(written from a Production point of view)
David Graf (16 April 1950 – 7 April 2001; age 50) was an American actor who guest-starred on both Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. On Voyager, he played Amelia Earhart's navigator, Fred Noonan, in the second season opening episode, "The 37's". On DS9, he appeared as the Klingon Leskit in the episode "Soldiers of the Empire". His widow, Kathryn Graf, is also a DS9 alum, having guest-starred in "A Man Alone", the second episode filmed for the series. Prior to his appearance as Noonan in the Voyager episode "The 37's", Graf guest-starred in a series called Voyagers! (VOY Season 2 DVD "The 37's" text commentary)
He is best remembered for his role as Officer (and later Sergeant) Eugene Tackleberry in all seven of the Police Academy movies from 1984 through 1994. He also played the character on the short-lived 1997-98 series inspired by the films. One of these films, 1988's Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, also featured his wife, Kathryn, as well as DS9 star Rene Auberjonois and Star Trek: The Next Generation guest star Matt McCoy. In fact, all the other Police Academy films featured fellow Trek alumni: the first film (1984) had Kim Cattrall, Steve Guttenberg and Scott Thomson; Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) had Arthur Batanides, who also appeared in the fourth and sixth films; Scott Thomson, Steve Guttenberg and Brian Tochi appeared in Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) and also appeared in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987); Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989) featured Gerrit Graham, Darryl Henriques, Kenneth Mars, Matt McCoy, Beans Morocco, and Angelo Tiffe; and Ron Perlman co-starred in Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994).
Born in Lancaster, Ohio, Graf attended Lancaster High School where his love of theater and drama were predominant. Upon graduation in 1968, he attended Otterbein University, where he majored in theater. From there, he went to graduate school at Ohio State University but dropped out in 1975 and moved to New York City to pursue a professional acting career, ultimately breaking into film and television in 1981.
Graf was described as a shy person who kept to himself. He died of a heart attack at a family wedding just nine days short of his 51st birthday. His father and grandfather both also suffered heart attacks and died at age 51.
Graf, struggling to find acting work, made his television debut as a contestant on the game show The $20,000 Pyramid, where he won US$10,000 with the help of celebrity guest panelist Patty Duke. Graf himself became a guest panelist on the show, competing against Duke.
After his game show appearance, Graf took on small guest roles on popular TV shows like M*A*S*H (starring David Ogden Stiers, in an episode with Cyril O'Reilly), The A-Team (starring Dwight Schultz, in an episode with Javier Grajeda and Carlos LaCamara) and Hardcastle and McCormick (starring Brian Keith and Daniel Hugh Kelly). He also made his feature film debut in the 1981 drama Four Friends, starring Craig Wasson and Jim Metzler and also featuring Natalia Nogulich.
Acquiring some celebrity as Tackleberry in 1984's Police Academy, Graf opted to reprise the role in five sequels, each released one year after the other, from 1985 through 1989. In the meantime, he continued acting on television. He found himself as a regular on the ABC series He's the Mayor in 1986, although it only ran for ten episodes, with three episodes filmed but never aired. He also guest-starred in an episode of Night Court, working with series star John Larroquette and fellow guest star Keye Luke. In addition, he starred in a few TV movies, including 1988's Police Story: The Watch Commander, with Gregg Henry and Carlos LaCamara.
When the Police Academy films seemingly ended after 1989, Graf stuck primarily to television. He appeared in the last two episodes of Beauty and the Beast in 1990, working alongside series star Ron Perlman as well as Jeff Corey, Fionnula Flanagan, and Ellen Geer. In 1991 he worked with future Star Trek: Enterprise actors Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell on their series, Quantum Leap. That same year, he and Jeffrey Combs guest-starred in an episode of Life Goes On, starring Bill Smitrovich. Also in '91, Graf appeared on Doogie Howser, M.D., starring James B. Sikking.
Graf went on to appear on such shows as Seinfeld (starring Jason Alexander, in an episode with Stephen McHattie and Heidi Swedberg), Picket Fences (with Richard McGonagle and Ray Walston), Dream On (with Police Academy co-star Kim Cattrall), Lois & Clark (starring Teri Hatcher, in an episode with Barbara Bosson), Party of Five (with Ellen Bry) and JAG (with James Parks). In his final years, Graf made appearances on shows like Becker (starring Terry Farrell, in an episode with Fran Bennett and Wade Williams), The West Wing and Son of the Beach.
He did continue acting in films, however. He had supporting roles in the 1993 thriller Suture and the 1994 comedy Guarding Tess, with the latter co-starring fellow DS9 guest star Edward Laurence Albert. Also in 1994, he returned to the role of Sgt. Tackleberry on film one last time for a Mission to Moscow.
Subsequent film credits include 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie (with James Avery, Michael McKean, and Keone Young) and 1996's Citizen Ruth (with Kenneth Mars and Kurtwood Smith) and Skeletons (co-starring Dennis Christopher and Christopher Plummer). More recently, he had a small role in the 2000 hit Rules of Engagement, along with Gordon Clapp, Thomas Knickerbocker, and Richard McGonagle, and had a supporting role in the little-known adventure film The Cactus Kid, co-starring Mike Starr. And in 2002 Graf co-starred with fellow Trek actors Scott Bakula, Ron Perlman, and John Schuck in the made-for-TV movie The Trial of Old Drum. This latter production proved to be Graf's final acting work; it was released six months after his death.
Video games Edit
- Klingon Captain (Star Trek: Invasion)
- Terran Empire Officer (Star Trek: Elite Force)
- First Tugol'atan (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen)
- Ensign Ty Mijoral (Star Trek: Away Team)