I chatted with television icon Larry Wilcox about his “CHiPS” experiences and meeting fans.
Q: Talk about your childhood, where you grew up, etc
I was born in San Diego but grew up in Wyoming. I lived there most of my life. My mom raised three boys and one girl. It was your typical small town with ranches, work ethic, learning that working hard was your validation..
The negative of that small environment is that you’re not developed. It limits your lack of culture. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, but that’s the way of life sometimes when you’re from a rural setting.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
When I was in High School I started to act in plays. I got some applause, and then it crashes you ego, and you think you could do this forever. I was an athlete who was doing plays on the side ::laughs:: Didn’t seem normal to some people at the time.
When I came to California, I studied at the Beverly Hills Music Academy. The owner let me study there for two years for free. She helped me with agents and acting. My cousin, Marcia Wagner, was an actress doing tons of acting stuff at the time. We used to visit all the studios, hang out on the beach with all the surfers. What a great time for kids in the 60’s.
I went into the Marine Corp during Vietnam. Came out when I was 21, and landed “Lassie.” After that, I got all kinds of commercials, guest stars on episodic titles, Disney movies, etc. I was kind of the boy next door, confident. Or I could play a hard ass criminal. I was really lucky.
Q: What was your experience on “Lassie” like?
It was educational. I did all my own stunts. I didn’t know any better ::laughs:: I worked for minimum wage at the time. I had such a veracious appetite and shoot Lassie and different things. I learned camera angles and things like that.
Q: If you could describe your “CHiPS” experience in one word, what would it be and why?
Q: Was it hard doing your own stunts?
I did easier stunts, things I had always done. Rode horses, motorcycles, jet skis. The really TOUGH stunts I didn’t do.
Q: You just returned from an appearance on “Battle Of The Network Stars.” Was it hard to compete?
Yeah it was hard on a lot of levels. You’re limited physically, although I go hiking, play basketball, ride jet ski’s. What happens is your stride gets shorter. All the flexibility was gone. I felt like I ran pretty good. I should’ve done well in basketball, but I lost. It was humbling. I got to see Erik and laugh a lot.
Q: Which competition was the hardest for you?
The one I didn’t do this time was the obstacle course. I feel like that was my best events in the past.I severed my bicep so I can’t hold on to anything, so if I hang on to the top, I’d be dead. Tug of war was the hardest event I competed in. It was EXHAUSTING. I had to go to the chiropractor for a week after ::laughs::
Q: Are you excited about your appearance at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Baltimore this week?
I am! I’ve always thought Baltimore was a special city. Love that area of the East Coast. Every time I come to one of these, I enjoy talking to the people. You get to meet so many interesting ones! I’ve had people come up to me and tell them I was the reason that they became a policeman. It’s a lucky, lucky opportunity for a celebrity to share joy with someone.
The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention takes places this Thursday – Saturday at The Hunt Valley Delta Hotel! Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20.
**Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada will be appearing Friday and Saturday ONLY**
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Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention Official Website