The Working Actor

Editor's Intro:
This is the first in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor".
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts.....". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anomimity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000 building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.


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      If you've been around long enough, you probably know this versatile actor as Exidor, the long-robed emissary for any number of way-out cults and cosmic clubs who alternately aided or sidetracked Bolder, Colorado's most illustrious visitor in Paramount Television's "Mork and Mindy" (1978-1982) which starred Pam Dawber, and Robin Williams. (Also see: Exidor Appreciation Page)

But you may also know him for his many memorable feature characters in "Cool Hand Luke", "El Dorado", "High Plains Drifter", "Vanishing Point", "Fools Parade", "Chisum", "Last Hard Men", "Damnation Alley", "Bite the Bullet", and his starring role in "Under the Rainbow". He has also appeared in hundreds of television offerings, guesting on such shows as "Charlies Angels", "McCloud", "Columbo", "How the West Was Won", "The Incredible Hulk", "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo", and "Eight is Enough". You may have also seen him in some of the recent "Stupid Golf" videos with Leslie Neilson. (For more info on these titles see IMDb)

Born in New York City, Donner grew up in New Jersey, Michigan, and Texas, attending school in those states and California. After graduation from high school, he joined the Navy, serving three years, 11 months, 29 days, and six and one-half hours.

Donner enjoyed the West Coast and decided to stay. To make ends meet he labored at various odd jobs such as shipping clerk, bartender, salesman, commercial artist, gardener, and as an insurance investigator. At nights he attended San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge), taking courses in Art History, Psychology and speech; not with an acting career in mind, but to cure an insecurity problem. That problem stemmed from a foray into the acting field during a fifth grade production in which he portrayed Abraham Lincoln.

During this time, Donner lived in Studio City and became friends with an actor who lived in his apartment building. The actor urged him to study drama, telling him he was humorous and had a good face. That actor was a fella named Clint Eastwood and Donner's first professional break was a direct result of his aid and advice.

When not busy acting, Donner is extremely active in athletics, and is known as one of Hollywood's most enthusiastic golfers. He was a member of the former "Hollywood Hackers" and currently carries a seven handicap and is the leader of a group of entertainment industry professionals known as Don Porter's Thursday Golf Group as well as joining others at many of the Celebrity Golf Tournaments who raise money for various charities around the world. Robert has also played in many tennis tournaments and is frequently called upon during "Celebrity Nights" in which he performs stand-up comedy and promises not to sing. His reputation in this area has also lead him to become known as on of Hollywood's "in demand" Corporate Speakers.

Donner's advice to the aspiring actor:
"Being an actor is like going to Las Vegas with your life. You never know when opportunity will knock!". He says, "I beleve that everyone who is serious gets an opportunity. It's a matter of being ready when that opportunity presents itself. Study your craft and take any job you can get!"     ---End

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