Thursday, May 6, 2010

R.I.P, Michael Pataki

I’m definitely late to the party with this one, but I just felt the need to comment on the passing of character great Michael Pataki, who’s gone on to his greater reward at the age of 72 after a bout with cancer. He expired on April 16 of this year.

As you may or may not know, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear has an affinity for actors who give nothing less than 100 percent to their craft whether or not they become household names. Mr. Pataki is one of these “unsung Joes”; often turning up in scads of small television and movie roles. You’ve seen his work: he was Korax in the legendary Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles;” Count Mallachi in the Happy Days “Fonzie Loves Pinky” story arc; and the titular character in “The Americanization of Ivan,” a classic installment of WKRP in Cincinnati. Pataki even scored regular roles in television series both remembered and forgotten: The Flying Nun (as Roberto), Paul Sands in Friends and Lovers (Charlie Dreyfuss), The Amazing Spider-Man (Captain Barbera) and Phyl & Mikhy (Vladimir Gimenko). His voice may also be recognizable to Ren & Stimpy fans, having played “George Liquor” in several episodes.

On the big screen, Pataki made memorable appearances in films like The Dirt Gang (1972), The Onion Field (1979), Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) and Rocky IV (1985). Cult film fans will no doubt remember his memorable turn as Count Dracula in the unforgettable Dracula's Dog (1978).

R.I.P, Mr. Pataki. You will be missed.

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Scott said...

As I mentioned on Twitter, Pataki had good parts in two MST3K shows. In the Season 2 MST episode SIDEHACKERS (aka Five the Hard Way) he plays The Bad Guy, while in the KTMA episode SUPERDOME, he plays Some...Other Guy. Two emblematic roles, as it turned out: In the first, he plays the charming sociopath who fixates on the hapless hero, treating him to baloney sandwhiches and sidehacking until he can't stand it anymnore and seizes the hero in an inappropriately long and hard hug, while bellowing, "I love this guy! My own FLESH I don't love better!"This declaration of brotherly love means, as it inevitably does, that with 8 minutes of screen time, the hero's girlfriend will be raped and left for dead, and he'll have no choice but to sell his motorcycle repair shop to ensure he has enough funds to hire a skeevy collection of white trash mesomorphs, and Hoke Howell, to work as mercenaries. Hoke, by the by, cut a much better deal with the producers of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, who let him incinerate his entire family and burn up himself and his fishing trawler, all before the opening credits. And all because Hoke thought the smart thing to do about the invasion was to challenge the bipedal salamanders to a duel with flareguns. And Hoke was no more effective as a deep-sea fishing hillbilly who was accustomed to settle matters of honor with a flaregun fight than he was fighting a psychotic, sidehackin' rapist and murderer who MUST face the Uniform Code of Movie Motorcycle Justice. But if you're looking for Premium Ham, you can't go wrong this relic of 70s genre inbreeding.

In SUPERDOME, Pataki wears a suit, and has very little dialog; most of his scenes consist of peering into hotel rooms through binoculars, and have cruptic phone conversations, maybe about getting an advance on his perdiem I think he eventually turns out to be a P.I. spying on the players whom he suspects of gambling on the big game. I think it's someting like that -- it's a KTMA, so most of the scenes were fuzzy and underlight, except for Van Johnson's. There's such a constant glow about him it's like he'd mugged the Best Boy and was walking around with two Baby Juniors concealed under the enormous, condor wing-like lapels of his windowpane plaid sport coat.

Scott said...

And what did we learn from that long, informative, yet vaguely disturbing stream-of-consciousness rant? Never leave a blog comment after taking Ambien.

MikeChuk21 said...

Caught Rocky V on TV last night and, with WKRP in mind, was so waiting for him to turn to Apollo Creed and say, "Hold me closer, tiny dancer."