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."
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
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,
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
My return to the theatre:
As Gottlieb Biedermann in "THE FIREBUGS"
1999 a frightening tale about a town in Germany beset by
"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?"
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
- 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
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
And the characters
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
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
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.