter:]

"The motor in those pictures is a 1967 to 1970 XLH, 67 was the only year that the XLH came with both electric and kick starters, but the kicker could have been easily added to a 68 -69 -70 model. The emblem on the primary cover in one of the pictures is a tank badge, probably taken off the original XLH gas tank and put on the primary cover to hide a scratch. The correct primary cover is in the other picture. It has 8 ribs cast into it and was used on all XLHs from 67-70. Do you have any pix that show the exhaust system? That would be more of an indicator of what year bike we are looking at, also the front forks as H-D changed the front fender in 70. "

[Although this guy seems to know Sportsters, I'm still not "sold" on the identity. Plus, the Sportster was customized, and I don't think the MGM list of changes is necessarily complete.
To refresh the question, there seem to be two different "primary covers" used on the engines. Click on the link below to bring up a web page that I put together to show the differences. The first two photos, from the 1969 pilot movie Sportster and a stock 1970 XLH Sportster, clearly show horizontal ribbing, as he mentioned. The next two photos, from the episodes, clearly show no ribbing. They also show a diamond-shaped insignia of some sort. (There is a close-up of the primary cover in the episode The Forest Primeval, after the bike has crashed down the hill, which clearly shows the name Harley-Davidson within the diamond.) Also, the first two photos show a non-chromed cover, while the next two (and the Forest Primeval view) clearly show a chromed cover, not that that means anything.
I wonder if the cover comes from an earlier year Sportster (say, 1963-66?), and AMF H-D had it put on the bikes so that there would be some sort of Harley advertising, since the gas tank logo had been replace with the "all-seeing eye" decal. So if anyone can shed some more light on this matter, please let me know. - jonpf]

Primary Cover


To email me, click here!

[Email from a fan (and thanks for the heads-up):]

Hi Jon, Just wondering if you saw the full page picture from TCB on page 44 of the April issue of VQ magazine? VQ is an Easyriders publication. It's a high quality, slick magazine without as much of the biker babe shots as the old Easyriders I remember. The issue has a shot of Erik Estrada from the new Chips movie on the top right cover and the logo "Chip's Erik Estrada on a Harley?". The Bronson shot is used for kind of a joke, but it's still a good full page picture.

American Rider (an H-D oriented cycle mag), in the April issue, available now, has a 5-page article on H-D Sprints, entitled "The Sprint, 1961 to 1974." It also has some nice photos (all in color).


To email me, click here!

(Anonymous, unless requested otherwise. I put these on because so many people asked me to make a fan web page so they could tell their "Bronson" stories. Also, some emails are in other sections of this newsletter, where appropriate.)

Hi Jon,
Nice Feb. '99 newsletter.
Here's another picture of JB camping with Temple [click on the thumbnail image].
Take care,
Bruce Graham

Click here

[From the guy who has "the Bronson Sportster", mentioned in the Feb. newsletter:]
hi jon,
i just popped in at your website, and loved the feb. newsletter. i was shocked to see my 'ol lardass on the bike in the pics! damn, i wish i would have sucked in my gut for that pic! oh, well... i have about 150-350 other pics of the bike, some professional, some by novices, most of which ill be scanning when i get a few moments. im also going to be doing my own website in the near future, and would like to ask if you wouldnt mind my adding a link to your site. keep kicking butt, and stay well.
full throttle,

Dear Jon,
Once again I thoroughly enjoyed your newsletter.
I enjoyed the e-mail where the guy said he used to draw the Bronson gas tank on his school papers. I thought I was the only one to do that!

I have a customer who wants to build an exact replica motorcycle to the Bronson bike, we need any photos, etc. Also any history you might have, i.e. yr/model of the original bike etc.
Kirk Kelley
Sporty Specialties

Like yourself, I was highly affected by TCB, so much so that I grew up to own the nations only "Sportster only" bike shop. I specialize in finding those hard to find and obsolete parts for the early sportsters and K-models. A great number of my loyal customers came from this era also. I believe TCB planted a seed way back when that has now sprouted and is bringing Harley-Davidson the prosperity it is enjoying today. Great site, keep up the good work.
Kirk Kelley
Sporty Specialties

I would love to be mentioned on your site. If anyone needs parts to finish their replica, I'm sure I could help. I'm working on a site of my own but it won't be up for awhile yet. There is also a "Sportster home page" site at that you may want to mention. This site is an excellent forum for XL people to inter-act, and I think that site would like to link with you as well.
My info is:
Sporty Specialties
1875-A W. Commonwealth, Fullerton, Ca. 92833
(714) 879-0500
Thanx again,
Kirk Kelley

Found your website while trying to find info on the movie/series which was a "must see" for me when I was younger: Then Came Bronson.
Please put me on the emailing list for the newsletter.

You really have a great site here, I just happened upon it while searching for some TCB memories.. Your site has rekindled many fond memories for me as well as many other TCB fans.
I find it interesting how many fans mention they were 14-15 years old when the pilot was aired, I too fall into this age bracket. I too, went on to ride on what was affordable to me at the time, a 1970 Honda 350. Growing up in the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma, many of my rides were over the Talimena Highway from Talihina to Mena Arkansas, not quiet the same as the California Redwoods, but by far the most scenic highway in Oklahoma! I still have my eye on that special Harley, and someday I'll get mine, I drool with envy every time I hear one go by. Please include me in your email list, I would love to see TCB back on the tube, I haven't seen it since it went off the air.

I've been a fan since '69, and was excited to find your site. I ordered the CD and will be watching for the original songs of Then Came Bronson to be available.

Hello, I just checked out your web site and its about time someone gave this man and TV show its due! Every 6 months or so I sit up late, when everyone else in the house is sleeping, and watch the pilot. I bought the model and built it in the 1970's. I still have it and it sits in my antique bookcase under glass enclosure. The books are also included in my collection and while they are not quite like the movie, they stir the nomad blood.
H.D. dealers were selling copies of Bronsons bike in the early 70's, they were not exact copies but still neat.

First of all, Jon, great site! TCB was a great inspiration for many thousands of young punks like myself in 1969. I was sixteen years old when he came on. He was like the cool uncle I never had! I bought a custom 1964 B.S.A. 650 Lightning in the spring of 1970. Boy, did I think I was Bronson in high school! Of course he drove the Sportster, but I was the only one in high school with a bike. Sort of a Fonz & Bronson mix. That show turned us all into humble bikers. Owned a 1975 Super Glide after the Bizzer, and numerous bikes since TCB disappeared. If anyone has the M.P.C. Then Came Bronson model not built, let me know. My buddy saw mine and wants one. Looking forward to your March newsletter. Keep up the excellent resource for all us true Bronson fans! You can post this if you care to. Thanks!!

Thanks for creating a TCB web page! I have similar interests. I was riding a Honda SL90 my freshman year in HS, watching TCB and dreaming my Honda was that Sportster. By the time I was a Senior, I had a thumper like your HD 350. Mine was a BSA 441. Now at 45, I bought my first bike in 20+ years, a BMW. Still can't afford a Harley.
Anyway, please include me in the TCB email list.

Dick Hutchin's HD dealership in LA did a lot of special conversions including a TCB bike. How close they were to the real thing I'm not sure. This info came from a Peterson's Motorcycle Sport Quarterly Magazine from 1970. Also Cycle Guide Magazine did an article in '71 on how to build the MPC Kit. Some nice pics and how to detail the model. Cycle magazine did an interview w/ Parks about the show. I don't think anyone else could have nailed the Bronson character any better.

I don't know if it is any help to you but they [the TCB crew] met after filming in Apache Junction, Az., at my cousin's restaurant "The Brass Bell" which is no longer in business. However a friend of mine did some of the stunt work while they were in Az. I hope this helps in your quest.

Please put me on the email list...
I was too little to remember "Then Came Bronson" very well. My brothers watched it though...
I worked on a movie with Mike Parks when I was 18, and we became friends and I used to babysit his little boy Jimmy. He is in town this week making a new movie, the bullfighter one, and he called me and asked me to spend the day with him. It had been 20 years since I had seen him, but he was still the same ole Michael... he gave me his latest C.D., which is great... On the C.D. cover I saw this web address, that's how I found your site... I love it, keep up the good work...


[I asked her about the movie she and Parks were in, and if she saw Parks at the Texas Tea House, mentioned by a fan in the February newsletter:]

It was my first movie. They filmed it at a Texas location where I was being trained for Nashville as a singer/songwriter... At the location I doubled as a waitress and me and another woman catered the movie. It was very low budget and the whole crew became like family.

And No, I never was in Dallas with Ray and Mike, but Mike had Ray come play for our wrap party after the movie... and us kids and Mike sang with Ray and his band all night... best wrap party I have ever been to!

I have an old picture of me and mike I could email you, and one I took Monday, If you want I would be happy to send them...

Since 1979 when I worked with Mike on my first movie, I have worked on 15 others, and Michael is one of the only stars who I really could call a "friend"... the others you may get friendly with, but when they're gone, its over. Not the case with Michael... If you have a friendship with him it's for life, I love that about him...

Do you know if he has seen this web page? I know he would love to read the posts... I am supposed to call him tonight and tell him if I liked the CD, so I'll ask him...

Here is the picture I took of Mike last Monday... I called him again Thursday I think it was, he asked me to call him and tell him what I thought of the new CD. However I knew he would be checking out that day and I only got his answering machine. I told him I loved it, then I asked if he ever visits this web site because his head would get BIG if he read all the good things his fans were saying about him...

Enjoy the picture, I'll send the other one in a bit.

Click here

Here is a picture of Mike and me taken in 1979 [in the movie]. Mike and I were both in wardrobe for this shot. I believe he was 38 and I was 18.

Click here


I recently got hold of copies of the foreign versions of the TCB novels, "The Ticket" and "Rock!" and updated that web page. Click here to go to the TCB_novels page, and click on the "March updates" link.
It seems that those books were published in a different order, based on the book ID numbers and the publication dates:
THE TICKET (September 1970, #45000594 1, NEL 2809)
THEN CAME BRONSON (January 1971, #45000650 4, NEL 2843)
ROCK! (June 1971, #45000701 4, NEL [no #])


[Michael Parks was in Texas at the end of February, working on the new film, Bullfighter, mentioned in the December 1998 newsletter. I'll try to get more info on it, and maybe some pictures. - jonpf]

Here's the TV-NOW.COM tv listings site for Bonnie Bedelia. At the moment, it has the schedule for February 25 through March 31:


To email me, click here!

I recently found out that TBS used to show the pilot movie of Then Came Bronson. Here's their email address. (It is a different station from TNT, although both are owned by Ted Turner.) Maybe we can get them to air it.

Have you sent emails to, TNT and Columbia House (from my site)? If we can get TNT to show it again, we can all see it again. And if we can get somebody like Columbia House to sell it on video, they might get better copies of it (from master tapes, and no commercials)! Anyway, if you haven't already sent emails to TNT and Columbia House, here are their addresses (for most browsers, just click on them):

To email me, click here!

Click here to go to the beginning page of the site: tcb.htm ; or click on the following to go directly to these pages: main_page ; pilot_movie ; episodes ; records ; cycles ; plastic_model ; Bronson_paint ; TCB novels ; newsletter_start_page.

This page created March 1, 1999 . . . . . . . . . this web page copyright 1999, except for certain copyrighted images and text