November 29, 1952
Buffalo, New York
Jeff Fahey was born on November 29, 1952, in Olean, NY. The sixth child in a family that was to grow to number thirteen children in all (8 boys, 5 girls), he grew to adolescence surrounded by a large, close, and loving family unit. Strong family values were learned and rooted, and laid the foundation for the man he would grow to become.
At seventeen years old, immediately after graduating from high school, Jeff chose to leave the bosom of his loving family and answer the call of the "open road". This "voyage of discovery" took him from Alaska to Europe, to Israel, where he worked on a kibbutz, to India, the exotic land where he turned 19 years old, to the Himalayas and Afghanistan. His great range and diversity as an actor may have found its roots during this exploratory period, when Jeff lived and learned of the lifestyles and cultures of the vast diversity of people around the globe. Working his way around the world by taking odd jobs at different ports, he worked as an ambulance driver in Germany, on the pipeline in Alaska, and on a fishing boat at some point in-between.
Now a man in his early twenties, Jeff found himself once more in the United States, and home in Buffalo, where his family had moved when he was 10 years old, and where his parents were still currently residing. Again Jeff proved his adaptability and determination to succeed by experimenting with a variety of employment opportunities; a vacuum cleaner salesman, selling encyclopedias, as a trainer in a health club, and teaching ballroom dancing. Invited to attend the ballet for the first time during this period, Jeff Fahey was hooked. With his usual tenacity, he applied for and won a full scholarship to dance with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City, at the unheard age of 25 years old. It was while he was dancing that Jeff learned the importance of utilizing his entire body to tell a story, and not to rely only on a tone of voice or change in facial features to express his thoughts and emotions. This is an emotive skill that would factor into his success as a performer in the days and years of success that were to follow in this performer's wake as an actor expressing the plethora of emotion that represents the human condition as he has lived and understands it.
The Joffrey Ballet led to stage roles, first in the chorus, then in more and increasingly longer speaking roles. The roles spanned Broadway (Brigadoon), the United States on tour (Oklahoma), Paris (West Side Story), and London (Orphans). An accident in London necessitated Jeff leave and return home prematurely. Jeff Fahey remained, as ever, undaunted. A mere few weeks later, Jeff had landed his first major television role, as Gary Corelli in the popular daytime soap opera "One Life To Live". A star was born. This was 1982.
From 1982 to 1985, Jeff lived and enjoyed the life of a daytime soap idol. Full of boundless energy and enthusiasm, he supplemented this achievement by pairing with Martin Zurla to jointly produce off-Broadway plays out of the Raft Theatre. And then came 1985, and with it Jeff's big break. He was offered his first major big-screen role - as Deputy Tyree in "Silverado". If before a star was emerging and evolving; now a star was born and had leapt upon the Hollywood firmament.
From his first break in "Silverado" in 1984, and continuing in an unbroken line to the present day, Jeff Fahey has never experienced a lull in his acting career. Calling himself a "jobber actor", he will do as many as 4 - 5 movies per year, selecting his parts according to the needs he wishes to fulfill inside himself. Once it might be a place in the world he has never seen (Dazzle), another time it might be an actor he would like to work with (Robert Mitchum), or he might want the experience of working with a female director to understand a role from a different point of view (Sandra Locke). Whatever the demand of the role, Jeff will bring his own unique understanding of its demands, as based upon the vast diversity of his own life experiences.
Throughout this period, Jeff continued to remain close to his family. Many of his family members worked with him in his films behind the scenes, and remain a priority in his life to the present day, on both the professional and personal levels.
In 1994, Jeff had the opportunity to star in a weekly television series, The Marshal, produced by his close friend, and acting colleague, Don Johnson. Jeff has said that more than any other vehicle he had acted in to date, his own personality, values, and feelings become encompassed in the character that was to evolve, and emerge, as Winston MacBride. Unique in its concept, the show starred only Jeff - as he liked to say in interviews at the time - "one man, one hour". It was a show which showcased the talent of a very versatile actor well. It combined humour and a unique dry wit, with honor and integrity, and then pivoted it around solid and interesting plot lines. After two seasons, it was gone - a show possibly ahead of its time in concept and presentation.
Jeff did not let this slow him down. He continued to make 4 - 5 movies a year, and became a big celebrity in European markets. Never one to wait for life to catch up to his aspirations and goals, Jeff now added producing to his Curriculum Vitae - bringing the experience of years to his movie rolls and projects. Continuing to seek out roles that would allow him to stretch the bounds of his own individuality, he has always remained faithful to the inner voices that urges him to explore the multiplicity of the human condition in all of its varied manifestations. His movies, therefore, represent an extremely eclectic mixture of type and content, as Jeff has repeatedly accepted the challenge of portraying multiple personas that are living and reacting to a variety of lifestyles and experiences. At any given time he can be seen as a convicted felon (The Execution Of Raymond Graham - 1985), an itinerant rock singer (Psycho III - 1986), an arrogant boxer (Split Decision - 1988), a private detective (Parker Kane - 1990), an adulterer (Every Woman's Dream (1996), a friend and attorney (Close Call - 2002), and an incubus (The Demon Within - 2000).
Who is Jeff Fahey? An actor, a producer, a mentor, a teacher, a visionary, a friend. With each new role, he peels away yet another layer of the fašade that an admiring public has grown to expect and love. What he has internalized from his past experiences has become entwined within the complexity of a personality in an ongoing state of flux and growth. Who is Jeff Fahey? Like all men, maybe he's just a little bit of everything!
Photo © The Marshal - Bio by Cathy S. Birn ©2002
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