New York Daily News - Extra
October 30, 1989

 With Perfect Hindsight
Bronson Pinchot deals with TV and Movie success - and faces down his past

Written by: Hank Gallo
Daily News Staff Writer

Coming from somebody else - someone, say, bestowed with a cushier birth - some of what he says would sound like self-important musings of a braggart.  When those things are said by Bronson Pinchot, however, one tends to understand, if not forgive.  The star of TV's "Perfect Strangers," you see, has the inflated confidence of a self-made man.

He started with very little and now has more than most would dare ask for - including an undergraduate degree from Yale (he went on scholarship); side-by-side condos in Malibu; an attractive brunette girlfriend named Wren who answers the door to his hotel suite dressed in a bathrobe; and his first starring movie role, in "Second Sight," opening Friday.

In the last, which Pinchot helped to develop ("For writers," he says, "I can open doors where comedy can happen"), he plays a cartoonishly drawn psychic who works with a detective agency to ferret out bad guys.  The film also stars "Night Court"'s John Larroquette.

"This movie was one of the first scripts actually offered to me," he says.  "Because of my TV schedule I don't get a lot - and, also, people don't know what to do with me."

That, despite (and because of, he feels), his scene-stealing antics in "Beverly Hills Cops" (sic) as art gallery clerk Serge.  "Not a lot of people looked at that movie and said, 'This is a kid who can obviously invent a character out of his head and make it happen.'  Most people said, 'Oh, that was so funny so that's obviously all he does.'"

"It's a really sad attitude," he continues.  "After that, all I got offered was that.  I got a lot of cameos or they said you can invent a funny little character, but it's not going to be the centerpiece of the movie.  But I was ready either to be the guy who helped carry the story along or not to do it at all.  I didn't want to be just a funny little voice."

Still, it was those funny little voices - of Serge and now Balki from "Strangers" - that helped make him what he is today.

Pinchot was born in New York but reared in South Pasadena, Calif., where his family moved when he was 3.  Shortly thereafter, his father abandoned the family, leaving his working-class mother to her own devices.

"He moved us out there," Pinchot, the second oldest son, remembers, "and then he just disappeared.  He just thought, 'Ooh, I don't like this.'"

Years would pass between the occasional paternal visits - which never turned into particularly happy reunions.  "He never came back for any purpose except to take a gander at us and to yell at my mother and make her freak out.  It would be for, like, an afternoon until she would finally phone the police.  The last time I saw him was perhaps four years ago," Pinchot says.  "When the show first came on he tried to get in touch and said you at least owe me this.  I disagreed but I felt sorry for him.  So I went to see him and that was it," he says with some resignation.  "I really didn't know who he was - and I didn't want to.  Not after his track record."

Pinchot, apparently, doesn't like to live in his past.  Unless, that is, the past is really ancient history.  Take, for instance, his most extravagant purchase to date - a medieval French manuscript that cost him more, he says, than the down-payment on his home.  "Maybe someday I'll find out why I did this," he says.  "I'm still not sure.  After all, I can't even read it."

But who knows?  In time perhaps one of his funny little voices will.