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November 16th, 1945
Noted for his compelling, chameleon-like portrayals while possessing the scariest-looking pair of eyes in the business, leathery Steve Railsback mesmerised us with a number of strange, often warped roles both on film and TV. The Dallas-born actor was born in 1948 and started pursuing his career as a student of Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio, becoming a regular fixture in New York theatre in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Whilst there, he caught the attention of Elia Kazan, who offered him his film debut with The Visitors (1972). It was his shockingly vivid TV role as cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson in Helter Skelter (1976) (TV), however, that had audiences riveted to their chairs and finally paying attention to this unreal performer. Helter Skelter was the highest-rated TV movie at the time until "Roots" (1977) came along. Eager to avoid the psycho typecast, he complemented this with a memorable, much more humane performance in the mini-series "From Here to Eternity" (1979), tackling the role of Pruitt (formerly played by Montgomery Clift) and making it his own. His next big role, as a fugitive who happens upon a film set in the bizarre black comedy The Stunt Man (1980), with the equally brilliant Peter O'Toole, assured Hollywood that his award-worthy portrayal of Charles Manson was no fluke. More cutting-edge parts came his way but, without the quality of production to back them up, he fell into quirky low-budget or direct-to-video fare. He has also dabbled in writing, producing and directing on occasion, such as with The Forgotten (1989) (TV). At the turn of the century, he once again delved inside the complex mind of a schizophrenic serial killer with In the Light of the Moon (2000), aka Ed Gein, serving as executive producer as well. And, once again, Railsback showed Hollywood how they have generally wasted a terrific, off-the-beaten-path talent.
- The Box
- The Practice
- Vanishing Point
- Walker, Texas Ranger