Tom Skerritt

Tom Skerritt Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: August 25, 1933

Age: 90 years old

Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan

Audiences have seen actor Tom Skerritt in roles as a soldier, police officer, father and villains in prominent features and television series over several decades. After first gaining attention as the irreverent Southern doctor Duke Forrest in Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H" (1970), Skerritt went on to an accomplished career that was marked with intelligent, penetrating performances. Perhaps most identified with the thoughtful gentleness he brought to his role as Shirley MacLaine's husband in "The Turning Point" (1977), Skerritt went on to score memorable film roles in Ridley Scott's sci-fi film "Alien" (1979), the Tony Scott blockbuster "Top Gun" (1986), and old friend Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" (1992).

Switching gears to the small screen after years of big screen success, Skerritt starred as the perplexed town sheriff of an odd, fictional community on the hit series "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96), a role that earned him an Emmy Award. After the show was cancelled, Skerritt remained busy with roles on "Huff" (Showtime, 2004-06) and "Brothers and Sisters" (ABC, 2006- ), solidifying his place as one of the most prolific character actors working in Hollywood.

Born on Aug. 25, 1933 in Detroit, MI, Skerritt was raised by his father, Roy, the owner of a small business, and his mother, Helen, a homemaker. Spending his entire youth growing up in the Motor City, he graduated from David Mackenzie High School in 1951. Skerritt heard the call of duty right after high school and spent the next four years of his life in the United States Air Force. By the time he was 21, he had married his first wife and had his first child. Though he tried his hand at acting while attending Wayne State University in Detroit, Skerritt moved across the country to matriculate at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he continued to train as an actor. Spotted while performing in a production of "The Rainmaker," he made his feature debut in "War Hunt" (1962), an independently-made film about the Korean War that was notable for marking the first time both Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack also appeared on screen. That same year, Skerritt made his television debut in the World War II series, "Combat!" (ABC, 1962-67), which led to prolific work in episodic television during the early years of his acting career.

On the small screen, Skerritt landed episodes of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (CBS, 1962-65), "My Three Sons" (ABC, 1960-1972), "Bonanza" (NBC, 1959-1973) and the "The Fugitive" (ABC, 1963-67), while appearing in longer-running arcs on "Gunsmoke" (CBS, 1955-1975), "Twelve O'Clock High" (ABC, 1964-67), "The FBI" (ABC, 1965-1974) and "The Virginian" (NBC, 1962-1971). Skerritt appeared in one of his first recurring roles on "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Disney" (ABC, 1954-1990). He went on to appear in nine episodes of the series, which aired between 1965 and 1967. Three years later, Skerritt landed his first notable film role in Robert Altman's Korean War comedy "M*A*S*H." (1970). Portraying Capt. Augustus Bedford 'Duke' Forrest in the film, Skerritt's role was reportedly pared down considerably by the irascible director. It did help garner him attention, however, and Skerritt went on to appear in the cult classic "Harold and Maude" (1971) and once again in an Altman project with "Thieves Like Us" (1974). In 1977, Skerritt portrayed Shirley MacLaine's husband, Wayne, in the Academy Award-nominated drama "The Turning Point." Winning his first career accolade for his thoughtful performance in "Point," Skerritt was named Best Supporting Actor by the National Board of Review.

Skerritt next landed the starring role of Dallas, ill-fated captain of the doomed spaceship Nostromo in Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi flick, "Alien" (1979). After meeting his maker in the crawl space of the Nostromo, Skerritt went on to star as Dr. Thomas Ryan in the short-lived, but critically-acclaimed medical drama "Ryan's Four" (ABC, 1983). He followed up by landing a role in his biggest film to date, playing Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, who helps train Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) in "Top Gun" (1986). Skerritt and the rest of the cast had no idea the film would become the pop cultural phenomenon that it eventually became - aside from inspiring boys to become U.S. Navy fighter pilots, the film catapulted Cruise into the biggest movie star in the world and raised the profile of all involved, including Skerritt, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer. Skerritt's participation in the hit film would even help land the rugged, mustachioed actor a Guess? Jeans ad campaign. An adept comedic actor, Skerritt surprised fans by appearing in a hilarious recurring role on "Cheers" (NBC, 1982-1993), playing multi-millionaire Evan Drake, love interest of Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), starting in 1988.

Taking up residence behind the camera, Skerritt directed the after-school special, "A Question of Sex" (ABC, 1990), which addressed the topic of teaching birth control in high school. As an actor, Skerritt continued to impress with supporting roles in the films "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "The Rookie" (1990), "Poison Ivy" (1992) and Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" (1992). Returning to television as a leading man, Skerritt earned his biggest acclaim with a starring in the Emmy Award-winning "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96), created by David E. Kelly. Portraying Sheriff Jimmy Brock, who struggled to maintain order in the odd community of a fictional Wisconsin town, Skerritt won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1993. A high point in Skerritt's career, the series also offered him the opportunity to direct a number of episodes before the series was cancelled in 1996. Moving on, Skerritt went on to direct the television movie "Divided by Hate" (USA, 1997), in which he also starred as a manipulative, neo-Nazi preacher. Returning primarily to acting, Skerritt appeared alongside Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey in the Robert Zemeckis film "Contact" (1997), portrayed an over-protective father in "The Other Sister" (1999), and co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in Antoine Fuqua's "Tears of the Sun" (2003).

Returning to the small screen, Skerritt costarred in "The Grid" (Fox/BBC, 2004), an epic four-part miniseries about British and American anti-terrorism units banding together to root out an al-Qaida cell that perpetrated an attack on London. In 2006, after playing a retired admiral called back to duty after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in "Homeland Security" (NBC, 2004), Skerritt joined the cast of Showtime's acclaimed drama "Huff" (2004-06), portraying Hank Azaria's neglectful father, Ben Huffstodt. Though the role was originally played by Robert Forster, Skerritt was brought in during the second season to carry on the role. Skerritt also appeared as John Edward Marinville in the Stephen King miniseries "Desperation" (ABC, 2006). In a bit of slight-of-hand, Skerritt appeared in the pilot episode of "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC, 2006-11), playing the patriarch of a family that owns a successful produce distributor who dies from a heart attack. Though killed off in the first episode, Skerritt's character appeared from time to time in flashbacks over the course of the popular show's run. Meanwhile, he co-starred in several made-for-television movies, including "Killer Wave" (ION, 2007), "Vinegar Hill" (CBS, 2008) and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (ION, 2008), which he followed by co-starring opposite Kate Beckinsale in the big screen bomb, "Whiteout" (2009).

Credits

Going HomeStream

Actor
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East of the Mountains

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Executive Producer
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Day of Days

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A Hologram for the King

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2016

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Return of the River

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Redwood Highway

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2013

At MiddletonStream

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2013
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WingsStream

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Colonel
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2012

Soda Springs

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Himself
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2012
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The Artist Toolbox

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2011

A Valentine's Date

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2011

The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club

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2010

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2009
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The Good WifeStream

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2009
93%

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2009

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2009
7%

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Jimmy Ford
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2008
92%

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2008

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

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2008

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2008

Beer for My Horses

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Sheriff Landry
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2008

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2007

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2007

Killer Wave - Tsunami des Todes - Teil 2

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Victor Bannister
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2007

Brothers & SistersStream

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2006
79%

Mammoth

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2006

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Fallen III: The Destiny

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Stephen King's Desperation

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John Edward Marinville
Movie
2006

Gefallene Engel 2

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2006

Category 7: The End of the WorldStream

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2005

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Det. Joey "O" Olin
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2005
83%

Vinegar Hill

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Fritz Grier
Movie
2005

Homeland Security

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Admiral Ted McKee
Movie
2004

Swing

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George Verdi
Movie
2003

Tears of the SunStream

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Captain Bill Rhodes
Movie
2003
34%

The Dead ZoneStream

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Herb Smith
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2002

Path to WarStream

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Gen. William Westmoreland
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2002
100%

Changing Hearts

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Johnny Pinkley
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2002

Texas RangersStream

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Richard Dukes
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2001
2%

Greenmail

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Tom Bradshaw
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2001

An American Daughter

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Walter
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2000

High Noon

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Will Kane
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2000

Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

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Joseph P. "Joe" Kennedy
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2000

Confundida por los Medios

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2000

Aftershock: Earthquake in New York

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1999

The West WingStream

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1999
81%

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

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1999
78%

The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer

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Fred Maddux
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1999

Into the Wild Blue: The World's Best Flight Teams

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1999

The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer

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Fred Maddux
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1999

The Other SisterStream

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Radley Tate
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1999
29%

Aftershock: Earthquake in New York

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1999

Two for TexasStream

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Sam Houston
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1998

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1998
83%

ContactStream

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David Drumlin
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1997
68%

Divided by Hate

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Steve Riordan
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1997

Divided by Hate

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1997

What the Deaf Man Heard

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Norm Jenkins
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1997

Over America

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1995

Chicago Hope

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1994

Picket FencesStream

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Sheriff Jimmy Brock
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1992
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Picket FencesStream

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1992
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Mala Hierba

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1992

In Sickness and in Health

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1992

Poison Ivy

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Darryl Cooper
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1992
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Knight Moves

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1992

Getting Up and Going Home

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Jack Montgomery
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1992

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Mayor Weber
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1992
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A River Runs Through ItStream

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1992
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Rzeka Zycia

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1992

Wild Orchid 2: Two Shades of Blue

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Ham McDonald
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1991

The China Lake Murders

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Sheriff Sam Brodie
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1990

Child in the Night

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Bass
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1990

I'll Take Romance

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Judge Warren Danvers
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1990

The Rookie

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Eugene Ackerman
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1990

Big man on campus

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1989

Big Man on Campus

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Dr. Webster
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1989

The Heist

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1989

Steel MagnoliasStream

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1989
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Red King, White Knight

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Stoner
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1989

Moving Target

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Joseph Kellogg
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1988

Nightmare at Bitter Creek

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1988

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Bruce Gardner
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1988
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1988

Bitter Creek

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1988

Maid to Order

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Charles Montgomery
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1987

The Big Town

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Phil Carpenter
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1987

Poker Alice

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1987

Opposing Force

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Logan
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1986

Los Días que me Quedan

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1986

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1986

Campamento Espacial

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1986

Le Camp de l'enfer

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1986

Parent Trap II

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Bill Grand
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1986

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Cmdr. Mike "Viper" Metcalf
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1986
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SpaceCamp

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1986

Miles to Go

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1986

Wisdom

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1986

Danger Bay

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1985

Danger Bay

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1985

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1984

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Ryan's Four

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1983

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1983

The Dead ZoneStream

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Sheriff Bannerman
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1983
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CheersStream

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1982
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A Dangerous Summer

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1982

Fighting Back

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John D'Angelo
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1982

La Calada del Norte

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1981

Silence of the North

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Walter Reamer
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1981

Savage Harvest

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Casey
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1980

AlienStream

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Captain A.J. Dallas
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1979
98%

Ice CastlesStream

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Marcus Winston
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1979
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Up In SmokeStream

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Strawberry
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1978
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Maneaters Are Loose!

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1978

The Turning Point

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Wayne
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1977
63%

La madama

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1976

The Last Day

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Bill Powers
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1975

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Tom Preston
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1975
17%

Kolchak: The Night StalkerStream

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1974
100%

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1974

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Fred Diller
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1974
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Thieves Like Us

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1974

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1973

Fuzz

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1972

Cannon

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1971

Wild RoversStream

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John Buckman
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1971
60%

Escape of the Birdmen

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Orville `'Fitz'` Fitzgerald
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1971

Men From Shiloh

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1970

M*A*S*HStream

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Duke Forrest
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1970
84%

Lancer

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The Name of the Game

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MannixStream

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1967

Cimarron Strip

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1967

A Bell for Adano

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Trapani
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1967

The Felony Squad

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1966

12 O'Clock High

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Those Calloways

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Whit Turner
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1964

My Favorite MartianStream

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1963

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1963

Combat!

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1962

Alfred Hitchcock HourStream

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1962

War Hunt

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1962

My Three SonsStream

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1960

LaramieStream

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1959

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1955

Death Valley DaysStream

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1952

Death Valley DaysStream

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1952