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    Lesser Known Stars in My Past

    I've been talking for awhile now to you guys about my time in Los Angeles and New York pursuing my acting career. I focused on those well-known stars that you most likely know. What I'd like to talk to you about now are those friends who didn't get the "big break" but are still great actors and friends.

    The first one who comes to mind is my dear friend Nancy Baker. Nancy and I were involved in California in a theater class and production company whose artistic director is a friend of ours named John Ruskin.

    It is based on the Lee Strassberg method acting school. It’s called “sense-memory” when you imagine you are in the place the character is to bring the emotion out. I remember when I was an acting student our virtual bible was a book called “Acting is Believing” based on the Stanislavski method of acting.

    Nancy and I studied hard in Ruskin’s class and she eventually wrote a play called “Dear Mrs. Baker” based on a series of correspondence between her mother and Viet Nam soldiers. It won a drama critic award in L.A., which is a big deal out there even if she isn’t a household name. Nancy and I still keep in touch to this day.

    A theater company I worked with in Cleveland named Phoenix Theater Ensemble with Raj Bahadur, Marty Grilo and others whose names I can’t recall from 1979 to 1981 gave me some of my first professional experience. Raj found me on the Web and we have fun talking back and forth on Email. He has written thousands of magazine articles and is doing computer system work these days.

    There was a theater company in NYC called Theater in Action whose artistic director was Lev Schectman, a recent transplant from Russia, and met in Manhattan’s old meat packing plant in lower Manhattan on the west side. There was always a pervasive smell of the former business there.

    Then there is my dear friend Dana Mosbarger. Dana’s “means to an end” job was bartending and he was great at it. I still keep in contact with him today where he is now doing construction in D.C.

    There are hundreds of others with whom I worked in various restaurants when we were all struggling to pursue our dreams.

    I can’t end this column without mentioning Stacey and Cindy Dunham who took me in when I first came to New York City in the late 80s. Stacey agented groups like Bon Jovi and hosted a cable TV home improvement show recently. Cindy and I worked at a bar called Amy’s Bar in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen for a lunatic Greek owner. Boy we had lots of laughs about him.

    Cindy now lives in London with her husband and children. Man, how life changes.


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com