Independent Press-Telegram from Long Beach, California on January 2, 1977 · Page 131
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Independent Press-Telegram from Long Beach, California · Page 131

Long Beach, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 2, 1977
Page 131
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TV's other Barbara (See Page 4) TELEVISION LOG OF THE INDEPENDENT-PRESS-TELEGRAM Vic Tayback more than face in a commercial By BOB MARTIN, TV-Radio Editor Vic Tayback is never likely to be mistaken for Robert Bedford, Warren Beatty or Burt Reynolds, but his face, nevertheless, is his fortune. And he's not living in the poorhouse. Far from it. Vic possesses a good, ordinary, man- in-the-street or man-next-door face. It's a very commercial face, when coupled with the acting skills Vic has picked up over the past couple of decades. It's the kind of face that sponsors and producers love to use on television commercials.-- and Vic figures be has been in CO or 70 of 'em. You've sees him as a midnight snacker for Parkay margarine, in an Aqua Velva after-shave blurb with baseball star Pete Rose and as a Mafia figure plugging lasagna, as well as in commercials for Johnson Wax, General- Electric and many others. Vic's mug is also the kind of face that casting directors go for when they're trying to fill a character part -- either .villainous, good-natured or even comic. He has appeared in more than 20 theater movies and scores of television shows --. more than half the time, he estimates, as either a heavy or a cop. CURRENTLY, he is appearing as one of the stars of the CBS Saturday night situation comedy series "Alice." He LINDA LAVIN (center) as Alice, Beth Rowland (left) as Vera and Polly Holliday as Flo are waitresses at Mel's · Diner.. r.v*«»« ·*-*««·.··:;··'. - · . ·· plays Mel, the gruff owner of Mel's roadside cafe in Phoenix, a guy who loves to growl at his waitresses, Alice, Flo and Vera (Linda Lavin, Polly Holliday and Beth Rowland). ^ Mel, an ex-Navy man who still wears his sailor cap, is also the short-order cook at his greasy-spoon establishment. Tayback looks the part -- ot course. He was in the Navy himself, during the Korean War, and, if never a short-order cook himself, at least his father was a fry cook in New York City. Vic, incidentally, created the role of Mel in the highly acclaimed movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More," upon which the comedy series is based. He is the only member of the movie cast who is also in the series. The series, which made its bow last September, is in a good time slot at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, falling, as it does, just after "All in the Family" and just before "The Carol Burnett Show" in the CBS lineup. It started the season on Wednesday night, just after "All in the Family," and later was shifted with that popular show to Saturday. "WE JUST got word yesterday that the series has been picked up for next faU," Tayback told me the other day as we walked from Stage 3 at Burbank Studios to the studio commissary's executive dining ra" 1 * during a rehearsal I had suggested we eat lunch at Mel's diner, since it looks like a real cafe, but the actor responded, with his en-stage growl: "Are you kidding? I wouldn't even drink a cup of coffee in this crummy joint" While we were eating lunch, I asked Vic if he's satisfied with his part in "Alice," which usually revolves around the title performer. "I have mixed emotions," he replied. "I wasn't too happy at first, then I got happier, then not so happy and then happier again. I'm like a chameleon, changing from week to week. Sometimes it's nice to be involved in just one scene. Then you can sit back and relax. And you get paid the same." An episode titled "Mel Falls in Love," scheduled to air Jan. 15, gives Tayback the most he's had to do in any one episode.;.. . , rj . ( , :;W , } , M .!^. .' V v %?*« v r*v ^L«« *··» ^ ? -- ^ ^ rt ( * v » f e - *;~ 7- ·* , r- - . ~ '* ' j "· t. * . VIC TAYBACK . . . lets «ff steam in "Alice" "I fall in love with three people, one after the other," Vic explained. "The first is a 20-year-old hippy (Susan Laiuer), whom I hire as a waitress. We go out five nights a week, and she changes my lifestyle and clothes, and everything. I even get a yachting cap -and a pompadoured toupee. But she takes off one day with someone else. "I also fall for a beautician (Maureen Arthur) and Alice. I'm rejected by all three.". TAYBACK'S only series as a regular, prior to "Alice " was ABC's "Griff," starring Lome Greene, which aired for half a season in the fall of 1973. Said Vic: "I wasn't under contract, and I was paid on a daily basis,- rather than a weekly salary, but I was in 12 of the 13 episodes." He played a police officer. Asked to cite his favorite movie role or roles -- he has appeared in such films at "Bullitt," "PapUlon," "The Gambler," "Emperor of the North Pole" and "Report to the Commissioner" -- he mentioned his part as gangster Lucky Luciano in the 1975 movie "Lepke," starring Tony Curtis, "I've played so many Italian roles everyone thinks I'm Italian," be commented, "when I'm really Arabic. I i even- ipeik Arabic. Whem I started to school, I spoke a mixture of Arabic and English." He's of Syrian-Lebanese descent; both parents were immigrants to America. Vic was born in Brooklyn and came to California with his parents when he was 16. Re graduated from Burbank High School in 1948 and went to Glendale City College for a year and a half. He played football at both places. "I was a single wing tailback -- I had speed in those days," he said. "I could run, pass and kick. I weighed about 185 then,' whereas I'm 210 now." The 6-footer said he'd never thought about acting until after he spent four years In the Navy, and, in fact, had never even seen a play until he was 27. After getting out of the Navy, he decided he'd like to be a sports announcer and enrolled in a radio broadcasting school in Hollywood. He was required to be in a school play, loved the experience and soon decided he'd rather be an actor than a sports broadcaster. HE ENROLLED in an acting workshop at night, and worked as a teller at the Bank of America during .the day. "After nine months I had worked my way up to chief teller, and then they dropped

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