Ray Stricklyn remembers when he arrived in Hollywood--Sept. 30, 1955--the day James Dean perished in a fatal car crash. “Jimmy and I were friends in New York,” Stricklyn says. “It was a very sad occasion.”
Hollywood tried to mold Stricklyn into a Dean clone, playing various rebels without causes in such films as “Ten North Frederick.”
“I fit the age bracket and the look at the time,” he says. “I had the same agent as Sal Mineo, so I got a lot of Sal’s rejects. I played a lot of young thugs on television. Dennis Hopper was part of that group of young actors, Russ Tamblyn, Dean Stockwell, Martin Landau. It’s wonderful the resurgence of those actors. It’s sort of wonderful to still be here.”
Stricklyn is definitely still here thanks to his award-winning solo turn as Tennessee Williams in the play “Confessions of a Nightingale.” Stricklyn debuted “Confessions” six years ago at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and has since performed it 1,500 times. He’ll be racking up a another 24 performances when he begins a three-week engagement of “Confessions” Tuesday at the Pasadena Playhouse Balcony Theatre.
“I had no inkling it would be a hit,” Stricklyn says. “It was the furthest thing from my mind. We were just supposed to do it for one weekend, and it went over so well I ended up playing there (Beverly Hills Playhouse) for a year. Then the New York interest started and we went off-Broadway in 1986. I have been all over the country and Israel and Edinburgh.”
The next stop for “Confessions” is Las Vegas. “I am playing the Hilton,” he says, kiddingly. “I’m adding dancing girls and boys.”
Over the years, Stricklyn says, his performance as Williams “has gotten deeper. That’s the marvelous thing about playing the part. The more mature I get, it works better for the role. And God knows, I am more mature enough in years, anyway.”