Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Geoffrey Lewis (1935-2015): Fare Thee Well, Old Friend

Another star we said goodbye to this month is Geoffrey Lewis. He was not an icon on the level of Leonard Nimoy or even James Best, but he was a very familiar face in movies and on television, with a somewhat recognizable name. He appeared in many films with Clint Eastwood and was the father of actress Juliette Lewis.

I first became consciously aware of Geoffrey Lewis in 1990, when I rented a videocassette of the 1983 TV movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair. Lewis and Anthony Zerbe were the main villains facing off against Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, who returned to their roles as Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin from the 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

I next saw Lewis in Only the Strong, a 1993 movie I reviewed for TV Key. Lewis played a veteran high school teacher who rallies behind new teacher Mark Dacascos, who steers wayward students onto the right path by teaching them a Brazilian dance-like martial art called capoeira. This was also the first time I saw Dacascos, who has since enjoyed a respectable career in film and television, including his recurring role as criminal mastermind Wo Fat on Hawaii Five-0.

Lewis’s role in Only the Strong made an impression on me. As much as it was his performance, I think it was also the fact that Lewis very closely resembled my high school journalism teacher John Urciuoli. That’s probably why, in addition to his reliable acting skills, Lewis seemed natural as an educator.

You can find out more about Geoffrey Lewis at his page on the Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0507212/?ref_=nv_sr_1).

--Raj Manoharan

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