Though best known as Larry Dallas, the smarmy and morally flexible neighbor to Jack, Chrissy and Janet on television’s Three’s Company, Richard Kline has since had a long and fruitful career on both stage and screen. I was able to discuss with Richard some of his more recent roles, his acting workshop, and necrophilia.
The Rumpus: You played Larry, the unlikeable, desperate used car salesman of a neighbor. Larry was one of many in a string of unlikeable Larrys, from Larry Appleton on Perfect Strangers to Larry the hillbilly on Newhart. Do you feel a responsibility to the Larrys of the world for helping to ruin the name by perpetuating an image of loserdom?
Richard Klein: WHOA! Stop right there. Who said “Larry” was unlikeable? I can’t speak for those other three “Larrys,” but from fan mail and meetings with fans, they seem to get a guilty pleasure watching Larry’s comic desperation. As for the ruining the name “Larry” I hope Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves wasn’t embarrassed by his real name (Larry).
Rumpus: Where do you think Larry is right now? Larry Dallas, not Chipper Jones Larry.
Klein: Larry is married to Roseanne and he is in charge of accounts receivable on her macadamia nut farm in Hawaii where he’s been skimming off the top; not money…macadamias.
Rumpus: You’ve worked with some of Hollywood’s luminaries, from Tom Bosley to Jameson Parker and even David Birney. Who would you like to work with that you haven’t, and without naming names, was there anyone you would have preferred not to work with?
Klein: I would like to work with currently the funniest man on the planet, Zach Galifianakis. I would be happy to be his straightman. Dramatically, anything with Kevin Spacey would be keen. I have been fortunate as a professional actor not to have worked with anyone unprofessional.
Rumpus: You worked with the late Bea Arthur on Maude. Did you find her height and confidence to be as much of a turn-on as I do?
Klein: She’s dead which makes you a necrophiliac.
Rumpus: Speaking of people thinking I make love to the deceased, you offer acting workshops. Are these the type of workshops that could teach someone how to act well enough to pass a lie detector test? Because I have one coming up that I really need to pass.
Klein: I am sooo not surprised based on the previous questions. This is the first interview I’ve ever given to a stalker.
Rumpus: I think you’re confusing me with a different Ted Wilson. Aside from your lengthy television career you also are a veteran of the stage and recently played the Wizard of Oz in the National Company of Wicked, a story about witches. As a role model, do you worry that promoting the Black Arts might lead children down a path of to the Dark Master?
Klein: We’ve had a multitude of small-fry run from the theater but mainly to watch the next sequel of Transformers.
Rumpus: If you’re looking for a career change, I am running for President and will need a Secretary of State. Are you interested?
Klein: I would be happier being Secretary of Da Fence, making sure our borders are secure.
Rumpus: Sorry, I need a distinguished looking Secretary of State. I thought of you because in recent years you’ve gone gray. Strangely, your eyebrows remain very dark. What’s up with that?
Klein: My hair is actually dark, I dye my hair silver.