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A Return to Television

James Stacy’s appearance in a five-part “Wiseguy” beginning Wednesday on CBS-TV marks his first acting job in three years. This is not a comeback role; Stacy hasn’t been anywhere. But when an actor is only offered roles where the character is physically handicapped it can be a long time between jobs.

Stacy, who appeared regularly on television before he lost an arm and leg in a 1973 motorcycle accident, is glad to work at all.

“Luckily, I don’t need the money, but I do need the challenge,” he says. “Sooner or later something good always comes along.”

The last time Stacy faced the cameras was for a “Cagney & Lacey” segment in which he played a Vietnam War veteran. He played another vet in the 1977 TV movie, “Just A Little Inconvenience” co-starring Barbara Hershey.

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“I get offered more Vietnam veterans than any other roles,” says Stacy. “But I’ve done that. So I was really pleased to get this part. I play a newspaper editor who lost his arm and leg in a mine accident. The man who owns the mine also owns the town and he gave me a settlement that included the newspaper.

“But I turn out to be a fiercely independent editor and I refuse to run the paper the way he wants me to. It’s a good role, and there’s time to develop the character in five shows.”

Stacy acknowledges that he appreciates the work more now that there is less of it. Before the accident he had his own show, “Lancer,” for 20th Century Fox.

Stacy’s motorcycle accident cost the life of a friend, Claire Cox, who was riding with him and it also led to a landmark California lawsuit. His was the first case to receive a jury verdict under the 1971 state Supreme Court ruling stating an establishment can be sued for damages in an accident caused by a drunk driver who had been its patron. Stacy won a $1.9-million settlement.

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“In those days I thought the work was easy; I was cocky. But the accident taught me that you can’t count on anything.”


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