The Actor with the 3-D Name
Interview by Michael Barnum
Video WatcHDog No. 143 Sept. 2008
[After a stint at the Pasadena Playhouse, alot of TV commercials, some TV series work and parts in low-budget movies like WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, Roger Neal Francke of Vernal, Utah - who became Rod Dana and then Rodd Dana in Hollywood - decided to leave show business and study medicine in Rome.-wtc]
What prompted you to go back to show business once you arrived in Europe?
After about a year, I found myself disillusioned with the medical picture since the major forcus seemed to always be directed at getting the best possible position for residency and making points for an eventual money-making practice. At the same time, I began making commercials for Italian TV to make ends meet. One night, while doing extra work on Kirk Douglas' TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN , I ran into James Gregory, an old friend from Hollywood. You may remember him as the head of the CIA in the Matt Helm series with Dean Martin. He was in town to do a couple of films and suggested I have lunch with him at Cinecitta the following day. He introduced me to Anna Maria Padoan, who was the casting director of CLEOPATRA. She took me to Meet Stuart Lyons, the Brit who was casting the group of centurions who would be around Caesar during the Egypt section of the film. I was cast as Marcellus. Later, I was given a small part in which Liz and I have a little sword battle when she learns that the Romans have burned down the Library at Alexandra. I wrest the sword from her, pick her up and - in the original version - carry her kicking and screaming to deposit her at Caesar's feet.