Geoffrey Blackpool in The Kidnap (2_18)

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Don Reo
James Frawley
Jay Kerr
Louise Huebner
Peter Wooley
Phyllis Katz
S. Bryan Hickox
Tim Dunigan


(Photo courtesy of the
Official Tim Dunigan Fanclub)

Tim Dunigan, the actor who brought Geoffrey Blackpool to life, stepped away from the world of acting in the early '90s. Now successful in the mortgage business, Mr. Dunigan very graciously agreed to an interview with the W&W Mailing List. Not only did he give us some interesting anecdotes about the show, he also showed himself to be an engaging, funny, and very nice human being. We think these qualities shine through in the written transcript below. This interview was set up by Galen and conducted by phone on January 8, 2000 by CJ.

Interviewer: The number one question people have is: what are you doing now?

Tim Dunigan: I've been laying low for about eight years. I don't do much acting anymore, [since] I have a business I run. I'm in the mortgage business. I ran a food business for awhile too, but I got rid of that, [and] now I just have the mortgage business . . . I do a little acting coaching with kids once in a while, and I still have my foot in the door if I want to go back and do it, but I got out of acting about 19. . . I guess the last thing I did was about 93 or so. I don't even remember, to tell the truth. I went through a divorce and I just took some time away and decided that I really wanted to try different challenges, business-wise. I'd done pretty good as an actor for 18 years. Just thought I'd try to do something else and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the business world and kind of getting involved with that. I miss doing things sometimes, but overall I was getting a little disillusioned -- with television especially. I was kind of getting pigeonholed and I was a theatre actor for most of my career.

Interviewer: Really? We didn't know that.

Tim Dunigan: Oh, yeah. I graduated from Webster University with a theatre degree. Was in New York doing plays, [then] all over the country before I ever got into television. It was kind of a fluke. And one of the things about this show, [it] was the first [television] thing . . . I auditioned in New York City when it was called Greystone's Odyssey for the part of [Erik] Greystone. Then CBS, through that, signed me to a development deal. They flew me to California to film a really terrible pilot that was called Century Hill. I played Richard Kiley's son. As I recall, I was a law student . . . I believe at Northwestern. Century Hill was like Century City in Los Angeles. It was kind of a shopping business complex. And there was a theatre in it, and Donna McKechnie, and there was music involved. It was really terrible. It was just a horrible thing . . . [but] it was a lot of fun. I got a call to come over and read for Geoffrey and met Don Reo and Judy Allison and all those guys. I got the part right from the start when I read it because it was just a good part for me. I think I clicked into exactly what Don wanted.

Interviewer: How did you approach playing Geoffrey?

Tim Dunigan: It was real simple. BIG. Everything he did was huge. Everything! He breathed huge. He walked huge. Everything he did was large. And that's kind of how I just set out to do the character and it all worked. It was really fun to play that too, because there were so many good people around him. And mostly I have to credit Don and Judy and all the writers just because they would just say -- and especially Bill Bixby, the director who directed most of the ones I was in -- Bill was just like: "Go for it. Just what ever you want to do, do it." And I would go ahead and do it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't but as an actor it's always so much fun to have that kind of leeway. "Go ahead. Yeah, make it large." And that's what I did. It was fun. It was really a fun part. I loved doing it and I was really sorry when they didn't opt to [continue the series].

Interviewer: Is there anything you wanted to change about the character?

Tim Dunigan: Nope. I liked it. I believe if it [the series] went on, I was definitely going to get more camera time. I'll tell you a funny story. I was talking to Don Reo on the set one day and he didn't even know I tested for [Erik] Greystone. He got really angry that he never found that out because he said if he would have known that [he would have cast me in that role]. But you know, it turned out great because Jeff was just so good for the part I thought anyway.

Interviewer: Any memorable anecdotes from working on the show?

Tim Dunigan: Yes, there's one that I tell constantly. I always tell this story. It's one of my favorite stories. I don't remember the name of the episode to tell you the truth. You guys remember way more. Trust me.

Interviewer: We have them on tape, that's why.

Tim Dunigan: I don't have any copies of that show. If you could make me copies, I will pay for the copying, the shipping and everything. I have nothing and I loved that show. I don't know what happened to them. [I lost them] in one of my moves, I had two episodes and now they're gone. I can't find them.

Closeup of Dunigan's costumeBut anyway, the episode where I was betrayed . . . all I remember is that I kidnapped Julia Duffy, who was a friend of mine from when we worked together in the theatre. And um, I had this HUGE entrance. All I remember is it must have been 70 feet. I had to walk in. I was wearing some huge hat with a humongous feather, I remember. Theadora Van Runkle, the costumer, who was just brilliant, gave me this huge costume and I came in. I had this huge entrance [where] they panned back all the way across as I walked and then I come in, I doff the cap, I do this big flourish and I drop to a knee and I'd look up into her [eyes], and I had this line. I couldn't remember the line. I blew it. I'm not kidding, I must have done 10 takes and never got it right. You have to remember this was my first [TV] job. This was the . . . I was a very young actor here. I was a theatre guy and I was learning how to work on camera. I had no idea how to work on camera. It's totally different. And I started panicking. I started thinking, "Oh my God, I'm never going to work again -- throw me off the show." And Bill Bixby, God rest his soul, he walks up to me after about, I'm not kidding you, after about seven or eight takes and I'm just . . . I'm starting to panic. He walks up and he says, "Come here." And he walks over to me and he's kind of thinking, and he looks up at me and he yells out to the script supervisor, "What is the line?" and the guy reads the line, and he looks at me and he says, "Whoa. I'm glad that's not my line. Okay, let's do it again." I start laughing and I got it right on. Let me tell you something. To this day, I can tell you the line. "You are the essence of radiance and all-consuming loveliness." I couldn't remember it and to this day I never forgot it again because Bill Bixby was such a . . . [he] really knew how to handle a young actor. The last time I saw Bill before he died, I was in Vancouver filming Davey Crockett and he was at the same hotel. I got to sit and have a drink with him and talk to him. He was a wonderful, wonderful man. I loved him greatly.

Interviewer: Any dislikes about the show as a whole?

Tim Dunigan: The only dislikes about the show I had is that I wanted to do more. I wanted the character to do more and I think I would have. Also, there was a lot of smoke. Always smoke. You know, you're always breathing in this smoke on the set. It was dark, it was gloomy, but luckily we had a bunch of great people.

Interviewer: How many episodes were actually filmed? Do you know the status of the master tapes?

Tim Dunigan: This whole thing about how many episodes . . . we did eight, I think. I think I was in six (editor's note: Mr. Dunigan was in three episodes). I was just a recurring character, but I believe he was going to become [a regular] -- Don told me, "oh yeah, we are definitely going to do more with [him]. This is working out great." And I agreed. I thought it was a real . . . you know, playing off my brother was just perfect. And Duncan was just such a serious guy. Serious guy, you know, all the time, and I'm not. It worked out real well. Do I happen to know status of master tapes? Nope, like I said, I don't even have one. I would love to get copies of them.

Interviewer: We'll have them out to you probably in a few days, no charge.

Tim Dunigan: You're kidding me? [said with complete disbelief]

Interviewer: No.

Tim Dunigan: OK, um . . .

Interviewer: It's no problem. It's the least your fans can do. Incidentally, have you had any problems with fans?

Tim Dunigan: Let me relate a story to you . . . I had an incident right after Davey Crockett where I had someone come into my house and it got really, like . . . at the time, I was married, and I came home and found this person holding my step-son's hand out in the front yard. That just flipped me out. I'm kind of a private person anyway, believe it or not. I'm a very outgoing person, incidentally, but my privacy and my private life is very important to me. Acting was my job, and if you want to talk about the shows sometimes -- that's my job. That's part of my job. But my personal life, my family and all of that stuff, if I choose to talk about it -- great. But when I have people starting to . . . you know, I was getting some weird stuff in the mail. That's why I kind of dropped out of sight.

Interviewer: I hope you realize that we here at the W&W list do not want to do anything to invade your privacy.

Tim Dunigan: Trust me, I'm here for whatever I can do to help you guys. Anytime. I love communicating because I haven't had the chance to talk about this show very much over my career, and this was a great show. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but as I look back after 18 years of acting, it was a show well before its time, unfortunately. I think if it was to have come out maybe five or six years later, that thing would have just clicked. It was just great writing and wonderful visual stuff going on. The problem was, it was costing too much money. We were spending . . . it was an hour show and we were spending over a million dollars an episode. I know that. Way over. That was unheard of. Nowadays, please, that would be nothing, but back then that was . . . and the costumes were just incredible. It had incredible costumes.

Interviewer: Have you kept in touch with any of the cast members?

Tim Dunigan: Walter Olkewicz and I, we played softball every Saturday for a long time. Jeff used to play too -- Jeff Conaway. I see them, but I don't see very much of them at all anymore because I'm just not in the business that much, other than [when] I do their loans. Those guys in the business, I help them get into their houses.

Interviewer: The one actor that we have no current information on is Jay Kerr.

Tim Dunigan: I never saw Jay after the show and I didn't see Jay that much because we were never in a scene together, I don't think. Great guy. Really great guy. Fun guy. I think I had a beer with him one night. Really good guy, but that was it. Never knew Jay, and other than Walter . . . probably Walter Olkewicz was my closest friend.

Interviewer: Did everyone get along with each other?

Tim Dunigan: Welllll . . . no, no, that's a hard . . . that all depends on what you mean about getting along. Were there ever any huge blowups? No. Absolutely not. Did everyone get along together all the time? Course not. Who does when you work? It's a tough schedule and all that. You know, a lot of different personalities. I knew Julia Duffy from working back in St. Louis. She was doing a play when I was going to school there and I got to know her. And Julia Duffy is just one of the funniest women on the face of the earth and I always thought it was so great when she got on Newhart because she's basically doing the same character. And I kept telling people she's done this before. She's the best at that character that there is. There's no one better at that Princess character than Julia Duffy. We got along great and Walter and I, like I said, became good friends. And Jeff and all of us, but I was like . . . you have to understand I did that show and then right away I got the A-Team pilot. I was filming both of those at the same time and I was too young to appreciate just what I had going there. I was just like, "God, I'm so tired, I don't feel like doing this." I think back now and it's like, "Idiot! You were so lucky to be in that position." For me, remember, it was only six [three] episodes and it was pretty quick. And that's why I was really looking forward to that second season because I was going to do a lot more. I heard there was going to be a lot more stuff for me to do because Don and I got along great. He really liked where I was taking [the character]. You know Geoffrey was a buffoon, an idiot. He was just so much fun. I can't tell you how much [fun] he was to play because anything goes.

Interviewer: It comes across in your performance.

Tim Dunigan: That goes with anything you do. If you're not having a good time, trust me, I don't care how good of an actor you are, even Olivier, it's going to come across you're not having a good time. So that's what I liked about that part. That it was fun. I'm a big guy and it was fun to be a big guy. I usually have to tone everything down. So it was fun when they were going: "Bigger, no, bigger! Go ahead."

Interviewer: We want to do a "Where are they now?" section on our website. Would you mind if we told people what you are doing now?

Tim Dunigan: Yeah, I can have no problem with that. Knowing where I am, or what I'm doing. I wouldn't personally . . . well, I don't know, it depends. If they're looking for a loan, they can call me, yeah. [said in a joking manner]

Interviewer: Any advice about a campaign to get the show re-aired?

Tim Dunigan: Um, here's my advice. Got to make money. Make sure whatever it is, it's going to make them money. If it will make them money, they'll do it. That's the bottom line.

Interviewer: So . . . the cheese?

Tim Dunigan: Here's the question I'm asked the most often: Why cheese? Why a cheese sandwich? And here's my stock answer -- the truthful answer. It was funny. Why was it a cheese sandwich? Cheese sandwich is funny. I read it at the table and everybody laughed and we said "That's a good line. That's good, we got that going." That was it. It worked out. Trust me, I wish I could take credit and say, "Well, I came up with it." No. I had nothing to do with it. The writers did all that. I delivered it. They liked the way I delivered it and that was it.

Interviewer: I think actually we've covered just about everything. I did want to let you know that we do have one member who has a website devoted to --

Tim Dunigan: I saw that! It's funny, you know. This has all happened for me in about the last two weeks. Somebody called and said, 'Hey. Did you know that there's a website for you?" I said, "Well, yeah. I mean, my business has got a website." " No, no, no. Like, somebody's looking for you." And I went . . . you have to understand, for me, [it was like] -- why would anyone want to look for me? I have no idea. You know, I just don't get it. I had a nice little career. I had the perfect acting career because for me I worked all the time. I went from one thing to the other. I made a good living. I could go to the movies, go to the grocery store, do whatever I wanted, and nobody really knew. And then what happened once I got Davey Crockett, everything kind of changed. I have to tell you, I was uncomfortable getting recognized. All of a sudden I'm doing all this stuff. I'm just a guy from a small town. You know, I liked acting but the publicity part of it was always the most difficult for me. Talking about my life and me and all that kind of stuff. And I just was uncomfortable with that. I'm that kind of person. With my friends, I'm very outgoing. With people I don't know, I'm not. And I was young too, now as I get I older, I don't care anymore. Whatever. I had a great career and I loved what I was doing. I was lucky to be there. People say, "Why don't you do it anymore?" Cause I choose not to. I think I always had more interests than just acting. Acting was just something I liked to do and I couldn't believe they actually paid me to do it. I just couldn't believe I was making that kind of money doing what came naturally to me, actually. I studied and I went to school. I did my Shakespeare. I made my 52 bucks a week and I was a waiter. The whole thing. Trust me, I was there, but I was 22, 23, 24, 25 years old, and I'm 44 years old now. I'd like to have a nice solid little business, and I've got my money markets, and I'm looking at retirement, and I like to go to Hawaii and play golf. That's what I like to do. Would I act again? Yeah, I'm thinking about it. Now that I've got my business running pretty good now. It took a few years. You know, mortgage is a rough business. I enjoy it but it took awhile to get it where it's running now, where I can take some time off and go to Hawaii. Yeah, if the right thing came up, I'd definitely do it again. I just got tired of doing truthfully crappy roles. They kept offering me big, buffoony, alligator wrestler, Louisiana bayou-y [characters]. Like, yeah, you know, that's fine. It's all great, but it doesn't excite me. When you've done Othello or something, you're not real excited about The Fall Guy anymore. Plus, I was married and I went through a divorce, which really affected me greatly, and I just put a hold on everything. I had been an actor, doing nothing but acting since I was 16, 17 years old. Once I got away from it, I kind of thought, "You know what? I'm just going to kind of try to do something different." Some other challenges. And I'm glad I did it. I've really enjoyed the last eight or nine years of being out of the spotlight. And that's why it's so much fun to whip on the Internet and see that somebody actually remembers that I did something. It's kind of fun for me. I enjoy it. I think it's nice. I'm honored that someone even takes the time to do that. Don't know why, but I just think it's nice of them to even care about it and it's nice to know that someone appreciated what I did. That's great.

Interviewer: It's more than just one or two people that appreciate your work.

Tim Dunigan: Really?

Interviewer: Yes, you have quite a few fans on the list.

Tim Dunigan: Go figure. I can't believe it. I'm as shocked as anybody. Trust me. I had a nice little career. You never think of it affecting any other people, but I guess it does. It was fun. I had a great time acting. I really did enjoy it, and then when it stopped not being as fun that's when I stopped, cause I didn't do it for money. I never did it for money. I did it cause I liked it. I never had any intention of ever making money at it ever. I was a theatre actor. You don't make any money at that. 52 bucks a week, maybe you get a good meal, but that's about it. I was always at another job. I was always a waiter, construction or whatever it was. And then all of a sudden when I realized [how well I was doing], you know, I was thrilled every day to get up and go to the set. I never forgot that I was lucky to be there. Then when I went to dinner with friends, like Dave Leisure or somebody, you know -- this guy can't even have dinner. There's people coming up, and asking for autographs, and he's trying to eat his meal. I thought, you know, that's just not for me. I liked my career a lot because it was great. I made a good living and I could do what I wanted. And when I started losing some of that freedom, and all of a sudden I've got some people acting like we're best friends and I've never met 'em . . . that scares me. And it starts affecting my family. I stepped back and that was the end of it. So there you have it.

Interviewer: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Tim Dunigan: Whatever I can do, if you guys need something, please don't hesitate to contact me. It's a pleasure meeting and talking to you people. You're very nice. Are you in contact with any of the other cast members?

Interviewer: The only one that we have any contact with is Duncan Regehr via his fan club. There is somebody on the list who'd like to do a fan club for you.

Tim Dunigan: Me? [jokingly] Oh please, tell them to go do something for big money. Don't waste their time. Nah, I'd be more than happy, just tell them they can contact me. I'd be more than happy. Is it the person with the website?

Interviewer: Yes, she --

Tim Dunigan: "Have you seen this man?" All of a sudden I thought: "Oh my God. Am I dead? Oh my God." You should have seen all the girls who worked for me here at the office. They all came in and they're all laughing. I said, "Look at this." Cause you know a lot of them, they only know me as the guy who runs this business. They don't know. . . you know, once in a while someone will say, "You know, he was an actor."

Interviewer: We're happy we found you. You, along with Jay Kerr, are the most difficult cast members to find current information about.

Tim Dunigan: Like I said, mine was on purpose. I laid low. I stopped doing just anything. It was a little bit scary. Had a real obsessed fan who was . . . had mental problems. Got real scary. That's when I pulled my plug on anything I did nationally or anything. But, you guys, you know where I am. Like I said, please don't hesitate to contact me if there's anything I can do. If I can help, I'm always here for you.


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