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Merely transforming into a wide variety of animals from a black leopard to a high flying hawk should pose no problem to British star Simon MacCorkindale, who stars as Jonathan Chase in the 20th Century- Fox Television series, “Manimal”.
“In recent pictures and series I’ve been shot and killed, had my hand bashed, was caught by a bullet in the shoulder, hanged, beheaded, drowned, hung in chains, tortured, and in “Jaws 3D”, I was devoured by a 35-ft. shark,” the handsome leading man confided.
MacCorkindale, who came to the United States in 1981, is a native of Cambridge, England, who made his professional stage debut at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, England, in “A Bequest to the Nation”. His first international television assignment was in Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth ” in which he played Lucius, the centurion who was strongly featured in the last hour of the six-hours epic. Curiously enough, he also played Lucius, the son of Emperor Augustus, in “I Claudius”.
Among his roles on British TV have been Sir Thomas Walsingham in “Will Shakespeare”, Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”, the callous vet in “Baby”, poet Siegfried Sassoon in “Out of Battle”, the naive Oxford graduate in Elinor Glyn’s “Three Weeks”, along with appearances in “Just William ” and Dr. Dady in the series set in a woman’s prison, “Within These Walls”.
What he considers the major break of his career was his being cast as Simon Doyle, the smooth, avaricious young murderer in “Death on the Nile”. He was presented to the Queen at the Royal Premiere in London, by which time he had completed a role in marked contrast, the tough sailor hero in Erskine Guilders classic spy story, “The Riddle of the Sands”.
The London Evening News liked his work so much in these two films that it presented him with its “Most Promising Actor” award, which necessitated a flight for the presentation from Los Angeles where he was working both for the screen and on stage, guest starring in “The Dukes ofHazzard” and a comedy pilot, “Scalpels”, at Paramount for NBC. On his return he starred in “The Gayden Chronicles” on stage in Los Angeles, and soon after was flying back to London to play the title role in “Macbeth” with Gayle Hunnicutt.
He starred with Charles Bronson in “Cabo Blanco”, playing an MI5 agent, and with Sir John Mills in Thames TV’s “Quatermass” and the movie version, “Quatermass Conclusion”. Next came “A Visitor from the Grave” and his plum TV assignment was when he was named to play Lt. David Clement of the Royal Hussars in “The Manions of America”, in which he co-starred with David Soul, Kate Mullgrew, Linda Purl, Nicholas Hammond and Pierce Brosnan. It was ABC’s top- attraction opener for the fall ’81 season.
He returned to Los Angeles in February, 1981, to make his highly successful American debut as the director of “The Merchant of Venice” on the Globe Theatre’s stage, and followed this with performances of his one-man show, “The Importance of Being Oscar”, also at the Globe.
Other 1981 assignments were on “Fantasy Island” and in “An Outpost of Progress” for the American Film Institute. “Outpost” was followed by his starring role in “The Sword and the Sorcerer”, and the video production of “Macbeth”. He also returned to England to present his one-man show at the Cambridge Festival and rounded off the year with the incorporation of his own company, Allied International Productions, in which he is partnered with Ron Marshall Glazer, his manager, Linda Purl and Scott Adler, an attorney at law.
If 1981 was an active year, it would be hard to find an adjective for 1982. The year commenced with Allied’s own presentation of “A Doll House” at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles. Simon directed, Linda Purl and Nicholas Pryor starred.
Then it was off to nearby La Mirada where MacCorkindale directed Howard Keel in “Sleuth” and hardly had that show opened than he had to take over from Nicholas Pryor in “A Doll House” on a three-day warning and one rehearsal.
Next came Houston to direct James Whitmore Sr. and Jr. in “Sleuth” for the Windmill Theatre, and without being able to see the opening night, he was winged off to Mexico to film”Falcon’s Gold” with John Marley.
Other series included episodes of “Hart to Hart” and “Dynasty”. Prior to starring in “Jaws 3D” with Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong and Lou Gossett,Jr., MacCorkindale directed Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Noel Harrison in “Sleuth” at Granny’s Dinner Theatre in Dallas and finished his post-production work on “Falcon’s Gold”.
On the personal side, Simon enjoys a variety of pastimes such as photography, tennis and swimming, classical music and an assurance in his belief that he’s an accomplished handyman, decorator and gardener, in which he is now indulging in his newly acquired home in Beverly Hills. He collects elephant figurines, enjoys opera and delights in his friends. Most of his spare hours, though, he devotes to writing preparing and working toward potential feature and TV films under his Allied International Productions banner.
He also has a London based company, Pendant Entertainment Productions, which he runs with his brother Duncan and actor Gareth Thomas. Currently he is working on a number of other projects including his novel, “Ronnie”.