|Born||John Michael Beck Taylor
February 4, 1949
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Cari Beck (1980-present) 2 children|
Life and career
Beck was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the third of nine children. He attended Memphis University School and then Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, on a baseball scholarship. While in college he was initiated into Kappa Alpha Order fraternity after being heavily hazed. After graduating with a degree in Economics, he was one of 30 (out of 2,500) applicants chosen for London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Michael's stage credits, beginning with college, include: Camelot (he was King Arthur); and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Besides acting, his hobbies include reading, music and cooking.
Beck is known predominantly for his roles as Swan in the action film The Warriors (1979), Sonny Malone in Xanadu (1980), Lieutenant Commander Dallas in Megaforce (1982), and Koda in The Triumphs of a Man Called Horse (1983). Both the Xanadu and Megaforce roles garnered him Razzie nominations, for Worst Actor and Worst Supporting Actor, respectively. Beck also appeared in other movies such as Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story (1980, as Clarence Carnes), Warlords of the 21st Century (1982), The Last Ninja (1983), The Golden Seal (1983, as an evil poacher), Wes Craven's Chiller (1985, as a cryonically suspended sociopath), Gone to Texas (1986, as Jim Bowie), Forest Warrior (1996, starring Chuck Norris), and Jungle Book: Lost Treasure (1998). He read for, but did not get, the role of Sir Lancelot in John Boorman's 1981 movie Excalibur.
Beck appeared as Hans Helms in the 1978 TV miniseries Holocaust, and also starred in a short-lived television series, Houston Knights (1987), in the role of Sgt. Levon Lundy. More recently, Beck starred in television shows JAG, Robin's Hoods, Walker Texas Ranger (in the episodes Flashpoint and Second Chance), In the Heat of the Night, and as the Mars-born terrorist-turned-cyborg assassin Abel Horn in Babylon 5 episode "Spider in the Web", and as Mr. Jones in the spinoff series Crusade (episode "The Well of Forever").
Beck has narrated numerous audiobooks of John Grisham's novels. He has also narrated Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz; A Darkness More Than Light by Michael Connelly; State of the Union by David Callahan; and the unabridged version of Bill Clinton's My Life. He also reprised his role as Swan in 2005, lending his voice to the popular video game adaptation of The Warriors.
Beck lives in California with his songwriter-wife Cari (they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in September 2010), and with their two children, daughter Ashley and son Jesse. According to Michael, neither of his kids act.
- Maslin, Janet (February 10, 1979). "The Warriors (1979) Movie: 'Warriors' Creates Visual Style That Is Stark:The Cast". The New York Times.
- Maslin, Janet (August 9, 1980). "Xanadu (1980) MISS NEWTON-JOHN IN 'XANADU'". The New York Times.
- Schiesel, Seth (October 16, 2005). "Gangs of New York". The New York Times.