Saturday, March 5, 2016

John Karlen

In 1966, Broadway actor John Karlen decided to move his family to California to try his luck in movies, when he got the call from the Gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows. An actor had been fired and a major role had to be filled immediately. Reluctantly, he stayed in New York for what would become one of his signature roles.

Nothing against Jonathan Frid and his portrayal of Barnabas Collins, but it was John Karlen that brought to life one of the most interesting characters in the history of Dark Shadows. His work as Willie Loomis, was a bright spot in what is now known as one the most entertaining, off-the-wall, crazy experiments in the history of television soap operas.


John Karlen eventually did make his move to California and while he certainly had that James Dean look and talent, it was television that gave him a permanent home. Guest starring in shows that ranged from Medical Center to The Waltons, and All in the Family to Barnaby Jones, as well as a slew of other popular shows of the time, he managed to have steady work for four decades.

Fate came into play once again in 1982 when he was cast as Harvey Lacey, the husband of Mary Beth Lacey in the hit show, Cagney and Lacey, which earned him an Emmy. John Karlen is a true working actor that is fortunate in his career to have hit gold twice, and yet never became a household name, making him my pick of the day for Not Very Famous...but should be.

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