Thursday, August 28, 2014

DESTINATION HOLLYWOOD



Tom co-starring with Sandra Bullock in WORKING GIRL TV series

Tom as recurring judge on Law and Order, SVU
From the movie UNITED 93
With Will Smith on FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR
The Sparky the Dog episode made Tom famous in Philadelphia


A man's man


Justin Marler on THE GUIDING LIGHT

Poster for DESERT HEAT the movie Tom wrote
It's a movement class at Goodman Theater School, then part of Chicago University. A tall, muscular, GI bill student and ex paratrooper has already caused an embarrassing scene by wearing his dance belt wrongly outside of his first pair of tights instead of underneath. Now he is manfully executing a leg stretch at the dance bar when, in his firm grip, the whole bar pops out of the wall, stopping the class. "Get out! Get out now!!" The teacher hollers in exasperation. "And don't come back!"
101st Airborne MP 19 year old tough guy who decided to
become an actor on the GI bill
           How about a New York City summertime opening night in an historical costume drama with all the top critics in the audience and the steam heat comes on causing an elderly actor to pass out into the orchestra seats. And the director caustically points out that was the high point of the show.

Or the revamped postal jeep radiator that sprang a leak on Fourth of July night on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu resulting in a very long ride home under the stars through expensive and fragrant real estate that became an unforgettable, mystical romantic journey.

Earthquakes, notice the plural, the Whittier and the Northridge to shake things up a bit.

Would you want to star in FROST ON THE PARSNIP? I thought not, neither did Tom. Or PORNO STARS AT HOME, at least he got to keep his clothes on.

The modeling shoot with the German model who spoke little English picking his nose during his close up, "I haf an animal in my nose", referring to a gnat in his nostril.

Yes, it was a wild and wonderful life, crazy ups and downs, Guest Star back to taxi driver, the constant terror of trying to get the next job, living not only paycheck to paycheck, but audition to audition. Always in Survival Mode. Stressful, yes, exciting always, the phone rings you got it or you're fired. Laughter and tears, lots of both.

DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB is Tom O'Rourke's journey to becoming a successful actor. How does someone become a working actor? If you want the answer to that question, you have to examine an actor's life, because his life is his laboratory. An actor is an artist in motion. Tom O'Rourke is gone and was far too modest to have allowed his story to be told while he was alive, but it's too good not to share. So here, compiled from my popular blog. is Tom's rollicking, no holds barred life story from his wry, candid private diaries, his personal photo collection, and the memories of his wife of 38 years, Marcy Casterline, a former model with Eileen Ford.


Tom and Natasha Richardson on the PATTY HEARST set
with Director Paul Schrader

Tom was the first child of a teenage war bride and a sailor, who later deserted his family. He had an impoverished childhood in New York City raised by his grandmother and his Merchant Marine grandfather, then off to the Army as a paratrooper instead of college, finally working in Chicago in a custom photo developing shop while he studied acting at Goodman Theater.


Tom and his Grandmother in NYC in the Seventies
On the road to success in show business, there are no quick fixes, no short cuts.  DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB has all the behind the scenes stories of Tom's years on national tour with a Broadway musical, backstage in the New York theater, the big break on the daytime soap THE GUIDING LIGHT creating the role of Justin Marler, the long rocky road to Hollywood, finally costarring in the nighttime TV series WORKING GIRL with Sandra Bullock, then on to his extensive work on LAW AND ORDER, and L&O, SVU, MAID IN MANHATTAN, AMERICAN GANGSTER, and UNITED 93. And then there was the movie he wrote, DESERT HEAT, shot in the desert heat 108 degrees; but his movie got made, starring Jean Claude Van Damme which doesn't happen very often in Hollywood.

The book has lots of photos because pictures, moving and still, were how we made our living and are very much a part of our story, a story of a love that grows through the shared passion for each other and struggle for success.



Tom and Marcy gone fishin
Tom in a sitcom with Nancy McKeon