Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Jean, Gracie, Phyllis and Karen.
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph 3-22-1980 - Young Kelly Reno Unchanged by Fame - Youngsters are best simply doing what comes naturally. First it was Justin Henry in "Kramer vs. Kramer," and now it's a freckle-faced gamin by the name of Kelly Reno. This appears to be the start of a refreshing trend for Hollywood movie makers, the ability to seek out youngsters who, with no acting experience, are a smash doing what they do best - being normal everyday boys. Kelly was 10 years old and living with his family on a ranch near Pueblo when a friend told him about an article in a Denver newspaper. The article concerned a film company's search for a youngster who could ride horses. Today, it's three years later and Francis Ford Coppola's production of Walter Farley's "The Black Stallion" will open in the nation's theaters with Kelly as its star. Opening night in Colorado Springs was Friday night at the Mall of the Bluffs. It is a natural for a kid raised among horses on a Colorado ranch. It is the story in the tradition of National Velvet, the tale of a boy and a horse who meet as castaways on a Mediterranean island and develop a special relationship that ends up on the race tracks in New York. Kelly says he "conned" his mom into allowing him to enter the tryouts in Denver - she, in turn "conned Dad into it." The family went home afterwards, he said, "and we just forgot about it. They said they would call if I got the part but we figured some other kid probably got it." When the call came saying they were to be on their way to Canada the next day for their first day of shooting, Kelly was doing what any normal boy could be expected to be doing - "mud-splashing" in the irrigation ditch behind the house. After that, "we didn't have much time to think about it," he said. It took three years to complete the film and required Kelly and his parents to travel to locations in Europe and Canada. The family ranch was left in the hands of his four older brothers. Kelly wasn't sure what the hardest part was, but he did have to learn to swim and performed a lot of his own stunts, such as diving into the depths of a tidal pool in the Mediterranean Ocean. And he practiced falling off a horse. Falling off was sometimes necessary, he said. A number of scenes are of Alec Ramsey (Kelly) galloping across the beaches bareback and without a bridle. While the horse was well-trained, he did get carried away once in a while. "He would just take off and I couldn't stop him," Kelly recalls. "All I could do was just bail off." Kelly and the horses spent 11 weeks working with stunt coordinator Glenn Randall and his horse-trainer son Corky in California. Together, the pair prepared both boy and horses for the rigors of filming. The main horse was a black Arabian from San Antonio, Tex., named "Cass-ole." Kelly, who has been raised with western quarter-horses, grudgingly admits that Arabians like Cass "are as smart as if not smarter than Quarter Horses." He also adds that they are "really beautiful." It is possible to have a playful relationship with a horse, said Kelly – it may not be the same type of relationship that is supposed to take place in the picture, but some of the scenes where the pair romp in the surf turned out to be as much fun as they were supposed to be. The horses were changed off from time to time as the long days of shooting wore on. Kelly said, "a tired horse just won't do it again." What about a tired young actor? "Well, I was brought up riding, so I am used to getting saddle sore but continuing to ride." Since the film includes some race track sequences, Kelly, who says he only grew an inch in the three years of filming, was asked if he has considered becoming a jockey. His answer came in the true tradition of a western cowboy. "Heck no! I hate those little pancake saddles." Would he rather ride bareback like in the picture? "Heck no! I'll stick to my good old western saddle with its deep seat." Another tough question. Has he ever read Walter Farley's book on which the movie is based? "I hate to answer that one," comes his response, "but no, I haven't." Even now he still hasn't read any of the books, he hasn't had time. But perhaps it's better because he is getting to live the story. He has, however, seen the movie – "six or seven times." His impression? "It gets better and better each time. You see something new each time you watch it." When the credits roll and the name of Kelly Reno appears in great big letters, "I stop and say, 'Wow! Is that me?'" His friends aren't treating him any differently now that he is a star. But he adds, "most of them haven't seen the picture yet." What about his brothers? "They still thump me on the head and leave me alone. They don't spoil me or anything." Traveling to places like Paris and Rome were quite an adventure for a 10-year-old from Colorado. He calls the film's premiere in Paris, "strange." "We didn't speak French and since there were people from a lot of countries we had to have a lot of translators. You would say something funny and they'd translate and 30 minutes later everybody would laugh." It was an education, too. "I guess I learned more about history visiting those places than any kid could from reading about it in school." When asked whether it's true that there is no place like home, Kelly gave an emphatic, "Boy, is it ever true." He won't be home long – he is already scheduled to begin shooting the sequel, "The Black Stallion Returns," this fall. That would indicate he might be embarking on a career as an actor. "Well, I might consider it," Kelly says "if there were something as good as or better than "The Black Stallion." But, he concludes, "I don't know what's better."
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