One more look at some of the Cliff’s brightest stars
The Q&A with prolific Hollywood film and stage actor, and now writer, Steven Tobolowsky that appeared in last month’s Advocate showcases why Oak Cliff is proud of this native son. With the release of his second book, “The Dangerous Animals Club,” in September 2012 (containing many stories and “adventures” of his growing up in Oak Cliff), Tobolowsky continues to expand his already wide scope of work — just another product of the Kimball High School speech and drama department, a fertile incubator for actors in the mid-1960s to the early 1970s.
Another product of the Kimball stage is Jane Abbott (class of ’64). After graduating from Texas Tech in 1971, she toured with the National Children’s Theatre, worked in a Colorado dinner theater company for six months, and then returned to Dallas and appeared as an extra in the Burt Reynolds film “Semi Tough.” Abbott soon decided to move to LA to see if she could build a career for herself, where she wrote in her diary that “a goal was to work (that is act with) Burt Reynolds.” Working some years as a high school teacher and some years as an actress, she has appeared in (among others): “Married With Children,” “Quantum Leap,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Hunter.” Strangely enough, from 1990 to 1994 Abbott appeared in 21 episodes of “Evening Shade” with … Burt Reynolds!
“Burt was great about using his friends in shows,” Abbott says. “I even wrote an episode that they put on the show, about a football banquet. Terry Bradshaw played the guest star.”
“Working with Linda Bloodworth and Harry Thomason was also a dream come true,” Abbott adds. “Linda created ‘Designing Women.’ She and Harry produced it, and Harry directed ‘Evening Shade’ as well.”
After “Shade” concluded, Abbott returned to teaching for the most part but finally retired four years ago and, at age 61, married for the first time! Now, with a new agent, she has decided to jump back into acting and says, “Quoting Julian Fellowes, the creator of ‘Downton Abbey,’ the challenge is going to be ‘like climbing a mountain of ice.’ ”
I bet we’ll be seeing her soon.
With a career spanning more than five decades, international producer and director Stockton Briggle (Sunset ’53) has worked on more than 100 plays and musicals on three continents. He directed Rock Hudson in “Camelot” and Dick Van Dyke in “Damn Yankees,” and he both produced and directed “A Lion in Winter,” a double award-winning production at the International Art Festival in Bermuda. His all-Spanish language production of “Man of La Mancha” garnered three international awards, while he also produced “The Royal Ballet Tour of America” with Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Briggle worked as a TV producer for such projects as “The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory” (1987) starring Raul Julia and Alec Baldwin, “Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story” (1992) featuring Academy Award nominee Lesley Ann Warren, and “A Bridge To Silence” (1989) starring Oscar winners Marlee Matlin and Lee Remick. A close friend of the late Rock Hudson, Briggle took on the responsibility of handling the paparazzi and answering all phone calls at Rock Hudson’s house on the day of Hudson’s 1985 death.
Briggle’s extensive work with lighting and set designers unknowingly created a new career for the former Cliffite — that of a successful interior designer. He started by offering design advice to friends, and then actress Alyssa Milano hired Briggle to decorate her California home, a project that ended as a Calabasas magazine feature story. In addition, Briggle’s decades of fame in celebrity circles for his amazing dinner parties and menus also spurred a series of cooking workshops: “Good Cooking with Stockton Briggle.”
South Oak Cliff graduate Stuart Margolin is a familiar face to many in the over-50 crowd, especially in his most recognizable role of “Angel” in TV’s “The Rockford Files.” The role won him the 1979 and 1980 Emmy Award for “Best Supporting Actor,” with Margolin being one of only four actors to win twice for the playing the same part. He’s also appeared in television programs such as “Land of the Giants,” “The Partridge Family,” “M*A*S*H*” and “Rhoda,” and on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Magnum P.I.,” two of the programs he later directed. He also directed programs such as “Quantum Leap” and “Northern Exposure,” and made film appearances in “Kelly’s Heroes,” “Death Wish” “Futureworld” and “The Gambler.” Additionally, Margolin both won and was nominated for Directors Guild of America awards for his work directing children’s programming, and was nominated for the same for his “Northern Exposure” work.
See what I mean? These amazing Cliffites just keep on coming!
The film and stage industry has been the beneficiary of all the Oak Cliff folks mentioned in my columns over the past four months: Linda Darnell, Spanky McFarland, Louise Latham, Tim Chote, Yvonne Craig, Edward Edwards, Belita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Stockton Briggle, Terry Southern, Jane Abbott, Stuart Margolin and many others not mentioned. We salute you guys! You’ve made us proud.