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They started as Actors


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Never seen C-a-L or Sherman as an actor. Saw Quine in some MGM musical, wasn't impressed. Much better was Norman Foster who appears to advantage as the son in State Fair. But he was probably an aging juvenile, and was smart in turning to directing.

 

 

 

IIRC he appears in the film version of One Third Of A Nation.

 

 

 

He also had a very brief Hollywood career. After making The World In His Arms, director Raoul Walsh took him out, got him drunk, told him, "Kid, if you stay in this town you'll become a bum", and put him on a plane for England.

Elia Kazan, in e.g., CITY FOR CONQUEST

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Didn't HOWARD DUFF wind up doing a lot of directing in his waning years?

 

and...ROBIN WILLIAMS, who went "full circle", an alum from the Julliard school of drama who's big breakthrough came from stand-up comedy,  which THEN got him back into acting.

 

Sepiatone

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Hey Richard, thanks for the opening. Here's a chance for me to mention someone you and I have discussed numerous times - Lamont Johnson.

Corey Allen is another one who made the switch, I spotted him twice recently in the credits while binging on episodes of The Rockford Files.

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Hey Richard, thanks for the opening. Here's a chance for me to mention someone you and I have discussed numerous times - Lamont Johnson..

 

Lamont Johnson was not much of an actor but not a bad director. Actors in his films often give much better performances than you'd expect from them. He's sort of the TV version of Martin Ritt.

 

Ritt, FWIW, appeared in Winged Victory (1944) and a handful of live TV plays in the early '50s. According to Rod Steiger, Paddy Chayefsky wrote Marty specifically for Ritt, but he was not allowed to play it due to blacklisting issues, and Steiger inherited the role.

 

And how we can forget Joe Pevney?

 

William Conrad, Joseph Pevney, and John Garfield in Body and Soul

 

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Pevney on the set of Star Trek

 

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Ritt, FWIW, appeared in Winged Victory (1944)

 

Looking up WV (never seen it) I learned another future director was in the cast: Don Taylor is one of the male leads.

 

Then-unknowns Judy Holliday and Red Buttons also appear.

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Joseph Sargent.  He appeared in some movies and an episode of Gunsmoke where I almost mistook him for Jack Kelly who ironically was in a later episode.  He was quite good as an alcoholic rancher who sobers up for an old girlfriend only to have her killed by a bullying cowboy. 

Perhaps being/having been actors-good or bad-puts these people in the position of understanding how to work with them and get their best performances.  Many of them, and I'm thinking of Paul Michael Glaser, got to try their hand at directing on their TV series and became accomplished enough at it to be able to extend their careers when the acting jobs waned (or perhaps they liked it better behind the camera).

The Star Trek photo also should also remind us that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy also put in plenty of time calling the shots in their later work.  Larry Hagman was doing the same before, during and after Dallas. 

 

I seem to remember during the 80's the Director's Guild becoming upset by all these series actors directing episodes of their shows saying it was depriving them of work.  While for some it might have just seemed like vanity projects it did gave them an opportunity to see if they had any talent in this department, an inclination to develop it and the temperament to sustain a long-term career. 

 

I always get a kick out of seeing assistant directors, producers, and others of late 40's or early 50's films who five to ten years later made names for themselves in TV, the medium that was initially shunned by old Hollywood.  So many members of the industry found new lives or were able to continue the ones they had by it. 

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Joseph Sargent.  He appeared in some movies and an episode of Gunsmoke where I almost mistook him for Jack Kelly who ironically was in a later episode.  He was quite good as an alcoholic rancher who sobers up for an old girlfriend only to have her killed by a bullying cowboy.

 

Alvin Sargent (no relation), Oscar-winning screenwriter of Julia and Ordinary People, is the soldier running across the parade ground yelling "They're bombing Wheeler Field!!" to Burt Lancaster at the beginning of the Japanese attack in From Here To Eternity.

 

The Star Trek photo also should also remind us that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy also put in plenty of time calling the shots in their later work.

 

Before Star Trek Nimoy's acting career was going so poorly that he enrolled in MGM's director training program and intended to switch fields.

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I was just checking out the IMDb credits to the Randolph Scott western CANADIAN PACIFIC prior to checking out a BluRay that arrived today. I wasn't aware that Norman Jewison ever acted but he's among the unbilled players listed there.

It would take another 47 years for him to be seen in a film again.

 

 

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The Star Trek photo also should also remind us that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy also put in plenty of time calling the shots in their later work.  Larry Hagman was doing the same before, during and after Dallas. 

 

 

Hagman was already directing episodes of Jeannie (not very well, mind you), before moving onto the big screen with "Beware the Blob".

And just about every frustrated Star Trek:TNG actor has gone on to direct at some point in their contract, but only Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton seemed to have enough of a knack to make it a career.

 

And how many remember John Cassavetes as the troublemaking Franko of the Dirty Dozen?

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Fred Savage was a child actor and tried a couple of sitcoms before he moved behind the camera, directing many sitcoms. Last year he returned to acting playing Rob Lowe's brother in the sitcom The Grinder. I'm not sure if it got renewed since Rob Lowe got a job on another tv show. Savage has some buzz as the person who may be the new co host with Kelly Ripa on Live with Kelly.

 

I know that's no very prestigious but I like Fred and hope he has success in general.

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And how many remember John Cassavetes as the troublemaking Franko of the Dirty Dozen?

 

My first "encounter" with John was a TV broadcast of EDGE OF THE CITY( '57) with him and SIDNEY POITIER.  A couple or so years later in CRIME IN THE STREETS( '56) again, a TV broadcast, both back when I was about 10-12 years old(would make it '61-'63).

 

He moved VERY smoothly AND gloriously from in front of the camera to the back, I'd say.  :)

 

Oh, and HELEN!   Recently saw Savage as a rapist on a rerun of LAW & ORDER SVU!

 

Sepiatone

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Jud Taylor is another who started as an actor, turned director. You can see him in some early episodes of THE FUGITIVE, but by season four he was directing.

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Fred Savage was a child actor and tried a couple of sitcoms before he moved behind the camera, directing many sitcoms. Last year he returned to acting playing Rob Lowe's brother in the sitcom The Grinder. I'm not sure if it got renewed since Rob Lowe got a job on another tv show. Savage has some buzz as the person who may be the new co host with Kelly Ripa on Live with Kelly.

 

I know that's no very prestigious but I like Fred and hope he has success in general.

When I hear Savage's name, the first thing I think of is the "Seinfeld" episode in which Kramer was so nervous about approaching him that he was tripping all over the place. Classic.

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And how many remember John Cassavetes as the troublemaking Franko of the Dirty Dozen?

 

Me!  How could we forget Gena's other half?  I'm also catching his Staccato on Get TV Saturday mornings.  This was not a hit but ahead of it's time. All that talent in one household with a son Nick to carry on the work-he directed The Notebook.   

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Jud Taylor is another who started as an actor, turned director. You can see him in some early episodes of THE FUGITIVE, but by season four he was directing.

 

I think most people will recognize him as the other American in The Great Escape

 

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Regarding Jud Taylor:

I think most people will recognize him as the other American in The Great Escape

 

Thank you for giving a name to the face.  That's something I always appreciate having.  Now I know who you're talking about. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hampton Fancher is perhaps best known today as the author of the first Blade Runner script draft -- he receives co-author credit on the final version.

 

But he spent the '60s acting on almost every series on TV:

 

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Sidney Miller and Ezra Stone both started out as juvenile actors and became prolific directors, mostly in television.

 

Bud Abbott's nephew Norman also started out as an actor (more a bit player) and became a television director, many series at his uncle's home studio Universal.

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Since someone also mentioned Richard Quine...I remember just absentmindedly looking up actors while watching The Cockeyed Miracle(A fun little film, any film where Keenan Wynn plays Frank Morgan's Dad cannot be all bad ;) ) and looking up Richard Quine, and being quite surprised to see he was also the director Richard Quine!

 

Someone else mentioned before...Norman Foster. NEVER liked him as an actor, yet I really enjoy the B- Films he made(and often wrote) for Fox, many  Mr Moto's and Charlie Chans ...of the Moto or Chan discs does a nice mini bio on Foster, how he was able to make B movies look like A films, and get them done on, or under budget....

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Paul Mantee, best known for Robinson Caruso on Mars, wrote scripts for many TV shows and magazine articles on the business while still acting.  I always read any I found and it was never time wasted.  

 

He's very good in that film. I had no idea he was a writer.

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Paul Mantee, best known for Robinson Caruso on Mars, wrote scripts for many TV shows and magazine articles on the business while still acting.  I always read any I found and it was never time wasted.  

 

I'm unfamiliar with his scriptwriting but I recall he would occasionally publish articles in TV Guide about the life of a working actor. I remember one where he talked about playing villains on TV and he said something like "We always have whitebread names, but we never look it".

 

A couple of other writing actors, from the Combat TV show. Rick Jason wrote a memoir that was available online last time I checked. The most fascinating chapter was on making the legendary "Fountain of Youth" for Orson Welles, but other sections were interesting as well, such as how he learned on his first film the proper way to stand in his light.

 

After retiring Dick Peabody ("Littlejohn") wrote some articles for his local paper. These are worth reading not only for Combat fans but also anyone interested in TV acting/production.

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