Thursday, December 8, 2011

BIT PARTS & PIE PIECES: BEFORE & AFTER

The future Pharaoh, Manuel Padilla, Jr. doesn't look so tough in the arms of Tarzan (Ron Ely). 1967.
Most of the main stars in American Graffiti went on to do great things in "Hollyweird" and everybody knows it.  I mean, I don't need to tell you about Harrison Ford or Ron Howard's career.  However, you might not be familiar with some of the other faces from the film.  So here is "Kip baby's" attempt at compiling some brief information on these folks and their careers just before and directly after they starred in Graffiti.  Here goes...
________________________________________________

  Debralee Scott (Falfa's Girlfriend)
Born April 2, 1953, 
Elizabeth, NJ
Died: April 5, 2005
 


The deadpan and plaintive-looking, redheaded character actress, Debralee Scott came from a family of show-business insiders. Her eldest sister, Scott Bushnell, produced many of director Robert Altman films.  Scott discreetly entered the film world by being uncredited in her first two roles: The Candidate which starred Robert Redwood, and the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic, Dirty Harry.  Ms. Scott was 19 years old when she played one of Falfa's
Debralee Scott on Welcome Back Kotter
girlfriends in American Graffiti..  At the time, it was difficult to tell her comedic potential when her only line in Graffiti was,  "Ain’t he neat?"   She became a regular during the 1975-76 T.V. season of sit-com Welcome Back Kotter playing the role of Rosalie "Hotzie" Totzie. She was also a regular on the T.V. comedy, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman in 1976.  Her outgoing personality and flirtatiousness earned her a regular position as a panelist on the 1970s game show, Match Game.  Scott continued to act, appearing in two of the slapstick "Police Academy" movies. In the first Academy film she played Mrs. Fackler (the one on the hood of her husband's car).  She signed up as a cadet in "Police Academy 3: Back In Training."  Her last acting credit was a bit part in the 1989 movie "Misplaced."   After leaving the acting profession, she went into the management side of the industry as an agent with Empowered Artists before ultimately leaving Hollywood.  On April 5, 2005, she went to take a nap and sadly never woke up. Autopsies weren't able to reveal what the cause of her death was, and ruled it natural causes. She was only 52-yrs-old.

Del Close in a 1965 TV episode of My Mother the Car.
 Del Close (Man in Alley)
Born: March 9, 1934
Died: March 4, 1999

One would never suspect the talent the legendary improv director, teacher, and performer possessed by his brief appearance in Graffiti.   As Toad is getting sick in the alley, Del Close is the man sitting on a Rambler Classic remarking to Debbie that her boyfriend must not have been used to drinking.  Before Graffiti, actor, improviser, writer, and teacher, Close made several appearances on the 1960s TV comedy, "My Mother the Car," and appeared in other wacky 60's sit-coms like "Get Smart."   A year before Graffiti was released he was featured in the 1972 film,  "Beware! The Blob" (Graffiti star, Cindy Williams also appeared in the film). Mr. Close was working as director of the San Francisco improvisational comedy troupe "The Committee" when he and some of the other players were hired to be in Graffiti.  After his brief cameo in the film, Mr. Close had parts in films such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," (1986) as the English Teacher and played "Alderman" alongside Graffiti co-star, Charles Martin Smith in "The Untouchables," (1987).
Close got pretty scary looking in his later years.
The importance of his movie career pales in comparison to his contribution to theater.  As the driving force behind comedy in Chicago for over 30 years, Close was responsible for devising long form Improv, implementing a technique known as The Harold He is credited for cultivating and influencing the talents of countless, (a conservative estimate), comedic actors including John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, and Andy Dick.  Mr. Close died on March 4, 1999 of heart and respiratory failure. His name and teachings live on through events such as the annual 72-hour-long Del Close Marathon sponsored by the Upright Citizen's Brigade In 2005, Jeff Griggs published Guru, a fascinating book detailing his friendship with Del during the last two years of his life.

 Ed Greenberg (Kip Pullman)

Like several of his co-stars, Ed Greenberg was working with his mentor, Del Close in the theater group, "The Committee" when he was hired to be in GraffitiSoon after his appearance in the film, Greenberg moved out to  Chicago where he co-directed workshops with Del Close, and eventually took over for Close as the director of The Second City. 
Greenberg as Kip Pullman.  "He's so neat."
Greenberg moved back to LA from Chicago to direct television and to work as a voice over actor for radio and TV.  He continues to teach acting and improvisational comedy at local Southern California universities such as UCLA and Pasadena City College.  He is the founding director of Laughter for a Change (L4C), an important non-profit program that encourages positive community interaction, personal growth and healing through the use of improvisational theatre games and comedy training.  BTW: If you haven't read it already, be sure to check out the previous post: SPEAKING WITH THE REAL KIP PULLMAN to read my interview with the actor. 


Jana Bellan (Carhop, Budda Macrae)


Jana Bellan's role as the sexy, tight-bloused carhop practically emitted pheromones from the screen.  Bellan's film career was very brief.  After Graffiti she played in several low-budget films such as Six Pack Annie and Black Heat. These roles usually typecast her as a sexy waitress (surprise) or a call girl.  In addition, Bellan made many guest appearances in '70s crime-dramas such as Barnaby Jones, Cannon, and Starsky and Hutch. Her T.V. and film career ended with the 1976 feature, Kings of the Hill.  In the film she guest-starred with her Graffiti colleague, Jim Bohan.  Although she gave up acting, these days Bellan, (a mother of four), channels her creative energies into singing and collaborating with Lynn Rd., a contemporary Christian group out of St. Paschal Baylon Church in Thousand Oaks, CA.





 Jim Bohan (Officer Holstein)
Born 1/17/1946
Died 1/29/1998
    
Bohan as Officer Childer in Punishment Park
Before playing the local cop in Graffiti, Texas actor, Jim Bohan had a role as a sheriff in the 1971 pseudo-documentary, Punishment Park.  After Graffiti was released he had more roles as an unlikeable cop in movies such as the 1975 blaxploitation film, Bucktown, (with Fred Williamson & Pam Grier). Bohan made several T.V. guest appearances in early-70s crime-dramas such as Barnaby Jones, Cannon, and Starsky and Hutch. Bohan continued to remain active in the business as an actor, producer, and writer.  In addition, he was active in the pro-gun movement and politics at the grass roots level up until the time of his death on January 29, 1998.  


 Jody Carlson  (Girl in Studebaker)
Born: September 15, 1952

Hot Rodder, John Milner (Paul LeMat) wants one girl, any girl, to cruise with him. But the smile and laugh of JODY CARLSON,  make her the scene stealer.  She tells him she cant' ride with him because she's going steady.  Milner reminds her "If you ever get tired of going steady with a guy who's not around, I'm up for grabs."



Jody's only other screen credit is in another cool car movie, "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry." In the film Jody portrays a police "telephone operator" that annoys Vic Morrow. Although Peter Fonda is the lead actor of this 1974 movie the real stars are a '66 Impala and '69 Charger.  


 Joe Spano (Vic Lozier)

Born: July 7, 1946, San Francisco, CA

Spano as Debbie's creepy ex.
Joe Spano is probably the most recognizable face of all the character actors in Graffiti. A native of San Francisco, Spano is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and a classically trained stage actor with experience in improvisational-comedy.  He was a member of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre when he was hired to be in Graffiti.  His only film experience at the time was in the 1972 feature, One is a Lonely Number (aka Two is a Happy Number).  Spano played the part of Vic Lozier, Debbie's sleazy ex-boyfriend in Graffiti. After his bit role in the movie, he made his first T.V. appearance in a 1974 episode of the crime-drama, The Streets of San Francisco. Later, in 1980 he became a regular on the NBC T.V. police-drama, Hill Street Blues.  Currently, he plays Senior FBI Agent T.C. Fornell on the TV series NCIS.


John Brent (Car Salesman)
Born: July 14, 1938, Connecticut, USA 
Died: August 16, 1985

Before he played the obnoxious car salesman in Graffiti, John Brent was one-half of a comedy team with Del Close.  Together the duo recorded the 1959 beatnik parody album, "How to Speak Hip."  Brent continued to work on stage with Close as a member of Chicago's Second City and San Francisco's hip and popular improvisational troupe, The CommitteeMr. Brent made appearances in several movies including 1970's Catch-22 and The Candidate with Robert Redford. He appeared alongside Candy Clark in the miserable sequel, More American Graffiti and in 1983 made an appearance with Graffiti alumni, Cindy Williams in an 8th season episode of Laverne & Shirley titled, Defective Ballet 

Kay Lenz credited as
Kay Ann Kempler (Jane)

Born: March 4, 1953, Los Angeles

Talk about a veteran actor, Kay Lenz has been a thespian since she was a baby.  Her first role was on TV appearing in the arms of a singer on "Al Jarvis' Hollywood on Television."  Her early TV career is prolific appearing on such shows as "The Andy Griffith Show," The Monroes," "Ironside," & "The Tammy Grimes Show."  In addition, Lenz acted and sang in a whopping 165 episodes of "My Genie and Me."  Her more recent TV appearances have been on popular shows such as Law & Order: SVU, The Closer, ER, & House, to name just a few. 
Gratuitous topless pic of Lenz as Breezy (1973)
Lenz's first feature film role was in American Graffiti.  She played the student sweetheart of young teacher, Mr. Wolfe.  The same year she was in Graffiti, Lenz had a prominent role in the Clint Eastwood directed, Breezy as a free-spirited hippie who has an affair with a much older business man, played by William Holden.  She won an Emmy for her work on an ABC Afternoon Playbreak "Heart in Hiding," (1974) and another one in 1988 as an AIDS victim who becomes romantically involved with the nighttime radio host in "Midnight Caller."   She was married to teen idol, David Cassidy for 6 years (1977-83).  The prolific Lenz continues to grace her presence in both TV, such as recent episodes of HOUSE and movies including the comedy, "The Secret Lives of Dorks" (2013). Currently, Kay lives in Malibu CA with her 2 loves, Mark Brown and their dog Danny. Fans can follow her activities on the Kay Lenz Facebook Fan Page.

Lynne Marie Stewart (Bobby Tucker)
Born 12/14/1946

Lynne Marie Stewart has had an extremely prolific career in T.V. and film.  Chances are you've seen her in more than one of your favorite films or sit-coms.  Before she chauffeured Richard Dreyfuss around in a red VW in Graffiti, Stewart played a cheerleader in the 1971 movie, Drive, She Said.   After Graffiti she made several guest appearances during the mid-seventies on the hit T.V. show, M*A*S*H*, usually playing a nurse, (ie., Nurse Baker).
Debbie Celiz, Lynn Marie Stewart & Richard Dreyfuss.
She also made six T.V. appearances with Graffiti co-star, Cindy Williams in Lavern & Shirley.   In the 80s the talented actress provided one of the voices in the Superman TV series and she played the role of Miss Yvonne in the critically acclaimed TV show, Pee Wee's PlayhouseIn recent years, Stewart has found herself portraying "the mother" role.  For instance, she played Charlie's mom in the TV comedy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia  (2005-10), and Lillian's Mom in the hilarious film, Bridesmaids (2011).  She continues to be very active in the business to this day and occasionally attends autograph signings with her Graffiti co-stars.


Manuel Padilla, Jr. (Carlos The Pharaoh)
Born: May 13, 1956
Died: Jan. 29, 2008

 Manuel Padilla Jr., (known as BooBoo) to those close to him), began his Hollywood career at the age of 7 with an appearance on the long running, TV-Western, Bonanza.  He continued with brief appearances on other TV Westerns including, Gunsmoke and Rawhide, throughout the sixties.  In 1966 he was cast as a regular on the short-lived, TV series, Tarzan.  He also appeared in four of the Tarzan movies made from 1966-67.  After appearing as gang member, "Carlos" in Graffiti he played alongside Graffiti co-star, Ron Howard as gang member, "Squirt" in a 1974 episode of Happy Days. Later he appeared with Graffiti costar, Charlie Martin Smith in the TV movie, "Cotton Candy" (1978) directed by none other than Ron Howard.  His last known screen appearance was in "Scarface" (1983) starring Al Pacino where he's credited as "Kid #2."   
Padilla, Jr. in the 1967 film, Tarzan & the Great River
Twenty years had passed since his last credited acting role before he began making public appearances at celebrity events and custom car shows. This writer had the pleasure of meeting Padilla briefly when he was signing autographs at the Petaluma Celebrates American Graffiti event in May 2006. At the time he had a frequent smile on his face and appeared to enjoy meeting and talking to his fans.  Sadly, less than 2 years after that he died.  It has been said that Padilla lived a "troubled" life once his TV career ended in the early-70s.  At the time of his death he had been living in a sparsely furnished bedroom at his parent's house with only a few blankets and a pillow for his bed.  He was survived by his parents and 4 children.  His family has kept the cause of his death a private matter.

Ritchie (Ron Howard) tries to get back a stolen bike from The Dukes, gang member, Squirt (Padilla, Jr.)

  Terry McGovern (Mr. Wolfe)
Born 5/11/1942

Terry McGovern got his first film experience providing voices in George Lucas', THX 1138.   After that, but before Graffiti, he played a reporter in the 1972 film, The Candidate.  After his appearance in Graffiti, he had a role as one of the storm trooper in the first Star Wars feature.  McGovern has had several notable TV guest appearances including a 1979
McGovern & Richard Dreyfuss practice their lines
episode of Happy Days.  In the Happy Days episode, (#149) Fonzie's a Thespian  McGovern plays Sloan Marlowe, the director and star of a community play who gets slapped in the face by Mrs. C. after he tries to show her his corn dog.   McGovern has a long history in the field of radio broadcasting.  During the '60s and '70s he was a popular radio host in San Francisco on KSFO 560-AM and other local stations. McGovern has had great success doing voice-overs in animation.  He was the voice of  various characters on the original 1962 cartoon series, The Jetsons. Much later, during the late-eighties and early-nineties he was the voice of "Launchpad McQuack" in the Darkwing Duck & Ducktales cartoon series.  In addition to voicing cartoons, he has lent his magnificent versatile voice to many published video games.  McGovern says he's surprised that years later he still gets recognized for his role as the young teacher, Mr. Wolfe.  "I had two guys in their twenties come up to me a couple of years ago. You're Mr. Wolfe, right? "Guilty," says I.  They then launched in to the dialogue from the scene I'm in with Richard Dreyfuss.  Word for word!" 
 
___________________________________

WHAT, you didn't see your favorite Graffiti actor listed here?????  
Trying checking out one of the links to our film & T.V. pages which feature other actors and crew members that were in Graffiti:
___________________________________________________
NOTES:

  • Internet Movie Database, (The).  http://www.imdb.com/
  • Lynn Rd.  webpage. http://www.lynn-rd.com/index.html.  Retrieved 12/27/2011.
  • Manuel Padilla Jr. Child Actor Tarzan. Final Farewells. submission by Frank Dietz. (Comment about Padilla having a "troubled" life).  http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/14857. Retrieved 12/22/2011.
  • Manual Padilla Jr. Dead at 51.  (March 2008).  Gridley Wave #306
  • Ron Ely.  Brian's Drive-in Theater.  http://www.briansdriveintheater.com/ronely.html.  Retrieved 12/27/2011. 
  • Swanson, Abbie Fentress. (Aug. 12, 2011)Del Close Lives on at the Upright Citizens Brigade Improv Marathon.  The Culture webpage.  http://culture.wnyc.org/articles/features/2011/aug/12/del-close-marathon.  Retrieved 12/28/2011.
  • Terry McGovern Homepage.  http://www.terrymcgovern.com/.  Retrieved 12/26/2011