The list of Cliffites in Hollywood continues.
Sunset 1968 graduate Edward Edwards also attended Greiner Junior High. At Sunset, he was — not surprisingly — drama club president and a member of the concert choir, where his talents shone as a cast member of all the school musicals and plays. Also a member of the Latin club, Edwards attended competitions, performing monologues in Latin! A member of the Bison tennis team and the student council, he lived with his family near Edgefield and West Davis, where the Oak Cliff student also worked 30 to 40 hours a week for Ralph Cannon of Cannon’s Dime Store and frequently at the bakery next door, Schindler’s, which Cannon also owned and operated.
Edwards’ first professional acting job was in Dallas, as Gorky the trained bear in Theatre Three’s production of “The Cave Dwellers.” He attended the University of Texas for a year, but moved to New York after his acceptance to The Juilliard School. Edwards became a founding member of an off-Broadway theater company, The Colonnades Theatre Lab, and then performed in two Broadway shows: “Streamers,” directed by Mike Nichols, and “The Nerd,” directed by Charles Nelson Reilly, in which Edwards played the title character.
Now a longtime California resident, Edwards holds a directing resume full of accolades from the LA press and four decades of acting experience. Edwards has been seen in commercials, and his film appearances include “Robo Cop” (1987) and “Last Vegas” (2013). His extensive television work includes roles in “CSI,” “CSI Miami,” “Boston Legal,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” The Wonder Years,” “JAG,” “Chicago Hope” and “Family Ties.” He played the role of Oliver North in the 2000 TV movie “Noriega: God’s Favorite.” Edwards received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1981.
Belita Moreno’s most recognized role — Benny, the cynical grandmother on the now-syndicated sitcom “George Lopez” (2002-2007) — places her face numerous times daily on channels all over the world. First becoming familiar to television audiences as Lydia Markham, the newspaper advice columnist in the ’80s sitcom “Perfect Strangers” (1986-1992), Moreno also has a hefty list of silver screen performances that include “Clear and Present Danger,” “Mommie Dearest” (1981), “Swing Shift” (1984), “Men Don’t Leave” (1990) and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (2010). She appeared in the miniseries “Tales of the City” and in a string of sitcoms and dramatic programs such as “The Golden Girls,” “Family Ties,” “Valerie” and “Melrose Place.” The SMU graduate also has appeared on stage, including performances both on and off Broadway.
Moreno has served as an acting coach and advisor on such films as “Jerry Maguire,” “Rush Hour 2,” “Almost Famous,” “Parent Trap” and “The Family Man,” and she has also appeared on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.”
Although she’s an LA resident these days, this Oak Cliff gal attended T. W. Browne Junior High and Kimball High School (class of ’68) and was a member of both school’s drill teams. At Kimball, Moreno was a member of the drama department, where she says she was “greatly influenced by [her] teacher, Mary Curtis.”
“In fact, she was the one who set up my scholarship audition at SMU,” Moreno adds. “She was an artist and a great motivator as well as a positive role model. I am forever thankful to her.”
Another actor from the Cliff, Tim Choate, graduated from Kimball in ’73, a few years after Moreno. A University of Texas graduate as well, Choate next attended Cornell University before beginning his career on and off Broadway and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., often performing Shakespeare.
Moving to the world of film, Choate was seen in “The Europeans” (1979), “Times Square” (1980), “Jane Austen in Manhattan” (1980), “Ghost Story” (1981), “Def-Con 4” (1984), “Girl in the Cadillac” (1995), “Jefferson in Paris” (1995), “Pearl Harbor” (2001) and the Oscar-winning short “Ray’s Male Heterosexual Dance Hall” (1987).
On the small screen, Choate played Zathras on “Babylon 5 and had a recurring role on “Newhart.” He also appeared in several TV movies, a miniseries, and guest-starred on programs including “The Practice,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Frasier,” “Tales from the Dark Side,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Coach.”
“Tim was a huge Errol Flynn fan,” relates Choate’s high school friend Steve Coulter. “This was unusual since Flynn died when Tim was only 4 years old and all Flynn’s movies were oldies to the rest of us. Nevertheless, Tim was infatuated with him. When Tim later became a father, he named his son Flynn.”
In 2004, while riding his motorcycle to a play practice, Choate was struck by a car and killed. His memorial service was at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, and he is interred with many other Hollywood celebrities at Forest Lawn, also the resting place of Errol Flynn.
Next month’s installment will be the final leg of the Cliffites in Hollywood tour. See you then.