The Free Lance-Star
August 2, 1986

 Accent is One Pinchot

Written by: Jerry Buck, AP Television Writer

CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) - The way he talks on the screen, you'd never know Bronson Pinchot graduated from Yale and doesn't have an accent.

And here he is, once again mangling the English language, this time as a Mediterranean goat herder in the new ABC series "Perfect Strangers."  Mark Linn-Baker is his co-star.

Pinchot plays Balki Bartokomous, who left the tiny island nation of Nipos (sic) to barge in on his American cousin, Larry Appleton (Linn-Baker), and take up residence in what Larry thought was going to be his bachelor pad.

Pinchot was first approached about the series two years ago when he had a supporting role in the NBC comedy "Sara," which starred Geena Davis.

He signed for "Sara" after he'd completed "Beverly Hills Cop."  But that was before the movie was released and his portrayal of Serge, the gay art clerk, created a sensation.  Afterward, people began coming to him.

"Everyone was saying to me, you ought to do a series, and there I was stuck in a little part," he says.  "Film crews and magazine people were running around my apartment.  I was chomping at the bit but I had to hold it in.

"The producers of 'Perfect Strangers' came to me when I was doing 'Sara.'  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do the show."

Suddenly, Pinchot abruptly changes the subject to announce that "The Wizard of Oz" is his favorite movie.

"I have some poster cards and a lobby card from the premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater," he says.  "I don't collect movie memorabilia any more.  It's gotten too expensive.  Now I collect Scandinavian painted furniture.  It takes up a lot of room but you can use it."

Back to how he got the role in "Perfect Strangers."  "They didn't tell me I would be a goat herder," he says.  "They said they wanted to do something about an immigrant who has an incredibly positive, upbeat attitude about America.  The show at that time was called 'Greenhorn.'

"I said they were thinking of 'Beverly Hills Cop,' in which I did a mangled Israeli accent.  I said I didn't want to do the accent again.  Serge was very snotty and it was kind of a joke on Beverly Hills.  But later I spent two months in Greece and talked to a lot of people there and listened to their accents and came back enthusiastic about it."

When Pinchot was hired for "Beverly Hills Cop," the character had been called Jacques.  "The year before I was so desperate I went to a seminar on catering run by a man named Serge," he says.  "He told us to call him Serge, like the cloth, not Sir-gay.  Everybody else in class looked like a male model.  I was taking notes and he pointed at me and said, "Look at that boy taking notes.  How can he expect to learn to be a waiter if he doesn't look at me?

"I was so humiliated.  So when I got the part in "Beverly Hills Cop" I changed the name to Serge and used his accent."

Pinchot was born in New York City of Russian and Italian parents.  "My father was a freelance bookbinder who had lived in Paris for several years," he says.  "When he moved back to New York he took an apartment across from a business called "Pinchot."  He changed his name to Henry Pinchot.  My mother says, 'Thank God it wasn't a Mobil station."

"I was named Bronson Alcott Pinchot, after Louisa May Alcott's father.  Somebody had brought my father an old volume of Bronson Alcott's biography to bind."

Pinchot was 3 when his father had a yen to see California.  "He gave away all the furniture and moved his wife and four children to South Pasadena," Pinchot says.  "As soon as we got here he disappeared.  My mother went to work cleaning houses, then worked as a typist.  For a while she made bread dough Christmas tree ornaments.  We were on welfare a lot."

Despite his penurious condition Bronson made it to Yale University.  "I got the best grades anyone had ever heard of in high school," he says.  "My girlfriend and I tied for valedictorian.  Isn't that tacky?"

"I auditioned for a play and was accepted," he says.  "I was very bad in it.  The chairman of the theater department came to see the play and asked me if I'd like to learn how to act.  He said he thought I could become good."