Peter Mark Richman is 86, going on 87 next month, and still going strong. The actor's countless credits date back to the dawn of television and include many features as well. His output spans from Suspense in 1953 to Mysteria in 2011, and here's just a sampling of what fell in between: Friendly Persuasion, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, Longstreet (with Bruce Lee!), The Six Million Dollar Man, Charlie's Angels, Three's Company (Chrissy's dad!), Fantasy Island, Dynasty (Blake Carrington's lawyer!), T.J. Hooker, Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, Beverly Hills, 90210, Poolhall Junkies, and numerous animated series, among them Spider-Man and Batman Beyond. He's also acted in many plays on and off Broadway and around the country.

Of course, to Star Trek fans, Richman is best known for his The Next Generation guest spot as Ralph Offenhouse in the episode "The Neutral Zone." Offenhouse was a 20th century financier who had himself cryogenically frozen and was awakened in time to engage a deeply annoyed Captain Picard in debates over money (or the lack of it in the future) and dealings with the Romulans. StarTrek.com caught up with Richman in advance of his apearance at the Hollywood Show autograph event, scheduled for April 11-13 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel. Here's what he had to say:

What's life like for you these days? You're still active in the business, right?

RICHMAN: Yes, I am. I actually have a play that I wrote, which is running in Israel. They translated it into Hebrew and it's a big hit. The show is called A Medal for Murray. I did a scene at the Actor's Studio out here in Los Angeles, and a visiting actress from Israel saw it and came to me and said, "I'm going back to Israel shortly. Can I take your play back to Israel? Maybe I can get a production mounted." I said, "Sure." She showed it Beit Lessin, a theater which has been doing high-quality productions for many years, and it's been running their since last summer. My wife and I were there in July for the opening night and the second night, and it was terrific. I don't speak a word of Hebrew, but the wonderful cast made all the laugh lines work. They built a terrific set. It's a comedic show with serious overtones, and it's about two people who fall in love in a retirement home. Really, the story is universal, so the play could run in Poland and Germany and England and Russia -- or anywhere else. The show is still running, and Beit Lessin tours their shows, so it'll be in Jerusalen and other cities.

Beyond the show, what else keeps you busy?

RICHMAN: I have give children and six grandchildren. Life is full. I have a new granddaughter, Danica. And my oldest son, Howard, has a new wife who's an opera singer. Lo and behold, they had this little girl. And I'm crazy about all of the grandchildren.

You have hundreds of credits. How complete a circle have you made as an actor?

RICHMAN: I've actually done 500 television shows and movies in my career. Some of the series, I did multiple appearances on, like The FBI and Dynasty and many others. It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun, too. People ask me if I have favorites, but it was always whatever I was doing, I found that interesting and applicable to my talent. Some things, though, take on a life of their own. I did three episodes of Three's Company. I only did the three, but they syndicated it over and over and over again. It's running somewhere all over the world, and a lot of people know me from Three's Company.

Let's go back to 1988. How did you land your role as Offenhouse on TNG?

RICHMAN: They called my agent and said, "We want Mark. Here's the deal, etc., etc.," and I did it. That didn't happen often. In the 80's and 90's, they were calling everybody in to read, and I wouldn't read, so it hurt me. I probably would have worked more if I'd read (auditioned). But Star Trek was an offer.

What do you remember of the shoot? Did you get to use your acting chops the way you hoped to?

RICHMAN: I think so. It was an interesting role. He was somebody who'd been dead, or frozen, for 400 years and then revived. When he wakes up, he wants to see his lawyer. When I approach a role, I analyze it and I evolve a character that is applicable to the words, to the script. I try to honor the written word and the author of those words. And, with my performance, I try to illuminate the character through what I'm saying. When I think about The Next Generation, the thing I remember most about shooting it was that I had to be in this capsule for an inordinate amount of time. I was getting annoyed because they had lighting problems or an electrical circuit went out. Getting into the capsule took time, so I had to lay there when I would much rather have been walking around. But it was so difficult to get in and out that I just lay there until they were ready.

How strange is it to be talking about one episode of one show you did more than 25 years ago?

RICHMAN: Oh my God, I have a lot of shows that people ask me about, and some of those shows I did 40 or 45 years ago or 50 years ago. I can recall smidgens of stuff. I have to think about it, and it comes back to me. Images come back to me. I haven't actually watched the Star Trek episode in a long time, but I certainly remember it, and it's one of the shows that people often ask me about or they'll ask me to sign photos of me from it.

You will be at the Hollywood Show next month. When you sit down at your table, we're sure you'll have a TNG photo or two out there. What other pictures will you have?

RICHMAN: People want me to sign photos from Star Trek, The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone. Dynasty, of course. Three's Company. Friendly Persuasion, which was a movie I did with Gary Cooper. I have a LOT of pictures and my wife is always saying that we should eliminate some stacks of pictures. I have a lot of black and white stuff, and she's encouraging me to go with more color photos than I already do. Oh, and Longstreet. A lot of people want me to sign photos from Longstreet, which was a show that did with Bruce Lee. He did a few episodes of that with me and James Franciscus, and then he became a big star. So I have a few photos of me with Bruce Lee.

Before we let you go, anything else going on that we should know about?

RICHMAN: I have an autobiography called I Saw a Molten White Light... I'm very high on that and hopefully it will get published shortly.

Go to PeterMarkRichman.com to check out his official site. And visit Hollywood Show for additional details about Richman's sceduled appearance at the upcoming Hollywood Show.

 

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