By Doug McIntyre, Los Angeles Daily News
For millions of Americans, Stacy Keach will forever be the two-fisted, fedora-clad private eye, Mike Hammer.
But among his fellow actors, he’s the versatile acting everyman whose resume includes more than 180 film roles, a hundred or more television appearances, including a Golden Globe-winning performance in the title role of the mini-series “Hemingway.”
Yet it’s on the stage, specifically in the plays of William Shakespeare, that Keach has earned the near universal respect and admiration of his peers.
Keach reflects on his life and career in a new memoir, “All in All: An Actor’s Life on and off the Stage,” a life that includes more than its share of drama, including a stint in a British prison after his humiliating arrest while attempting to smuggle cocaine through customs at London’s Heathrow Airport.
The book opens with a blunt account of his arrest and imprisonment without the usual cliches of abuse or excuses to deflect culpability. Keach is refreshingly candid in acknowledging his addiction and how his time in jail may very well have saved his life. By beginning his story with his most public failure, Keach provides the context for the many triumphs that followed.
Addiction was only one of the scars Keach has had to overcome.
Born with a cleft palate, Keach underwent surgery that left him with a permanent scar above his upper lip, easily hidden later in life by a mustache, but not so easily hidden from childhood bullies or big screen close-ups that reveal every imperfection.
It may well have been that scar that led Keach to resist his actor-director father’s advice to concentrate on Hollywood leading-man roles. Instead, Stacy embarked on a rebellious career at the famous Yale Drama School, where he bolted from the program to start his own acting class that included a young Henry Winkler as one of his students.
Frustrated by what he considered the antiquated Yale curriculum, Keach moved to London, where he immersed himself in the works of Shakespeare with the specific goal of becoming an American interpreter of the Bard’s work.
Upon his return to the U.S., Stacy quickly captured the eye of Joseph Papp, the legendary producer-director of New York’s Public Theater. Keach was soon on his way to becoming the most accomplished Shakespearean actor of his generation.
“All in All” has it all, including a fascinating glimpse into his longtime affair with pop icon Judy Collins and enough famous names to please any film fan, including Keach’s work with legends John Huston, Orson Welles, Henry Fonda, George C. Scott, Faye Dunaway and even Cheech and Chong, with whom he created one of his most beloved characters, Sgt. Stedenko, in the stoner favorite, “Up in Smoke.”
After years of often frantic searching for personal and professional satisfaction, Keach found his emotional gyroscope in the redemptive love of his life, Polish beauty Malgosia Tomassi, who has been Mrs. Stacy Keach for the past quarter-century.
“All in All ” is a fascinating look at an intelligent and gifted artist’s pursuit of the craft of acting rather than the superficial cult of celebrity that comes when fame is divorced from actual achievement.
Doug McIntyre is a columnist with the Los Angeles Daily News and can be heard 5-9 a.m. weekdays on KABC AM 790 radio.
Taken from http://www.dailynews.com/arts-and-entertainment/20131209/book-review-all-in-all-an-actors-life-on-and-off-stage-by-stacy-keach