Wednesday, January 17, 2007

James Karen (1923- )

Have you ever seen an actor in a movie or on TV, then see him again and again in other movies and on other TV shows and think, "Wait a minute! I've seen this guy before...but WHERE?" One of the most prolific of such actors is James Karen, who is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Karen is a veteran character actor whose work has been seen in numerous films, TV shows, and the Broadway stage.

James Karen was born Jacob Karnufsky in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on November 28, 1923.

Karen began his acting career on the Broadway stage in 1948, and his stage work includes work as a standby for both characters George and Nick in the original 1964 Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Karen would go on to stage work in such plays as Cactus Flower and The Country Girl.

Karen's television and film career began with an episode of Car 54, Where are You in 1962. He made his first film two years later in 1965's Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster. From 1967 to 1970, Karen's image became familiar for soap opera fans in his role as Dr. Burke on the long-running As The World Turns; Karen also became a regular on All My Children in 1970 as Linc Tyler.

Throughout the 1970s, Karen made appearances in episodes of several iconic shows of that decade such as Starsky and Hutch, The Waltons, The Streets of San Francisco, The Bionic Woman, Macmillan & Wife, Eight is Enough, One Day at a Time, and The Rockford Files.

The 1970s and 1980s brought about memorable appearances in films such as Poltergeist, The China Syndrome, Frances, Wall Street, and The Return of the Living Dead.

Karen's TV work continued in memorable episodes of The Golden Girls, M*A*S*H, Dynasty, Seinfeld, The Practice, and Judging Amy. Karen even made an appearance on the Scott Baio sitcom Charles in Charles, whose title character hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

His most recent film appearaces include the recently released The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith, Superman Returns (his scenes with Eva Marie Saint were cut from the final film, but can be seen in the deleted scenes section of the DVD), Any Given Sunday (directed by Oliver Stone), and Mulholland Dr. (directed by David Lynch).

It's quite possible that James Karen has appeared in everything!

James Karen was recently profiled by Leonard Maltin as one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets on Reelz Channel's Secret's Out.

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