Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Articles The Many Faces of Alan Dale by DJ Forrest

The Many Faces of Alan Dale
By DJ Forrest

Alan Dale was born in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand on the 6th May, 1947. Married twice and with four children, Alan who’s first loves had been the theatre and professional rugby, became a professional actor at the age of 27 after retiring from rugby playing and working in a number of professions to support his young family. 

Alan moved to Australia at the age of 32.  He took the role of Dr. John Forrest in the Australian hospital soap The Young Doctors, from 1979 – 1982.  It wasn’t until 1985 that he got the part as Jim Robinson, the head of the Robinson household in Ramsay Street, in the series Neighbours, which celebrates 30 years this year.  Alan’s role as Jim Robinson was to see him in the role for 8 years (1985 – 1993) or in real terms – 869 episodes - till he was written out after a pay dispute (!) that saw his character lying dead on the kitchen floor for several episodes, before someone discovered him.  How mean is that?

When you think about it, over the years in Neighbours there have been any number of actors who have gone on from that show and made a name for themselves in television, films or the music industry, people such as Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Peter O’Brien, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce to name but a few.  Yet Alan Dale, after only 8 years in the soap, was typecast as Jim Robinson. And although Kylie would be remembered fondly for her Charlene role in Neighbours, she went on to successfully achieve a music career! Or as folks in Who remember her as Astrid Peth.  But Alan found it extremely difficult to find work because of being typecast and it was only when he relocated to America that things began to pick up, and the legacy of Jim Robinson was left far behind him. 

Since moving to the United States in 2000 he’s played some pretty major characters, and even his guest appearances have been memorable even if most have died horrible deaths!  When Alan Dale plays a role, you’re pretty much guaranteed that he’s not going to play the guy who changes the oil in your car, or who wipes your windscreen at a gas station. 
With any role he has complete screen presence.  Alan has played a tycoon in The O.C. as Caleb Nichol, Bradford Meade, head of Meade Magazines in Ugly Betty, to recurring guest appearances in 24, NCIS, Lost and The West Wing.  He’s played King George in Once Upon a Time and ‘Toothpick Man’ in The X Files.  And let’s not forget his role as Professor Aaron Copley of the Pharm, in Torchwood: Reset.
There are many tv appearances that Alan has featured in that I’ve not seen, and it’s only from reading through his Wiki page that I’m realising just how large his resume is.  I’ve not heard of Dominion but it’s now on my ‘to watch’ list should it come to Netflix plus there’s also his character in Star Trek!

Yet even after all this time of playing the many roles, there will still be people who will remember Alan from the role that made him a household name, the father figure role in Neighbours.  Jim Robinson will always be the character I best remember Alan Dale for, and it shouldn’t be something to groan about.  I’m also over the years being introduced to other roles, yet even then, I still think, and I still hear other family remarking – ‘Isn’t that Jim Robinson?’  So I guess, even though an actor might wish to avoid being typecast, you never really escape it.


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