on One with John Tesh" – December 3, 1991
[Clip from "Anchors Aweigh", the part with Dean singing the title song]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "He made his film debut in 1945 in `Anchors
Aweigh', starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly."
[More of the clip]
[More clips from other movies including "Kim" and "Secret Garden"]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "After his parents divorced, Dean Stockwell
spent his childhood in front of the camera, churning out film after
film while other children his age were on playgrounds. What adoring
audiences didn't know was that he was emotionally drained and falling
into deep depression as he was working.
[Clip from "The Boy with Green Hair"]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "In 1948, Stockwell starred in `The Boy with
Green Hair'. The film's anti-war message touched off an uproar but
Stockwell survived the controversy. Then as soon as he finished his
studio contract, he dropped out of the business and wandered around
the country doing odd jobs for about 5 years."
[Clip from "Werewolf of Washington"]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "When he decided to return to Hollywood, he
had to take whatever roles he could get just to make ends meet."
[Clip from "Paris, Texas"]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "Stockwell has dropped out a few times, but
acting keeps drawing him back.
[Clip from "To Live and Die in L.A."]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "When he could get acting jobs, he took minor
roles in big movies. A shady lawyer in `To Live and Die in L.A.'"
[Clip from "Beverly Hills Cop II"]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "A thief in `Beverly Hills Cop II'."
[Clip from "Married to the Mob"]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "And the gangster Tony `the Tiger' in `Married
to the Mob', for which he got his only Academy Award nomination."
[Picture of Dean, Joy and their kids]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "Stockwell married Joy Marcheko in 1982. They
have two children and live in Los Angeles."
[Clip from "Quantum Leap" intro]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "But it wasn't until he made a `quantum leap'
into series television that Stockwell found the stability he's been
looking for in his career."
[Dean and correspondent Sandy Newton in a living room setting]
John Tesh [voiceover]: "Our correspondent, Sandy Newton spoke with
him about his long struggle to find peace of mind in Hollywood."
Sandy Newton: "We, of course, look at the films of yours, the early
films, and we assumed you all have these great, charmed lives and
were so happy, but you said you were miserable."
Dean: "Anyone that had the experience I did would agree that there
were inordinate pressures. There were very few lines of work or
endeavors where children are permitted to work today. Acting is one
of the very few…for some reason people don't seem to realize that it
is work…and in those days we worked six days a week. We worked
Sandy: "And you did, I think, twenty-two films in seven years?"
Dean: "I think I was at MGM for nine years, and I think I did 16, 17
films…something like that."
Sandy: "That's a lot."
Dean: "Yeah, that's a lot, yeah."
Sandy: "But you said your mom was really the one who kind of
stabilized you or sort of kept you…"
Dean: "Yeah, she was great."
Sandy: "Did you ever go to her and say, `mom, I want to quit.'"
Dean: "Yeah, I did and she…she was dealing with a…a reality like
anyone else, and the reality was that she was a single mother and I
was under contract. So there was, legally speaking, there wasn't any
way out. So, there wasn't much she could do. And she could just try
to make it the best as she could for me. And she did."
Sandy: "In those days, the studios were so powerful and so
Dean: "Yes, I felt controlled. I was aware that when I was going to
do a film, that that film was assigned to me, and I had no choice.
And I didn't like that. And further more, there was a process then
called `loaning' contract players, where one studio would loan a
player to another studio to do their movie and, then, of course, be
returned. It made me feel at a very young age like a piece of meat
and I resented it and I was very…I celebrated as…as…during that
period of time when the studio system crumbled, in my little world, I
celebrated like the world is celebrating over the fall of the Berlin
Wall and the Communist empire."
Sandy: "So you dropped out the first time from Hollywood when you
were just a teenager, 16-years-old, you had enough?"
Dean: "I understood that then I had some decision making power in my
life and I could stop working if I wish. The minute I graduated high
school, I stopped. And I went off by myself because, for a number of
years, because I desperately needed anonymity."
Sandy: "What did your mom think about you leaving like that?"
Dean: "I think she realized it that…that I had to do that."
Sandy: "She let you go with her blessings?"
Sandy: "So, what did you find on that quest?"
Dean: "Well, I found out a lot of things, that anonymity is a very
comfortable feeling and it's fine and that it's also a pretty
difficult world to live in."
Sandy: "Were you a child of the 60's?"
Dean: "Well, I…became a beatnik and a hippie."
Sandy: "Were you into drugs then"
Dean: "Well, I…I smoked some pot and I tried, yeah, you know,
misbehaved, but, I mean it wasn't anything that damaged my health and…
I had a pretty damn good time, to tell you the truth. I mean, I had
a great time. In retrospect, it seems to be, um, a type of living
child…childhood that perhaps because I had been working I didn't
experience as fully as I might have wanted to when I was in my real
Sandy: "What made you decide to back to Hollywood and try it again?"
Dean: "Well, it became clear after a certain time that I…I didn't
have any training to go into any other sort of career and couldn't
figure out anything else to do…that was the one thing I knew how to
Sandy: "Did you miss it, though because it doesn't sound…"
Dean: "No, I didn't miss it, in fact I went back into it with great
deal of trepidation, but, then…that…when I got into my mid- late-30's
and 40's, that was resolved and I began to enjoy it and began to
appreciate my own work…and of course, that coincided right with the
time when I couldn't get any work. Right, isn't that the way it
happens? Yeah, that coincided with a very long, lean period of about
13, 12, 13 years, where as the saying goes in this business, `I
couldn't get arrested.'"
Sandy: "Did you think that's because of a stigma of having been a
child actor and you just thought…"
Dean: "No, I don't think so. No, I have gone over this in my mind.
I have spent many, many, many, many, many, many hours trying to
figure out the mystery of why I had trouble finding work during that
period and, um, I have never been able to figure it out. I even went
to people that I knew in the business whether they were producers or
publicists, other actors, and I ask them, `Why do I hear someone
say, `Oh I heard these producers say that they were looking for a
Dean Stockwell-type', and I'm sitting there on unemployment."
Sandy: "Now you've got a hit series on the air. When you look over
your life, can you believe you are here? Doing this now?"
Dean: "I always felt that I had a…a unique ability and that given the
opportunity I could do well at it and that I could be a relatively
happy individual. I always knew that was a possibility. It seemed
like it would never happen, but I always considered that it was a
possibility and it's happening so I can believe it."
Sandy: "The environment is something that you're very, very committed
Dean: "Yes, now that the political changes have been so dramatic in
the world and the so-called Communist threat is dissipated so
dramatically, now's the time for our leadership, in conjunction with
the leadership of the other major nations of the world, to make the
priority the survival of the planet."
Sandy: "How did you get so passionate about the environment?"
Dean: "Well, by witnessing the deterioration of the environment, of…
of the world, of where I live, of the sky, of everything in my own
lifetime, that's happened in my lifetime."
Sandy: "Being a father have anything to do with it?"
Dean: "It has a great deal to do with it, I mean it stimulates one to
action hopefully, to try to do something about it so that the
children are inheriting a fit environment to live in."
Sandy: "You're not going to disappear on us again, are you?"
Dean: "I don't think so, I mean, I don't want to, I'm not going…the
next time I drop out, I'll be dropping dead."