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Alan Dale (1947)

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Alan Hugh Dale is a New Zealand actor. As a child, Dale developed a love of theatre and also became a rugby player. After retiring from the sport he took on a number of professions to support his family, before deciding to become a professional actor at the age of 27. With work limited in New Zealand, Dale moved to Australia, where he played Dr. John Forrest in The Young Doctors from 1979 to 1982. He later appeared as Jim Robinson in Neighbours, a part he played for eight years. The character is the role Dale is most associated with in Australia and the United Kingdom. He left the series when he fell out with the producers over the pay he and the rest of the cast received.

After leaving Neighbours, Dale became typecast as Robinson in Australia and struggled to find work. His career was revitalised after he relocated to the United States in 2000. Since then he has had roles in many American series including prominent parts in The O.C. and Ugly Betty , as well as recurring and guest roles in Lost, 24, NCIS, ER, The West Wing, The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen. Dale has also appeared in minor roles in films such as Star Trek Nemesis, Hollywood Homicide and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as well as the London West End production of Spamalot. Dale has been married to former Miss Australia Tracey Pearson since 1990 and has four children.


 acting career
 Early roles and Neighbours
Dale's first professional acting job was playing an Indian in a production of The Royal Hunt of the Sun at the Grafton Theatre in Auckland. His first on-screen role came in the New Zealand television drama Radio Waves, which although not successful, he described as "nine months of solid work and great fun." In the late 1970s, Dale moved to Australia at the age of 32, due to the limited acting work in New Zealand. He applied to the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, but was rejected because he "was a lot older than anybody else on the course." He was soon cast as Dr. John Forrest in the Australian soap opera The Young Doctors, where he remained for three-and-a-half years.

In 1985, Dale was cast in the continuing role of Jim Robinson in the Australian soap opera Neighbours, earning him acclaim across the world, including the United Kingdom. He stayed for eight years before his character was killed off. He found working on Neighbours "exciting" and it enabled him to provide for his sons, but he noted: "You were a totally replaceable commodity; didn't put any value on any of the people appearing in the show." He expanded: "I didn't like it there, they were not nice people. When we decided that we hated each other, the company and me, one of the things the company did was to market everything they could out of us and pay us nothing." Dale and the company parted on "bad terms".

After Neighbours, Dale struggled to find work in Australia because he was typecast as Jim Robinson. His only regular sources of income were voice-overs, and publishing magazines about his former show which he "made quite a lot of money out of". He lost most of his profits investing in a failed children's magazine. In 1999, he was cast in the American TV film First Daughter, which was filmed in Australia. After discovering he could perform a convincing American accent, Dale attended the film's premiere, finally moving with his family to the United States permanently in January 2000. Dale, his second wife Tracey, and their then two year old son Nick moved into an "awful little flat" in Los Angeles and found an agent. Dale recalled telling his wife in Melbourne that "there's no way this is going to work. But if it does, it proves you can do anything."

 Wider success

At the age of 52, he began to revive his career and started taking acting classes, something he had not thought about after being cast in Neighbours. He described his age, unknown status and willingness to work for a relatively low fee as being his main assets for getting work in America. His drama teacher, who he has remained with ever since, told him "that you might want to play great roles, but truth is you will get cast as a specific type. Just work out your type. The others in the class said I was a bit Anthony Hopkins and a bit Sean Connery and that went into my head. I thought if I go for roles those guys would go for I'm more likely to get them." The first role he was offered was a part in a series called Sign of Life, a show about a rock band, which eventually fell through. Dale only received a couple of auditions during his first year in America, but his break came when he was cast as the South African Al Patterson in four episodes of ER. Since then, Dale has been "busier than ever". He has appeared in many television series including JAG, The West Wing, NCIS, Torchwood, The Lone Gunmen, Californication, The Practice as well as appearing in three episodes, including the series finale, of The X-Files, playing the "Toothpick Man". He played the recurring role of Vice President of the United States Jim Prescott for seven episodes of the second season of 24, a part which was originally supposed to only be one scene. Dale had recurring roles in the serial Midnight Man and the Australian series Sea Patrol in 2008. He also had recurring parts on Undercovers, Entourage as John Ellis, the fictional owner of Warner Bros., and the British series Moving Wallpaper as a fictional version of himself. He will appear as Prince Charming's father in the series Once Upon a Time; his part will initially be a single episode role, but he will likely make further appearances.

From 2003 to 2010, Dale appeared in his longest running American roles. He starred in the Fox TV series, The O.C. playing Caleb Nichol, a wealthy tycoon. The producers saw that the character had further potential, and made his initially recurring role a regular character in the series. After 35 appearances, Caleb was killed off in the second season episode "The O.Sea" in 2005. Dale was disappointed that Caleb was written out and described it as a mistake by the production staff. In 2006, Dale was cast in the starring role of Bradford Meade, the owner of Meade Publications in the ABC show Ugly Betty. Although he impressed the producers in his audition, he initially lost the role to a "bigger star". After said star began "causing trouble" and was fired, Dale was given the part. Bradford was killed off during the show's second season. Dale appeared in the second season finale of Lost, "Live Together, Die Alone", as Charles Widmore, a businessman and leader of the Others. Dale's publicist was initially worried that Widmore (who was an integral part of the show's mystery) would become a starring role, meaning it would be hard for Dale to appear in both Lost and Ugly Betty at the same time. The part became a recurring role, with Dale appearing numerous times between seasons two and six . He enjoyed the role but often found it difficult due to his character's unclear motivation.

In March 2008, Dale replaced Peter Davison in the lead role of King Arthur in the London West End production of Monty Python's Spamalot at the Palace Theatre. He accepted the role because he was a fan of Monty Python and considered that "life's too short" for him to have turned down a West End part. Although he has seen all of the shows and the other films, Dale had never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail (from which Spamalot is "lovingly ripped off") and had to buy a copy to prepare for the role. It was not his first experience in musical theatre because he appeared in a 1984 Australian production of Applause, but Dale found the comic timing of the part to be the hardest task. "On stage, the battle is to find all of the humorous moments and not skip over them. There's an art to Python humour and I'm aiming to try and get every single joke just right." He was succeeded in the role by Sanjeev Bhaskar on 23 June 2008.

Dale has also made several film appearances. He appeared as the Romulan Praetor Hiren in Star Trek Nemesis, a part he got after the actor originally cast fell ill, and had small parts in films such as Hollywood Homicide, After the Sunset, and the minor part of General Ross in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Dale said his script for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was printed on tin foil so it was impossible to replicate, in order to keep the film's plot a secret. He appeared in four films released in 2011: A Little Bit of Heaven, Priest, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, having joined late in the film's production.

 personal life
In 1968, Dale married his girlfriend, Claire, and the couple had two children, Simon and Matthew. Both of Dale's eldest sons are involved in the entertainment industry, Simon as a radio announcer at Kiss 100 and Matthew as a writer, film maker and actor. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979. At the time, Dale lived in Auckland but after the divorce he moved to Sydney with his sons. On 8 April 1990, he married Tracey Pearson, the 1986 Miss Australia, who he met at the 1986 Australian Grand Prix, when she was 21 and he was 39. Dale described it as "the most appropriate relationship I've ever had." Dale also has two children from this marriage, Daniel and Nick, who "keep him young". He and his family now live in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, California and also own property in Australia. Dale sold his holiday home in New Zealand in 2011 for $1.25m. Both of Dale's parents died in 2007, and he regrets not spending enough time with them. Dale describes his life philosophy as being Winston Churchill's quote "Never, never, never give up", and counts Gene Hackman as his "big acting hero".

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