Celebrity Actor Hal Linden Working Hard at 85
Television's Barney Miller
The Early Years of Hal Linden
I chatted with Linden at his home in Marina del Rey, CA on a telephone interview. He shared with me a few fascinating facts about how he became an esteemed musician, stage, television and motion picture actor.
Growing up in New York City, Linden grew up loving music. As a little boy, he wanted to be a big band leader. He enjoyed playing the saxaphone, clarinet and singing.
As a teenager, he enrolled in the High School of Music and Art. Afterwards he attended a few colleges and earned a B.A. in Business, before going into the armed forces during the 1950s, Hal Linden played the clarinet while serving the country and continues to play today .
After serving during the Korean War, he worked in summer stock productions and off Broadway, before landing on Broadway and earning Tony Awards. His first Broadway debut was a hit musical with Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing. He continued appearing on the stage in a variety of productions that include "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," and "The Pajama Game."
Hal Linden as Barney Miller
Set in Greenwich Village, Hal Linden portrayed the Captain of the 12th precinct starting in 1974 through 1982. When cast in the role, he was reluctant to leave the stage for television.
Each season the show earned an Emmy award. He was nominated multiple times for the Golden Globe's Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
After the television show's success, he went back to Broadway and television. He also continued playing music.
Television After Barney Miller
After being a household name with the success of Barney Miller, Linden was cast in guest roles in The Love, Boat, The Golden Girls, The Boys are Back, Touched by an Angel, The Nanny, The Rockford Files, The Drew Carey Show, Law & Order, Will & Grace, Hot in Cleveland, The Mindy Project, 2 Broke Girls, and Royal Pains.
Hal Linden a Family Man
In 1955 after serving in the Korean War, Linden met a pretty dancer, Fran Martin. She helped him get his first role on Broadway. Three years later they married and Martin soon left the theatre to raise four children.
This Hollywood couple were married for 52 years, unil Fran died in 2010.
Currently on Stage
Recently Linden was onstage in California playing the lovable character Henry in the musical production of The Fantasticks at the Pasadena Playhouse. Night after night, this talented actor performed at every 8 p.m. show.
In my review of the show featured in The Stage Review, I state, "Linden's presence onstage is that of a man in his 60s, as he plays Henry, an older actor Shakespearean actor with a failing memory. Linden maneuvers the multi-level stage with grace. At times when he grabs the railing, or another actor’s arm to climb up to a platform, one wonders if he is just in character and can traipse up on his own." The audience applauds immediately and almost wants to rise to give Linden an ovation.
Secrets to Staying Young and Full of Energy
"Do what you love to do," said Linden. He told me he isn't a smoker or drinker. He does like to go to the gym in his building six times a week. "Keep moving, it's good for you." He works out at least one hour and always feels better afterwards.
What's Next for Hal Linden
Linden told me that he will be celebrating his 86th birthday in March 2017, performing at The Globe Theater in San Diego. He has been cast in comedian and writer, Steve Martin's clever and crowd-pleasing comedy hit - Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The production is going to be directed by the Globe’s very own Barry Edelstein.
This is Martin's third creative relationship with The Old Globe at Balboa Park. Set in Paris, 1904: The Lapin Agile, is a watering hole to struggling artists and would-be geniuses. One night Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, whose egos are as big as their intellects, spar with the regulars and each other about art, science, inspiration, love, and the promise of the 20th century. Martin throws into this mix a mysterious blue suede shoes visitor. "It's brilliantly written and witty," said Linden.
Before his Globe appearance, he had other acting and musical engagements. Linden enlightened me, “Concerts are booked one year in advance, stage is booked five months in advance, films are booked one month in advance, and television is booked every Thursday. I'm very busy."