Allan Rich (birthname Benjamin Schultz) was born in the Bronx in 1926 and knew he wanted to be an actor by the time he was five years old. His first Broadway play was “I’ll Take the High Road” in 1943 produced by Milton Berle. Allan was only 17. More theatre work led to “Darkness at Noon” which ran for 186 performances from January of 1950 to June of 1951. The play starred the great Claude Rains who won the Tony Award that year for Best Actor. (Rains was replaced by Edward G. Robinson.)
In the late ‘40s, Allan led a Theatrical Action Committee to free Willie McGee, a black man from Mississippi wrongfully convicted of rape in 1945 and subsequently electrocuted in 1951. Allan's devotion to civil rights led to accusations of involvement with the Communist Party which soon landed him on a Hollywood blacklist.
Ostracized from show business, he found work with a Wall Street brokerage film and as an art dealer before a slow return to film and TV starting with "Naked City" in 1963. In 1973, he landed a plum role as district attorney Herman Tauber alongside Al Pacino in "Serpico" and from there, Allan’s career took off. He played the president of NBC in “Quiz Show” directed by Robert Redford, and Judge Juttson in Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad." Allan’s filmography on IMDB lists nearly 150 appearances including spots on "All in the Family," "Gimme a Break," "The Nanny," "The Rockford Files," "Cagney & Lacey," "Baretta," "Barney Miller," "Happy Days" (as a demanding teacher who almost forced Potsie to quit school!,) "Hill Street Blues,” “Two Broke Girls,” "House," and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (as a Holocaust survivor invited to Larry David’s house for dinner to meet another survivor, who turns out to be only a cast member from the TV show “Survivor.”) You name it, Allan was in it.
I interviewed Allan for my podcast at the Actors Fund home in Englewood, New Jersey where he lives and I just fell in love with him. What a guy, and what a life. Big thanks to Allan's daughter Marian who allowed me the opportunity to interview her dad and even stepped in a couple of times during the interview to help Allan with recollections of his remarkable career.
This is a podcast-only edition of “Talk to Me with Gary Cee." You can listen to the show at the link below.