The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Alan Dale

7 Dec

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Alan Dale didn’t get his start in American television until well into the ‘90s, but he has spent the last decade making a living as an older powerful rich white guy, much in the Malcolm McDowell mode.

Born in New Zealand, Dale got his start in Australian soap The Young Doctors as Dr. John Forrest, a role he played for almost four years, from 1979 to 1983.  He then graduated to the granddaddy of Australian soap operas, Neighbours, which has been the breeding ground for popular Aussies from Kylie Minogue to Natalie Imbruglia to Guy Pearce.  He played the role of Jim Robinson for eight years, from the inception of the role in 1985 until 1993, when failed contract negotiations resulted in him being off the show and his character being killed off on screen.  Jim was the powerful and wealthy (watch the theme develop) family patriarch who loves cars and his children.  He’s still best known for his Neighbours work down under and in the UK.

He then plied his trade in Australia for a couple more years, guest spotting in Janus, Frontline, and Blue Heelers and in a couple of American shows which filmed in Australia such as Time Trax and Space: Above and Beyond.  He also recurred in Aussie police show State Coroner.

United States television finally took an interest in him in the late ‘90s.  He was first in Muriel Hemingway TV movie First Daughter.  Once the new millennium hit, the roles came fast and furious.  He recurred in four episodes of ER as South African Al Patterson, which was his first big American break.  He was then in episodes of The Lone Gunmen and Philly and three of The X-Files as “Toothpick Man.”  His character was a high-ranking FBI agent who was a super soldier and also a judge in Mulder’s military trial.  He was in an episode of American Dreams and then two of The Practice, two of JAG, and two of The West Wing as Mitch Bryce, the Secretary of Commerce in the Bartlett administration.  He was in a CSI:Miami, TV movie Rent Control, and a Crossing Jordan.

He appeared in eight episodes of 24 as Vice President James Prescott.  In the second season, Prescott believed the president should authorize an attack on a Middle Eastern nation he thought responsible for a failed nuclear strike in Los Angeles.  Prescott and Mike Novick conspired to get the 25th amendment invoked to take Presidnet Palmer out of power, and Prescott takes control, only to give it up when he learns the evidence about the failed nuclear strike was fabricated.  He took power again when the President was injured in an assassination attempt.

Next, he was a main cast member in The O.C.  He played Caleb Nichol during the first and second seasons.  Nichol was a wealthy and powerful businessman who owned real estate company The Newport Group.  He was known for unethical business practices and treated his daughter Kristen harshly even though he appeared to have genuine affection for her.  He married Julie Cooper, discovered an illegitimate daughter and eventually died of a heart attack.  Later he was found to have been bankrupt.

He appeared in seven episodes of NCIS as NCIS director Tom Morrow, reprising his role from JAG.  He left within the show to become Deputy Director of Homeland Security.  He was in three episodes of E-Ring.  He was a main cast member of Ugly Betty for the first two seasons.  He portrayed Bradford Meade, the rich and powerful publishing titan behind the fashion magazine at which Betty works, MODE.  He puts his son in charge of the magazine after the previous editor died, and hires Betty.  Apparently Ugly Betty is a far far more insane show than I had realized, and I can’t even begin to sum out Bradford’s role in just two seasons except that he learned that at least two people he thought were dead were alive, including his son who was now his daughter, and he was seduced, using his foot fetish, into only marrying someone who wanted him for control of the magazine.  He died of a heart attack eventually (reading about his character, I’ve read more about Ugly Betty than I have in my life and I want to repeat that I can’t believe how insane it is).

He was in episodes of British shows Torchwood and Midnight Man and six of Aussie show Sea Patrol.  In Lost, he played the important recurring role of Charles Widmore as a wealthy and powerful businessman who was a former Other and was Penny’s father.  He is Ben Linus’s key rival, and was leader of the Others before him.  Eventually exiled from the island, he desperately wants back and eventually finds the island and sends a team to investigate and take it back.  Ben shoots and kills him after he gives information to the Man in Black.  Yeah, I don’t really understand the last season of Lost either.

He appeared in Flight of the Conchords as the Australian ambassador (ironically, as Dale is a kiwi) and mocks Murray continuously.  In five episodes of Entourage, Dale plays Warner Bros. studio head John Ellis.  Ellis offers Ari Gold the job of studio head once, which he turns down but recommends Dana Gordon for, and later offers Ari the job of succeeding him when he retires.  He was in single episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Important Things with Demetri Martin, Burn Notice and Californication.  He was three episodes of Undercovers.  He appeared in two of The Killing as mayoral candidate aide Gwen Eaton’s (previous Ivanek honoree Kristin Lehman) father Senator Eaton.  Most recently he appeared in a Person of Interest and as King George in an episode of Once Upon a Time.

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2 Responses to “The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Alan Dale”

  1. Beardface December 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Alan Dale is rad.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Michael Gaston « Television, the Drug of the Nation - January 11, 2012

    […] love character actors who play rich white guys here at the Zejlko Ivanek Hall of Fame and this week we’ll be celebrating on of the less well known […]

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