Friday, April 11, 2008

Stanley Kamel Passes On

Actor Stanley Kamel, perhaps best known for playing Adrian Monk's psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger, on the TV show Monk, died Tuesday from a heart attack. He was 65 years old.

Kamel was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on January 1, 1943 and raised in South River, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers Preparatory School and later Boston University. He studied under acclaimed acting teacher Sanford Meisner, who also taught actors ranging from Gregory Peck to James Caan. He began his acting career in various off Broadway plays. He made his television debut in a bit part in an episode of Mission: Impossible in 1969. A year later he made his film debut in a bit part in the movie Bacchanale. Throughout the Seventies, he made guest appearances on such shows as The Sixth Sense, Mannix, The Mod Squad, Emergency, and Kojak. From 1972 to 1976 he played the role of Eric Peters on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Kamel appeared on Broadway in the musical Plantinum in 1978.

The Eighties saw Kamel make yet more guest appearances, on such shows as Quincy M.E., Three's Company, Hill Street Blues, and The Fall Guy. He was a semi-regular on Cagney and Lacey. He appeared in the films Making Love Star 80, and Murder by Numbers. The Nineties saw Kamel's career at its peak. He continued to guest star on such shows as Murder She Wrote, Matlock, and The Nanny. He was a regular on both Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210 and a semi-regular on L. A. Law. On Murder One he was a regular as the slightly frightening psychiatrist Dr. Graham Lester. He also appeared in the films Automatic, Ravager, A Fare to Remember, Stonebrook, and Running Red. The Naughts saw Kamel cast as Monk's long suffering psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Kroger, in the TV show Monk. He also appeared in the David Lynch movie Inland Empire, and the movies Judge Koan and Domino.

Stanley Kamel was one of the great characters of more recent generations. He could play a wide range of characters. Often they would be unsavoury characters, such as the scheming Tony Marchette on Beverly Hills 90210. Other times they might be a bit unsettling, a particular example being Dr. Lester on Murder One. Yet other times his characters could be comforting and reassuring, such as Dr. Kroger on the TV show Monk. What is remarkable is that Kamel could play all of these roles very convincingly. He was one of the many great character actors who often go unnoticed in film and television, almost never winning awards, but brightening any film or TV show in which they appear. It is sad that he had to die all too soon.

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