Dean Stockwell, who died Sunday at the age of 85, already had a child star and movie star on his resume when he was cast as the co-lead opposite Scott Bakula in the 1989 sci-fi series Quantum Leap, created by Donald P. Bellisario. Stocklwell’s role as Albert “Al” Calavicci, USN on the show, which ran on NBC for five seasons, made him a TV star and earned him four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe award.
Writing for Deadline, Bellisario shared fond — and fun — memories of working with Stockwell whom he also cast in his followup series, CBS’ JAG, in a role Srockwell reprised on another series co-created by Bellisario, CBS’ First Monday.
Dean and I were both in our mid-fifties when I hired him to play the smart-mouthed hologram Al Calavicci on Quantum Leap. He had just been nominated for an Oscar for his role in Married to the Mob when our series premiered. His friends in the business were all puzzled by why, at the height of his feature career, he chose to do television. Once we started filming, I once asked him the same question. He said “Work is work and I have a family to support.” And work he did. Along with Scott Bakula, Dean set the work ethic for the rest of the actors on the show.
Television films long hours, much longer than most of the feature films Dean had worked in. Yet he never complained…and if a star like Dean doesn’t complain, who can?
Dean brought a sense of fun to the set that lifted everyone’s spirits. He was constantly asked about the features he starred in and always took time to answer with stories like the one he told me:
As a child actor he did a film with Errol Flynn. He recalled how they first met. He was walking toward a sound stage hand-in-hand with his mother and his teacher when Errol Flynn approached them. He said Errol ignored his mother, ignored his teacher, and stuck his hand out saying “Hi kid. Had your first f*ck, yet?” Dean said from that moment on, he knew he was in for a great time.
Dean was never that uncouth, but he always gave us a great time.
I shall miss him.
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