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WEEK 0F DEC

4-Drr t0,'1988

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In a rare interviow, 'Wise$ry"s elusive Ken Wahl talls about
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"I must be doin' somethin' riSt," says Wsegayls, elusive star Ken Wahl,'j I'm still around."
BY FRANK LOVEPE

only 'sneakers,

l/en Wahl, a Camel in his hand and a f\ vodka-and-tonic on the table, sits in a posh Manhattan restaurant - the joint wiseguy jeans,
in the wearing a denim jacket and a Massa-

. cer and a Gentleman." "I),ouble D8r€,', l986.TV series with Billy Dee Wil' a liams, faded after six episodes, and his. - "The feature
,..me," Wahl shrugs. .f'When.'Wiseguy'

, ple Hearts" (1984), a-clone

oi',An'Offi-:

,

most recent movie, "Omega Syndrome'l ...(1987), played in just a few theaters...-,

chusetts Police Association cap. He's . dressing comfortably for an uncomfortable experience: The notoriously pressshy star of CBS's "Wiseguy't (airing Wednesdays) has consented to a rare interview. Vegy much like his character' Vinnie Terranova, the undercover fed-

market dried up for

. -. came along

eral alent who feints his way to the

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thought the quality was good. I had to , 4akera living, so I decided to do it. I " didn't.have to audition or an5rthing." ' 1 Wahl is more an intuitive actor it an i. r s 11aini6 onb = he seems to hartor 't
.

I was hesitant to do it, but I

Take the mystery of his birth : ,' He sa_ys it was Feb. 14, 1968. The

:rfinldr"r.*lsfit'#'-1 allelusive.
Cll
biogra-pll says Dec. 11,

'i.boubti iboiit his "ribilitieir;'aesiitc t*tng t; .,given naoaitra ..'..aitral-^massive ia-^doses of ^€ confidence ^^-c:r^--from -

guy" publicist,'after checking company high schools as the family moved to the records, gives the date . as Feb. 14, suburbs of Midlothian and Worth. 'In , l-9!Tr That's a year earlier than Wahl's those days, he says, !.I kept pretty claim, but apparently accurate: A call much to myself. I was tcind oCa toner.i' ts Bremen High School in the chicago had sorne buddies but it wasn't'like i suburb of Midlothian reveals wahl would hold court, iuggle and do jokes." graduated from there in June 1g?5, + In' I9?7, with ltalo-Americans Jo'hn presumably at age 18. :i ' Travolta and Sylvester Stallone the hot A lot of young actors lie about their ' new faces, Wahl gave up a dead+nd ages. But Wahl, as with Vinnie, warchouse job and moved to Los Angeseems to revel in deception: He told , les to put his own good looks to woik. CBS he lives in New Mexico, but now,. , Within eight monthi; he was cast as a says that was a fib and he lives in his , Bronx rJnzle in director philip Kaufhometown of chicago. Yet the publicist' iman's lgzg film '!The wanderers.'l Afsays that when wahl is not in vancou- ter that came high-profile roles oppover, where "Wiseguy" is filmed, he ''. site paul Newman in-..Fort Apache,-fhe lives in Boston - near where his wife, . Bronx" (lg8l) and B€tte Midler in the fgrmer Penlhouse Pet of the Year Co- aptly named ;Jinxed" (lgg2), where a
rinne Alphen, grew up as the

offi- cause I didnlt go to college and I wasn't others have written about:him. When'i-l no trained. They look everything wrong - Wahl reads that some critics are unenyear. "Oh, yeah," Wahl nods in recogni- thai because I donlt take the businiss chanted with his acting, he turns sartion. "Guy who works for cBS came up seriously that means I don't take the . castic and . sullin. ,His iedi:tion isn't t0 me while I was workin', and I don't job seriously, which is totally untrLe." helped-by the'fact- those same critics like doin'.stuff while I'm workin'. He: wahl seems like a man wiro has ev- fell, in love with i.'Wisegu!t"":'s two had a questionnaire. It looked like a job erything - great looks, a high-paying memorable guest-villains; blayed by applicalion. so I just filled out a bunch caieer, a sex-goddess wifo.-and twd Ray Sharkey an! Kevin Spacey, classiof stuff. I told him I lived in New Mexi- kid6. Not bad f6r i guy from chicago's cally trained actors who gave risky; co, that I dropped out of high school." .south Side, where tr-e iryas the ninth of bravura performances. But thoulh wahl says 1958, some ref- tl children in a blue-collar, German" Wahl has sat in on some acting classerence books say 1953,. and the "wise- Itbiian family. He attended different es, but.has little regard for'them. "If
cial
i

date.

WM

nell. Even during' this i-nt'efiie;';-fit'i

".Wiseguy" producer Stephen.J.- Can-

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seeks approval. Like a mischievoiis kid, he grabs a feporier's notes to see what

.

other actors Wanna waste their time . doin'"that, it's an right.with me,": he.'saysi "Being trained is fine if ybu feel;: that it helps.you, but you'can be thb ,greatest tfainpd actor in the world,rand 1.

'l:' ' , . :. .: '-' A! fq naught.", - Latbr he adds: "There's dne.advan-,
tage to playin' bad guys;.whibhI would

if

no one .wants to watch you'do it, ,it'g . .4

just about anything and get-away with it. But Vinnie is the type of character who doesn't make things happen -

love to do. In those roles; you can do

of a.Lynn, Mass., police captain. . .. ed in a lawsuit. perhaps partly because considering all ttiis ducking and :of that, and partly from his trigtrty voit's not surprisiag that Wahl cal distaste for Hollywood, Wahi,S ca. lodging, 'hp reputation for disliking inter-: r€erthenchanged'course. " and interviewers. "It's all bull," :He stiu got work, but in increasingly views he says. "They've made me sound like I minor movies: "The Soldier" (Ig82t ; 'An{ f ,must be doin'somethinf right bewas .some kind of stupid idiot just be-' blow-'em-up actioner, followed by "pur-. cause Ilp still:3r'gun6.'! ..r ' r' . t:
DECEMBER 4.DECEMBER IO, I988

daughter

feud between the two stars almost end-

things happen to him because of his position undercover. And there's only so much that he,can give away to the audience, because if he gives away too much, then the criminals would catch on. There's a lot of frustration in that. "-I'm trying to do the best job that I can," says Wahl, finally a little less defensive. "It's just that I'm pragmatic and practical about the business. It is a business, dnd I approach it that way.

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