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May 17, 1985 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-05-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

36

Friday, May 17, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Not Just
An Act

BY PHIL JACOBS
Special to The Jewish News

Three different phases of
Steven Hill (from 1.): Not
shaven during Passover;
performing with. Barbra
Streisand in "Yentl," and a
pose from his "Mission
Impossible" days.

For Steven Hill, the mis-
sion was impossible.
And that is why after film-
ing 27 episodes of the popu.-
lar drama "Mission Impossi-
ble," Hill gave up the lead
role of "Mr. Briggs," the
director of the "Impossible
Missions Force."
Hill gave up the role, later
taken by Peter Graves as
"Mr. Phelps," because it di-
rectly conflicted with his
newly adopted Orthodox be-
liefs and traditions. It was
okay if the role called for him
to rescue an atomic bomb
from the safe of a South
American government, but
when it came to physical con-
tact with actresses on cam-
era, be it a touch or a kiss, he
couldn't do it.
One CBS spokesperson
said "Hill gave up about nine
more years of shooting and a
lot of money. Look what
`Mission Impossible' did for
Peter Graves' career."
Still, the calm, amiable Hill

doesn't seem any worse for
wear. In fact, he is at peace
with his decisions and his
commitments to Judaism.
His acting career hasn't suf-
fered, either. Indeed, he
played opposite Barbra Strei-
sand in her movie, "Yentl."
And he's getting ready to
star in a Horton Foote movie
called "Valentine's Day."
Foote wrote the 1984 Aca-
demy Award winner, "Ten-
der Mercies."
His credits include movie
roles with Candice Bergen in
"Rich and Famous," with Jill
Clayburgh in "It's My Turn,"
and in "Garbo Talks," "Teach-
ers," and others. He's also
appeared on television num-
erous times in such series as
"The Fugitive," "Dr. Kil-
dare," "Alfred Hitchcock,"
"Ben Casey," "Naked City,"
"Rawhide," and others. He
won the Sylvania Award for
best actor in "Man on a
Mountaintop" on NBC. He's
even appeared on Broadway.

Hill is by no means a flashy,
hard-to-reach person. During
a visit to Baltimore, he sat
with his brother-in-law, Rab-
bi Joseph Schenker, associate
director of the Talmudical
Academy, in an upper Park
Heights Ave. rowhouse. It
was Passover and he and his
wife Rachel were in to visit
the Schenkers. There were
matzohs and matzoh covers
on the table. Hill wasn't clean
shaven because of the holi-
day. He greeted his visitors
warmly. And after minutes of
conversation, it was easy to
forget that one was 'inter-
viewing a movie star. He
fiddled with his yarmulke as
he talked about*Cagney, Bo-
gart and Rita Hayworth, all
colleagues.
His first part came at age
8 when he was the Pied Piper
of Hamlin in a school show.
He grew up in Seattle, gra-
duating from the University
of Washington. He dabbled
with radio broadcasting, but

always wanted to act. And he
worked his way onto Broad-
way where he played in "A
Flag is Born" with Paul Muni
and Marlon Brando. The Ben
Hecht play was based on the
birth of the state of Israel.
"My goal was to become a
star," he said matter of fact-
ly. "I preferred movies over
the stage because it was more
real for me. It recreated life
as it really was. A lot of peo-
ple thought that live theater
was the be all and end all. To
me it was just a stepping
stone."
Hill was raised in an Ortho-
dox family, but he wasn't ob-
servant. Acting was his total
concern for many years. He
was busy working on Broad-
way and for MGM. In be-
tween came the television
roles' A minor role on the
Western series, "Rawhide,"
got him consideration for
"Mission Impossible."
"One of the producers of
`Rawhide' was Bruce Geller,

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