Michael Callan

Michael Callan

Michael Callan's mother, apparently unenthused about his singing ability, offered to pay for dance lessons for her son. It was money well spent. At 15, he was dancing in nightclubs and at 19 was on stage on Broadway at the Royal Theater alongside Julie Andrews (her debut) in "The Boy Friend." He landed the part of gang leader Riff in the original Broadway production of "West Side Story" for director/choreographer Jerome Robbins in 1957. Talent agent Joyce Selznick found him there and a seven-year contract at Columbia Pictures followed. Callan lost the role of Riff to Russ Tamblyn for Robert Wise's film adaptation of "West Side Story" in 1961 due to contractual obligations at Columbia. With the musical slowly dying in popularity, Callan's talent as a song-and-dance man was shelved, and the studio was pushing him toward teen idol status through a variety of half-baked youth-oriented pictures in the 1960s. He did have success opposite Jane Fonda in "Cat Ballou" in 1965 and with Tony Curtis in the mob film "Lepke" in 1975, but it was television where Callan found his most consistent work. He had the lead role in the two seasons "Occasional Wife" aired in the late '60s and was a guest star on hugely popular shows like "Mary Tyler Moore," "Love, American Style," "Police Story," and "Fantasy Island" throughout the 1970s and '80s. His work slowed in the '90s but appeared in the film "The Still Life" in 2007. Michael Callan died on October 10, 2022 in Woodland Hills, CA at the age of 86.


Guest Appearances