Mailbag: ‘Golden Boy’ stars have earlier credits

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Walter Clark Jr. (Theo James, left) is partnered with and mentored by experienced veteran Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride, right) in the new CBS drama Golden Boy. Golden Boy, premieres Tuesday, February 26 with a special sneak peak episode, on the CBS Television Network. (Warwick Saint/CBS)

If it’s Thursday, this must be the mailbag.

Q: Can you tell me anything about the young detective and his black partner on “Golden Boy?” I don’t recall seeing them before.

A: The CBS drama about a police detective who will become the department’s commissioner stars Theo James as the detective, Walter Clark. James is an English actor who has appeared in The Inbetweeners Movie, Underworld: Awakening and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Fans of the series Downton Abbey will know him as Kemal Pamuk in the series’ first season.

Chi McBride, who plays Clark’s partner and mentor Walter Owen, is a well-known TV actor. The Chicago-born actor’s series have included Pushing Daisies, Boston Public, The Nine, Human Target and The John Larroquette Show, as well as a recurring role on House and many guest appearances on shows; he has also been seen in movies like The Terminal and I, Robot.

Q: Is it true that the attractive actress Gail Russell, who starred with John Wayne in “Angel and the Bad Man” and “Wake of the Red Witch,” had her own television show in the ’50s?

A: Russell, a compelling screen presence and troubled woman, was a guest star on a few television shows but, as far as I can tell, never had her own network series. She did co-star in the movie Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, and its sequel, based on a book that also inspired a 1950 TV series known as Young and Gay and then The Girls. But Russell was not part of the TV show. It’s possible that someone confused Russell with Gale Storm, a movie actress who was a big TV star in the ’50s in the series My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show.

Q: How come Jessica Lange never gets nominated for anything? She’s wonderful and so talented.

A: She has not only been nominated for major awards, she has won a bunch. Lange has two Academy Awards, as best supporting actress (for Tootsie) and lead actress (Blue Sky) and four other nominations as a lead actress (Frances, Sweet Dreams, Country and Music Box). She has also had four Emmy nominations, including two wins, in 2009 as lead actress in a miniseries or movie (Grey Gardens) and 2012 as best supporting actress in a miniseries or movie (American Horror Story).

Q: I so enjoyed the series “The Secret Circle.” It ended as if there would be a sequel. Will it be returning?

A: The series, which aired on The CW in 2011-12, was not picked up for a second run. If you have not done so already, you may want to find three Secret Circle books by L.J. Smith, which inspired the TV show. (Smith’s website notes that you should look for the books “by” her. If they are “created by” her, someone else did the writing.) Smith also wrote the first seven books in the TV-show-inspiring Vampire Diaries series, up through The Return: Midnight.

Q: The commercial for American Advisors Group’s reverse mortgages refers to Fred Thompson as a “former senator.” While I agree with that fact, I wonder why his acting career is never mentioned. From what I’ve seen, he seemed to be a natural in front of the camera, and I feel he should receive the credit due him.

A: Fred Thompson was indeed a U.S. senator from Tennessee from 1994 to 2003, as well as the Republican counsel to the famous Senate Watergate committee and a presidential candidate in 2008. But, as you know, he has also been an actor; billed as Fred Dalton Thompson, he played district attorney Arthur Branch on Law & Order and several companion series, guest-starred on other shows and was in movies including In the Line of Fire, The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard 2. I don’t think the reverse-mortgage ads were denying him credit; instead, Thompson’s being a former senator would seem to carry more weight with potential customers for that service than “guy who pretends to be other people.” Although, considering what government has done with money, the “senator” claim could make some viewers more skeptical.

Do you have a question or comment for the mailbag? Write to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or Please mark the email or envelope with “mailbag.” Letters may be edited for publication. Please do not phone in questions. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online, He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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