Michael Ontkean

Active - 1950 - 2011  |   Born - Jan 24, 1946 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada  |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A ruggedly handsome Canadian actor whose somewhat imposing frame makes him ideal for authority figures, Michael Ontkean has been appearing in film and television since the early '70s. Though having actors for parents may not necessarily be a surefire sign that one will enter into the entertainment industry, the support and encouragement afforded to young Ontkean was key in building early confidence and skill. Ontkean was a mere four years old when he made his stage debut in his father's repertory company, and in addition to taking the stage at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, he became a popular child star thanks to television roles in such series as Hudson's Bay. Aside from his ambitions as an actor, Ontkean also showed athletic prowess as a hockey player -- he won a scholarship to the University of New Hampshire and played on their team for three seasons. Little did he know that his skills on the ice would eventually come into play in front of the camera as well. His popularity eventually reached beyond the Canadian border when Ontkean gained stateside notice as a key player in the 1972 series The Rookies. Soon thereafter, Ontkean's featured role in the hockey comedy Slap Shot impressed audiences by showing that the up-and-comer could hold his own alongside such heavies as Paul Newman. Through the 1980s, Ontkean's career maintained an even keel with such moderately successful features as Just the Way You Are (1984) and Maid to Order (1987). In 1990 he returned to television to great effect with his role as Sheriff Harry S. Truman in David Lynch's acclaimed series Twin Peaks. The show provided Ontkean's career with something of a revival, and after he appeared in a minor capacity in Postcards From the Edge (1990), a series of television roles kept the versatile actor busy throughout the decade. Ontkean became somewhat lost in the shuffle in the late '90s, but his performance in the child-friendly made-for-television feature Mrs. Ashboro's Cat (2003) proved that the screen veteran still had what it took to charm on the small screen.

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  • Played hockey at a young age.
  • Was raised in a family of actors.
  • Made his debut in television in 1955.
  • Earned a scholarship to the University of New Hampshire.
  • Played in the Division One Zx hockey team.
  • After graduating from college, he decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor.