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WEB WATCH

He puts names to some very familiar faces

June 01, 2003|Michael T. Jarvis

David Mazor's is the place where everybody knows your face.

His Web site, www.what-a-character.com, reveals a massive ensemble of extremely familiar character actors from film and television.

"I've always had an urge to know more about these actors," says Mazor, a film distributor in Amherst, Mass. "You can say the name but people won't really remember. You have to see the face first. Some of these character actors you've seen for 40 years and people have no idea who they are. They've never really had anything written up about them. It's a fun way to see the other side of it -- the people that work all the time and don't get any credit." It's about those people, he says, whose names you never know.

Mazor underestimated the popularity of the "nameless" actors until he created his site three years ago. "I'm surprised by how many people are interested. I get thousands of e-mails a month. They want to know if some actor was in an obscure film. Or about an actor they remember from their childhood. Or they have a story where they met a particular actor and they want to share it."

One pattern that emerges, in looking at the site, is the number of actors with multiple roles on vintage TV shows, Mazor says. " 'Dragnet' had a small cast and the storekeeper is also a cop or the coroner in another episode."

The site also identifies the siblings and spouses of celebrities who are easily recognizable character actors, though uncelebrated. The faces including Mabel Albertson, sister of Jack Albertson, or Rance Howard, father of actors Ron and Clint Howard (a major character actor who is conspicuously absent from the site).

Mazor's favorite? "When I was a kid I always liked Burt Mustin. He's sort of the quintessential real-old-looking guy. Or Mike Mazurki. You'll instantly recognize him. He's a very intelligent guy who's always playing dumb characters."

-- Michael T. Jarvis

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