On this week’s Blue Bloods on CBS, one of the world’s finest actors — whom many have called the American [Sir Laurence] Olivier — is appearing as Archbishop Kevin Kearns.
Actor Stacy Keach is instantly recognizable and has a body of work that is enviable in its scope and range.
Asked about the often cited comparisons to the great late British thespian, he recalls in Dennis Brown’s biography, Actors Talk: Profiles and Stories from the Acting Trade, how after a chance meeting with Sir Olivier, he was introduced by Olivier as “Stanley Kreech”.
It was a moment he recollected with typical self-effacing humor and charm.
Simply put, Stacy is a lion in the art world and has a CV that ranges from roles playing on his killer instinct in comedy to his commanding and sobering presence as villainous characters.
He has done it all, from theater to narration, acting to serving as an advocate for charity.
But on tonight’s Blue Bloods on CBS, titled Foreign Interference, you will see him in the role of a clergyman.
In the episode Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and Det. Maria Baez (Marisa Ramirez) work with two Russian operatives to find a suspect Russian man in the U.S. by virtue of a diplomatic visa.
But Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is embroiled in a “sensitive case” involving Keach’s Archbishop Kevin Kearns.
Keach, for those who follow him closely, is a guaranteed delight.
From the focused father/mentor to two boxing sons played by Holt McCallany and Pablo Schreiber in FX’s excellent but short-lived Lights Out, to the cinematic and blistering performance he turned in as a racist father on Tony Kaye’s hair-raising film American History X, Keach can go there, from side-burstingly funny to menacing in a split second.
Younger fans know his voice from Fox perennial animation wonder The Simpsons, as Duff Brewery President, Howard K. Duff VIII, beginning with the 12th season episode, Hungry, Hungry Homer.
And for those of us who have been around, he is, of course, the perfect Mike Hammer. Keach was cast as the famous gumshoe in the 1984-1987 CBS series Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and The New Mike Hammer. He reprised the role of Hammer in Mike Hammer, Private Eye, from 1997 to 1998.
Filmmakers like Alexander Payne of the bittersweet film Nebraska knew they would get a top-notch performance from Keach.
Historical roles are his forte too, with him having portrayed Martin Luther, Napoleon, Wilbur Wright, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Barabbas, Sam Houston, and Ernest Hemingway — for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a mini-series and was nominated for an Emmy in the same category.
In Keach’s autobiography, All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the Stage, we learn that his humble Georgia beginnings blossomed when his parents headed West to find their fortune in 1942 Hollywood.
Keach’s dad Stacy Keach Sr. had a respectable career producing, directing and acting for over 50 years. This enabled his son Stacy to follow in the arts as he studied drama at the University of California, then Berkeley, Yale, and even the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Theater is where Keach turned heads initially. His 1960s stage work funnelled him right into the world of film and television.
He won many roles in the 1970s in counterculture classics like The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, End of the Road, Brewster McCloud, Doc and Fat City, to winning a whole new audience with his comedic role in Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke and Nice Dreams.
His CV is jam-packed with amazing work, from The Traveling Executioner, That Championship Season, The Ninth Configuration, and Escape From LA to recent turns on TV series Blunt Talk for Starz.
As a narrator, his voice has graced everything from animation to sci-fi dramas like the Twilight Zone radio series; and he has read numerous books on tape. On CNBC, Keach’s narration tone is on point in American Greed.
He never seemed to view the television medium as beneath his talent or time, even before this heralded “golden age” of the smallscreen.
His early television roles ran the gamut from romantic comedy, (he appeared in How to Marry a Millionaire, with Barbara Eden) to police roles in the 1975 TV series Caribe.
Even in the prime age of miniseries he was cast as Barabbas in Jesus of Nazareth and continued working for CBS in the 1980s miniseries The Blue and the Gray.
Later television work saw Keach guest star on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace.
Fans of Fox’s Prison Break saw him cast as Warden Henry Pope, and he appeared on the critically loved HBO series Bored to Death as character Harrison Bergeron.
Recently, fans of Showtime’s Ray Donovan delighted in his performance as retired fixer “The Texan”.
His artistic talent also lies in the music world, as he is an accomplished pianist and composer.
From books to Broadway, Shakespeare to The Simpsons, award-winning and often nominated actor Keach’s resume is a jaw-dropping accounting of his passion for the arts, his work ethic and broad appeal with creatives and peer actors alike who all love working with him.
But there are even more reasons to admire him.
His philanthropic work hits close to home as well.
He serves the World Craniofacial Foundation as spokesperson, after being born with a cleft lip and partial cleft palate.
In politics, he has also worked with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) and the American Society Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to positively affect legislation mandating insurance companies to pay up for reconstructive surgical procedures for children with congenital or developmental deformities, diseases or injuries.
Blue Bloods airs Fridays at 10/9c on CBS.
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