Mostly Credited As: Joel Fabiani
Birth Name: Joel Fabiani
Date Of Birth: September 28, 1936 (Age 79)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Watsonville, California
Height: 5' 10 " (1.77 m)
Veteran character actor Joel Fabiani's career has spanned over 45 years of television, movies, and theater. He has appeared in numerous series, yet his name is mostly unknown.
Joel Fabiani was born in Watsonville, California. His father's job forced the family to move frequently, and as a result Joel attended 17 different schools in his youth. After graduating from high school he joined the army, working as an ordinance clerk. Following discharge, he went to college at Santa Rosa Community College and earned a degree in English.
While in college he began to be interested in acting, so he went to San Francisco and spent two years working at the Actors Workshop. With all of his acting experience in plays, he decided to move to New York. He was able to land roles in summer stock and off-Broadway productions.
His first role on television was in the CBS religious program Look Up and Live in 1962. He also appeared on Broadway in a few plays, including the U.S. production of Beyond the Fringe. He continued alternating his time between off-Broadway and summer stock touring companies until he realized he needed regular, reliable work. He decided to concentrate solely on commercials at that point, although he did have a small role in the pilot movie for the NBC series Ironside.
A cigarette commercial caught the eye of British producer Monty Berman while Berman was in the States in search of American actors for television shows in the works in England. The ITC Production company, best-known for producing The Saint, The Avengers, and The Prisoner, had a show in pre-production that required an American actor. Fabiani was offered the role. He accepted and went to England to star in Department S.
In the series, Fabiani played an FBI agent who was the field leader of an elite branch of Interpol, assigned to the most baffling cases anywhere in the world. The series was very successful in England, and was syndicated worldwide. Instead of renewing Department S for a second season, however, the producers decided to focus a new series based on Peter Wyngarde's character of novelist Jason King. The spin-off, Jason King, did not include any of the other Department S cast members. Fabiani was out of work after 28 episodes.
Fabiani and his wife returned to America and went to Hollywood. This proved to be Fabiani's most prolific era, as he was frequently seen as the "guest murder victim" or villain in countless television shows during the 70s. During this time he also began appearing in films, beginning with a small role as Barney in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. He appeared in a total of six films, the most recent being as the assassination victim in Snake Eyes.
Fabiani's early career was punctuated with brief appearances on soap operas (including one episode of Dark Shadows, where only the back of his head was shown). He returned to the soaps, both prime time soaps (having recurring roles on both Dallas and Dynasty) and daytime (most recently on All My Children).
Fabiani, who in one interview described himself as a "voracious reader", took his passion for reading and his very smooth voice into a new line of work: reading books for audio tapes.
Joel lives in New York City and still finds work as a guest star on prime time programs and daytime soap operas.
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Fun Fact: Joel Fabiani is the cover star of the indie pop album "Singles Box" by The Smiths, released in 2008. The photo, originally part of a series of promotional shots for "Department S", was handpicked by Morrissey as the cover for the album.
Joel Fabiani Quotes
Joel: (on shooting in England) I loved the English way of shooting. They worked ten days on an episode and from eight to five in the evening. It was very civilized. In America, hey, knocked out these hour episodes in six days.
Joel: (on casting Department S) They [ITC producers Berman and Frankel] asked me if I had any film to show them. I hadn't done much except a very splashy commercial for a cigarette, and I was dressed in a tuxedo. I've never been so well lit in my life, and I was around these gorgeous models. So they looked that over and said, "Yeah, that's kinda what we're looking for." [So I was invited to England for tests.] They shot some footage of me jumping over boxes and being very athletic. And then I went back to New York, and a week later they said, "You've got the job." So I flew back and within a couple of weeks began shooting the show [Department S].
Joel: (on how he got his long-lasting role as Barry on All My Children): I thought I was just filling in for a month or two, until Larry [Pine] came back. But I was doing a show every two weeks, which seemed a lot for a recurring role. So I ran into Jean [D. Burke, the producer] and I said, 'I hate to be stupid about this, but are you going to give this back to Larry, or is it mine?' And she said, 'Oh, no. It's yours.' So I said, 'Oh, OK.' " [So the 'one or two months' turned into more than ten years.]