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How I got my kicks on the final episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.
FACE TIME: The author (r.) introduces himself to Chuck Norris.
Photograph by Marc Matson

Getting up at four-thirty in the morning is no big thing if you do it to keep a date with destiny. Like a six o’clock tee time at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales ranch to film a small but pivotal role in the farewell episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. On May 19 Chuck Norris’ all-American, small-screen masterwork signed off after eight years, the second-longest run ever for a CBS Saturday night show, behind only Gunsmoke. The historic finale was a two-hour special with a parallel Walker story line set in the Old West, and I, after weeks of negotiations with the show’s publicist and casting director, was to be killed.

First I sat through an intense half-hour in makeup with a gypsy-mystic named Nono who tried to “take some of the sweetness out of that face.” But four hours later, after spinning my wheels as a “frightened townsperson walking across the street” and then as a “frightened townsperson standing by the saloon,” I grew leery. After lunch, I looked to Leo, the refusenik assistant director. But he was banging his shoe at Fernando, the Spanish director of photography, who was griping that he couldn’t hear over the chatter of the career Old West reenactors, who were grousing that the wardrobe lady wouldn’t let them wear their “period correct” bandoliers, none of which had anything to do with me or my immortality. After the third visit from the makeup girls, who brought more charcoal to dirty my neck and brown nail polish to yellow my teeth, I started to think I was being put on. By the time I heard that Aaron Norris, the star’s younger brother and director of the show, was taking too much time playing Peckinpah with the gunfight scene, I knew the score.

I walked off sullenly to the far end of town where some goats were

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