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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Exclusive Interview: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock with Stephen Manley (Part 1)

Exclusive Interview: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock with Stephen Manley (Part 1)

I was very fortunate to have Stephen Manley reach out to me on I have been with since last year. This is a preview to the article. 

I am very fortunate today to have a special guest star via/Telephone Interview with Stephen Manley. He is known for his roles in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock andLittle House on the Prairie. I am only naming a couple of his starring roles throughout his extensive career in the 40+ years of his acting experience. His newest debut, Ghosthunters, by The Asylum, was released on July 5, 2016, and is available for purchase on

Interviewer: Kimberly
What inspired you to become an actor?
Stephen- "This is like a novel full in and of itself. I am adopted. I'm an only child. The woman who adopted me, my step mom, her father was from Naples, Italy. He and his three brothers lived in New York in the early nineteen hundreds. The older brothers took off, and after awhile one of them joined the Navy. My grandfather, Stephen Soldi, worked in a shoe factory for a while and didn't like it. When he was old enough, he joined as a bill-boy in World War I. They sent him over to France and when he got there, the war ended. So, they put him back on a ship and sent him back to New York, and now he's an American citizen. He then joined the circus. He didn't want to go back to the shoe factory. He traveled by train with the circus taking care of the Lions at night time and working as a clown, you know, during the shows.
In 1917, he ended up in Los Angeles and B.W. Griffith was gearing up to make that big silent film Intolerance, the one with those huge Babylonian sets, and there's a Roman sequence to it. He got a job. He was hired as one of the Roman soldiers. And, Griffin wanted Italian speaking people to play the Italians and the Romans. I still have Grandpa Soldi's costume test picture. It's a hand-printed photograph of him in a Roman uniform on that set. He said, 'Boy I love this!'

He stayed in the movie business from 1917 all the way until 1966. You can catch him all over the place. I mean, he was in Gene Kelly's, 'Singing in the Rain'. At the end of the routine, my grandfather bumps into him and Gene Kelly hands him the umbrella, that is my grandfather; When the Marx Brothers are crowding into the state room in 'Night at the Opera', he is in the picture all squashed up inside there with them. I've got pictures of him with Charlie Chaplin and Boris Karloff. He loved the movie business. He loved being an actor. He specialized in bit parts and small things. Eventually, he was also a stuntman. He was Peter Lorre's personal stuntman, and he was Edward G. Robinson's personal stuntman.
Because he was from Naples, Italy, he wasn't the tallest fellow in the world, he was like, you know, Al Pacino and Edward G., but he loved it. He loved the industry. He retired in 1966. His last gig was a drama on Disney film called Bullwhip Griffin. In the 50s', he had tried to get Stella, his daughter, to take her contract with 20th Century Fox seriously, but the only thing that Stella took seriously was flirting with guys at the beach. So, they retired her from her contract, which drove my grandfather insane.

So when I was adopted, he looked at me and he put his insights on me. You know, I love my parents, but Grandpa Soldi was everything to me. When his wife passed away, since he lived with us, I spent all my time with him. It was not uncommon for me to just get up in the morning as a little boy and walk into grandpa's room and find him going through his stills of all those pictures that he would then explain what every single one of them were, 'Here I am as a German soldier. Oh, we're getting ready to run over ...'" he trails off. "You know, 'Here I am as a cowboy, hey, gettin' in a gunfight...Here I am as an Oregon grinder, and I'm, you know, taking tips. You know, here I am with the dead-end kid.' He was also the original live version of J. Wellington Wimpy of Popeye and Wimpy, and they did short films and live appearances. So, I have pictures of him eating White Castle hamburgers and holding Spanky McFarland in his arms. So, I learned all that stuff.

And then, he taught me to read, but he taught me to read by using film strips. And so, I would learn how to read dialogue and memorize the lines. I learned how to read stage direction, all that kind of stuff. He put 15- millimeter films on his projector, and he would show me the things he was in, or something would come on television and he would say, 'Here I come,' and there he was. He was one of the students in Frankenstein at the beginning of the movie. He tried desperately to get my mom to be little Maria, the little girl that gets thrown by Boris Karloff into the water to see if she floats like a flower. The director James Whale wanted her, but Stella was so terrified of Boris Karloff that they couldn't get her near the set. So, it went to the other young lady.

So, when I was five years old, he stuck me in his 1949 Packard, which was in immaculate shape. He kept everything beautifully. We drove down to the Screen Actor's Guild, and he spoke in Italian to the head of guild at the time, and I walked out with a side-cart. And, that's how I got started. A few months later, I was on a talent show called Juvenile Jury, and an agent named Dorothy Peyote saw me and she took me on. She thought I had enough personality that she could push me, so then, I could get work. And, sure enough, I started to book jobs. I went on auditions. I went out on interviews, and the unique thing was, I recognized all of the studio lots and all of the buildings because they were in the still pictures that my grandfather would show me when he would do show and tell all the time. And, I felt such a heavy responsibility to make my grandpa proud and to utilize the work ethic that he instilled in me. Pin Stephen Manley and Jean Rasey