Stacy Keach returned to the United States today after serving six months in a British prison for cocaine smuggling, expressing relief at being home and promising to wage a war against drug abuse.
"I can't tell you enough how great it is to be alive, to be home and in New York City," the actor said at Kennedy International Airport. "It was great to fly in and see that lady with the torch.
"These past six months have been the most painful ever for me, and also very educational. I learned something about freedom--how much you miss it when you don't have it," said Keach, the star of "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer."
When Keach was imprisoned, production stopped on the detective program after 14 episodes of a 22-show order. When CBS announced its fall schedule in May, "Mike Hammer" wasn't on it.
Keach thanked supporters in the United States who sent him letters during his incarceration, and vowed to tour the country speaking about the problem of drug abuse.
"I'll take a little rest and then I'll be going out. (I'll) talk on campuses," he said.
He closed the news conference by reading an excerpt from Oscar Wilde's poem, "Ballad of Reading Gaol." Wilde, like Keach, served a term at Reading and worked in the library.
Addicted for Year
Keach, 44, was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport on April 4, 1984, while carrying 1.3 ounces of cocaine.
At his trial last December Keach told a judge he had been addicted to cocaine since January of last year, using the drug "as a means of trying to alleviate exhaustion."
The judge turned down his appeal for leniency and sentenced Keach to nine months in prison.
In the medium-security prison, Keach wrote a book and is looking for a publisher.
He also has been making plans to marry Polish-born actress Malgosia Tomassi, 28, who visited him frequently in prison, after his divorce from actress Jill Donohue becomes final.