Andrew Robinson (actor)

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Andrew Robinson
Andrew Robinson.jpg
Robinson at an ExpoTrek Convention in Hannover, Germany, 2000
Born Andrew Jordt Robinson
(1942-02-14) February 14, 1942 (age 72)
New York City, U.S.
Other names Andy Robinson
Occupation Actor
Years active 1969-present
Spouse(s) Irene Robinson (1970-present), one child

Andrew Jordt "Andy" Robinson (born February 14, 1942) is an American film, stage, and television actor, and professor. He is known to specialize in playing devious and psychotic roles. Originally a stage actor, he works predominantly in supporting roles on television and in low-budget films. He is best known for his role as the serial killer Scorpio in the crime film Dirty Harry (1971), the role of Larry Cotton in the horror film Hellraiser (1987), and his recurring role as Elim Garak on the science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999).[1] He and wife Irene are the parents of actress Rachel Robinson, who also appeared in Deep Space Nine. He is the Director of the Master of Fine Arts Acting program at the University of Southern California.[2]

Education and early roles[edit]

Robinson was born in New York City.[3] His middle name, Jordt, was given to him to honor his grandfather, though he did not begin using it in his professional credits until the 1996 Deep Space Nine episode, "Body Parts".[4] His father was a soldier in World War II, and was killed when Robinson was three years old. After his father's death, he and his mother moved to Hartford, Connecticut to be raised with her family. In his later childhood, Robinson had become a juvenile delinquent, and was eventually sent to St. Andrew's School in Rhode Island, a boarding school for troubled children.[3]

After graduating from high school, Robinson attended the University of New Hampshire. After picketing the school's ROTC program his degree was withheld by the university, so he transferred to The New School for Social Research in New York City and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He originally intended to become a journalist, but went into acting after gaining a Fulbright Scholarship on the suggestion of an art history professor. After graduating, he went to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on the scholarship.[5]

Robinson began acting in high school and college theatre. While attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he studied Shakespeare and voice training. His first professional roles were as a stage actor and playwright in New York. His first role in New York was in the play Macbird-Macbeth. He would go on to act in productions throughout North America and Europe, including Woyzeck, Futz, Werner Liepolt's "The Young Master Dante," and The Cannibals.[3] In 1969, he had his first television role with a guest part on N.Y.P.D. at the age of 26. In 1971, he would begin acting in feature films.


Dirty Harry[edit]

Robinson's first feature film role was in 1971's Dirty Harry. Don Siegel, the film's director, and Clint Eastwood picked Robinson for the role after seeing him in a production of Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot.[6] Robinson was cast as the Scorpio Killer, the antagonist of the film. The Scorpio Killer (a role that Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink had originally written for Audie Murphy, who died before he could act it out)[citation needed] was heavily based on the contemporary, real life Zodiac Killer, and Robinson integrated many known aspects of that serial killer's personality into his acting, such as a disturbed sense of humour and a sadistic inclination to taunt his pursuers. In the film, his character murders several girls, a young boy and a police officer, and takes a school bus full of young children hostage. His portrayal was so convincing that he received death threats after the film's release. Director Don Siegel noted that he cast Robinson because he had the face of "a choir boy."[6]

Critical reactions to Robinson's role were generally positive. Box Office Magazine wrote that, "Andy Robinson is the maniacal Scorpio ... a good blending of cunning and savagery."[7] His role as Scorpio gave him widespread exposure, but Robinson also found himself typecast as "psycho" characters. He has also claimed that the role severely limited his casting options, as film producers were reluctant to cast him in any "good guy" roles.[8] Some of Robinson's notable "psycho" roles include a demented, but ill-fated military barber in Child's Play 3 (1991), and the character Frank Cotton (in the skin of Larry Cotton, Robinson's actual character) in the horror film Hellraiser (1987), in which Robinson had his first lead role in a feature film.

Film and television, 1971–1992[edit]

Robinson starred in Charley Varrick, a 1973 film with Walter Matthau, again directed by Don Siegel. He played the role of Frank Ryan on the soap opera Ryan's Hope from 1976 until 1978, for which he received a daytime Emmy nomination. His part was later recast with Daniel Hugh Kelly, reportedly because the producers of the show were concerned that having the actor as a lead on a soap opera who played the Scorpio killer was distracting their audience.

Robinson has had many one-time and recurring roles on a wide variety of television shows. His lengthy television filmography includes guest roles on Bonanza, Kung Fu, Ironside, S.W.A.T., The Streets of San Francisco, Kojak, The Incredible Hulk, CHiPs, Mrs. Columbo, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, Matlock, Law & Order, Walker, Texas Ranger, Murder, She Wrote, The X-Files, Without a Trace, and The Practice.

He met his wife Irene after wrapping a production of Springvoices, and the two married in 1970. He has two stepsons from his wife's previous marriage and one daughter named Rachel, who became an actress as well.[9] In 1978 Robinson left acting professionally for five years, and concentrated on raising his family in the small mountain community of Idyllwild, California, located about 150 miles (240 km) from Los Angeles. During that time he taught community theatre for middle and high school students, and also worked as a carpenter to bring in a regular salary. He returned to acting professionally in the mid-1980s.[3]

In 1986, he played President John F. Kennedy in an episode of the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone, "Profile in Silver." In 1988 he portrayed Liberace in a television biopic. With one of Robinson's acting trademarks being his effeminate voice, he was well suited for the part. Robinson had described it as one of his favorite roles, and that, "The most fun was wearing his furs and jewelry and singing 'I'll be Seeing You.'"[10] The New York Times review wrote that, "Robinson does rather well in the leading role."[11] Robinson also returned to the stage in 1993 with a Broadway production of Frank Gilroy's Any Given Day, but the play closed after only six weeks.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine[edit]

In 1993, Robinson was cast in his first regular television role since Ryan's Hope in 1978. He played Elim Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a Cardassian tailor, with a secret past as a spy and assassin. The character was intended to be an enigmatic darkly comedic foil for the character of Dr. Julian Bashir (played by Alexander Siddig), and the two were often paired together onscreen. Prior to being cast in the role, Robinson knew little of the Star Trek franchise and had never seen an episode of any of the television series.[12]

Robinson was offered the role of Garak after he originally auditioned for the role of Odo, which eventually went to Rene Auberjonois. He almost did not accept the role, but was pressured into accepting for financial reasons.[13] Like the character of Garak, Robinson himself is claustrophobic, and at first, he had trouble performing in the heavy makeup. His character was originally intended to appear in only one episode, but eventually became one of the most frequent recurring characters of the series, appearing in 37 of the 176 episodes, as the writers of the show enjoyed working with the character. Originally meant to be an antagonist, the character became more sympathetic as the show progressed, and became one of the main protagonists by the end of the series. Robinson has described the role as being complex; he has said in a interview that, "the subtext is far more powerful than the actual text. Garak for me was like an iceberg. The tip is easy to define, but it's the rest of the character that's the challenge."[10]

After working on Deep Space Nine for several years, Robinson began a career in television directing, after directing the 1996 episode "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places." He went on to direct two episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and seven episodes of the courtroom drama Judging Amy, where his own daughter, Rachel Robinson, acted out a recurring character. In 2000, he wrote the novel A Stitch in Time, based on his character on Deep Space Nine. Robinson has stated that one of the reasons he wrote the novel was to get "total closure" of the character.[13] He also starred alongside DS9 costar Michael Dorn on an episode of Martial Law.

In 1993, Robinson founded the Matrix Theatre Company in Los Angeles, California. He is[when?] heading an MFA program in acting at the USC School of Dramatic Arts, and also directs performances for the Matrix Company. Robinson and his Deep Space Nine co-star Alexander Siddig are also known to perform one-act plays at Star Trek conventions.



Year Film Role
1971 Dirty Harry The Scorpio Killer (as Andy Robinson)
1973 Charley Varrick Harman Sullivan
1975 The Drowning Pool Pat Reavis
A Woman for All Men Steve McCoy
1985 Mask Dr. Vinton
1986 Cobra Monte
1987 The Verne Miller Story Pretty Boy Floyd
Hellraiser Larry Cotton / Frank Cotton (Uncredited)
1988 Shoot to Kill Harvey
1990 Fatal Charm Sheriff Harry Childs
1991 Child's Play 3 Sgt. Botnick
Prime Target Commissioner
1992 Trancers III Col. Muthuh
1994 There Goes My Baby Frank
The Puppet Masters Hawthorne
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings Sean Braddock
1998 Running Woman Captain Don Gibbs
2004 Homeland Security Senator
2005 A Question of Loyalty Dr. Albert Krentz


Year Program Role Notes
1974 Ironside David Cutter Season 7 Episode 21: "Come Eleven, Come Twelve"
1975 Kojak Leon Season 2 Episode 24: "I Want To Report A Dream"
1976 S.W.A.T. Edward Stillman Season 2 Episode 22: "Any Second Now"
1976–1978 Ryan's Hope Frank Ryan #2 Daytime Emmy nomination
1976–1980 Barnaby Jones (Various) Recurring
1980 Vega$ Derek Razzio Recurring
1985 The Atlanta Child Murders Jack Mallard Television miniseries
1986 The New Twilight Zone John F. Kennedy Episode #20-1 "Profile in Silver"
1987 The New Twilight Zone Mr. Williams Episode #33-3 "Private Channel"
1988 Liberace Liberace Made-for-television film
1991 Matlock Frank Hayes Season 6 Episode 9 "The Defense"
1993 Murder, She Wrote Ambrosse Episode #203
1993–1999 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Garak Recurring
1994 M.A.N.T.I.S. Solomon Box Recurring
1994 Wings Michael Foster Season 7, Episode 4 "The Person Formerly Known as Lowell Mather"
1999, 2004 JAG Admiral Thomas Kly Recurring
1997–1998 Star Trek: Voyager   Directed two episodes
1999 The X-Files Dr. Ian Detweiler Season 6, Episode 16 "Alpha"
1999–2005 Judging Amy Daniel McGill Directed seven episodes
2002 Presidio Med Jesse Recurring


  1. ^ "Andrew Robinson". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  2. ^ Andrew J. Robinson, USC School of Theater, accessed April 24, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Reeves, Vicki (April 1999). "Biography". Archived from the original on 2004-02-14.  Retrieved from Wayback Machine, July 29, 2008.
  4. ^ Erdmann, Terry J. and Block, Paula M. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion; Pocket Books; 2000; Page 352
  5. ^ Andrew J. Robinson biography. University of Southern California faculty page. Retrieved 8 February 2006.
  6. ^ a b Dirty Harry DVD bonus featurette.
  7. ^ Dirty Harry review. Box Office Magazine. December 20, 1971. Retrieved February 8, 2006.
  8. ^ First Person: Andrew Robinson. Retrieved February 8, 2006.
  9. ^ Andrew J. Robinson: Portrays Garak. Retrieved February 8, 2006.
  10. ^ a b Andrew Robinson chat transcript. May 30, 2002. Retrieved February 8, 2006.
  11. ^ Liberace - Review. The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2006.
  12. ^ Andrew Robinson Interview. SciFi Online. Retrieved February 8, 2006.
  13. ^ a b Sastrowardoyo, Hartriono B. (2001-10-26). "Andrew J. Robinson (Garak, DS9)". closed). Archived from the original on 2004-09-19. "The audition process is just endless, and I came back several times to read for Odo, and I just got tired of it. And I wasn't going to back in until my wife Irene said, "You know, we have to pay the bills this month. Get a job." [...] The reason I don't miss Garak is because of the book. I get total closure. I was able to say all the things about the character that I wanted to say."  JavaScript must be disabled to avoid orphaned script/s on the snapshot redirecting to a missing file error page. Last retrieved in original form on February 8, 2006.

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