August 2, 1986
is One Pinchot
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
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."