I was born to trod the boards to hear the roar of the crowd to have the smell of greasepaint in my nostrils.
The only ones who knew how talented an actor I was, though, were the friends I played with as a kid. They would marvel at the site of me swimming around the dock in front of our cabin at Lake Poinsett in 1958. Suddenly, it wasn’t a dock at all but the Bridge on the river Kwai and I was William Holdenwith a knife in my teeth planting the explosives that would blow the thing to kingdom come.
When the Hesby’s, who farmed just south of Volga, let me go for a ride on their big plug of a horse, Jack, I did a pretty fair Steve McQueen from The Magnificent 7, especially when we turned around and ol’ Jack caught sight of the barn. He’d go from a head-hung-low walk to furious bone-jarring trot and me in my western hat and hand-me-down cowboy boots would be charging into battle against the bandits who’d been terrorizing the peace-loving Mexican villagers.
But it wasn’t until high school that I finally got some recognition for my thespian efforts; a best actor trophy for my performance in “Judgement Morning” at the Division II one act play contest. Me and my co-stars in costume and make-up 1964
Alas, that was my final appearance, though. I traded a potential career on stage and screen for a guitar and the lure of rock and roll.
Many years later, my daughter, Suzan, was chosen for a part in a Sioux Falls children’s theater performance. She did very well and received lots of enthusiastic praise. That role led to many more parts in regional theater and she was hooked. Suzan studied theater at the University of Minnesota, met and married a fellow actor there, Joe Moser, and before we knew it, She and Joe were off to Hollywood to become stars. A dream that still hasn’t been completely snuffed out even though they have since returned to more conventional careers back in the Midwest.
And then, there’s my nephew Jay…or Jayden as he’s known professionally.
We all knew from the time he was three years old that Jay was going to be an actor. He was never ever shy and loved to ham it up whenever his dad brought out the movie camera.In school, Jay used his ample size as a tool in his comedic arsenal. He had the crowd screaming with laughter when, during a talent show at Lincoln High School in 1984, he performed “Maniac” from the movie “Flashdance” wearing leotards, leg warmers and a wig. He, too, became hopelessly hooked and went on to become a member of the Prairie Reparatory Theater group in college..then on to New York where he found work in several shows..including a couple appearances on TV’s, “Law and Order.”
In the mid 90’s Jay moved to Los Angeles..hoping to catch his big break in Hollywood. From then to now, it’s been a series of highs and lows; lots of auditions and bit parts, a couple of TV pilots that looked promising but weren’t picked up..a few commercials including one for Ford that went nationwide. Just enough work to keep him from getting too discouraged or going broke. Jayden Lund in his one scene as a security guard in the Oscar winning movie, "Crash."
But 2008 may be the turn-around year for my now 41 year old nephew. He had a pretty substantial part in an episode of “Private Practice.” There’s hope for another television series and he’s in a couple movies: “Aces ‘N Eights”..a western in which he plays a homesteader and “The Informant”..a new movie starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh due out next year.
Linda and I still get a kick out of seeing Jay on TV..especially when it comes as a surprise like the other night when he popped up on an episode of “Monk.”
I wish there was something I could do to boost his career so he could finally find his rightful place in Tinsel Town with a Beverly Hills address.
Gee, I wonder if I were to take my best actor’s trophy from high school out there. Maybe it would help open some Hollywood big-shot’s doors.
Acting is in our blood, you know.