The Boyfriend of the Week
November 17, 2003
This week's Boyfriend is an actor I have long admired. Well, okay, that's maybe not telling the whole truth here. Because what I've actually long been doing in regards to this week's Boyfriend is making a fool out of myself every time he shows up on screen. I laugh, I cry, I drool, I gasp, and when he smiles that smile that makes his eyes go all crinkly, I usually stand up and yell, in tortured agony, "I WANT TO HAVE YOUR CHILDREN!" It's quite embarrassing, too. And it happens a lot. Now, that's admiration, to be sure, but it's somewhat on the less professional side of things. Because while Dale Midkiff is a wonderful man and a very good actor, two things I think anybody ought to admire him for, he is also, hands-down, seriously one of the sexiest men alive. And I don't just say that about any-ol'-body, neither. Fact is, I can't look at Dale Midkiff without making that sound you make when you see something you want SO BADLY but know is completely out of your reach. Like, say, a married man with three kids who doesn't actually even know you're alive. That kinda out-of-your-reach. And the sound I mean? It's that guttural groaning sound, that kind of arrrrungh. It doesn't really translate well to written word, I am realizing here. And I think that's primarily because for it to be the sound I mean, you gotta be in some serious PAIN when you make it.
Lots of Boyfriends are cute. In fact, almost every Boyfriend is cute in some way or another. But Dale Midkiff -- great geehoosephat! The more I watch his movies and look at his pictures, the more I became thoroughly convinced that Dale is the God of all that is Gorgeous.
And the more I become convinced of that, the more I also become convinced that every casting agent on the planet is either deaf, dumb, and blind, or a raving lunatic. Because, and I'm not just saying this because I'd trade my left arm for one Dale Midkiff kiss (that's no joke, by the way), he's a damn fine actor. So what the heck is he doing in Lifetime made-for-television movies and bizarre science fiction dreck? I mean, yes, just this year he put out a very sweet and highly enjoyable Hallmark Hall of Fame movie called "Love Comes Softly," based on a very sweet and highly enjoyable novel of the same name by Jeanette Oke. But aside from that (and to be honest, that movie could've been much better than it actually was), he hasn't made a good film in years.
Which is not to say his movies are BAD, necessarily. I mean, I quite happily watched "Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story" and "Another Woman's Husband," as well as both Ed McBain movies (which I actually saw when they first came out on television, being such a huge fan of the 87th Precinct mystery series and I loooooved Dale in his role as Steve Carella -- perfect casting choice there). But they aren't "films." And let's not even talk about "Route 666" (with ex-Boyfriend Lou Diamond Phillips, who probably ought to just give up on this whole "acting" thing for good, because it's really not working for him anymore). Or "Visitors of the Night," or "Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion." Or "Air Bud: World Pup." Or, oh God, "Casual Sex." He's made a few really good movies, including the Nancy Drew movie that was on TV earlier this year (surprisingly entertaining and if they turned that into a series, I'd be its number one fan). But not since "Pet Sematery" has Dale starred in a real Hollywood picture. And for those of us who are DYING to see Dale Midkiff projected on a huge screen so we can experience that crinkly-eyed smile in a much-larger-than-life kinda way, this is disheartening. Why isn't Dale Midkiff the new Harrison Ford? I just don't understand this!
Okay, so maybe it's by choice. Or maybe I'm just so blinded by those eyes, that face, those hands, and them broad, broad shoulders that I can't see the something everybody else is seeing. Because what I'm seeing is a guy who is absolutely masterful at playing the sympathetic husband-type character. The strong man with the tender heart. The man who never takes the easy way out just because it's the easy way out. You know what I mean, here? He's the ultimate Good Guy. And if I wasn't already marrying Adam Brody (see last week's write-up, if it ever resurfaces), I'd so totally be marrying Dale Midkiff right now.
Now, while it was "Love Comes Softly" that actually officially put Dale Midkiff back on my radar (by the way, I'm having a hard time calling D.M. by anything other than his full name -- did you notice that? I can't explain it, so just work with me), I actually first fell in crush with him back when I saw the aforementioned movie "Pet Sematary," somewhere around 1991. It was my first Dale Midkiff movie, and it was based on my first Stephen King novel, so it was a novel experience all around. Now, let me tell you a little story about "Pet Sematary," the book. It was definitely no JFK assassination, but I remember exactly where I was when I read that book for the first time. It was 9th grade study hall in the Vo-Tech building at Roger's High School in Newport, Rhode Island. My geometry teacher, whose name I forget (Mr. Cooney? Or Clooney?) but who was an absolute maniac, was presiding and he pretty much let us run the show that hour each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So, while the yahoos around me bounced off the walls and the prissy popular girls played with the hair-styling class tools and wigs (my high school there had a vocational-technical school that taught stuff like hair-styling and auto repair -- I never took a class at Vo-Tech (aside from study hall), but always wished I'd been smart enough to think of signing up for auto shop. I would've made a great mechanic. Another career I neglected to realize an interest in until it was too late. . .), I sat at my little desk and read horror novels. I'd just discovered the genre at that point, and I was pretty new to the whole concept. Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Robert McCammon. All those whackjobs, you know?
Now, my copy of "Pet Sematary" was a musty old library book, and the room I read it in was a musty old classroom, and I sat at a musty old desk and got seriously, seriously scared out of my mind. Most of my strongest memories are evoked by a particular smell -- a smell I associate with where I was or what I was doing at that time -- and to this day, when I smell a musty book, I remember that guy getting hit by that car at the beginning of that book, and I remember my 9th grade geometry teacher and that dark old classroom. And I give a little shiver.
So, imagine my glee when I finally got to see the movie. And then my lack of glee when it was kind of on the excessively cheesy side. I mean, this was before I knew better than to expect too much from a Stephen King movie. It was the first in a loooong line of Stephen King movie disappointments (with a few very notable exceptions, of course). However, all was definitely not lost, as there was one very important positive element to the film -- the actor playing Louis Creed, the father and husband who tries to bring his wife and son back to life by burying them in the magical pet sematary? DANG, he was cute. I mean, seriously cute. And the way he smiled? DANG, it was cute. Seriously cute. And the way he looked when he realized his wife was back to live? That tortured, sad-happy expression, mingled with tears and those crinkly eyes? DANG, I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. Ladies, I was hooked on this man. HOOKED.
But back in those days, I couldn't race right to a computer to look a cute actor up and then log on to Netflix.com and put every movie he ever made into my queue. My computer was a 486, and I hadn't even heard the word "modem" before. So, that was pretty much the end of our relationship. I caught sight of Dale from time to time in other things, like the Ed McBain movies (there's another smell associated with those novels, by the way, and it is the smell of a dusty air conditioner -- I read every 87th Precinct novel written (by 1991) during a single summer vacation I spent working as a librarian at a small military base library. We got no patrons -- maybe 3 a week -- and I was the only person there most of the time. So, I spent 8 hours a day reading just about every single fictional book on the shelves, including about 20 Ed McBain's). But I didn't really keep track. When I'd see him, I'd be glad to see him. But that was about it.
And then my Mom recommended that I read this book she'd really enjoyed, "Love Comes Softly." It was set during the "Little House on the Prairie" age and was about a woman who goes out West with her husband to start a new life on a farm, but just as they get there, her husband is killed in an accident. She's pregnant and broke, and has only a busted wagon for shelter. So, when a local man with a baby daughter offers her a deal -- marry me and take care of my daughter and if you're still miserable come spring, I'll pay for you to get home -- she takes him up on it. Of course, things are hard for several months, but then they end up falling in love and the ending's all happy and smoochy and sweet. It's a very kindhearted book, and even though it's a bit on the religious side, it's not an in-your-face kind of Godliness.
I read the book and really liked it, and right about the time I was finishing it up, my Mom discovered the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. She taped it, we watched it together, and while we both agreed it could've been better, I think we both also agreed that DANG, that man is CUTE!
And, what's more, he's just really very talented. So, why he isn't starring in every major feature film ever made, I just can't figure out. He would've been great in "The Lord of the Rings." "Master and Commander"? Dude, Dale Midkiff! "Seabiscuit"? Dale Midkiff! "Chicago"? Dale Midkiff! "Meg Makes Out with a Gorgeous TV Movie Actor for Two Straight Hours" (coming soon to theaters near you), DALE MIDKIFF!
The bad news, though, is that Dale Midkiff and I aren't really going to end up making a movie together (yeah, I know I had you all excited there for a minute, but I just made that part up). And in the real world, we have very little chance for romance as well. Because Dale already has a family, and it's clear he's very close to them. His wife's name is Joan and they've been married for at least ten years and have three children: Cole, Eliza Rose, and Ava Marie. But if you think that's a big family, you ain't seen nada yet -- Dale Alan Midkiff, born July 1, 1959 in Chance, Maryland, had six brothers and a sister. That's a family of TEN, in case your math skills are lacking. Now, that's a family that can justify the purchase of an SUV. The rest of you really ought to go back to compacts.
Dale got his first taste of acting while he was attending Edgewood High School outside of Baltimore. There, he starred in a children's theater production of "Jack in the Beanstalk" and quickly realized that performing on stage was a great way for him to overcome his shyness (shy! how cute!). He threw himself into theater and when he graduated a few years later (1977), he won the school's drama award.
Instead of immediately taking off for Hollywood, though, Dale continued on to college, attending Salisbury University in Maryland. He majored in Communication Arts and minored in both English and Philosophy (show off). After graduation, he moved to New York and took a series of day jobs while he honed his acting skills and auditioned for parts off-Broadway. After awhile, he decided to give California a try and he packed up his stuff and headed for parts West. There, he lived with five other struggling actors and continued his career as an odd-jobsman, auditioning for everything he could in his spare time. He got his first motion picture gig in 1984, playing a pimp in Roger Corman's "Street Walkin'," but it was his role as John "Jack" Ewing on "Dallas: The Early Years" that really kick-started his career.
That was followed by a popular miniseries called "Elvis and Me" (he played Elvis and I caught part of this on TV a few weeks ago and it's absolutely hilarious (unintentionally). I need to track it down on DVD soon, because it looks like great 80's cheese). That really established him as a popular, versatile television actor and, since then, he's been in over 30 other motion pictures, most of them TV-based.
The bad news is, since "Love Comes Softly," Dale's only been in one film ("Maximum Velocity" -- haven't seen it yet), and there's nothing on the horizon for him, according to his page at the IMDB. The good news, though, is that he's aging extraordinarily nicely and I have high hopes that any minute now, he'll really be "discovered" by more serious filmmakers. "Love Comes Softly" will probably be played on the Hallmark Channel a few more times, and also released on video, so try to catch that one if you can. And if you can't, you can always troll Netflix.com for stuff he's made. They've got quite a bit of the dreck over there, as well as some of the good stuff ("All the dreck, and lots of the good stuff too" ought to be their tagline, I swear -- they've got every bad movie ever released on DVD over there. It's like manna from heaven!) And Dale, if you're reading this, get your butt on the big screen (and your face too, if you must). I just can't take this small screen vicarious livin' much longer!
MacGyver Factor Score: 97.254%. Points off because I suspect his dismal career is partly his own darn fault. Maybe he hasn't worked hard enough to get a good agent. Maybe he turned down major roles to be with his family. Who can say? All I know is that I NEED MORE. And I don't care what form it comes in, as long as that form is roughly Dale Midkiff-shaped. Because, DANG, he is CUTE! (Okay, I promise to stop saying that now!)