September 15, 2019

If you’re an old-time boxing and wrestling fan, you know the name Primo Carnera.

Carnera was a phenomenal athlete – and, apparently, a physical giant. He was a circus strongman in his native Italy before traveling to the U.S. and winning the heavyweight boxing title in 1933. You may remember his (somewhat unflattering) portrayal as the giant boxer who Max Baer defeats in the film Cinderella Man. Better still, you can see the real Primo in two of my favorite old-time movies, Mighty Joe Young (1949) and

The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933).

If you talk with fight fans of the day, they’ll all tell you the same thing: “Primo Carnera was a giant. He was over seven feet tall.”

Actually, he was six-foot-six, certainly very tall for a boxer, but not quite the seven-foot man-mountain people believed him to be.

There’s a reason for this slight discrepancy between perception and reality.  Primo’s handlers – and the promoters of his fights – surrounded him with the shortest men the...

April 3, 2019

We've all written academic essays for high school and college classes, but have you ever thought about writing an original two-character scene or monologue for yourself to perform? This is a terrific creative challenge and offers actors opportunities to really stretch ourselves and push hard against the limits of our comfort zones.

An effective way to start is to try rewriting the ending of a favorite movie, TV show, or play. Even better, try rewriting a scene from a script you didn't like very much. Rewrite it until you like it much better. Rewrite it until you love it. Interestingly, you'll probably find this is a lot harder than you think.

In addition to flexing our creative muscles in a new way, this exercise helps actors step inside the minds of our industry's writers. It will also give you an idea of exactly how complex the writer's job can be. I've always felt that writers are the unsung heroes of show business. Writers are not just technicians who churn out printed pages – any mo...

April 30, 2018

One of the best friends I ever had passed away in April. My longtime pal, the one and only Johnny Valiant, lost his life in a freak accident. Johnny was strong, smart, funny, and creative. He was one of those rare guys you meet – maybe once or twice in a lifetime – that you believe can do anything. He was unstoppable. He was such a powerhouse, such a force of nature, such a larger than life personality … it was easy to convince yourself he’d be around forever.

When I was sixteen years old, I sat in the audience at Madison Square Garden and watched him wrestle Andre the Giant in the main event.  Johnny Valiant was a world renowned pro wrestling champion, manager, and broadcaster. He became an accomplished actor, stand-up comic, and stage monologuist in his post-wrestling days. He was the subject of a terrific documentary film too. He was always active. He was a do-er. He even wrote and performed a one-man seriocomic stage show, something many actors think about doing – but very few actua...

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