Morning Man Classic: Michael Ontkean!
Except for a cameo in the George Clooney film The Descendents, Ontkean hasn’t been seen in a any new movies or TV shows in several years. But the actor we know best from Twin Peaks, The Rookies and the film Making Love certainly made a lasting impression on us.
A Canadian, Ontkean was such a good hockey player growing up and at the University of Vermont that he was offered a contract to play professionally with the New York Rangers.
But the child of well-known Canadian performers Leonard and Muriel Ontkean loved acting more and headed to Hollywood in 1970. He soon landed a series of TV guest spots (including The Partridge Family!) and became a star when he was cast in The Rookies. He left the hit show after just two seasons and spent a few years writing poetry before returning to acting in 1977 with the hit Paul Newman film Slap Shot which united his two loves: acting and hockey.
He went on appearing in various films such as Voices (1979 with Amy Irving), Willie and Phil (1980) and Summer (1981 with Brooke Adams) and in 1982 reunited with Rookies co-star Kate Jackson in the film Making Love in which they played a married couple coping with the fact that Ontkean had fallen in love with another man played by Harry Hamlin.
Hamlin still talks about how this film killed his movie career while Ontkean has never made a similar claim. He went on to appear in such films as Made to Order and The Allnighter then landed another of his best-known roles: Sheriff Harry Truman in the 1990 TV series Twin Peaks.
Many other roles followed, my favorite of which was the 1994 miniseries Family Album opposite Jaclyn Smith.