(written from a Production point of view)
Lawrence Tierney (15 March 1919 – 26 February 2002; age 82) was an actor who appeared in two of the Star Trek spin-offs. He first played Cyrus Redblock in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Big Goodbye". Nearly a decade later, he played the Regent of Palamar in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Business as Usual".
With his gruff, no-nonsense demeanor, Tierney is best known for playing "tough guy" roles throughout the 1940s, primarily mobsters and hardened criminals. He first acquired recognition for his portrayal of vicious gangster John Dillinger in the 1945 film Dillinger, in which he co-starred with fellow TNG/DS9 guest star and fellow "tough guy" actor Marc Lawrence. He is also remembered for his performance as brutal killer Sam Wilde in 1947's Born to Kill, directed by Robert Wise. Both of these films also featured TOS guest star Elisha Cook, Jr. in a supporting role. Tierney again worked with his Dillinger co-star Marc Lawrence in the 1967 Western Custer of the West, which co-starred Jeffrey Hunter.
Although Tierney had starring roles between 1945 and 1950, the 1950s saw him reduced to playing supporting characters, the result of several well-publicized off-screen brushes with the law. These altercations severely damaged Tierney's career, and as the years went on, his movie parts grew smaller. He did, however, have an occasional major role, as was the case with the 1987 film Tough Guys Don't Dance, co-starring Clarence Williams III. He also had a recurring role on the television series Hill Street Blues from 1985 through 1987, on which he played Sergeant Jenkins and worked with series regular James B. Sikking. In addition, he played Elaine Benes' father in an early episode of Seinfeld, the popular NBC series which starred Jason Alexander.
In 1992, Tierney once again gained recognition from moviegoers for his portrayal of group leader Joe Cabot in Quentin Tarantino's cult film Reservoir Dogs. He subsequently had small roles in such films as the 1994 comedy Junior (which also featured Frank Langella and Alexander Enberg) and the 1998 sci-fi/action blockbuster *Armageddon (which was co-written by J.J. Abrams and which also featured Anthony Guidera, Marshall R. Teague, Matt Malloy, Andy Milder, and Jim Fitzpatrick). In addition, he made guest appearances on such television series as Silk Stalkings (with Henry Darrow and Freda Foh Shen), L.A. Law (with Corbin Bernsen, Larry Drake, Samantha Eggar, Harvey Jason, and Tom Wright), and ER (with Lily Mariye and George Murdock). He also voiced Don Brodka in the "Marge Be Not Proud" episode of The Simpsons.
Tierney was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 15 March 1919. He was a track and field star at Brooklyn's Boys High School and earned an athletic scholarship to Manhattan College, but quit after two years to work as a laborer on the New York Aqueduct. He subsequently moved from job to job across the country until an acting coach convinced to take on acting. Tierney joined the Black Friars Theatre group and later the American-Irish Theatre, where he was spotted by an RKO talent scout and given a film contract in 1943.
As much as he was known for playing a "tough guy" on the big screen, Tierney was known more so for actually being one in real life. Throughout his life, Tierney often got into public altercations with others, including the law. Between 1944 and 1951, he was arrested a dozen times for brawling and drunkenness. These incidents often received ample media coverage, hindering his acting career. He returned to New York in the 1960s, where he did several odd-jobs and found occasional film work. An admitted alcoholic, he quit drinking after suffering a stroke in 1982. He returned to Hollywood in 1983 and continued working in film as well as television.
Tierney would even instigate confrontations between fellow actors and other crew members. During the filming of "The Big Goodbye", he menacingly insulted 15-year-old Wil Wheaton with his remarks. While working on Seinfeld, he scared the cast members by hiding a butcher knife from the set under his jacket and wielding it jokingly at series star Jerry Seinfeld. He was never invited back to the show. On the set of Reservoir Dogs, the cast and crew found Tierney's antics both amusing and disturbing, and Tierney nearly got into fights with co-star Edward Bunker and writer-director Quentin Tarantino.
Tierney's agent, Don Gerler, stated that he was bailing Tierney out of jail as late as 1994, when Tierney was 75. Tierney succumbed to pneumonia in February of 2002 in Los Angeles, California. He was 82 years old.
Other Trek connections
Additional films in which Tierney appeared with other Star Trek performers include:
- A Child Is Waiting (1963) with Bill Mumy
- Such Good Friends (1971) with Laurence Luckinbill
- Prizzi's Honor (1985) with Joseph Ruskin
- Silver Bullet (1985) with Terry O'Quinn and Bill Smitrovich
- Murphy's Law (1986) with Janet MacLachlan
- The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) with Ricardo Montalban and Tiny Ron
- The Horror Show (1989) with Aron Eisenberg
- Why Me? (1990) with Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Pollard
- City of Hope (1991) with Jude Ciccolella
- 2 Days in the Valley (1996) with Louise Fletcher and Teri Hatcher