Name: Kevin Dobson
How We Know Him: A veteran actor who has appeared on the daytime soaps ‘The Bold and Beautiful’ and ‘One Life to Live,’ Dobson spent the ‘90s in the role of M. “Mack” MacKenzie on ‘Knot’s Landing.’ But he made a name for himself in prime time as Det. Bobby Crocker, the young sidekick to Telly Savalas’ famed crimebuster, Kojak, the hit CBS series that came on the air in 1973. “One of the great moments [in my career was when I was walking to the set for the very first time with Telly and an executive,” he says. “We passed three chairs: One said the name of that executive, the other said Telly Savalas, and the last said Kevin Dobson. I froze for an instant. That was my start.”
He Auditioned Three Times: “Yep. I was a rookie and trying to make it [my career as an actor] happen for six or seven years before ‘Kojak’ he says. “They turned me down three times, but I persevered. Universal TV Studios at the time had a talent pool, contract players, and I was one of those contract players. I was told to sign this contract to play on ‘Kojak’ – I had no choice or I was out on the street.
They said they would give me two shows
and see what happens in six months.
Was That So Bad? “Nobody knew me . Telly didn’t know me and Universal had just heard about me. They said they would give me two shows and see what happens in six months. It was all that getting started and ‘getting my feet wet’ time of my career. I suddenly realized ‘wow, look where I am’. They didn’t tell me until the fifth season of ‘Kojak” that I had a show!”
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What Was Telly Like: “What an opportunity! I am so grateful to have worked with him. He was a hard-nosed movie star, but as sensitive as anyone could be. He was a family man– always – whether it was his mother, nieces, or brother visiting the set. We were always putting his family in the holding cell during a scene.”
How Come You Didn’t Shave Your Head like Telly: “It was going that way naturally!”
Was It Hard To Be Telly’s Sidekick? “Let me put it this way. We were doing a scene one day and we did it twice. We were in this warehouse and we had to bust through a door … [laughs] here we go to do a rehearsal and we’re about ready to bust through the door and all of a sudden, I get this tap on my shoulder. It was Telly. He looked at me and in that voice said ‘I go first.’
Who’s That In The Background? “I was standing on the back-lot one day and I was just talking to this guy and we were congratulating each other. I was telling him about ‘Kojak’ and he was telling me about this movie he had just written about a fighter called ‘Rocky.’ It was Stallone.”
Real Life: “I have son who just started his acting career after being a professional baseball player. I have three kids in LA, my wife Susan is a radio host for people who are recovering from addictions – drugs, alcohol, and divorce…. People call in and it’s like they are going to confessional. People unload and share their experiences when they realize its anonymous.
Pay It Forward: Twice served as Chairman of the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, promoting volunteerism at the nation’s 172 VA facilities and hosted Veterans Inaugural Balls for President Clinton and President Bush, telethons for the Arthritis Foundation and the United Negro College Fund, and raised funds for Retinitis Pigmentosa, The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy. Also work to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children.
Knots Landing: “Whatever city I’m in, people usually say they wished night time soaps like that would come back.”
By Debbie L. Sklar