Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Michael Stroka joins Dark Shadows, 1969

Not an All-American Role
Hutchinson News,  Aug.30, 1969

It took Michael Stroka nine years and over 7,000 miles of traveling around the country to make the 11 mile, 30 minute trip from his native town Garfield, New Jersey to the Manhattan studio where "Dark Shadows" is filmed.

Not that he belongs to the jet set, although his life probably can match that of the "beautiful people" of that fast-paced crowd. It's just that Michael is a young upcoming actor, and it takes a lot of moving and hard work to keep those pay checks coming in at a regular beat. Since 1964, when he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he studied drama, Michael has been the manager of an underground music radio station, a water ski instructor, a professiona! gin player, an assistant maitre d' and a black jack dealer. In between all his occupations he also managed to sandwich in several off-Broadway engagements and films. He appeared as a hippie gypsy character, in "Alive" at the Loft Theatre in Greenwich Village and also in "Down The Morning Line," at the Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre, and in the films "Thirty-Six-Hours," with James Garner, Eva Marie Saint and Rod Taylor and in "King Rat" with George Segal and Tom Courtenay.

Now he has landed his first continuing television role as Aristide, a new member in the family of ghouls of "Dark Shadows." As "Dark Shadows" goes, explaining one of its characters is usually a difficult task. Aristide is an elegant, vain, sinister young man. His origin has not been disclosed, but he is protected from the other villainous creatures on the show by an old medallion he always wears.

"I know as little about his character as anybody else," says Michael, who made his first appearance on the show July 7. "So far what they've told me about him is like a road map. One could go any old way. But he is a heavy and I like that. Those roles about the good all-American boy have never been my forte. I think that as the writers of the show get to know me better, Aristide will take on some of my personality."

If Aristide were to step out of the make-believe world of "Dark Shadows," and do some of the things the six-foot, green eyed, brown-haired Michael enjoys doing, he would fence and go horseback riding regularly, read books on philosophy, be active in city politics and date girls who are lively, and can talk intelligently  about many subjects from politics to bubble gum music.

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