The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the twenty forth in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts.....". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
Jon Polito
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Jon Raymond Polito was an American character actor and voice artist. In a film and television career spanning 35 years, he amassed over 220 credits.
Born: December 29, 1950, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: September 1, 2016, Duarte, California, USA
Cause of Death: Cancer
Nationality: American
Height: 5'8" (1.715m)

He was a veteran character actor who grew up in southwest Philidelphia and attended Villanova University on a drama scholarship. From there, he began a lengthy run on the New York stage. In 1977, he won his first Broadway job, understudying actor Kenneth McMillan in David Mamet's visceral drama, "American Buffalo", which also starred Robert Duvall. Other Broadway roles include "Curse of an Acting Heart". oposite Faye Dunaway, and the acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman" with Dustin Hoffman as Willie Loman.

Off-Broadway, Polito originated roles in "Gemini" with Sigourney Weaver, "The Transformation of Benno Blimpie" and "Othe People's Money" oposite Mercedes Ruehl. He won on Obie Award as Best Actor in 1980 for five different performances at the Dodge Theater for the 1970-80 Season

The same year, he arrived in Hollywood, and immediately won a role in the television series "Gangster Chronicles". By the end of the decade, Polito landed the role with which he is most associated -- Johnny Casper, the colorful mob rival to Alber Finney's Irish gangster in the Coen Brother's "Miller's Crossing". Two years later, he he reunited with the fraternal filmmakers as a studio gofer in their Cannes Film Festival winner, "Barton Fink". He continued his association with the brothers in both "The Hudsucker Proxy" and in their recent release, "The Big Lebowwski". Recently, Polito has been seen in the very successful "Stuart Little" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle", and he is associated with the following slate of 2001 releases: "View from the Top" with Gwyneth Paltrow, "The Tailor of Panama" with Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush, and "Twentynine Palms" with Bill Pullman, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Chris O'Donnel and Michael Rappaport.

Polito has also appeared in such feature films as "Fluke", "The Crow", "The Freshmen" opposite Marlon Brando, "The Rocketeer", "Highlander", "Critical Condition", "Homeboy", "Fire with Fire", "Leather Jackets", Bushwhacked", "Blankman", and "Showtime's "The Defenders" opposite Beau Bridges and "The Apartment Complex", directed by Tobe Hooper.

On the small screen, Polito co-starred in such series as Barry Leninson's "Homicide: Life on the Street", Michael Mann's "Crime Story", "O'Hara", and John Landis' "Dream On". He has also guest -starred on "Millennium", "Veronica's Closet", "Seinfeld", "Roseanne", "Chicago Hope", "NYPD Blue", "Mad About You" and "Early Edition". He co-starred in Showtime's "Fallen Angels" (directed by Tom Hanks), the Cable ACE Award winning episode of HBO's anthology series, "Tales from the Crypt" (directed by Walter Hill), and reprised his Broadway role in the CBS-TV production of "Death of a Salesman". 2001also has Jon Polito shooting the Sci-Fi Channel's newest series, "The Chronicle" and he will also be seen as a woman on an upcoming episode of HBO's "The Chris Isaak Show".

Personal Management:

Jon Polito's advice to the aspiring actor:

"You can't act alone.... Use the props, the setting, the crew around you, and of course your fellow actors. Acting is like a sporting match; a tennis game, but no one should win or lose.... The game's the thing!"

Jon Polito' Credits (partial)

  • Twentynine Palms
  • Calculated Risk
  • A View From the Top
  • Black Mask 2
  • The Man Who Wasn't There
  • The Tailor of Panama
  • Stuart Little
  • Rocky & Bullwinkle
  • Mimic 2
  • The Shrink is In
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Barton Fink
  • The Crow
  • The Freshman
  • The Rocketeer
  • Highlander
  • The Hudsucker Proxy
  • The Big Lubowski
  • Music From Another Room
  • Bushwhacked
  • Critical Condition
  • Blankman
  • The Apartment Complex
Dir. Leornardo Ricagni
Dir. Van Fischer
Dir. Bruno Barreto
Dir. Tsui Hark
Dir. Joel Cohen
Dir. John Boorman
Dir. Rob Minkoff
Dir. Des McAnuff
Dir. Jean De Segonozac
Dir. Richard Benjamin
Dir. Joel Cohen
Dir. Joel Cohen
Dir. Alex Provas
Dir. Andrew Bergman
Dir. Joe Johnson
Dir. Russel Mulcany
Dir. Joel Cohen
Dir. Joel Cohen
Dir. Charlie Peters
Dir. Greg Greman
Dir. Michael Apted
Dir. Mike Binder
Tobe Hooper

  • The Chronicle (Series Regular)
  • Homicide: Life on the Street (Series Regular)
  • Crime Story (Series Regular)
  • Hearts are Wild (Series Regular)
  • O'Hara (Series Regular)
  • The Gangster Chronicles (Series Regular)
  • Dream On (Series Regular)
  • The Chris Isaak Show (Guest Star)
  • The Drew Carey Show (Guest Star)
  • Gideon's Crossing (Guest Star)
  • Popular (Guest Star)
  • The Late Show w/David Letterman
  • Millenium (Guest Star)
  • Veronica's Closet (Guest Star)
  • Seinfeld (Guest Star)
  • E.R. (Guest Star)
  • Roseanne (Guest Star)
  • Chicago Hope (Guest Star)
  • NYPD Blue (Guest Star)
  • Mad About You (Guest Star)
  • Early Edition (Guest Star)
  • Life Without Louie (Guest Star)
  • The Pretender (Guest Star)
  • Fallen Angels (Guest Star)
  • Tales From The Crypt (Guest Star)

For more info and credits see IMDb

-- End ---

Archives Peter Riegert [May 2001]
Peter Riegert
May 2001
Bonnie Bartlett [April 2001]
Bonnie Bartlett
April 2001
William Daniels [March 2001]
William Daniels
March 2001
Dick Whittinghill [February 2001]
Dick Whittinghill
February 2001
Chris Ellis [January 2001]
Chris Ellis
January 2001
James Whitmore Jr. [December 2000]
James Whitmore Jr.
December 2000
Vince Grant [November 2000]
Vince Grant
November 2000
Judith Hoag [October 2000]
Judith Hoag
October 2000
Madison Mason [September 2000]
Madison Mason
September 2000
Jay Acovone [August 2000]
Jay Acovone
August 2000
Richard Riehle [July 2000]
Richard Riehle
July 2000
Charlie Brill [June 2000]
Charlie Brill
June 2000
Edie McClurg [May 2000]
Edie McClurg
May 2000
Miguel Sandoval [April 2000]
Miguel Sandoval
April 2000
Tom Bower [March 2000]
Tom Bower
March 2000
Amy Aquino [February 2000]
Amy Aquino
February 2000
Danny Chambers [January 2000]
Danny Chambers
January 2000
Eve Gordon [December 1999]
Eve Gordon
December 1999
Barbara Niven [November 1999]
Barbara Niven
November 1999
Bill Lucking [October 1999]
Bill Lucking
October 1999
Richard Roundtree [September 1999]
Richard Roundtree
September 1999
Pat Harrington [August 1999]
Pat Harrington
August 1999
Robert Donner [July 1999]
Robert Donner
July 1999

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