Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - February 12, 2008

Scheider got start in the theater

Roy Scheider was three years my junior but seemed much older when I first met him in 1963. Elia Kazan the director and Arthur Miller the playwright had hired us both to join the cast of the newly organized Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre in New York City.

After acting in three plays there, two of which were new Miller plays, mostly as a "spear-shaker," I had the opportunity to play two major roles in two Harold Pinter one-act plays Off Broadway, directed by Word Baker of "The Fantastiks" fame. So when my contract ended at the LCRT. I went into the Pinter plays.

Upon my leaving, Roy Scheider took over my several roles. Although he had a much greater stature than I in New York theater circles -- mine was practically nil -- I kidded him later, several times, as having been my "understudy."

We both had done the same roles in several Tennessee Williams plays at college and in regional theater prior to coming to New York and discussed them a lot, especially the role of Kilroy in "Camino Real." Later, in 1979, when I saw his movie, "All That Jazz," which I deem to be his best work, I was amazed when watching his "hospital" scene, how similar it was to Kilroy's "hospital" scene and how good his Kilroy scene must have been.

I feel very fortunate in having known Roy Scheider. In an atmosphere of phoniness, it was great to meet and know some real people. Roy was a hardworking, serious actor who was a real person.

The curtain lines of Camino Real are, as they leave to go to "Terra Incognito":

Don Qixote: "Make voyages! Attempt them!"

Kilroy: "Violets are breaking the rocks in the mountains!"

Roy Scheider broke rocks.

Charles Blackwell