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Rogue Lives, Season 1: An Actor's Life with Douglas Rowe

Douglas Rowe

The third in the four-part series, Rogue Lives:An Actor’s Life, Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Doug Rowe shares stories from his life spent on stage and in front of the camera.

Tales include his unlikely journey from dreams of professional baseball to a successful career in Hollywood, performing with a real-life tiger, fun with the MASH cast, and his time at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Company. 

About Douglas Rowe

Doug Rowe has been an actor, producer, director and artistic director of two theaters. His first love is acting.

He was on his way to Notre Dame with a baseball scholarship, when he decided to go to a smaller school, took a speech class, and was “found,” by the drama teacher. Acting was more fun than baseball. He has acted in every possible medium, on Broadway, off-Broadway, in movies, on television and because we are lucky, he has been in many productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

He lost a bid to stardom when he was asked to play Brutus in Julius Caesar on Broadway and the production didn’t happen because the star, Richard Dreyfuss had been offered a movie role. The life of an actor has many ups and downs and he has been masterful in riding the waves of an actor’s life. He is most of all very grounded, and very happy whatever part he is playing.

He feels like his best part was Willie Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” staged here at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He felt like he was born to play this part. It also was the part that brought him from Southern California.  The author of “the Death of a Salesman,” oftentimes says it’s the only play that makes men cry. Doug’s experience is that not only did men cry, so did the young boys in the audience, who related to the two sons in the play.

His 30 years at Laguna Playhouse was very eventful in several ways. He increased the audience attendance to 8000 season ticket holders and raised money to build a new theater which he helped design. In most years the Laguna Playhouse was chosen as having the top plays by the Los Angeles Times.

For everyone old enough to remember M*A*S*H, the TV show with the most-watched finale, do you remember the episode where the helicopter pilot and BJ Honeycutt need to rescue Hawkeye and Hot Lips? Doug was that helicopter pilot.

Doug helped launch many careers. This happened with an actor named Harry. Harry’s agent called Doug and said that Harry was disheartened by the attempt to be an actor. He asked Doug if Harry could read for him.  Doug said sure and was very impressed with the reading and cast Harry in a play. Universal Pictures came to see the play and Harry only did one play, because Harry is Harrison Ford, and I’m sure you all know the rest of the story.

The Laguna Playhouse is also where Doug met his wife Catherine and they have been married for nearly 40 years. One son is an assistant director on a TV series, and the other son coaches baseball. Both of Doug’s passions carry on.