Television Questions

A question from Christine:

How old were you when your family got their first TV set? (Assuming they did. I’ve heard my dad’s stories about his.) It must’ve been quite a thrill for an aspiring young actor to be able to see shows instead of just hearing them on radio!

I think I was about 12 or 13 when we first got our own TV – although neighbors were ahead of us and I was able to watch The Lone Ranger on Wednesday nights.

The truth is, I loved listening to shows on the radio as much as I enjoyed seeing them on TV.

Posted here April 2, 2017

A question from Akiko:

Two questions actually. 1) Which is harder, doing a sit-com in front of a live audience (Benson) or doing a dramatic series (ST:DS9)?

2) If asked, would you guest star in a episode of Doctor Who, and if so, who/what part would you like to play?

Dear Akiko-
And two answers –

1) DS9 was more demanding – emotionally, physically and mentally.

2) Sure. I’d be honored… but I don’t have the vaguest idea what part would be right for me. Any ideas? Write the producers… (o;

All the best-
rené a.

Posted here August 29, 2013

A question from Jc:

I’ve been a fan since Benson and I’m curious: Were there any parts of the character of Clayton Endicott III that you were able to bring into the later characters of Odo and Paul Lewiston? If so which ones and how? If not, were there any basis in a character’s personality that resonated with you personally and if so which?

Hi Jc-
I never thought of any of the characters having anything in common – other than the fact that I played them all… There’s gotta be a little Clayton in me, as well as Odo and Paul.

All the best-
rené a.

Posted here August 29, 2013

A question from Ryan:

Dear Rene,
I’ve never been a Star Trek fan, but I’ve always been fascinated with your work outside the series. You are truely one of the most gifted character actors to grace the screen. Always a pleasure to watch, especially in your early films directed by Robert Altman.

The question I’m just burning to ask is what can you tell me of your experiences, working on two episodes of Faerie Tale Theatre: “The Tale of the Frog Prince” (you sure stole the show in that one :)) and “Sleeping Beauty”. There is so little information on the production of the series, I would be so happy if you could tell me what you remember.

By the way, I’m writing from Australia. Ever visited? Would love to see you at one of the sci-fi conventions.

Dear Ryan-
First of all, my wife and I have visited Australia numerous times (doing Star Trek Conventions). We love your country and have seen a great deal of it. We hope to return again soon.

As far as Faerie Tale Theatre is concerned… Well, I did it at the request of its producer Shelly Duvall – another Robert Altman alum. It was a lot of fun and very quick… that’s about all i can say… I guess I’ve been doing this for so long that I may be a bit jaded.

Thanks for your kind words.
All the best –
rené a.

Posted here January 11, 2009

A question from Robert:

It has been a pleasure watching your performances for many years. I have a question that I hope you can answer. In 1971, you did an episode with Ross Martin on Night Gallery. The episode was called “Camera Obscura.” This was one of the most unusual and eerie episodes that I have ever seen. I noticed that when you were returned to the town of ghouls, the entire town was in a greenish color. Was this the actual color of the set or was a green lens used? Also, I noticed that your voice was normal but all the other “dead” characters had sort of a weird effect to them. I really can’t explain the difference of the perception of these voices but something was different. Did you enjoy this role? How long did it take to film? Did you enjoy working with Ross Martin? What else can you tell me about this episode? Kind Regards and continued good health.

Dear Robert-
I had a great time working on Night Gallery and spending time working with Ross Martin, who was very kind. He was a fine talent, I still see his widow from time to time at various screenings.

The green effect was done with a filter. I don’t recall how the voices were manipulated… it was soooo long ago. The set of the steps at the end of the film are still standing on the Universal backlot. Thanks for reminding me of a pleasant experience.
rené a.

Posted here January 11, 2009

A question from Katherine:

Have I completely lost my mind, or does Mr. Auberjonois appear uncredited in the Canadian series Tom Stone? (It was syndicated in the U.S. as Stone Undercover.) The actor who plays the very senior police official to whom Corporal Di Luzio (Janet Kidder) reports is either Mr. Auberjonois or his clone, but I can’t find any mention of the character in the credits anywhere.

Dear Katherine-
Well, I wouldn’t want to accuse you of “losing your mind,” but I am not, nor have I ever been, in a Canadian series called Tom Stone or Stone Undercover… unless I’m the one who’s lost his mind. (o;

rené a.

Posted here July 25, 2007

A question from Robert:

Hello Sir,
I would like to tell you that you have brought me much happiness over the years. In 1971, you filmed a Night Gallery episode with Ross Martin called “Camera Obscura”. I must tell you that this was one of the most unusual sci-fi episodes I have ever seen. I do not see that you ever lived in England. How did you provide such a wonderful British accent for this episode? Did you have a tutor work with you to do this or is it just a gift? Did this episode take a long time to film? Arthur Malet was perfect as Abel Joyce and so was Philip Kenneally as Sanderson. How did you get the part for this episode? How did you provide such a perfect British voice and accent for this episode? Thank you very much!!!!

Dear Robert-
Thanks for those kind words. As for my British accent… I’m glad you found it convincing. I actually did spend a few years as a teenager living and going to school in England. That may have helped.

All the best-
rené a.

Posted here July 1, 2007

A question from Frank:

I’ve always been a fan of Benson and your work on it. Here’s the thing – it was a show similar to others in the sense that it never really had a true “goodbye” episode. However, on the other hand it was NOT similar to many other TV shows when you consider how long of a run it had, was never a “Top 10” show (probably a GOOD thing), had such good character depth (especially for a show people refer to as a ‘Sitcom’) and STILL was kind of left twisting in the wind at the very end (with regards to the loyal fans anyway).

My question is this… ABC had pretty much yanked the show around during its seventh and final season, moving its time slot (time first, then the day it aired), and the ratings fell, and hard. Was there any sense from yourself and/or the rest of the cast when filming that season’s episodes that it was all about to end? That “well this is it – we’re not getting renewed” kind of feeling amongst you all? Although there was no offical “goodbye and farewell” episode like a lot of shows with Benson’s longevity have had, I still sensed some feeling from most on screen that it might be the final curtain – “end of an era” sort of thing.

Anyway, I babble on. Just looking for your perspective on it, whenever you have the time to reply.

Dear Frank-
I actually don’t recall that the show’s time and day was changed… hmmm… perhaps in the area where you saw it? As for a “feeling” that the show was ending, I think we all felt that seven years was the natural life span for that kind of show and we all felt it was time to move on. I like the fact that the show didn’t say goodbye… in fact it was left as a cliff hanger.

Best wishes-
rené a.

Posted here November 1, 2006

A question from Lisa:

Hi, Rene!
Just a couple of questions for you…1) What was it like to work with Robert Guillaume? (I hear he could be difficult but I find that hard to believe!) 2) What was your favorite Benson episode that you appeared in? Mine was probably “Jung at Heart” when Clayton takes on Benson’s personality. Hilarious stuff there! 3) Any plans to come to Chicago for a convention? I’d love to meet you and get a picture! 🙂 Bye for now!!

Dear Lisa-
Bob was/is a total pro, a sweet man, a gentle man and a gentleman. He was only “difficult” if he felt that people weren’t doing their best work.

As for my “favorite” episode… Are you kidding? That was another lifetime ago. All I remember is loving the work and working with people I loved. It’s all one big “episode” to me.

“Any plans to come to Chicago…”

I’d love to. Get someone to invite me.

rené a.

Posted here November 1, 2006

A question from Brent:

Hello Mr. Auberjonois,
I would like to say that I really enjoyed watching you on the Benson series in the late 70s, early 80s. I was wondering if you happen to keep in touch with the Benson cast from back then? We have enjoyed watching the series since TVLand has been playing it again as well. We hope to see the seasons on DVD in the near future. Thank you for providing quality entertainment to all your fans.

Dear Brent-
Thanks for your kind message.

I have remained in touch with all of the Benson cast members. We were a very happy group. I’m especially close to Ethan Phillips.

All the best-
rené a.

Posted here November 1, 2006

A question from Ian:

This is a bit of an odd question and bears no significant relevance to my life and its functions, but I saw that I could possibly get hold of you through this site and figured I could get an answer straight from the horse’s mouth. When I was much younger–and far more addicted to television–I was watching The Incredible Hulk and I was sure I recognized you in an episode as a guest star. It’s not listed on this site and I began to wonder if you might have a doppleganger in the land of televison.

If you weren’t ever on that particular show, I would recommend you keep an eye out for a possible evil twin. Those can be nasty.

That’s all. Good day to you sir.

Dear Ian-
Well, I’ve had a looong career… but I’m pretty sure I never did The Incredible Hulk. I wonder if you’re thinking of the wonderful actor Leonard Frey (we were often confused). Unfortunately, he is no longer with us… so, on a more positive note, I don’t have to worry about an “evil twin.”

rené a.

Posted here November 1, 2006

A question from Linda B:

Hi René,

Do you think you would ever be interested in guest starring on Battlestar Galactica?

That series truly rocks. I hear that the role of the cylon god might be available. (I think Ron Moore wanted Dirk Benedict to portray the Cylon god, but I think the snowball has more of a chance in hell) 🙂

I know it might sound like crying over spilt milk, but I cannot help but wonder if Ron Moore had been doing Enterprise if it might have actually made it to the end of the series without being cancelled. The actors on Enterprise were pretty good, but there was this tendency to simply recycle plotlines from (where else?) Deep Space Nine.

Anyway, even if you do not have the time or the inclination to guest star on the show, I do hope you get a chance to see the re-imagined BSG. It is truly awesome.

Hi Linda-
Thanks for your message. I agree with you that Battlestar Galactica is excellent. Ron Moore is a superb writer, and the cast is terrific. I’d love to do the show, but at the moment I’m pretty tied up with Boston Legal… and loving it!

Take care-
rené a.

Posted here November 1, 2006

A question from Kate:

I read that you made a cameo appearance in the first-season West Wing episode “In Excelcis Deo” – is this true? And if so, where are you?! I couldn’t spot you!

On a similar note, Armin Shimerman is credited for another West Wing episode – “Posse comitatus” from the third season. Do you know whether it is him on the stage in the play (The Wars of the Roses) that is going on in the background during the final scenes? (And what is it with you two and West Wing episodes with Latin titles?!)

Thanks for reading this, and for contributing so generously to the site.

Dear Kate-
Nope, I’ve never been in West Wing, which explains why you couldn’t spot me. And, yes, that’s Armin in the background performing War of the Roses.

All the best-
René a.

Posted here January 17, 2006

A question from Toby:

I am probably a little older than most of your fans, and I have always enjoyed your work. My question is, am I mistaken, or did you play a schizophrenic on the Mod Squad back in the sixties? I hope you can get back to me on this. It has been bugging me since the first time I saw you on Benson.

Yes, I did an episode of Mod Squad in the early 70s. It was my very first TV job. I had already shot the films M*A*S*H, Brewster McCloud, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Thanks for your interest,
rené a.

Posted here April 12, 2005

A question from Sam:

Hello René,

I think you are one of the greatest actors to emerge from the 70s. And my question is, was filming Night Gallery as tense as The Big Bus was fun? Was everything filmed on both? What about Brewster McCloud? Any memories? Did you fly down to Houston for the end shot?


Phew! So may questions…

Night Gallery…uhhh…very quick shoot.
The Big Bus…uhhh, very silly…lots of fun.
Brewster McCloud…yes, shot all my scenes in Houston on one day.
Thanks for your kind words.
rené a.

Posted here November 10, 2004

A question from America:

Hi René,

I just wanted to say that one of my all time favorite episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed was an episode from a television series called Erie, Indiana. In that episode, you played the Devil, and you played him like a used car salesman. I never knew the Devil was in retail. 🙂

Anyway, did you add things to your portrayal or was that portrayal based on certain things that you were directed to do?

Hi America-

Nice to hear from you. As for that episode of Erie Indiana… I just remember having fun doing it…not much else…I guess I’ve just done tooooo many shows!!

Best- rené a.

Posted here May 14, 2004

A question from Katie A.:

In the 1966 version of Ofoeti, which was televised on Channel 13 in Pittsburgh, PA, on the Public Broadcasting Station, my father, Joseph Scarpino, played a very small role as a Police Officer who attempts to arrest the boy who is looking for the troll.

My father passed away a year ago. I was wondering if it is possible to purchase a video or dvd of this film.

I remember my father’s part was so brief, and the boy was “fighting off the police officers,” so that I don’t even remember if my father’s face was even shown, but I would love to have a copy.

Dear Katie-

I’m sorry to learn of your father’s passing.

I don’t have a copy of Ofoeti myself. I think your best bet is to contact the PBS station in Pittsburgh.

Good luck!
rené auberjonois

Posted here January 22, 2004

A question from Eric O.:

Dear René,

I have been a fan of yours for some time now. You have been all over the place. I mean as far as being in tv, movies, and doing voiceovers for cartoons. But to me, the character of Claytion on Benson just made me laugh like a mad man. You know on some of my worst days, I’d come home from school in a bad mood. But as soon I’d tune in to Benson, you and the rest of the cast made me forget about my problems for a while and just laugh. I thank you for this.

Anyway you have done a lot of voice work for cartoons. You have done so much, that it might take four or five more letters to list them all. You have done a great job in Deep Space Nine. My number one question is, what are you going to do next? Well whatever it is, it will be another top notch preformance.

A fan along with five or six million others,

Dear Eric-

Thanks for you kind words. Yes, Benson was a lot of fun…glad it gave you as much pleasure as it did me.

I start rehearsals in a week for a Broadway show: SLY FOX by Larry Gelbart, who wrote the TV series of M*A*S*H.

All the best- rené auberjonois

Posted here January 12, 2004
A question from Bill A.:

Dear René,

My ladyfriend and I have been fans of yours since your appearance in M*A*S*H. I have a question about your early career. I seem to remember your name in the credits of an occasional episode of the TV series Combat!, with Vic Morrow. Did you ever appear in the series?

Thanks much.

Dear Bill-

Thanks for your message. Although Bob Altman (who directed M*A*S*H) directed a number of Combat episodes… that was before my time as a professional actor… I never worked on that show. My very first job on network TV was in an episode of Mod Squad.

All the best-
rené auyberjonois

Posted here December 12, 2003

A question from Beth W.:

hi rene

I watched the tv show Benson. That was my favorite show. You look so nice with your glasses on. I miss that tv show. Will Benson be on tv again? I live in Arizona, so if you come to Arizona, I would love to meet you. Bye rene

Dear Beth-

Thanks for your kind message. I’m a bit confused…you say: “You look so nice with your glasses on.” To my knowledge, Clayton never put the glasses on… it was an affectation.

Best wishes-
rené auberjonois

Posted here December 12, 2003

A question from Dennis Burns

Dear Mr. Auberjonois,

As a life-long student of American History, with a particular interest in the period of the founding of the nation (Colonial and Revolutionary Era), I have always been intrigued in the great men who affected and shaped that history. I have only a limited recollection of your portrayal on television of George Washington in his early years, but I remember how fascinated I was by it. Is there anything that you might be able to relate about that production and your participation therein? I realize it was almost 30 years ago but any of your thoughts or comments would be much appreciated.

Dear Dennis–
Yes, a looong time ago.

Mostly I remember that Judith (my wife) was pregnant with our first child (Tessa) and we made life-long friends with the cinematographer (Paul Goldsmith) and the sound engineer (Petur [sic] Hliddal) and Ned Schmidke, who played one of the officers in Washington’s regiment.

Also, that the producers made the tactical error of trying to shoot the big battle scene at Fort Necessity on Labor Day when there were thousands of tourists milling about.

I realize that that may not be the sort of reminiscence you were hoping for…but that’s the way memory works…at least mine.
Best- rené auberjonois

Posted here August 24, 2003