It would be difficult to imagine a more promising or electric series of debuts for a young American actor than those of the fresh-faced, fair-haired Corin "Corky" Nemec, who burst onto the scene as a teenager in the late '80s with several memorable turns that put him on the pop-culture map.
Nemec began whimsically, as Nicky Papadopolis -- the nephew of Alex Karras' former football player-turned-sportscaster George Papadopolis -- in the fifth and final, syndicated season of the hit sitcom Webster. That program wrapped by late 1988, but by that time, Nemec had already graduated to feature-film work, with a skillful portrayal of the teenage son of auto mogul Preston Tucker (portrayed by Jeff Bridges), in Francis Ford Coppola's pet project Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). Nemec even surpassed this debut one year later, with his haunting portrayal of the sexually assaulted and brainwashed abductee Steven Stayner, in the superior telemovie I Know My First Name Is Steven; it remains a benchmark by which current made-for-television films continue to be judged.
Ultimately, however, Nemec gained iconic status among younger Gen X-ers as Parker Lewis, the impossibly sweet-natured but crafty and resourceful high-school student on the Fox network's sitcom Parker Lewis Can't Lose (1990-1993). The program featured bizarre camera angles, accelerated and decelerated action, and wall-to-wall surrealist gags (such as one character's penchant for whipping vanilla frozen yogurts with Gummi bears out of his trench coat). Audiences flocked to it, and kept it on the air for three seasons, while the similarly themed NBC series Ferris Bueller folded within a couple of months. Nemec remained with Parker Lewis for the duration of its run. The program continues to retain a loyal cult following, comprised largely of its initial viewers.
Over the years following this program, Nemec alternated between occasional roles on such hit series as NYPD Blue, Beverly Hills 90210, and Smallville, and bit parts in innumerable telemovies and big-screen features -- though none even came close to matching the high profile or notoriety of Lewis. Though an extremely versatile actor, equally adept at comedy and drama, Nemec gravitated most heavily toward direct-to-video and made-for-television horror pictures in the early 2000s. He was particularly memorable in John Badham's made-for-television crime thriller Brother's Keeper (2002), as a mentally troubled child-abuse victim.