Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jack Wallace, Actor

This evening I saw a commercial on TV, for Direct TV I think, which had as a background prop an elderly silent man in a wheelchair that I believe is the actor Jack Wallace, who started out in Chicago. Very glad to see him still acting. I first and last saw him live in Chicago around 1971 at the old 11th Street Theater, just off Michigan Avenue, playing the role of McMurphy in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’m pretty sure W.H. Macy was also in that cast [corrected by a comment below]. I went with and at the instigation of my friend John Killacky, who later moved off to New York City and places beyond in the arts and arts management.

Wallace was terrific. I thought I would see much more of him, but that was not to be. I remember he had a small role, along with some other Chicago actors, in the Steven Segal Film Above the Law, which was set in and shot in Chicago. The Internet Movie Database shows that Wallace has been in many TV shows and movies (link), and I’m glad for him for that; it has just one photo of him, though -- as part of a cast group picture from the movie Boogie Nights. A great performance in Cuckoo’s Nest I still remember, these many years later.

(The nearby image I pulled off a Google search.)
Richard Balsamo

9 comments:

  1. I was also surprised that Jack never became a star. I appeared with him in 1977 in 'Some Kind of Life' at the original Victory Gardens Theatre space in Chicago. He is a special actor, I think. I loved being on stage with him. He was and I am sure, still is, a very generous man, both on and off stage.

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  2. Loved him in the movie Lakeboat. Having sailed 4 seasons on a great lakes freighter I could relate to the character he portrayed...I never pasted her though..haha..see the movie its worth it.

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  3. I was just watching a Columbo episode, "Double Shock". It featured excerpts from July, 2013,of Peter Falk's Walk of Fame honors. Jack Wallace was present. It was great because I had seen him and was not able to put a name to his face. Finally, he was interviewed and I realized that he was a character actor that I have seen all of my life!! Great seeing him and the other actors present: Dabney Coleman, Peter Dobson and Ed Begley, Jr., among others.

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  4. Jack did McMurphy at the 11th St. Theater in 1973. The show was produced by Norman Rice, and it descended, if that's the word, from a production in Arlington Heights in which James Farentino had played McMurphy and Albert Salmi played the Big Chief. Macy was not in either cast. Danny Goldring was the Big Chief at 11th St., Allan Carlsen was Billy Bibbitt, Frank Galati was Harding, and Dennis Kennedy was Cheswick. I cannot remember the name of the actress who played Big Nurse, but I believe she was Rice's wife. Jack was close to definitive as McMurphy, but even in shows in which he was badly miscast one always looked forward to seeing him whoever he played because he was so damned entertaining.

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  5. He's such a talented actor =~ wish we could see more of this fine gentleman!

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  6. Around the early 1990's, my late wife was a server at a late night restaurant in the Baltimore theater district. Jack Wallace was in town to perform in a play at Baltimore's Center Stage. My wife met Jack when she waited on him at the restaurant, and they got on famously. She and I became good friends with Jack during his brief stay in Baltimore. Such a charming, friendly, unpretentious guy! When he visited our home, Jack commented, "There's a lot of love in this house." Always a pleasure to notice his all too infrequent appearances in movies and television.

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  7. I have loved Jack since1967. Glad to see he's still acting. Wish I could have seen more of him. So handsome.

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  8. my dad was friends with jack, back in the 70's here in chicago, they were roofers together, and my dad said jack was a decent roofer and was always going to plays to get parts

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  9. Is jack still alive? I went out with him for a few mos in 1979,,,

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