Michael Blodgett, an actor best known for his role as Lance Rocke in the 1970 cult film “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” who went on to write novels and screenplays, died Nov. 14 at his Los Angeles home of an apparent heart attack, his ex-wife Lanetta Blodgett said. He was 68.
Blodgett found early success as a television host, first in the summer of 1967 as the emcee of “Groovy,” a beach-party pop-music program that aired weekday evenings on KHJ-TV Channel 9. Appearing bare-chested with white duck pants and long, curly blond hair, he interacted with the teenage audience and interviewed the musical guests.
The next year he switched to more serious fare with “The Michael Blodgett Show” on KTTV-TV Channel 11. The 90-minute talk show ran Saturday nights and featured a wide range of guests, including composer Henry Mancini, actresses Connie Stevens and Agnes Moorehead and comedian Pat Paulsen.
By 1970 Blodgett had resumed acting on TV and in movies, including “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” the X-rated film about an all-girl rock ‘n’ roll band that was directed by Russ Meyer and written by film critic Roger Ebert. That same year he also appeared in the Kirk Douglas western “There Was a Crooked Man” and a year later he starred in “The Velvet Vampire.”
Blodgett switched his focus from acting to writing novels in the 1970s, and some of his stories were later turned into movies.
He had a bestseller with the 1982 thriller “Captain Blood” and then teamed up with writing partner Dennis Shryack. Blodgett and Shryack turned Blodgett’s “Hero and the Terror,” published in 1982, into a screenplay for the 1988 Chuck Norris martial arts movie. The pair also co-wrote the screenplays for the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy “Turner & Hooch” and the 1987 Burt Reynolds action movie “Rent-a-Cop.”
On his own Blodgett adapted his novel “The White Raven” for the screenplay of the 1998 action thriller set in World War II and wrote the screenplay for “Run,” a 1991 mob movie.
Born Sept. 26, 1939, in Minneapolis, Blodgett attended the University of Minnesota and began acting in his hometown before moving to Los Angeles. He earned a degree in political science from what is now Cal State Los Angeles and attended Loyola Law School for a year before being cast for bit parts in movies and television in the early 1960s.
Married three times, Blodgett is survived by three daughters, Lauren Hammerlund, Heather Blodgett and Lucette Blodgett.