Baha'i Alex Rocco profile/promo
Actor Alex Rocco says hes indebted to Bahai teachings Actor Alex Rocco says he is not a religious man but in the next breath he reveals how his discovery of the Bahai faith is his "tranquilizer." Even the 20 years Rocco spent knocking around as a truck driver, a bookie, a musician's road manager "getting my lumps," did not prepare the star of CBS' new "Three for the Road" series for the rejection he got during the early stages of his acting career. "Then someone handed me some Bahai literature, and for lack of anything else to read with my morn- ' ing coffee that day I glanced at it." That glance lead to such a deep study of the faith which places emphasis on tolerance and the essential worth of all religions that Alex Rocco is now such a dedicated scholar he speaks to high school students about the subject. "The teachings have been the answer for me." As an example, Rocco cites his calm through his "waiting" to hear about the series. "First there was the strong chance I wouldn't get the show because of another acting commitment I'd made. Then, once Marilyn Beck that was resolved, there were the weeks of waiting to hear if the network was going to buy the series but I let God do the worrying for me." "Even now, when things get a little tight on the set I go to my dressing room and say a few prayers. It calms me down." Rocco's high school lectures concentrate on those aspects of an acting career not taught in drama classes. "I tell them about the hard times, the rejections, the frustrations. I stress that one out of a thousand gets that lucky shot and succeeds. Then," the Sommerville, Mass., High School dropout continues, "if they are still interested, I try to tell them how to handle the pressures by explaining how I've learned to handle it. I know what I felt at their age, and if anything I say saves even one of those kids from going through the same pain I've accomplished something." Before leaving for Carmel, Big Sur and Monterey, Calif., locations for the series, Rocco was recalling some of his earliest frustrations as an actor. The first time I turned up at Leonard Nimoy's ("Star Trek") acting class, he kicked me out!" "Actually, he told me to take some speech lessons or the only jobs I could get would be films set in Boston." Rocco spent eight months in a Hollywood speech clinic getting rid of his Boston accent. "I still had an accent when I finished," his mouth breaks into a wide grin, "but now it's a New York accent and for some reason that's acceptable." "After the Los Angeles City College clinic worked with me, I went back to Nimoy's classes for a few months, and then I studied some more with acting coach Jeff Corey." "I'm a lazy actor," the 6'2", 180 pound actor admits,- "and I get bored sitting around discussing the 'structure of a scene' I don't even hang out with other actors because the only thing they want to talk about is acting, and I can't hack it." His first acting job was a "Batman" two-parter, which he fast-talked him- t' if t i I Alex Rocco . . . dedicated scholar self into. "It was titled 'Batman Meets the Green Hornet' and my line was The Green Hornet is coming.' My mother was so excited and all her friends in Somerville, Mass., watched." Rocco's counting on his some one thousand Italian relatives to give him an "edge" in the ratings. "I guess you could say I work my own way I get in front of a camera and talk and that's all. None of that deep analysis stuff about motivation. That's a lot of at least for me." "Like the first time I met with Alan Arkin about a job. He asked me what I'd done on Broadway? I didn't do any snow job. I told the truth: 'nothing. And laughed. Alan laughed too. Since then he's been very helpful to my career," he says, running his fingers through his brown hair tinged with grey, "and Alan has put me in everything he's done the last two years including the motion picture Twigs.' " Production for 'Twigs" was about to start when Rocco got the call about the series "Three for the Road." It's funny how things work out. My agent had called earlier about two other, pilots: 'Shamus' and 'Matt Helm.' And to say I was not enthusiastic about those cop shows is an understatement I was tired of playing heavies and said so, only to be reminded that I was an 'unknown' and that this was an opportunity to be a regular on a series." Rocco stuck to his "thanks, but no thanks." "I had this feeling something better was around the corner, and since I was working in 'The Blue Knight' moviepilot with George Kennedy I had no time to sit around second-guessing myself if I'd made a bum decision. When the call came from Grant Tinker I held my breath." As he and Tinker (head of MTM) talked about the role, "I realized it was everything I'd been wanting playing a photo-journalist who is a widower with two sons, a new adventure every week and sometimes a romantic involvement" "I also realized it was a part usually cast with types like Jim Franciscus or Bill Bixby. But Tinker is a gutsy guy and decided to go with an offbeat guy like me with a face like mine. A face a New York cab driver can identify with." Rocco's euphoria did not last long. There was a shooting conflict with the 'Twigs" schedule. "I was not about to call Alan my friend who'd used me every opportunity to bow out of his project, so with great reluctance, I turned the pilot down." "But God works in funny ways. Grant moved his pilot date as much as he could and we worked around 'Twigs' shooting schedule and on weekends. I couldn't believe my good fortune." When not in front or behind the camera, Alex can be found coaching his son's little league team. mm THE BEAN POT TODAY'S SPECIAL 2TAC0S BEANS & RICE $11 50 SERVING DAIIY FROM 4;0Q ion. 0 c:.miiTT ddc Att LEGAL hip Hr WE OAT: There's no one like the fantastic Ed Ballantine for dancing and fun in our Matador Room at the Orange Bowl! vt r " v.