Michael Fairman Became an
Actor Without Even Trying:
"I'm Happier Than I've Ever Been"
Daylight TV Magazine, November 1975
by Ann Wehrer
Article Provided By Wanda
Big, ruddy, handsome Michael Fairman has done it again. He has been cast as another heavy. The fugitive from Love of Life (ex-Phillip Waterman), who is supposed to be in Switzerland spending $800,000, has been cast as a gangster in the new ABC serial, Ryan's Hope. A Czechoslovakian, Michael plays the part of Nick Szabo, a Hungarian gangster. He says, 'When I'm up for a movie or TV parts, I always get the darker roles. You know, the policeman, the gangster or the steelworker. It's my face!"
"They promised me girlfriends...I've never had one on a show before...and a bodyguard....and I won't make a lot of phone calls. As Waterman, I was on the phone all the time!"
"In this part, I will have a real emotional life. It is a little more like me....but I'm not really bad, I just keep getting these cold, unemotional parts because I'm big and tough-looking."
"Looking as objectively as I can at myself, which is not always easy, there is a certain sensitivity that I have that I don't think goes with the way I look. A lot of people don't see me the way I really am. Face it, if you've got a mug that looks like you are a gangster or whatever, people think you've got to have a personality that is as cliche as the image itself. So I get identified with that."
Listening to him talk, one can't help noticing how gentle his eyes are. Comment on it, he replied, "Yea, but whoever looks at your eyes? Tough guys are good when they are soft underneath. That was Bogart's fantastic quality. That exterior of confidence. He was a steel-like guy, but you knew he could really take care of a woman if he had to."
"I don't think of myself as Bogart but I do admire him. I personally have a very facile emotional life, and don't have to worry about taking on the characteristics of the men I play. It's just curious to me that I get the heavy roles. They're fun to play."
"In Ryan's Hope, I made my debut delivering lines from my hospital bed. Right away, I was into the character. It was putting pressure on one of the doctors because he owed me some money. A good start!"
Michael comes by his rugged energy and devil-may-care attitude naturally. He grew up in Bronx, New York, in a very close-knit hard-working family. He said he had to join the Air Force to get out of the Bronx. He really got out. They sent him on a four-year tour in Japan!
"I loved it there, and that's the time I became interested in the theater - in a roundabout way. I never went to the Japanese theater and I didn't care about the culture. We never had that at home, you know, no books and no time for that."
"I was interested in flying, drinking and women," he said laughingly. "I was having a great time! But at that time in my life, I was drinking an awful lot and started wondering what the heck I was going to do with my life."
Relating the specific incident that completely revamped his lifestyle, Michael said, "one night, after I had been drinking too much, I fell into a hole! I said to myself 'what am I doing in this hole?' That did it!"
"My friend asked me to come to this theater group with him and help build sets. Then they asked me to be in one play and then another play and then another and I finally said, 'this is it!' I nearly fainted the first time I was on stage!"
When Michael came back to the States, he went to New York University to study acting. After that he studied with Uta Hagan and Lee Strasberg. The work started coming in and the rest is history.
Counting college and repertory theater in Milwaukee and Washington and his New York stage work, he has done well over 100 plays. Michael has also appeared in television documentaries and movies. He played Robert E. Lee in the Appointment with Destiny series.
Photography and art are his favorite hobbies. When he was interested in cartooning, he attended The Art Students League in New York to improve his skill at drawing the human figure.
"Sort of dreamily, he said, 'if I get real wealthy, I'll have a house on Long Island, my New York apartment on the Upper West side, and a loft in Soho to play in." (Soho is a district in New York, zoned for loft studios for artists).
"It will take a while. I have an ex-wife and an eight-year-old son to support. They live in New York. It takes money to maintain two households. It is hard right now!"
Ryan's Hope should help Michael realize some of his hopes. He signed a long term contract and whatever happens, he feels terrific about his life.
"At my age now I'm happier than I've ever been! It's not only the work...that's part of it...but it is the fact that I can see and understand more about myself. Life just kinda happens for me from day to day. Just listening, looking and trying to understand it is wonderful!"
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