The world lost Rudy Solari in 1991 at the age of 56. Rudy packed more living into those years than most people do in 80 years. Rudy was a native Californian. He was born in Modesto and graduated from San Francisco State College. Rudy had at first studied law but then changed to drama. Rudy has been called “an actor’s actor” and a consummate professional by his peers. Rudy’s craftsmanship helped mold Casino into one of the most memorable members of an excellent cast. Rudy landed the job of Casino without even auditioning, the night before shooting was scheduled to begin on Garrison’s Gorillas. Even with so little time to prepare the role, Rudy molded Casino in such away that everyone soon knew the character as well as he did. Fans who love him compare Casino to an M&M - a hard shell with a sweet interior.
Although acting was what Rudy truly loved, he was also a man of conscience who championed many causes. While Garrison’s Gorillas was on the air, he was the father of young children so violence on television was a concern to him. He also strove to rid the screen of the “Italian Gangster Stereotype.” He never wanted Casino, a convicted criminal, to be referred to as an Italian.
Rudy’s goal was to be an actor, not a movie star. His love of stage acting led him to found the Actor’s Workshop Theater in Beverly Hills. One suspects that Rudy only did television and movies to support his family and his life on the stage. Still, his credits are impressive. He appeared in such movies as Judgment at Nuremberg and Kings of the Sun. He also guested on numerous TV shows, such as: 12 O’Clock High, Ben Casey, Medical Center, Mission Impossible, Police Squad, Gunsmoke, Quincy ME, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Fugitive, Gallant Men, Ironside, Baretta, Charlie’s Angels, Big Valley, Have Gun Will Travel, Police Story, Toma and Star Trek. Rudy was also a regular cast member in the TV series Wackiest Ship in the Army.
Rudy gave a lot of good things to the world in his short time with us. Any of his performances are well worth watching. He brought integrity and conviction to every role he played no matter how large or small. Still, the part of the ever-complaining Casino is the one nearest and dearest to most of our hearts.
The only hard thing about watching Garrison’s Gorillas episodes is watching all those cigarettes they smoked and knowing that cancer would eventually rob us of Rudy’s great talent. If there’s a lesson regarding the dangers of cigarette smoking there, then maybe Rudy is still championing causes from beyond.
Reprinted from the Garrison's Gorillas 30th Anniversary Tribute
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