brush
with greatness

   Ted Rooney is not a doctor
   but he plays one on TV
 
 
 
 

 

Ted with monkey, c. 1983

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Badass Ted in Emily Mann's "Still Life".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B-ball stud Ted demonstrating gravity defying moves that landed him roll in the immortal film "Celtic Pride".

During Super Bowl XXXIII, the Victoria's Secret's site took millions of hits before the server was brought to it's knees (uh, bad metaphor?). On April 17, 1997, Ted Rooney got 10 times that many hits in one hour. 

[Perspective: At the current rate, it will take days 750 years to match him. Not that I'm counting. Did I mention that you guys are beautiful?] 

I first met Ted on a crisp September morning in 1982. Among the myriad life adjustments I was making in those first few weeks of college was my first work study job. I was a drone in the Development Office. Development was the name back then for "please give us money, even though you haven't heard of us we're really a top notch school, please-please-please". 

Since I graduated in '86 the campus has undergone a major facelift (e.g. no more classes in dorm basements). I try not to take it personally. But back in my day (he said thumbing his suspenders) Development was housed in a 50's style suburban house across the street from my dorm. (It was, in fact, the shortest commute I've ever had.) 

My job was to process the returned mailings, correcting addresses in the alumni database so that our pleadings would reach more indifferent alumni. And filing and stuff. 

I worked in a closet. An actual closet. Must have been a walk-in deal that had been outfitted with shelves and drawers and a counter space where the Hazeltine (that's a computer terminal for all you kids out there) sat. 

I was not very good at this job. Clock-punching and tedious repetitive tasks have never been my forte. 

And that's why I was so glad to meet Ted. 

 

The first thing you notice about Ted is that he is taller than you. About 6'5". In this basement with the low ceiling he looked like a giant. That combined with his red hair and sharp face made an immediate impression. 

Ted had an air of confidence that bordered on arrogance. When talking with the staff employees in the office (almost all women - including our boss), he wore a sideways smile or smirk. I can't recall exactly the words he used but I do recall being caught off guard once hearing him sass back to the honcho. 

But the best thing about Ted was that he was probably the only work-study student in the office worse than me. 

They cut him a bunch of slack. I learned that Ted was an upperclassman and a pretty good basketball player. (He ended up on the all-time blocked shot school record list -- no, I'm not stalking him, you can actually find this crap on the Web.) And he was a theater major. 

 

L & C is not a big rah-rah place. Most everyone is doing their own thing with that certain seriousness that only young earnest undergrads possess. So the theater part was definitely what caught my attention. 

Ted and I worked different schedules. Eventually we each moved on to other jobs (a relief I'm sure to our boss). 

(I think Ted left school for a while to play b-ball in Australia, but I'm not positive. That would explain his graduation date of '90...) 

The next time I saw Ted was 15 years later. In my living room. April 17, 1997. 

Dr. Benton's girlfirend, Carla Reese, has just given birth to his son in a sudden premature delivery. Problem is that Peter hasn't exactly been a model of support during Carla's pregnancy and she's not feeling real friendly towards him. But it's killing him not to know exactly his son's medical condition and treatment. 

So instead of working his way back into Carla's affections, he does the next best thing. He cheats. Benton snags his son's chart down in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and takes it to Dr. Tabash, the NICU Neonatologist. 

TED! 

Ted (a half foot taller than Eriq LaSalle but with significantly less of his red hair) takes the chart and in a crisp, clear monotone rattles off a list of multi-syllabic symptoms and treatments that must have taken him a week to commit to memory, which translate to: we're doing everything we can but things don't look so great for your boy to come out of this without some kind of damage. 

In a lifetime of television watching I had never seen someone I know on a primetime network program. I have to admit it was a major kick. 

This season ER is cranking major Nielsen's: 18.9 rating and a 31 share. The rating is the percentage of all households with a t.v. that are watching; share is the percentage of all t.v.'s that are on at that moment that are tuned in to that particular show. 

About one third of America is watching. Holy shit.

 

Benton comes back again suggesting some experimental treatment. [Here's the wind-up...] Ted/Tabash wants to know if he has discussed it with Carla. [And the pitch...] No, he says, they're not actually talking these days. 

Ted/Tabash: "I don't really know you very well and I'm getting the feeling I'm doing something I shouldn't, and I'm starting to resent it." And then he walks off. 

Woohoo! The big goof gets primetime action and gets to diss Benton in one stroke. 

 

He got a couple more brief appearances in the 97 season and one in October 98 the following season, but never as good a line as the shut-down on Benton. 

However, in Hollywood, when it rains it pours. 

Someone from Seinfeld must have liked his ER work. 

Almost exactly a year after the big Dr. Tabash debut, Ted is the surly bookstore manager, Crichton, on episode 173, "The Bookstore". 

I tuned in by happenstance just as the show was coming to a close. At the beginning of the episode, George took a book into the bathroom and the store (presumably Ted) made him buy it. A whole bunch of stuff appens in between. To exact his revenge, George has decided to steal a book just as Ted/Crichton explains to Jerry that they need to catch a shoplifter in the act to set an example. [Freeze frame -- funky Seinfeld bass line here.] 

This one aired just weeks before the big finale. At this point you've got to figure his agent is getting real friendly with him. 

My favorite was an Oregon Lottery commercial that had him running around this white room with this crazy look on his face. 

 

Got Ted Fever? Check him out on C-16 in May 99 as Needleman or in re-runs on The Profiler episode "The Highway Killer" as Ben (I don't think he's the killer, but you can never be sure about these things). 

Will he end up getting his latte macchiato's hand delivered while receiving a pedicure in his extra large trailer on the set or will he cleaning his own toilet like the rest of us? And more importantly, how can I (further) exploit this tenuous thread to fame? Only the Fickle Finger of Fame can point the way... 

And thus we close another chapter in the Author's book of wide-eyed moments. 

Ted: one question. How's the monkey?

 
 

more brush:  Why I didn't fall of the Space Needle.
 
   
 
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