It Takes Two, with Tony Edwards

The cast of Beyond Therapy

Jack's Hat                 photo by Jeremy Barnard
Charles Van Eman



Beginnings, Endings, And The Life In Between

With $250 in my pocket and behind the wheel of a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass, I drove from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. I had just graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (I wanted to manage a ski resort). I had turned down a job offer from Club Corporation of America, a company that owns elegant city and country clubs throughout the U.S.. They wanted me to be the assistant manager of their beautifully appointed club in Louisville, Kentucky.  Instead, broke and with $7,000 of college loans hanging over my head, I painted the house I was renting in East Lansing for some quick cash, drove to Pittsburgh to briefly visit my parents, and then headed west to pursue an acting career. 

I was looking for adventure as much as I was seeking to become a successful actor.  With luck and several inspiring acting coaches like Scott Allen, Gordon Hunt, and later Cameron Thor, I managed to get work.

Ten months after arriving in Los Angeles and working as a waiter and taking classes, I hitch-hiked back to Pittsburgh via Montana, Wyoming, and the vast northern plains.  While in Pittsburgh I performed in a production of Agatha Christie’s, The Unexpected Guest, and I was cast in my first film, Creepshow with Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau, directed by cult hero, George Romero.  Four months later I started hitch-hiking back to LA.  Going through Colorado just before snowfall in the Rockies, I got a ride all the way to Southern California with two manic guys in a Cadillac who were in possession of a large ziploc bag stuffed with jewelry.( I still have to write that story) 

Back in California, I slept on a friend's couch until his lease ran out and then together we got an apartment in North Hollywood.  I did several commercials and brief TV appearances then I got my first guest-starring role as a punk rocker dating Helen Hunt on the ABC sitcom, It Takes Two.  Several TV and film gigs followed. Then with my fellow cast mates Linda Purl, Harry Shearer, Bob Picardo, David Clennon, and Carol Morley, I enjoyed a long and highly successful run in the LA Public Theater production of Beyond Therapy directed by Paul Benedict. 

Around this time
I decided to write a screenplay.  I holed up in the bungalow where I was living three blocks from the beach in Santa Monica and I started writing.  

I was given the opportunity to adapt 
the Louis L’Amour short story, Bill Carey Rides West into an audio drama for Random House Publishing.  Beau L'Amour, Louis' son and my editor on the project, was a tough task master and through that difficult process I gained valuable writing experience. 

While in New York for a nine month acting gig I gave my voice to four Random House audio dramas adapted from Louis L’Amour short stories I also studied creative writing at NYU.  I then returned to Pittsburgh to perform in the play, Spinners. 

Back in LA I adapted six more L’Amour stories for Random House and accepted an offer from the L’Amour estate to research Louis’ biography.  I came back to the theater appearing in my solo show, Beginners Mind.   Guest star appearances on several TV shows followed, and with Guerrila Theatre in Los Angeles, I performed in 24 Hours AM/PMShow Me The Love, and Shel's Shorts.  For Random House I co-produced the audio drama Son of a Wanted Man from a screenplay adaptation I co-wrote from the Louis L'Amour novel of the same name. 

It's been a terrific adventure so far.  Many more opportunities have come my way.  Click on the IMDB link above for more of my TV and film career.

Best of luck on your adventure.  Be bold.

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