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Believe It Or Not…I’m On DVD

February 16th, 2005

This week saw the DVD release of the first season of The Greatest American Hero. Created by prolific producer Stephen J. Cannell, this early ’80s TV series featured William Katt as gawky schoolteacher Ralph Hinkley (briefly renamed Hanley after President Reagan was shot by John Hinkley), who was abducted by aliens and given a suit which, when worn, granted him super powers. Teamed with FBI agent Bill Maxwell, played by Robert Culp, he defended America from various spies and no-good-niks for three short seasons.

Included in this 3-disc set is the “unaired” pilot for a proposed sequel, The Greatest American Heroine. In it, Ralph’s secret is revealed to the public, and he is obliged to pass on the suit to another. He chooses a hot blonde (well, who wouldn’t?) with a “save the Earth” obsession.

Originally filmed in 1987 as a “presentation” (rather than a full pilot) for NBC, it was later padded out to full length with flashback footage and linking sequences features Robert Culp, and incorporated into the series’ syndication package.

The reason I bring this up is that I was an intern at Cannell Productions during its filming, and even performed as an extra in the crucial “unmasking” of Ralph Hinkley. As an intern at a union shop, I wasn’t allowed to do much on set, except on those occasions when they needed extras beyond the union-demanded quota.

Here’s the scene in question. Ralph has just saved a woman who has fallen from a building, but the rescue is actually a government set-up meant to expose him. Suddenly, a crowd appears…

Follow the arrow; there I am!

Oddly enough, I had pretty much the same beard back then. The suit is one I got from Goodwill for five bucks, and it looks worth every penny. God, those glasses look dorky. But at least I had hair!

And that’s the extent of my appearance. With this, nearly all of my Hollywood oeuvre has been released on DVD. (The last one is an episode of another ’80s Cannell series, Stingray. Hopefully they’ll get to that one soon!)

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