Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hey, weren't you "Jerk at the bar?"

A trainer in my gym is also an actor. (I know – knock you over with a feather). He recently appeared on the Showtime series CALIFORNICATION playing the fan favorite, “Hollywood Asshole”. And knowing him, I bet he was good in it. Some of his previous roles included “Jerk at the Bar”, “Thug #2”, and to prove he has range – “Jogger”.

An actress I know has these impressive credits: “Vegas Showgirl” on CSI. Also “Bikini Girl”, “Sheik Girl”, “Cute Girl”, and “Homewrecker”.

Another actress friend boasts these credits on imdb: “Waitress”, “Saleswoman”, “Assistant Candidate #1”, and the part she’s best known for -- “Desperate Woman”.

And one of the most talented comic actors I know lists these on his resume: “Caterer”, “Waiter”, “Delivery Boy”, “Great Great Grandfather” (he was in his 30’s at the time), “Husband”, “Exterminator”, and my personal favorite – “Squid”.

Forget being a star, most actors in Hollywood would be thrilled for a role that actually had a name.

Usually these parts are one or two lines, usually day player roles. But not always. Remember the old guy who used to sit at the bar at CHEERS. His name was Al Rosen. He became a semi-regular. He had lines in probably thirty episodes. His name on the show was “Man Who Said Sinatra”.

“Sinatra” was the first line he was assigned, he got a good laugh, and a few weeks later the writers were looking to give a line to a bar patron and someone suggested, “What about the man who said Sinatra?” And thus a legend was born.

It’s not easy being an actor. And for every one who gets a part as “Punk #2” and “Guy in the Sewer” just remember – there are five others who auditioned for those parts and didn’t get them.

Yours truly,

Schmuck with blog

This was a re-post from 5 1/2 years ago.  

26 comments:

Tomas said...

Russell T Davies, the man who brought Doctor Who back from the dead, has said that he tries to give a proper name to every role in the scripts he writes so it looks better on the resumes. I guess a lot of struggling actors must like him!

Stoney said...

Best recognition ever paid to such actors came in the movie "Galaxy Quest"; Sam Rockwell as "Crewman #6" aka Guy Fleegman.

VP81955 said...

Ken, I met Jan Smithers at a memorabilia show in Burbank Friday, using you as an introductory reference. She still talked to me, and was delightful. (And that was before I paid $20 for an autographed picture.) One thing I learned from Jan is that she's no longer getting "WKRP" residuals; for a potential Friday question, for actors (and writers) how long do residuals tend to last for series that sustain themselves into syndication?

Met all sorts of good people from both film and TV at the show, including Sally Kirkland, Judy Tenuta, Dyan Cannon (somewhere, there's a Dorian Gray-like portrait of her), Nancy Kwan and Beth Broderick (yes, Aunt Zelda in the flesh!).

I don't begrudge any celeb who goes to these shows for a little extra pocket money, just as I've never faulted ex-ballplayers whose MLB salaries rookies would laugh at today for appearing at their sports equivalent.

Craig said...

What do you think about this?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1983-CHEERS-TV-Series-First-Season-Finale-Showdown-II-Paramount-Script-/371148722444?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item566a30110c

willieb said...

I remember seeing a headline in one of the supermarket tabloids that read "Cheers star's wife mad that no one from Cheers came to her husband's funeral." Turned out it was Al Rosen's wife.

VP81955 said...

My God, this thread has been hijacked.

ScottyB said...

Interestingly enough, Al Rosen was a very notable pro baseball player during the 1940s and '50s.

ODJennings said...

I met a charming old lady on the bus a couple years ago who made her living as an extra. Without having to ask, she whipped out her scrapbook and showed me photos of her appearances.

She was "old lady pushing shopping cart," "old lady waiting for bus," "old lady using walker," "old lady crossing the street," "old lady in hospital bed" and on and on and on. I amazed at how many times I'd seen her in different movies and tv shows.

She said it was the best job ever. She spent the day with her other old lady actor friends, ate craft service (snuck some home), and made a few dollars to supplement her Social Security. Spike Lee was her favorite director.

It made me think that I should do that in my declining years, and I held that thought for a good 10 minutes until reality set in, but my hat's off to her and countless other who slave away on obscurity.

VP81955 said...

ODJennings, here's something I wrote back in 2010 about arguably the most famous Hollywood extra of all: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/299210.html

Scooter Schechtman said...

"I was 'Panicky Idiot Number Twelve' in 'The Poseidon Adventure'!"
Quotin' "The Simpsons", just keepin' my apostrophes straight on a Sunday mornin'.

CRL said...

My best friend growing up played 'Robber' in an episode of Becker directed by..... Well.

He's gone on to play roles like 'Mechanic', 'Witness', 'Process Server' and 'Policeman/Cop'.....

Rick said...

It's always fun when you're watching an old movie and spot a very familiar face in one of these bit parts. Like Jeff Goldblum as "Freak #1" in Death Wish. Or Anjelica Huston as "Lady on Pier" in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Gig Young as "Marching Soldier" in Sergaent York. It's usually a Holy Crap! moment when you spot them.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Cuckoo's Nest is also good for spotting familiar faces. It seems like half the "Taxi" gang is among the inmates. I'd read that Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson wa in Fellini's "Roma" but failed to spot her, even though I was looking for Tom Waits- album-cover-Peterson, not the Vampirella babe.

Ken Keltner said...

Different Al Rosen, Scotty. The ballplayer is still living. And if you were just pulling Ken's leg, touchet.

Liggie said...

A stage actress friend, a VERY attractive woman in her 20s, played a "Fantasy Girl" in the Robin Williams movie "World's Greatest Dad". Williams' character at the start daydreams about reading from his new bestselling novel to a room full of hot young babes in little black dresses (including her), who then envelope him in hugs and kisses.

Dan Ball said...

"Frightened Inmate #2." lol

Mike Barer said...

I thought that Bailey was much prettier that Jennifer on WKRP. I really liked her character, also.

Thies said...

Stephen Tobolowsky talked about this in his podcast a lot, and that even as an established actor, he still had to take a role named "butt crack plumber".

Jeffro said...

Hey "Schmuck with blog" ;-)

How can you talk about Al Rosen without properly accompanying it with The Video (as an embed)?! Especially with the classic reaction his line caused, including Carla/Rhea almost cracking-up and Sam/Ted pretty much covering his crack-up with the coffee mug.

Also (and I can't remember if I commented regarding this 5.5 years ago), unless they changed the end credits for syndication/DVDs/streaming, his character was always listed as just "Al" (whenever he was credited). This includes Fortune and Men's Weight (S2E17, 1st aired 2/2/84) in which he had the "Sinatra!" line. Never as the "Man Who Said Sinatra".

Cheerio,
Some Schmuck Named "Jeffro"

PS @ ScottyB: Unless you were being facetious, that was a totally different Al Rosen; that who played his entire 10 year/season career with the Indians from '47-'56. I remember Al Rosen the actor had an uncredited role in a 1946 Three Stooges short titled "Uncivil War Birds", so I doubt he was a baseball player moonlighting as an actor (or vice versa).

Jeffro said...

PS: My favorite Al/Man Said Sinatra moment was from the episode where Diane was trapped in the below-floor heating duct. Without going into the details, we see Al from Diane's perspective where he leans down towards the camera (and Diane) and says, "Pucker up, Baby!" One of these days I'll have to upload that scene to my own YouTube account. But, he was great no matter what line he was given, just because he always sounded like he was really soused.

Cheerio (again),
Jeffro

Sinatra! said...

I went back and checked, and actually Al Rosen is credited as "Al" from the first episode he appeared on ("Fortune and Men's Weight"), and every other one after that.

Buttermilk Sky said...

The next time you watch "Man of a Thousand Faces" (that's the Cagney biopic of Lon Chaney), look fast and you'll see an unbilled extra named Charles Durning. Extra work can lead to a real career.

ODJennings said...

I've always admired the next rung up on the ladder--the actors who land a small but steady role on a series and make a career out of it.

Sam the Bartender on Gunsmoke is the poster boy for this. He was in almost every episode, about all he ever said was the occasional "Should I go fetch the Marshall, Miss Kitty?" he cashed two decades worth of paychecks doing it, and as far as I recall he never had to get on a damned horse once.

Maybe the best current example is the woman who plays the Medical Examiner on Law and Order. She's spent years doing her one scene per episode next to an extra under a sheet, and delivering her one line ("She was already dead when she went into the river. This is murder!").

Forget fame, give me years of steady work on a series--that's my Hollywood fantasy.

Gary said...

If you watch The Verdict with Paul Newman, you will plainly see a young Bruce Willis as one of the spectators in the courtroom. He's especially obvious during Newman's final summary to the jury. (A great movie, by the way.)

David McDonnell said...

Glenn Strange was actually at the END of his career during his "Gumsmoke" stint. He had played the Frankenstein Monster three times in the 1940s: "House of Frankenstein," "House of Dracula" and "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein." Otherwise, in the '40s, '50s and into the '60s, he portrayed countless bad guys (and some good guys) in B-movie Westerns and other TV Westerns. So, I'd argue he's NOT actually the best example for poster boy of minor actors making a career of a minor TV role.
Strange had already had a long career. "Gunsmoke" was merely its finale.

David McDonnell said...

Well, it's not supposed to be "Gumsmoke" in line 1 of my note, but, naturally, "Gunsmoke."
I need to get a LARGER font when I type. I'm old.