«Television is a plague !»

 By Joan Mac Trevor, Ciné Télé Revue, 1987

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He has just appeared in Santa Barbara under the name of Pearl, character who brings in his luggage a wind of imagination, of freedom and of relaxation that the famous show missed up to that point. If he does not necessarily share the vestimentary tastes and the eccentricity of his character, Robert Thaler releases nevertheless a real sympathy and an authentic happiness to live. When you manage to make him find his serious, he talks about his favorite subject : the assistance to the most underprivileged ones than he concretized besides while working for Operation California, an organization which deals with sending food and material in Ethiopia, in Mexico and in other disinherited places of the sphere. He says of Pearl "that he first ensures himself of the comfort of the others before ensuring himself of his", but this definition could just as easily apply to the man Robert Thaler.

Robert Thaler is far from being dissatisfied with the character that has been created for him in Santa Barbara. He sees him promoted to a great future and as rich and complex as Mason interpreted by Lane Davies. As he says himself "I am the only soap character to have survived a long time without female relation, family and past." In fact, a little less than two years after his entry in the show, we only starts to foresee his past : he would come from the East coast, from an aristocratic family, and would not be what he seems to be.

"Pearl is a kind of will-o'-the-wisp, free of body and spirit, and who only sees the good side of the things", the actor specifies. "He is the friend of Cruz, with who you always see him, even if the detective finds that he is not always very presentable with his hair like a tail of rat, his unclean clothes and his ear-rings. But, as he knows that he is more perspicacious than him, he often sends him to look for the informations. To tell the truth my character has something experimental. The heroes of the American soaps are generally presentable and conservative in their attitudes. And that is well a pity. In soaps especially, where the actors hardly wet themselves, always aspiring to empty sympathetic guys, smooth, with a lot of money, in agreement with the taste of the public, the opposite of what we are encouraged to be in the dramatic art lessons."

Prompt to provoke the good conscience, Robert Thaler also deplores the loss of some American values such as family and a certain sobriety in the way of life. "In Europe, family still remains the pivot of the social life. In the United States, it became practically non-existent. The American society became too much materialist. Of course, the virtues of honor, sacrifice, integrity are not completely lost, but the money became for much the only and unique stimulating thing." Robert Thaler is so much more sorry of this tendency so as, born in a country environment, in Iowa, where his father was a doctor in a small town, he learned the virtues from temperance and frugality. Later, before taking the road of the theatre and the comedy, he soberly lived on the slopes of the mountains which border the lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful sites of the United States. Part-time a skiing instructor, he also held a bookshop and gave lessons of guitar on the evening.

"Television is one of the plagues of our society. I know I make some, but to play is my job, and television is a way to survive for an actor. It is not so much those who make the television who are to be blamed that those who watch it. It becomes the only reference for a lot of people, the truth from which everything emanates, the alibi to save any creative activity. The vestimentary fashion of the heroes and shows is copied, their way of life aspire people, you dream to equalize their fortune. You are moved by their sentimental deceptions. You end up becoming an imitation of an imitation."

Robert Thaler became an actor by accident. He made studies of political economy at the university of Berkeley, one of the reasons for which he speaks so well of the economic relations of force in the world. But it is the frequentation of the theatrical life in San Francisco which gave him his idea. Follow then the usual dramatic art lessons and two years of theatre tours through the country, before posing his pack in New York where he improved the trade. Santa Barbara is his first role for television. Another originality of the character : he is member of a zen center in Los Angeles, where he devotes himself to meditation, which does not prevent him from making horsemanship and golf with more conventional companions. What does he like over all ? Bathes under the stars; women, and even men, who have humour; the frankness of the human relations; and, in a more low-brow register, exotic kitchen. Some defaults ? "I hate to lose". An unhappy memory ? "When I was fired from a football team because I was too small."

This actor always smiling and naturally opened to the others is however closed again in front of injustice and inequality. It is not improbable that one day he gives up his job to be integrated in an association of mutual help on a worldwide scale. "To be an actor brings satisfactions enormously, but it is not the only way in which I would wish to be able to express myself in life", this young man concludes, for who it is not difficult to guess that the love and the assistance to others can bring happiness to him as much as a good role.