Bookpleasures.comwelcomes as our guest, artist, actor and now author of his memoirs, I
saw A Molten White Light,
Peter Mark Richman.
Peter Mark is known as Hollywood's most notorious on screen bad guy and holds the record for deaths on screen: shot, stabbed, hung, poisoned, eaten, boiled, crushed, burned, beheaded and more.
Peter Mark has appeared in over 500 guest star television roles. He has had numerous reoccurring roles in both daytime and prime time such as Santa Barbara, Dynasty, and many more. Some of the leading ladies that Peter Mark has acted with include Florence Henderson, Sophia Loren, Cloris Leachman, Anne Baxter, Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh, Joan Collins, Eva Marie Saint, June Allyson, Janis Page, Jane Wyman and many more. many more.
Norm: Good day Peter Mark and thanks for participating in our interview.
When did you know you wanted to become an actor, what was your training and do you specialize in any particular acting technique?
Mark: I always knew I wanted to be an actor. My desire began when I
was doing radio and television in my home town of Philadelphia. I
have always been an instinctive actor, so when I began studying with
Lee Strasberg in New York, my natural abilities were greatly enhanced
by his teaching. I then got accepted into the hallowed Actors Studio
in 1962, governed by Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford.
The acting technique at the Actors Studio is commonly known as The
Norm: When did you first perform and how did you get the part??
Peter Mark: I was the leading man in an Equity summer theatre called the Grove Theatre in Nuangola PA. I got the job because I was working with a wonderful set designer in Philadelphia Little Theatre named Bill Fletcher. I knew that he worked in an Equity company and I asked him if he could get me a job there. He came through because I soon received a telegram from the producer, Royal Stout, that I was hired into his company. I was told to report to Wilkes-Barre, PA where he would pick me up.
Norm: How do you set about working on your roles and what motivates you to act?
Peter Mark: I read the script many times, and I find where I can use myself within the character. I then personalize any of the emotions and traits necessary to properly portray the character.
Norm: How do you think acting has changed over the years?
Peter Mark: There is a lot of mumbling and lack of articulation. I attribute that to the fact that many of the TV actors have no stage experience. To be a fine actor, it takes work and dedication to your craft.
Norm: What are the qualities in actors you most admire?
Peter Mark: I always admire an actor who has simplicity, spontaneity, and does not over act.
Norm: Have there any been any roles that you have turned down and were sorry for having turned them down?
Peter Mark: No, I was always grateful for every role I was given.
Norm: What's the most difficult thing for you about being an actor?
Peter Mark: Time in between. However, I try to fill that time with my painting and my writing.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to act? What was least useful or most destructive?
Peter Mark: In my first classes with Lee Strasberg the most useful thing I learned was to really see and listen to the person with whom I was acting. In my very first network TV show, I really saw the pores in the nose of the actress and the freckles on her face. The least useful thing is a bad director who does not give you time to do this.
Norm: As an actor, which characters were the easiest to portray? The most difficult?
Peter Mark: The easiest characters to portray were the ones that were written with realistic dialogue and interesting traits. The most difficult were the straight roles which were up to you to make interesting and alive.
Norm: I understand that you are celebrating your 65th wedding anniversary. How did you manage to be married to the same wife for 65 years, which is a rare in Hollywood?
Peter Mark: My wife, Helen, and I have many things in common. We met during my first season of summer stock in Nuangola where she was leading lady and I was leading man. We did fourteen plays in one summer and were married the following May. We love each other very much and have five wonderful children and six grandchildren. We are grateful to God for our many years together.
Norm: What advice do you have for our readers who might dream of becoming involved in the movies or theater as an actor, producer, director or any other involvement?
Peter Mark: Don't let anybody talk you into abandoning your dream. Go for it! In my case, I was encouraged to go to pharmacy college to make a living and I had a license in two states, Pennsylvania and New York. However, my dream stayed with me and I walked away from my job managing a drug store to be an actor in summer stock and never looked back.That's why I say, “GO FOR IT!”
Norm: What motivated you to write I saw A Molten White Light and could you tell our readers a little about the book? As a follow up, how did you come up with the title?
Peter Mark: I already had a published novel and a published book of short stories. I had also written many plays, one of which, “A Medal For Murray” had been translated into Hebrew and had a two year run in Israel. The one form that was missing was an autobiography, and I knew it was time to write mine. The title of my book comes from an incident that happened to me when I was five years old.
took me to visit a friend in Bucks County, PA. We were sitting on the
porch and to my right there was an archway and suddenly I saw a
molten white light which lasted a minute or two above the archway and
I was frozen with wonder. When it went away, I asked everyone on the
porch, “Did anybody see that?” No one had seen it. I never forgot
this incident and I feel it was the beginning of my spiritual
Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Peter Mark: I wanted my children, family and friends to have an understanding of my life as an actor, painter, producer, and writer. I hope that all my readers will enjoy learning about my childhood, my career in New York and Los Angeles and my devotion to my very dear family. I'm grateful that I could remember so many important details so that I could bring the book to life.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and I saw A Molten White Light?
Peter Mark: My readers can go to my WEBSITE
they can find “I Saw a Molten White Light...” by going to: AMAZON
What is next for Peter Mark Richman?
Peter Mark: I look forward to my play, “A Medal For Murray”, which ran for two years in Israel , having its American premiere. I also look forward to the publication of a book of my art which will include all my oils, water colors and computer art.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.?
Peter Mark: I would have liked you to ask me “What has been the affect on your life after being fifty-nine years in the spiritual group called SUBUD?”
Subud as taught me to be grateful for all the blessings in my life. I have a loving wife, helpful children, and wonderful grandchildren. My artistic life has been fulfilled as an actor, painter, producer, and writer. All this is by the grace of God.
Norm: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.