Friday, February 10, 2017


A lot of actors appeared in multiple roles on 'Barney Miller'.  Occasionally one of those characters would click and that actor would continue returning in that role - like Ralph Manza.  Best known as Leon Roth, the often-beleaguered blind vendor, Manza started out playing Anthony Barelli and Eddie Blake.  Alex Henteloff began as ambulance-chasing lawyer Arnold Ripner and then was seen as artistic signature forger Harold Polanski before the Powers That Be realized Ripner was a much stronger character.  He came back to play the shyster five more times and was key to a story arc for Detective Harris.

On a lesser scale was Kenneth Tigar.  A great character actor, he appeared in as many episodes of 'Barney Miller' as Henteloff, Manza, Phil Leeds, Philip Sterling, and Peggy Pope and quite a few others.  But out of his six episodes, it was only with Stefan Kopeckne that Tigar reprised a character.

- Possession (1981) ... Stefan Koepeknie
- The Psychic (1981) ... Philip Pollock
- The Photographer (1979) ... Jesus Christ
- The Ghost (1978) ... Elliot Porter
- Werewolf (1976) ... Stefan Koepeknie
- Massage Parlor (1976) ... Fletcher

From the Otto Files:
My guess, however, would be that he’s probably best remembered for one of his BARNEY MILLER episodes in which he appeared as Stefan Kopeckne, a man who believes he is a werewolf. For BARNEY MILLER aficionados, this episode entitled “The Werewolf” is probably the most remembered story next to “Hash” which is an episode where the boys eat some brownies laced with drugs. I asked Tigar why the “Werewolf” episode is so prized after all these years. His astutely simple reply was, “Because it was funny!”

I've been on a 'Barney Miller' kick for the last few months, having never been able to watch it when it first came out due to work schedules.  And I'm keeping track of a lot of the trivia in the run of the series.  One of the things I picked up is that the detectives of the 12th Precinct don't always remember the returning victims and/or criminals.  They actually admitted it in one of the episodes.  This helps splain away why they never noticed when some characters looked like other past visitors to the station.

The first time Stefan Kopeckne showed up at the station, he believed he had been bitten by a werewolf and that he was beginning to transform into one himself.  When he came back five years later, Wojo vaguely remembered the last time he was there.  (As it turned out, having a werewolf in the cage was... a hell* of a lot better than Kopeckne's problem in 1981 - he was now possessed by a demon.)

But it actually hadn't been five years since Wojo had last seen him.  It had been only 2½ years.

From the IMDb:

"The Photographer"
[September 20, 1979]
Kenneth Tigar ("Werewolf") makes the fourth of his six memorable appearances, this time as Jesus Christ, or at least a man who claims to be. He smiles the entire time he's being booked for assault and disorderly conduct, scolding pimps for "debasing the harlots!"

"Jesus Christ" never gave his name when he was picked up, and Wojo couldn't find out who he was by searching all sorts of records and missing persons reports.  But he was still sent over to Bellevue for observation.  

And despite how shook up Wojo was by the experience, feeling like Judas, nearly three years later he didn't recognize "Jesus" when he returned to the precinct.  Once again he was Stefan Kopeckne, and probably because of his time spent thinking he was the Christ returned, Kopeckne proved to be a tempting host for the demon.  (Yes, I believe he really was possessed.)

So for the IMDb, this is how those three appearances by Kenneth Tigar on 'Barney Miller' are listed:

- Possession (1981)  ... Stefan Koepekne
- The Photographer (1979) ... Jesus Christ
- Werewolf (1976) ... Stefan Koepekne

But for Toobworld Central, it should read like this:

- Possession (1981)  ... Stefan Koepekne
- The Photographer (1979) ... Stefan Koepekne AKA Jesus Christ
- Werewolf (1976) ... Stefan Koepekne

One day I'm going to go through Kenneth Tigar's resume and see if there are any viable NYC characters he played who could be Stefan Koepeckne using an alias.....


* Sorry about that, Chief.....

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