The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the twenty fifth in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
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 anonymity 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.
Eugene Roche
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Eugene Roche passed away from a heart attack in Encino, CA on July 28th 2004. His ability to take a role and breathe believability and truth into it that has sustained his dramatic and comedic career of more that four decades on stage, in films and television. He emerged as one of the entertainment industry's most sought after and recognizable character actors of his time. Eugene was born in Boston at the height of the depression into a family of four brothers and a sister. His father, Robert, a quartermaster in the U.S. Navy, fell in love with a girl named Mary Finnegan and they remained sweethearts for their entire lives.

With five children of their own and money being scarce, Mary took in boarders all of whom were under the age of four. And they all slept in Gene's room. His first paid job as an actor came at the age of 15 working for WERS Radio in Boston doing a variety of character voices ranging from young men to old women where he mac1e two bucks a show.

Leaving high school at the age of 17, Eugene enlisted in the army adding a fourth star on the service flag hanging in his family's front window. His father and two older brothers were already serving in World War II.

After basic training, and on his way aboard a troop ship moving toward Japan as part of the Allied occupation, he found himself sandwiched in a bunk bed between two fat, seasick G.I.'s on E deck in the bowels of the ship. Answering a notice on the ship's bulletin board for an emcee for a show at sea, he won the audition and escaped to good food and fresh air. Ahhhh! Show biz!

Upon his discharge he returned to Boston and enrolled at Emerson College under the G.I bill While attending Emerson, Eugene appeared in numerous summer stock, variety shows, and touring companies in the New England area. Some of the people he appeared with during this time were Bob Fosse in "Pal Joey" and Henry Fonda in "Point of No Return."

As an inactive reservist he was recalled into service because of the Korean War and returned to college upon discharge; completed his education; married; and headed for San Francisco with his new bride, a great Dane, and another actor all traveling together in an English Austin automobile with a questionable sunroof. San Francisco marked the beginning of a seminal period for Eugene's development as an actor. From 1953 through 1958 he had the opportunity to perform in classic plays by playwrights such as O'Casey, O'Neill, Brecht, Beckett and Ionesco with the newly formed Actor's Workshop of San Francisco. He also had the distinction of starring in the inaugural production of Separate Tables at the Commedia Theatre in Palo Alto.

Soon after his arrival in San Francisco he spotted a casting notice in The Chronicle for Equity actors for the newly formed Actor's Workshop. He won the leading role of Robert in The Girl on the Via Flaminia followed by mauy others including the American premiere of Mother Courage [the cook]. The Iceman Cometh ["Hickey"], and the West Coast premiere of Waiting for Godot ["Vladimir"]. This production of Waiting for Godot had the distinction of being the first production ever performed inside San Quentin prison and was chosen by the U.S. State Dept. to represent America at the 1959 Brussels' World's Fair in Belgium.

With the prestige and success of Godot, Eugene moved to New York where he never stopped working. He worked during the hey-day of "live" television doing such shows as The Armstrong Circle Theatre, U.S. Steel Hour, and CBS Play of the Week. He appeared in countIess commercials as well as episodic television shows such as The Defenders and Naked City.

His off-Broadway credits include Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood at Circle in the Square and the musical version of James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [recorded by Columbia Records]. William and James Goldman's production of Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole starring Darren McGavin introduced Eugene to Broadway audiences along with his co- star Peter Fonda, who was making his Broadway debut as well.

Following Eugene's debut he appeared with Helen Hayes on Broadway in A.E Hotchner's In the White House which, incidentally, was done as a command performance for President Johnson in Washington, D.C.

He also appeared in the Broadway premiere of Mother Courage with Anne Bancroft directed by Jerome Robbins; All in Good Time with Sir Donald Wolfitt; The Millionairess with Carol Channing; Great Day in the Morning produced by George C. Scott with Colleen Dewhurst; Arthur Miller's The Price and the West Coast premiere of Time of the Barracudas with Laurence Harvey and Elaine Stritch. While living in New York Eugene also co-starred in two television series: Higher and Higher - Attorneys at Law with John McMartin and Sally Kellerman and The Corner Bar with Anne Meara as well as doing the films Cotton Comes to Harlem [Godfrey Cambridge]; The Happening [Faye Dunaway]; They Might Be Giants,"[George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward]; "W" [in Cinerama with Twiggy]; Star [Julie Andrews]; Newman's Law [George Peppard]; Mr. Ricco [Dean Martin]; and Slaughterhouse Five. In 1974 Eugene moved to Los Angeles where he continues his motion picture appearances with such films as The Late Show [Lily. Tomlin and Art Carney]; Corvette Summer [Mark Hamill and Annie Potts]; Foul Play [Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn]; Oh God, Yau Devil [George Burns]; Eternity [Jon Voight]; When a Man Loves a Woman [Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia]; and Executive Decision [Steven Segal and Kurt Russell]

Some of his memorable television roles include his stint as E. Ronald Mallu, the humorously sly attorney on "Soap"; Archie Bunker's nemesis, Pinky Peterson, on All in the Family; Markie Post's father on the long-running Night Court series; Harry Burns, the newspaper editor on Perfect Strangers; the cantankerous Luther Gillis in Magn um P.I.; Bill Parker, the lovable landlord in Webster; and, most recently, as Eric Jr. in Dave's Wor1d. His list of starring credits in Movies of the Week; guest appearances; and other principal roles in series goes on and on.

Eugene currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife of 20 years, actress Anntoni Roche, in their hillside home where he enjoys inventing and building things while singing obscure songs to their dog, Belle. Eugene is very proud of all of his nine children and three of his sons are following in his footsteps. Eamonn and Brogan, are establishing acting careers and, Sean, is an Emmy award-winning writer/producer. Eugene is writing a book of short stories chronicling the funny and moving people and events that have touched and graced his life.

Irv Schechter Company

Eugene Roche's advice to the aspiring actor:

"Persevere, and never allow anything or anyone to deter you from your passion! The world will cheer you one day and dismiss you the next so treat fanfare and failure as twins.

As the late James Cagney once said to me on the subject of acting, Don't ever let 'em catch you at it.

Remember - you are a unique being! Honor your magnificence, never retreat from it!

On with the great adventure! See you along the way."

Eugene Roche' Credits (partial)

  • Woman Chaser, The (1999) - Used Car Dealer
  • Chimp Channel, The (1999) (TV Series) (voice) - Murray Price
  • Rockford Files: Murder and Misdemeanors, The (1997) (TV) 
  • Executive Decision (1996) - Admiral Lewis
  • Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995) (TV) - George Stevens
  • Friend to Die For, A (1994) (TV) - Priest
  • Roswell (1994) (TV) - James Forrestal
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? (1994) (TV Series) (voice) - Additional Voices
  • When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) - Walter
  • Case for Murder, A (1993) (TV) - Alan Nugent
  • Julie (1992) (TV Series) - Wooley
  • Sitter, The (1991) (TV) - Carl
  • Lenny (1990) (TV Series) - Pat
  • Eight Is Enough Wedding, An (1989) (TV)
  • Eternity (1989) - Governor/Riley
  • Take Five (1987) (TV Series) - Max Davis
  • Perfect Strangers (1986) (TV Series) - Harry Burns (1987-1988)
  • Pigs Vs. Freaks (1984) (TV) - Frank
  • Airwolf (1984) (TV) - Senator William Dietz
  • Juggler of Notre Dame, The (1984) (TV) - Father Delany
  • Oh, God! You Devil (1984) - Charlie Gray
  • Webster (1983) (TV Series) - Bill Parker (1984-1986)
  • Cocaine and Blue Eyes (1983) (TV) - Sergeant Khoury
  • Farrell for the People (1982) (TV) - Patrick J. Malloy
  • Miracle on Ice (1981) (TV) - Don Craig
  • Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case (1980) (TV) - Gary Gortmaker
  • Good Time Harry (1980) (TV Series) - Jimmy Hughes
  • Hart to Hart (1979) (TV)
  • Child Stealer, The (1979) (TV) - Lew Beck
  • Love for Rent (1979) (TV) - Sloane
  • You Can't Take it with You (1979) (TV) - Paul Sycamore
  • Winds of Kitty Hawk, The (1978) (TV) - Bishop Milton Wright
  • The New Maverick (1978) (TV) - Judge Austin Crupper
  • Ghost of Flight 401, The (1978) (TV) - Matt Andrews
  • Corvette Summer (1978) - Ed Mc Grath
  • Foul Play (1978) - Archbishop Thorncrest/Archbishop's brother
  • Soap (1977) (TV Series) - Attorney E. Ronald Mallu (1978-1981)
  • The Late Show (1977) - Ron Birdwell
  • Corey: For the People (1977) (TV) - District Attorney Patrick Shannon
  • Never Con a Killer (1977) (TV) - Schroeder
  • Possessed, The (1977) (TV) - Sergeant Taplinger
  • Mallory: Circumstantial Evidence (1976) (TV) - Bob Lattimer
  • Art of Crime, The (1975) (TV) - Detective Sergeant Harry Isadore
  • Mr. Ricco (1975) - George Cronyn
  • Crime Club (1975) (TV) - Daniel Lawrence
  • Last Survivors, The (1975) (TV) - Prosecutor
  • Newman's Law (1974) - Reardon
  • Winter Kill (1974) (TV) - Mayor Clinton Bickford
  • W (1974) - Charles Jasper
  • Corner Bar, The (1972) (TV Series) - Frank Flynn (1973)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) - Derby
  • Crawlspace (1971) (TV) - Emil Birge
  • They Might Be Giants (1971) - Policeman
  • Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) - Anderson
  • Happening, The (1967) - First Motorcycle Officer

  • That's My Bush! (2001) playing Warden
  • For Your Love (1998) playing Mel's boss
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul (1999) playing Mayor
  • Family Law (1999) playing Judge Theodore J. Foley
  • Brother's Keeper (1998) playing Snappy
  • Promised Land (1996) playing Brian Drake
  • Star Trek: Voyager (1995) playing Jor Brel
  • The John Larroquette Show (1993)
  • Batman: The Animated Series (1992) playing Arnold Stromwell
  • Murder, She Wrote (1984) playing Lt. Jack Boyle
  • Magnum, P.I. (1980) playing Jack Sullivan
  • Stingray (1986) playing Capt. Tim Greenwood
  • Highway to Heaven (1984) playing Michael Clancy
  • Crazy Like a Fox (1984)
  • Night Court (1984) playing Jack Sullivan
  • Airwolf (1984) playing Eddie Donahough
  • Gimme a Break! (1981) playing Officer Jerry
  • Taxi (1978) playing Jack
  • Darkroom (1981) playing Charlie
  • All in the Family (1971) playing Pinky Peterson
  • Lou Grant (1977) playing Jack Riley
  • Starsky and Hutch (1975)
  • Streets of San Francisco, The (1972) playing Charley Springer
  • Kojak (1973) playing Patrolman Lyle 'Sandy' Beach
  • Ellery Queen (1975) playing Sherrif Oscar Eberhart
  • Maude (1972) playing Albie Doyle
  • Naked City (1958)

  • The Armstrong Circle Theater
  • U.S. Steel Hour
  • CBS Play of the Week
  • True Story
  • All My Children

  • Blood Sweat and Stanley Poole
  • In the White House
  • All in Good Time
  • Great Day in the Morning
  • Mother Courage
  • The Millionairess
  • The Price

  • Waiting For Godot
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Between Two Thieves
  • Father Uxbridge Wants to Marry
  • Under Milkwood

For more info and credits see IMDb

-- End ---

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