On This Day … 27 November [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1956 – William Fichtner, American actor.

People (Deaths)

  • 2013 – Lewis Collins, English-American actor (b. 1946).

William Fichtner

William Edward Fichtner (born 27 November 1956) is an American actor. He is known for his television roles as Sheriff Tom Underlay on Invasion, Alexander Mahone on Prison Break, Carl Hickman on Crossing Lines, and Adam Janikowski on Mom. His film appearances include Heat, Contact, Armageddon, The Perfect Storm, Go, Crash, Black Hawk Down (2001), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Lewis Collins

Lewis Collins (27 May 1946 to 27 November 2013) was an English actor, best known for his career-defining role playing ‘Bodie’ in the late 1970s – early 1980s British television series The Professionals.

Military Career

Collins was a private in the 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment of the British Army (a Territorial Army unit) from 1979 to 1983. In 1983, he applied to join the Territorial SAS, but was rejected because of his celebrity status, despite passing the entrance tests. From 15 to 23 March 1980 Collins with several volunteers from the Parachute Regiment, along with the British boxer John Conteh, took part in a forced march in military service conditions from London to Liverpool up the A41 road, the funds raised from the event being donated to a charity for disabled children.

Acting Career (1980s to 1990s)

In the 1980s, he auditioned for the role of 007 with Eon Productions, the producers of the James Bond cinema franchise, to succeed Roger Moore, but the audition with its producer Cubby Broccoli did not go well and he was rejected as being “too aggressive”. Collins regarded this failure in retrospect as the key missed opportunity of his acting career. In 1982 he moved into cinema starring in the role of a British Army officer confronting terrorists in the film Who Dares Wins (1982).

As the 1980s progressed Collins attempted to maintain a cinematic career. An initial plan to continue to make feature films with the Who Dares Wins producer Euan Lloyd, including one set in the Falklands War provisionally entitled Task Force South, came to nothing, so he instead signed a German-Italian co-production contract to star in three mercenary war genre feature films directed by Antonio Margheriti set in the Third World, viz., Code Name: Wild Geese (1984), Kommando Leopard (1985) and Der Commander (1988), which attempted to capitalise on the recent box-office hits of The Wild Geese (1978) and The Dogs of War (1980). They were commercially unsuccessful; as a result he returned to working in British television productions.

In 1986 he played the French medieval war-lord Philip Marc in the series Robin of Sherwood. In 1988 he played second lead to Michael Caine in the British television film Jack the Ripper.

At the start of the 1990s, he appeared in the role of “Colonel Mustard” in the British television drama/gameshow Cluedo (1991-1992), however acting roles became sparser as the decade progressed. In the early 1990s, seeking to extend his career options in drama to work beyond acting he attended courses in screenwriting and direction at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television in Los Angeles, California, US, but this led to no subsequent professional employment. In the mid-1990s he moved his family to Los Angeles, where he was residing part-time, while he returned to England intermittently for the occasional provincial theatre tour and minor acting roles in television productions.

In March 1997, Collins announced in an interview on British television that he was in discussions with a production company to star in a new series based on The Professionals, reprising his career signature role of William Bodie as the CI5 Agency’s Chief in the part played by Gordon Jackson in the original series. However, after months of negotiations it was announced by the producer David Wickes that Collins had been dropped as a casting option for the role for undisclosed reasons, and it had been given to the actor Edward Woodward instead. The new show, entitled CI5:The New Professionals, went on to be a commercial and critical failure, and only ran for one series.

Collins’ final acting performance was in an episode of the British television police drama series The Bill entitled “034” in 2002.

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