I was a street kid from Chicago Illinois and had a great deal of respect for our neighborhood cop, Joe Sheldon. Little did I know that being an actor from Chicago would lead me into a life of police work. Here’s how it all started.
I had just finished college and went to California to begin my career as an actor. I played a GI on a segment of TWILIGHT ZONE. It was the time of Brando, Clift and Dean and the studio method. I must have been a damned good GI as I got drafted a week later. After 8 weeks of basic training, we were all being assigned what our new school would be. Here come’s the part about Chicago. What else would you make an actor/ entertainer? An MP…Yep Military Police. When I asked “WHY” I was told “Because you are from Chicago and you are either a good guy or a bad guy and either way we want you on our side” So after 8 weeks of police training I was assigned to Fort Benjamin Harrison Indiana and made up my mind to be the best MP the army had ever seen. While there I was the Post Soldier of the month and entered the All Army Talent try outs…Long story shortened…I was ,and I believe am still, The only MP to ever be a part of the ALL ARMY WORLD TOURING SHOW.
After getting Married and doing a lot of theatre in Chicago. Hollywood sent for me and I have been here ever since….Here is a list of the shows I have done where my Police training paid off…
8 Seasons as Sheriff Mort Metzger on Murder, She Wrote, The Law and Harry McGraw. The Stoneman, Cops n Roberts, Jessica Novack, Laserblast, Into the Glitter Palace, Barney Miller, McMillian and Wife, Good Times, Heat of Anger, Second Hundred Years, Bewitched, 10 different episodes of Police Story and I even played a singing dancing cop in a Nestles Crunch commercial with Kareem Abdul Jabbar. We shot that in downtown Los Angeles with 2 real cops on the set but the citizens would come up to me and ask directions.
Murder, She Wrote though is the role I will be identified with forever I guess for a day doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t yell out “Hey Sheriff, How’s Jessica?” and you know what? I love it.
I couldn’t wait to go to work with that great lady. Angela is the Rolls Royce of our business, and the last 2 seasons I got to write 2 story ideas that were bought. I was proud of that for I always felt we had the very best writers in the business and the most loyal following…including a couple of administrations in the White House, Now for those who care…Here is how I got the role. I had worked for Peter Fischer before, but the first time I went on location with him was when I played a detective on The Law and Harry McGraw.
We were in Massachusetts at a closed resort. A small staff was trying to feed breakfast to a film crew so I pitched in serving coffee, telling jokes and having a ball. A couple of months after we returned, Creator Peter Fisher called me and this is what he said on the phone ” Ron? Peter Fischer…Tom Bosley is leaving the show to do a new series and I am creating a new sheriff. The role is yours if you want it but I have to know in the next 24 hours as I am leaving for Europe, so I have to know your answer before I leave.” I responded “OK” He said “Then you will call and let me know?”…….I responded “I JUST DID”…..And as the late Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”