There is something to be said about being a character actor. You might not be a huge leading man like George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but you are able to be constantly working as an actor for over six decades, having close to 400 appearances in movies and television. That was William Schallert. He really was one of those actors that when he came on the screen, most viewers would say “Hey…it’s that guy!”
Schallert passed away this last Sunday at the age of 93, and he left behind a long history of both movie and TV roles that he will always be remembered by.
Of course, for us genre fans, Schallert was more than “that guy”. One of his first movie appearances was in the 1949 film Mighty Joe Young. That was followed up a few years later with a major role in The Man from Planet X (1951), starring opposite Robert Clarke. He would appear in films like Them! and Tobor the Great (both 1954) all way up to the 2011 made-for-TV movie Bag of Bones, based on a Stephen King novel. He was a favorite of director Joe Dante, who would always seem to find a small role for him, in films like Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Gremlins (1984), Innerspace (1987), and Matinee (1993), where he appeared in the movie in the movie!
He was the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1979 to 1981, during which he founded the Committee for Performers With Disbilities.
While looking up his obituary, I came across this great quote from him about advice for young actors. I think this reallys shows his tenure as an actor and doing what it takes.
“Just make sure you need to act. It’s not enough to like it, it’s not enough to want it. It’s got to satisfy a real need in you. Because otherwise you won’t be able to tolerate the bullshit, which you’ll inevitably find.”