By Concita Occhipinti
My first artistic endeavors were… I played trumpet and valve trombone in bands when I was a teen ager. I sang in a quartet in the Navy and another while attending University. I also sang in night clubs to augment my University tuition. I originally wanted to be a secondary school teacher and I studied in the little theater on campus, because it was quiet. They had readings for a play (Victoria Regina) and by accident, (because I just happened to be there) I was called upon to read for the male lead in it and was accepted. Not long after the play, which was a success, I changed my major to Speech Arts, with a music minor…Because I was suddenly accepted as an actor, my professor insisted that I was going to be a film actor and upon graduation, he sent me to Hollywood to give it a try.
My first film was a small part in the movie “Where The Boys Are” for MGM… But I didn’t like Hollywood very much so I fled to New York to further my study with the last remaining member (Boris Marshalov) of the famed Stanislavsky’s Russian Repertory Theater from Moscow to and work in ‘live’ theater. I worked with the famous “Circle In The Square Theater” in New York for over a year, in Checov’s Seagull, then went to Europe to work in The American Theater In Paris on the Quay D’Orsay. It was there I was “discovered” and taken to Spain, under contract to Balcazar Studios in Barcelona to do five Westerns. The first “$5000 On The Ace” was sold to MGM. It was the predecessor to Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dollar’ series which also sold to MGM. I had a bit of time after shooting the first Western, so I went to Madrid, where I got the role of Henry Fonda’s pilot in the classic, “Battle Of The Bulge” and also did Geraldine Chaplin’s screen test for “Dr. Zivago”, directed by David Lean, before returning to Barcelona to do fulfill my contract for the second Western…
After that I was briefly a gyspy…traveling around Europe awaiting the next project. I signed a contract as a recording artist for Phillips Fontana Records in London, in the sixties, before moving to Rome, having been offered an abundance of new films. I have starred in over fifty films to date and the beat goes on… As far as realizing my dream is concerned, I have accomplished that and more… and I wouldn’t change a thing… There have been many who have helped me along the way…as I have helped others…but I credit having lived by three words for any and all success I have enjoyed… Respect… Compassion… and Gratitude… As for my last projects…”Romazo Calabrese” is one of the sweetest stories I have ever enjoyed being part of. It was shot in Calabria, Italy and should be released over the holidays. I have also just returned from the Grand Canyon where I was fortunate enough to finish another wonderful project, called, “Of Fortune And Gold”…
It is a modern Western about Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon and the protection of the surrounding, precious environment… You asked what drives me? It is the continued interest from fans and continued offers from production companies… plus I truly and passionately enjoy the work…. Otherwise, I would probably happily retire… As far as the youngsters who are just beginning is concerned… It is best to work in your little theater and devise ways to get yourself out there in every way you can, to be seen by those with the ability to hire you… It is a more competitive business in every way than it was when I began… so if this is truly what you want… I believe the only way to achieve it is to stick to it!!!
Sincerely, Robert Woods