Robert Z'Dar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Robert Z'Dar
Born Robert J. Zdarsky
(1950-06-03)June 3, 1950
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died March 30, 2015(2015-03-30) (aged 64)
Pensacola, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Cardiac arrest
Other names Robert Darcy, Robert West, Bobby Z'Dar, Bobby Z'dar, Robert Zdar
Occupation Actor, film producer
Years active 1976–2015

Robert J. Zdarsky (June 3, 1950 – March 30, 2015), better known by his stage name Robert Z'Dar, was an American actor and film producer, best known for his role as officer Matt Cordell in the cult horror film Maniac Cop and its two sequels.[1]

Z'Dar worked mainly in low-budget B-movies and direct-to-video features, but occasionally in mainstream Hollywood films and television. Due to his cherubism, a medical condition resulting in an enlarged jawline, Z'dar had a unique and easily recognizable look with a slightly sinister appearance, which aided his career as he usually portrayed villains.

A prolific actor, Z'Dar appeared in 121 films and television episodes over the course of his 29-year career.

Early life[edit]

Born in the West Lawn neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois,[2] Z'Dar was of Lithuanian descent. He first started acting while attending Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois. After high school, Z'Dar attended Arizona State University[2] where he received a BFA and played on the university football team.[1] After graduation, Z'Dar returned to Chicago where he was employed variously as a Chicago police officer, member of the band Nova Express, commercial jingle writer and Chippendales dancer.[2]

Acting career[edit]

Eventually Z'Dar moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. His first feature film appearance was in the women in prison film Hellhole (1985).[2]

Z'Dar appeared in several films, including Hot Chili (1985), The Night Stalker (1987), Cherry 2000 (1987), The Killing Game (1988), and Grotesque (1988). Z'Dar's name became recognizable when he played Matt Cordell in 1988's Maniac Cop, a film about a back from the dead hero NYPD cop turned evil avenger who brutally murders people.[3] Z'Dar reprised his role in the 1990 sequel and Badge of Silence (1993).[4]

It was perhaps Z'Dar's performance in Maniac Cop that landed him the role of "Face" in 1989's Tango & Cash, alongside action stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell.[5] He went on to appear in films such as The Final Sanction (1990), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), Killing American Style (1990), Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), Mobsters (1991), Samurai Cop (1991), Return to Frogtown (1993), Marching Out of Time (1993), Death from Above (2011) and Easter Sunday (2014).

Robert Z'Dar appeared in more than 121 films and television episodes, with at least one film appearance per year in 27 of the last 29 years (missing only 1986 and 2001).[1] He continued making at least one film every year despite a serious back injury he suffered in 2002 on a movie set. Two of Z'Dar's films, Soultaker (1992) and Future War (1997) appeared in season 10 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, increasing his renown somewhat.[6]


While appearing at Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida, Z'Dar was hospitalized for chest pains. He seemed to recover but subsequently went into cardiac arrest and died on March 30, 2015 after a month at the hospital.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Maniac Cop Actor Robert Z’Dar Dies at 64
  2. ^ a b c d R.I.P. Robert Z’Dar, cult actor and Maniac Cop
  3. ^ Hardy, Phil; Institute, British Film (1997). The BFI companion to crime. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-304-33215-1. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Newman, Kim (May 10, 2011). Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 385. ISBN 978-1-4088-0503-9. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  5. ^ Lindenmuth, Kevin J. (January 2002). The independent film experience: interviews with directors and producers. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7864-1075-0. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ Robert Z'Dar (1950 - 2015)
  7. ^ Cult actor Robert Z'Dar dies in Pensacola

External links[edit]