- An actor for writers, a writer for actors, and a director for both


The first serious inkling that I might become a professional actor occurred at Roosevelt Jr. High in San Diego, California where I played a dastardly villain in an old fashioned melodrama. Then at Point Loma High School, San Diego I discovered a magnificent old theater on campus and two excellent drama teachers.

Richard Englehart & Mike Auer

There were rave reviews and an amazing audience response to the musical "MAN OF LA MANCHA" in which I played Sancho Panza. The show received great acclaim at Point Loma High in 1970. Here is a shot taken during rehearsals.


As Sookie, the Old Hermit, in the musical "Wildcats" in May 1971 directed by Richard Englehart.


In September 1971 I enrolled at Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon under the guidance of the inspirational Theodore Sizer who encouraged me to pursue acting as a profession.

As Uncas the "German Indian" in Arthur Kopit's exploration of the American West in "THE INDIANS." This was a rousing production complete with a true Wild West Show.


Other well received productions at Pacific University which I starred in included CHARLEY'S AUNT, which we toured, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH and George M. Cohan's THE TAVERN.

Lord Fancourt Babberly, disguised as "Charley's Aunt" seduces an unsuspecting lass.

"I'm Charley's aunt from Brazil. You know -- where the nuts come from!"


"How can you send this pitiful creature out into the thunder and the terrors of the night?" The Vagabond pleads to the suspicious innkeeper for the shelter of a mysterious fainted woman discovered in the woodshed one dark and stormy night in George M. Cohan's delightful melodrama "The Tavern." One of my favorite roles!

"Ah, what a night! It's a storybook night for me. It was worth being born to have lived on a night like this!"

THEODORE SIZER (1910-1997) Professor and Director of the Theatre Department at Pacific University from 1963-1976 at his retirement home in Mexico in 1983, the day we learned that Estelle Winwood had turned 100. I was visiting from New York and he brought me the "The Turn Of The Century" script I had sent him, the one about the 100-year-old actress living in California. "Quick!" says he. "Take the train to Los Angeles and show this to her!" I did. And met a legend.

Professor Sizer was a veteran of the 166th Signal Corp in World War II. He filmed a lot of those horrifying motion pictures of the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945. His combat buddy was Russ Meyer, the filmmaker responsible for such entertainments as "Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!" which John Waters is attributed to having declared "Beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made."


Theatre took a back seat in late 1972 when I traveled to Mexico for many months. I studied at the Universidad de Queretaro, explored the country from Sinaloa to Michoacan to the Yucatan and shot a film. I have returned to Mexico often, to remote and unspoiled lands. To other worlds, really. How long have I lived in Mexico? Siempre -- in my heart; in my soul. My knowledge of Mexico and the Spanish language is a superb compliment to my Jewish-American experience along with my emersion into the English language via all the Western arts; through my experience, familiarity and kinship to Latino culture I have expanded immeasurably and am convinced that Shakespeare had a Latin/Romantic sensibility!


In the fall of 1973 I enrolled at UCLA's Motion Picture/Television Department where I wrote screenplays, made films and learned the art of acting for film and TV from the late great Professor Arthur B. Friedman who once exclaimed that I "have the kind of impassioned enthusiasm for acting I haven't seen since Basil Rathbone!"


Link to a scene from "Casablanca" 1975. I play Captain Louis Renault:

Link to a scene from "Freud" John Huston's 1962 film. Guess who I play? I think I was more mature then than I am now! But maybe it's just the roles I play...


(Pardon the lousy camera work and poor picture quality on the above videos. Those were undergrads just learning and these scenes were one-take wonders.)


The inspirational Arthur Friedman. He's the great movie historian who interviewed Stan Laurel in 1957 the week after Oliver Hardy's passing. Professor Friedman kindly gave me a copy of his interview in 1975. Here's a link to that recording:


Another favorite professor at UCLA was Robert Rosen who provided many insights into the art and theory of cinema. Today he is the Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.


I graduated UCLA in 1975 with a B.A. from the Motion/Picture Television Department on a Friday; on Saturday I was cast in an original production of Thad Taylor's The Shakespeare Society of America in Hollywood "The First Actress" which led me to a career as a professional stage actor.


I appeared in several Shakesparean productions there, including "Richard III" with Deveren Bookwalter and "The Merchant Of Venice" with Allan Rich, John Megna and Annie Potts.

Above: John Megna as Solanio, yours truly as Salerio in "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE." John was a well known child actor whose notable appearances included "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" (1962), "HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE" (1964) and in the "The Magic Shop" episode (1964) of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour." John died too soon in 1995 at the age of 42.

Then there were six fascinating months as a playwright member at Ralph Waite's Los Angeles Actors Theatre. I can't even BEGIN to talk about that right now.

My acting career really took off in 1977 when I was cast by The Old Globe Theatre in my home town of San Diego to portray Private Napoleon Alexander Trotsky Meek in George Bernard Shaw's 1931 political comedy "TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD."


PRIVATE MEEK: part Gunga Din, part Lawrence of Arabia

J. Michael Straczynski, reviewing "TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD" for The Daily Aztec wrote: "Special mention must go to Craig Calman, who as Private Napoleon Alexander Trotsky Meek is a limitless warehouse of visual and facial characteristics that are hysterically perfect and beyond price."

And Frances L. Bardacke of San Diego Magazine wrote:

"George Bernard Shaw's play was given royal treatment. It was altogether an excellent production with everyone just as they should be. But when Meek (Craig Calman) was on stage his smile and dust stole the show. An inheritance, I suppose."


"Frasier's" Kelsey Grammer played the lead but guess who won an Atlas Award as Best Comedy Actor? (Kelsey's the guy in the old fashioned bathing suit at the left holding his ears during this battle scene that Private Meek is commanding.)

San Diego Tribune theater critic Bill Hagen wrote "In the hands of director Mark Lamos and an awesomely gifted cast, the Old Globe Theatre production is spellbinding theater, an evening of riveting entertainment."

What a dream place is The Old Globe Theatre, nestled in beautiful Balboa Park, San Diego.

Here is a 1985 photo of the Old Globe's three guiding lights: Thomas Hall, Jack O'Brien and Executive Producer Craig Noel (1915-2010) who ran the theatre from 1947 on.


Cast portrait of Jack O'Brien's "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM" during the first season of the newly-rebuilt Festival Stage in 1978. I played the Coach Beetle, circled in red. Critic Jonathan Saville wrote: "Those intricately wrought, wiry, meshy, insect-like rococo extravaganzas that Robert Morgan has designed as costumes for the fairies are beautiful in a ghastly lepidopteral way and belong to the heavy, decadent, late Victorian nightmare world of Arthur Rackham."

Among the wonderful performers in this "DREAM" were Kelsey Grammer, Jeffrey Combs, Katherine McGrath, G. Wood, Deveren Bookwalter, Debbie Taylor, Ronald Long, Jonathan McMurtry, Sandy McCallum, Dakin Matthews, KT Sullivan and last but certainly not least, Jody Horowitz.

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows...."


1978 portrait by Russell Redmond


"Henry V" directed by Craig Noel with G. Wood as a French Royal, myself as a French Page, unidentified Umbrella Attendee, Jonathan McMurtry as the French King and Kelsey Grammer as the Dauphin. This exciting, colorful and handsome production opened the new outdoor Festival Stage at the Old Globe in June 1978. We toured this play to Scottsdale, AZ in September.

I also played Bardolph, one of the English low-lifes in "Henry V." At the tavern visiting Mistress Quickly (Jody Horowitz) before going off to war are (left to right) Nathan Haas, John Napierela, myself and on the floor, future star of the "Reanimator" horror films, Jeffrey (Dr. Herbert West) Combs.


Following a season with the 1978 Shakespeare Festival which toured to Scottsdale, Arizona, I worked at other San Diego Theatres as both actor, director and playwright, including a stint as Pantalone in commedia dell' arte street theatre.

In a sketch of "The Good Doctor," Marquis Public Theatre, San Diego 1979.

In the fall of 1979 I moved to New York City where I soon joined SAG and AEA, did commercials, worked on Broadway (once so far!) but mostly off and off-off as well as for several theatre companies on the East Coast. Notable roles include William Shakespeare in G.B. Shaw's "DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS," Bob Acres in "THE RIVALS," Bottom in "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM" and Rosencrantz in both "HAMLET" and "ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD" for the Boston Shakespeare Company.



The comical and cowardly Bob Acres about to duel in Sheridan's 18th Century classic "The Rivals."

I was Rosencrantz with Courtney B. Vance early in his career as The Player King, Boston Shakespeare Company.


One of those zany Federal Express commercials by Joe Seidelmeyer

In 1986 I returned to California and continued to write and work behind the scenes for the major motion picture studios including Disney, 20th Century Fox, MGM-UA and most significantly Orion Pictures where I narrated some promo films including an Alec Baldwin project. I also had featured or starring roles in a number of USC and UCLA graduate student films as well as professional commercials at this time.


Photos by Westside Studio.


Above: Two posters for a TV commercial for Toyota's Starlet which appeared in Tokyo subways back in '91-'92. Director and crew flew to California from Japan and we filmed on location in the Joshua Tree desert. I did my own stunt driving, to the chagrin of my passenger!


Starring in title role as "FLESTERON IN AMAZONIA" an erotic fantasy for Playboy Channel. I am surrounded by real Playboy bunnies.


MacBeth. Photo by Ed Freeman

I also appeared in several plays in Los Angeles including "THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE..." "THE FIREBUGS" and 'RICHARD III."


In 1994 at the Knightsbridge Theatre, Pasadena as the cowardly Lord Mayor of London having a rough time of it between "Richard III"(Loren Bass) and his henchman.


In 1995 I participated in a whole other style of theatre when I guest starred at the Plushlife Show in Los Angeles with Gina Lotramin and her crazy gang.

As the demented DR. COLIN OSCOPY lusting after an unusual paramour played by famous DJ Paul V.


Another character I played at The Plushlife Show was Judge Mental, here taking a "side bar" with the defense attorney.

A great commotion was created when the star witness (Miss Va Va Voom) took the stand.


A couple of years later, for Mardi Gras 1997 I played "El Generalisimo" in an Alexis Del Lago cabaret extravaganza.


The cabaret took place at Fatty's on La Cienega, a chic restaurant located in the former home of Hollywood legend Fatty Arbuckle.


Two months after that: I worked on Steven Spielberg's "AMISTAD."


I was given the supremely honorable opportunity to work with Morgan Freeman in April 1997. I played an Abolitionist in a scene which unfortunately ended up on the proverbial "cutting room floor."


My return to the theatre:

As Gottlieb Biedermann in "THE FIREBUGS" 1999 a frightening tale about a town in Germany beset by arsonists.

"Many strong performances made the night enjoyable. A dangerously close to over-the-top performance by Craig Calman provided the frenetic energy necessary to remind us that this dark play was indeed a dark comedy." - NoHo News review

Yours Truly is feeling the heat starring in "THE FIREBUGS" and getting no respect from his house guests who turn out to be a couple of serial arsonists. This classic nightmare had a set that looked as though it came from the 1919 German film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." The Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote that I reminded him of "a young Bert ('Cowardly Lion') Lahr." I was actually attempting a John Barrymore interpretation. On thoughtful reflection, the character of Biedermann is a Cowardly Lion of a bourgeois nouveau riche who fancies himself a Hamlet!

"I don't believe in class distinctions! You must have felt that. I'm not old fashioned. On the contrary. I'm genuinely sorry that among the lower classes people still blather about class distinctions. Aren't we all creatures of one creator nowadays, whether we're rich or poor? The middle class too. Aren't we both flesh and blood, you and I?....I don't know, Herr Eisenring, whether you also smoke cigars?"

"The most obvious strength of this production: tactful, symbolic exaggeration of behavior from voice to gesture to the movement of the eyes which lays plain the moral in this amoral tale. Biedermann spends immense amounts of energy stifling his suspicions, convincing himself that this is all some wild joke. Calman masters the dance of the complacent suburbanite, his hands compulsively straightening collar and tie folding together in a kind of unconscious prayer as he blathers on in the why-can't-we-all-just-get-along vein." - Backstage West


Biedermann attempts to "unspool" the mystery of The Firebugs.


Shenanigans in the attic. The Firebugs attempt to convince the Inspector that all those barrels in Biedermann's home are merely filled with hair tonic -- not gasoline!

"Playwright Max Frisch cleverly designed this classic to illustrate Europe's indifference to the Nazi rise to power. Finding himself all too comfortable in the land of denial, wealthy hair tonic manufacturer Gottlieb Biedermann (Craig Calman) continually offers comfort to his manipulating guests in hopes of winning their approval. A very talented cast plays both sides of the cowardly Biedermann as he sends himself racing toward his own destruction." - NoHo News

"Joking is the third best method of hoodwinking people. The second best is sentimentality....But the best and safest method is to tell the plain unvarnished truth. Oddly enough. No one believes it."


In June 2000 I was invited to join The Actor's Studio Playwright/Director Unit headed by Mark Rydell and Lyle Kessler.


On Halloween Day 2000 my associate Anthony Zipper and his daughter Calistra were guests on THE HOWARD STERN RADIO SHOW with subsequent appearances on both CBS-TV and E! Entertainment Television. Details can be found on the HTSA page on this website.


In October 2002 I made my acting debut for the Actors Studio and when I returned to the the boards in January 2003 Mark Rydell declared me to be "as always an exciting, imaginative, eccentric, bizarre and brave actor."

Director Mark Rydell, actress Eva Marie Saint and her husband director Jeffrey Hayden at the Actors Studio West, 2003. Photo by Craig Calman.


October 2002: A week prior to her wedding, Calistra and Anthony Zipper appeared at The Comedy Underground, Santa Monica, California, guests of the zany songstress-comedienne Rachel Arieff.


October 2004: The Robey Theatre Company production of "FOR THE LOVE OF FREEDOM PART III: CHRISTOPHE (THE SPIRIT) PASSION AND GLORY." The Haiti Revolution 1806-1820. I play two roles: SIR HOME POPHAM, English diplomat who attempts to broker peace between the warring Blacks and Mulattos:


Photo by Chrison Thompson


Photo courtesy Robey Theatre Company


Karl Calhoun as Henri Christophe (1767-1820) who ruled Haiti from 1807 until his death, first as President, then as King. Yours truly as Sir Home Popham, English diplomat who befriended Christophe. Ironically, Popham died in England 18 days before Christophe who, facing the invasion of his enemies the Mulattos, committed suicide rather than face capture at his palace San Soucci.


...and I also played BASSE, the Swiss-German architect who built the great fortress La Citadel for King Henri Christophe:

Original photo by Stephon Fuller


Summer 2006 finds me filming a special video project as the Vampire General Duke Ivan:




"Dracula is an insect that means nothing!"


And the characters keep coming...


July 2007: As a hapless tomato inspector in a short by Brandon Kaplan.


Beginning to transform myself into Dr. Sancho, Administrator of a 17th Century Spanish Asylum for the Mentally Disturbed.


April - June 2009: Return to the "legitimate" stage as Dr. Sancho in Lope De Vega's "Madness In Valencia" written in 1614 at The Sacred Fools Theater, Los Angeles.


The Zany trio from the Valencia madhouse, Dr. Sancho, head of the asylum, Thomas, an inmate, and Dr. Verino, expert on insanity.


Laura Napoli as Fedra, Dr. Sancho's niece, is in love with a madman!


Dr. Sancho consults Dr. Verino (Brandon Clark) expert on the aberrations of love who declares the only way to cure Fedra is for her to believe she will marry the madman.


Fedra is overjoyed when her uncle tells her she can marry the madman, and leads him in a zany dance. What will Dr. Sancho do now?

Backstage magazine's critic called me "appropriately peppery as the administrator of the asylum."


I've come full circle: From Sancho Panza in 1970 to Dr. Sancho in 2009.


In April 2010 I began a brand new adventure in acting. I was chosen to be an office regular in the firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, a New York City ad agency in 1964. The show is the AMC Cable Television series "Mad Men." I began with the first episode of Season 4. As of March 2013 I have appeared on the show for three seasons.


Also in 2010 I appeared in two indie projects playing a father in both of them.

Don receives an unexpected and unwelcomed visit from his estranged daughter in "Book of Alice" directed by Graig Gilkeson.


In "Wishful Sinful" by Brad Bores I play a stroke victim suffering abuse and neglect from one of his sons.


ABC TV series "Switched At Birth." I appeared on Season 2, Episode 2 first aired January 14, 2013


NBC TV Series "Community" I appeared as one of the janitors attending a costume party. I'm the guy on the right wearing a white feathered admiral's hat. Seated with a white fur wrap is comic Eddie Pepitone. Season 4, Episode 11 'Basic Human Anatomy' first aired April 25, 2013.


From January through April 2013 I worked on AMC TV series "Mad Men" Season 6 as a background office employee. I will appear on Episodes 6 through 13. Episode 6 will air May 5, 2013. Imagine my surprise seeing the above on IMDb.





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