For the past eight months, Jamie Colby has been traveling around the country finding people who have inherited something unusual. The inheritances range from the Bonnie & Clyde guns to a ranch in Montana. With cowgirl flair, Jamie explores these unique legacies, and the stories will unfold in a new reality series called Strange Inheritance, which premiers 9 pm ET on Monday, January 26, on FOX Business Network.
AC: First of all, what was the impetus for starting a show about the stuff people inherit?
JC: Well, first of all, it’s an experience we may all likely have in our life or might be planning to leave something we cherish for a family member or friend. Rather than do a show that just teaches people how to handle these matters—something I did as a practicing attorney and law professor—we showed folks how it was done both through the objects inherited (Civil War swords, valuable insect collections, alligator farms, amusement parks and more!) and the ancestral family stories behind them. There’s a never ending number of these stories out there and I think we have told them in a very unique and exciting way.
I’ve been told that despite being raised in New York, while filming, your style morphed to a more cowgirl look. What do you find attractive about that look and that lifestyle?
EVERYTHING! For all the years I’ve covered the military, I’ve always made a point in each town I visited—from Enterprise, Ala., where I flew in an Apache attack helicopter to the time I lived at Fort Hood, Texas preparing to deploy to Iraq—to find and support a local boot maker. So in each city that’s Western, I leave with another pair of boots. Closet space is at a premium in NYC but I do have one closet for my collection of kicks. In Montana this year I learned from a real cowboy how to properly tie a bandana. Now if I can just score one of those huge belt buckles at the rodeo!
Did someone legitimately inherit a gun used by Bonnie and Clyde? What’s that worth?
They sure did! But there is a twist like many of the stories we found and tell on Strange Inheritance. Clyde and Bonnie had rubbed out the serial numbers on the weapons and if an auction house sold them they would be breaking the law. They also needed to be licensed to sell firearms which at the time they weren’t. Debating what to do, RR Auction took the high road and called the ATF requesting new serial numbers. Watch the episode to see how it turns out! Here’s a hint though: Bonnie and Clyde’s guns from the infamous “death” car are still owned together.
You also feature someone who inherited a ranch. We’re used to that in our world and don’t consider it strange, per se, but from an outsider’s perspective, what struck you about that situation?
I made this ranching family put me to work! I rode what I’d consider a green horse (frightening!) as my producer waved me to continue because the shot was so beautiful, and I’m thinking I’m only on like our fourth or fifth episode of the 26 in Season One and I’m going to have to do the rest of the series in a body cast! One wrong turn toward the barn and well...you know what that horse was thinking! I’ll let you in on a secret too. It’s my long term dream to own a ranch. Check back; I truly plan to make that happen.
Were there any other inheritances of historic or cowboy value that you feature? What was the strangest inheritance you came across?
This one was extraordinary as well. I traveled to Nashville at the invitation of the three sons of Roy Orbison to visit the Johnny Cash cabin. The boys are 3 of 5 brothers Roy had. Two from his first marriage were killed in a house fire. Roy's wife—their Mom—was killed in a motorcycle accident. I have loved all of Roy’s music for years but never knew how much pain he’d suffered personally. When I got to the Cash estate I met John Carter Cash and Roy Jr, Alex and Wesley Orbison. The boys had found a recording on a fuzzy cassette of their Dad singing a song titled “The Way is Love”. It’s part of their Strange Inheritance. What they did at the Cash cabin with the help of John Carter Cash is re-engineer that cassette tape recording to be of a quality good enough for them to live their dream to play background and provide vocals with their dad. Powerful stuff! I spent several days there amidst so much rock and roll and country history at the cabin and was asked to sign Johnny and June’s mantle. My initials are alongside all the big recording stars whose names you know. A beyond memorable experience!