A Chat With Actor Robert Stack
June 20, 2002
From Lifetime Television Network

Robert Stack is a living legend in the entertainment industry. He is best known as the long-time host of the popular criminal drama "Unsolved Mysteries," where tips from viewers have helped solve more than 300 open cases and apprehend 40% of the profiled fugitives, since the series debut in 1989. Stack has won an Emmy, for his portrayal of Eliot Ness in the TV movie, “The Untouchables,” and an Oscar nomination for 1956's “Written On the Wind.” He has also worked on the TV shows “Name of the Game,” “Most Wanted,” and “Strike Force.” Tune into Lifetime’s new season of “Unsolved Mysteries” weeknights at 9 pm et/pt, featuring brand-new stories and updates!

Robert Stack says: Welcome to Unsolved Mysteries, and your questions, I hope I can satisfy you and if I can't I'll be very sad!

DaneF55 asks: How are you doing Robert?

Robert Stack says: Smashing, everything is super! The dog has behaved himself quite well all day, and the show is doing fantastically well in the ratings...I have no reason to be sad!

Buff523 asks: How did you get the part in Unsolved?

Robert Stack says: Good question, it's the kind of a show that is not really an acting job! Patrick McKnee sad, you know you're not really an actor, you are a story teller. Most actors put the focus on themselves, you are smart enough to put the focus on the story.. So from Pat McKnee that's a compliment. Our profession is very much like going to a cocktail party, you check out the guest list. Originally it was Raymond Burr, then Karl Malden, both good friends and good actors, and I said, well the company is good, lets make it as good as the company. For years people have called it a Heart Line, when you send it out it is received and recepted, on this show, they like it. I think.

MuchLovedJohnnyD1 asks: Do you ever watch your own shows?

Robert Stack says: Yes. I find these shows very touching sometimes. We did a show called The Orphan Train, during the depression, when families didn't have enough money to support their children, they'd put them on the train and hope someone would pick them up who had enough money to support their children. When watching it, my wife and I were in tears. So you do get drawn by this show.

scotterguy asks: Which type of case (Unexplained, Wanted, Lost Loves, etc) is your favorite?

Robert Stack says: I am very pro law enforcement. Someone once accused me of being like Eliot Ness. I sad no sir, I'm not E.N., but I can promise you that I'm not Al Capone! You tend to remember people you've known, Micky Thompson who held the world land speed record. When he died, I got to know his sister Colleen, and she has been trying to find the killers of her brother and his wife. Our show has kept this alive. She has been trying to reopen the case, our show helped point the finger at somebody who right now has been charged. It looks like Colleen's effort have not been in vain. The same thing is true of the Moxley case. So the show does in its own way, good. Thru the auspices of the viewers who become - I think this is an import - in a democracy, become a working unit with law enforcement against the criminals.

ScarlettOharaGWTW asks: How much time per week do you spend working on the "Unsolved Mysteries?"

Robert Stack says: I'm working 2 days a week right now, narration usually on Wed., and host on camera on Friday. And also we have updates when people are caught. So you are available to do whatever updates come up.

Kahluhafan asks: Do you consider yourself a private detective of sorts, via hosting this show? I know you aren't Elliot Ness, but you sure get the point across as we all sit and watch!

Robert Stack says: Well I come from a military family. Whether it s the country or city, I never liked the bad guy. I never put my arms around John Gotti, Al Capone or Lucky Luciano. For me very simply they were the bad guys. And when I did the Untouchables, I told them going in, if you try apologizing for any of these crumb bums, get someone else to play the part.

arto2farm asks: About how many shows have you done in your career on Unsolved mysteries?

Robert Stack says: In terms of segments, I think we've done 1,200. This show television wise its quite different from motion papers, you get to come into people's homes and become in a sense part of their life. When they adopt you, it's terrific! It's a word called symbiotic, you send the messages and it comes back in return. Together, it's a wonderful thing, it's why television is so great and film can never reach. I'm very proud this show has been accepted for this length of time.

UFOsRreal2 asks: what do you think about the Roswell case?

Robert Stack says: I don't mind UFO's and ghost stories, it's just that I tend to give value to the storyteller rather than to the story itself. I'll give you an example. In the Belgian air force a general supposedly saw a UFO, tracked it with his plane, photographed it with his wing cameras. And I believe it because I said to myself why would this person, not getting paid for this, do it unless it actually happened or he thought it happened. Now on the other hand, if someone is selling a product, opening a dance studio, or has some other aim to help themselves, then I tend to look askance at some of these strange stories from outer space.

indiqueen asks: Mr. Stack, do you have grandchildren?

Robert Stack says: No, unfortunately, my darling daughter's marriage didn't work, and I don't have any little weenies around the house. The only one I have I suppose is my little Yorkie and furry friend who greets you at the door with his waggy tail.

DMJ_Inc asks: What's your dogs name?

Robert Stack says: Tyrone. He has natural powers, naturally! When he arrived my wife was looking for a name, he's so beautiful, like a movie star! I said, Honey, Gable and Cooper have been used... she said, what about Tyrone Power? And I said, OK! So when you come to the house you are met at the door by Tyrone Power!

AbsoluteAmanda asks: When you are in public do people come to you asking for help in hopes of getting their story aired?

Robert Stack says: Yes, and many times it's frustrating, because I'm simply part of the show, and I'm not in the creative end of it, who goes out with detectives and tries to find these things out.

Princess1410 asks: what is your favorite food?

Robert Stack says: It's kind of sad, someone calls and says, my aunt Harriet, lost this thing at Niagara Falls..." And I just don't have the answers! Well, unfortunately whatever is low in the cholesterol that I can swallow! Other than caviar of course, and a little glass of white wine. I grew up in France, my first language was French, and I tend to gravitate towards French cooking. A great chef is an artist that I truly respect. The Indonesian and all the other exotics are not really for me!

TheOneCalledPhil1 asks: Is "Robert Stack" your real name, or did you have it changed? And if so, why?

Robert Stack says: It rather remembers the story of John Paine, they used to ask him is that your real name? And he said, would I have chosen it? If you've never heard of it, go to County Kerry in Ireland, and you'll find the Stack Mountains.

TJF1974 asks: What role do you see the internet having in help solving cases?

Robert Stack says: I think the instant communication, which is something to me of an eye opener, is the best possible way to solve crimes and mysteries. The bad guys don't keep getting any better internationally, I think the instant communication will help. It's a fight to the death, in Israel, or Saddam Hussein, you have to do the best you can to help your city survive. If I'm rambling, it's because there is no answer yet. Also the pictures themselves give a visual to the audience tuning in, that makes them a very important part of law enforcement, or pulling families together. You go to Lifetimetv.com or unvolved.com and you personally can be an important part of solving cases. This is where the interaction, the symbiotic between the viewer and the show, is important. It's a public service I think.

PuttPutt1 asks: How many mysteries have been solved since the show started?

Robert Stack says: I think forty percent, over 300. It depends on the kinds of mysteries...when you get into the esoterics of outer space, alien, who comes down and has breakfast with your grandmother.... Anyway, more than 300...

Kyle4747 asks: Do you always wear that trench coat?

Robert Stack says: I only wear the trench coat because I desperately want to be Robert Mitchum. You never know you throw it out there and hope the audience digs it. It gives you a rather mysterious thing I guess. One reviewer asked why does Robert Stack keep wearing a trench coat, when it doesn't rain, and he keeps popping out from behind trees! It's not ALL trench coats though.

RobertStackIsGod asks: Robert, I love the show so much and think you're wonderful. All my college friends sit around watching Unsolved Mysteries all the time, we love it. My question is, what made you decide to bring back Unsolved Mysteries to TV? ...the new episodes?

Robert Stack says: yes, because people, television is highly complex, everybody thinks they have the answers, and no one does, except the viewers, we had access to three separate networks, but we went with Lifetime, and we love them. They have a good team feeling, and they have been very supportive. It can be lonely out there. I can name a couple of networks that weren't so supportive!

NathanHwk11 asks: Are you a NASCAR fan Mr. Stack?

Robert Stack says: Oh yes, of course. l used to in my sordid youth, I used to speed, and race hydroplanes, boats that ride like airplanes. I used to go to the salt flats, I knew Ab Jenkins, one of the great race drivers of all time. He held a 24 hour worlds record, this is why I got myself involved with Mickey Thompson. Speed was a very important part of my life. Someone once asked me if I ever tried drugs. And I said I didn't need it, I had speed. It's a kick.

pepperann768 asks: What kind of car do you drive?

Robert Stack says: I drive a 300 ZX Nissan, but my favorite car was the one Desi Arnez gave me in 1960 the night I won the Emmy. The 300SL Mercedes Roadster. We won the Emmy we had six Nominations and four awards for a show called "The Untouchables." Desi Arnez, the producer, said let's go outside amigo, and around the corner was a 300 SL Mercedes, one of the great cars of all time, A guy gets out with the Mercedes thing on his back, and said, Meester Stack, here are the keys to your car. It's in Peterson's museum in Los Angeles right now.

robertlover asks: If you knew Desi Arnez, did you ever meet Lucille Ball?

Robert Stack says: Lucille was a darling lady. Probably the finest comedienne in the business. Kind of a funny story... I did the Lucille Ball show. They were producers of a show called The Untouchables. I had been playing Elliot Ness for about four years. Suddenly I appear with Lucy. And she said, you know, if you'd only try.. And I said, you know Lucy, for four years, I've been making you and Desi millions of dollars playing E.N. and I think I ought to know how to do it by now. And she said, OK baby, go! I grew up in this profession as a kid, Clark Cable was like my surrogate father, my father died when I was nine. We used to go duck shooting, Clark, Bob Montgomery, Bob Taylor, Andy Devine, and I got to know the greats like Carole Lombard. When I won the world's championships at skeet at 17, the darling lady, Carole Lombard, sent me a wire, I though it said, I love you because you're the best, but it said, you are the best because I love you. Carole. Then I wound up doing To Be or Not To Be with her, I played her lover, now she is married to a fellow called Clark Cable, who used to be like my dada. I was really privileged to know some really special people. My great grandfather had the first theater in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Theater, on 3rd and Spring.

Sweetchick912 asks: I'm only 13 and in school so I miss your show during the day. I like being sick so I can stay home and watch them. Do you get scared from any of them?

Robert Stack says: One of the best compliments I think I've had, in a strange sort of way, from a young lady in Palm Springs, she said, I just love your show, and your voice scares the hell out of me I go into my room, lock the doors, and your voice just scares the hell out of me, it's even better than a roller coaster ride! And I said, I spent most of my life trying to become an actor just so I could scare little girls!

thebreadness asks: Mr. Stack, what are you feelings on some of your voice over roles such as "Beavis and Butthead do America" and "Transformers The Movie?"

Robert Stack says: I think voiceover is an adjunct that actors have picked up that have given us some security. I grew up years ago doing something that unfortunately doesn't hardly exist any more, a medium called Radio. The master was Orson Wells, and you could do singles, doubles, triples, you could do 2 or 3 voices in the same show. Orson Wells was magnificent. But you could play Romeo, with a beard, in the bathroom. But you learned something the young actors never learned. And that is the use of voice, dramatically. Either as a story teller or an actor. And it is a part of our profession. So you will find many of our top actors now jumping into animated motion pictures. It's a part of our profession that a lot of people have never developed but should have.

brandycandy09 asks: I think your show is so mysteries and cool.. and I want to act now...I will be going to New York this summer any words of advice?

Robert Stack says: I've heard that from every mother...the only answer is... an answer that one of the great directors I've ever met, called George Shdanoff, who with Michhael Chekhov had their own theater. Someone came to audition, the first question was why do you want to become an actor. If one answer was so I could see my name in lights, be around pretty girls, make a lot of money, he would then point to the door and say get out! If you don't love it, you can't suffer thru all the despair that comes with it. Keep doing it because you love it. It's true. You have to love the doing of what you're doing and not wait for the phone to ring.

quetzal121 asks: What do you do on your spare time?

Robert Stack says: I wander around and my wife and I are very close, we go out and go to places we discover, we love to eat and drinking doesn't hurt. My brother has a beautiful place in Lake Tahoe that we visit. We take cruises. I play bad golf for good charities like the LA Police. Make money, like a dancing bear, for things that are worthy.

pepperann768 asks: Do you think the Chupacabres are real? I saw them on your show.

Robert Stack says: LOL! That is the question of the day! First of all, I read the script and couldn't pronounce it, then when I saw this strange apparition, flashlight red eyes, going around eating small chickens, doing weird things...I sort of washed my hands of that particular show.

jovelle asks: Just wanted to say that my mom and I have watched you from the beginning. She's died 3 years ago and watching you every night makes me feel like she's still here watching with me! Thank you.

Robert Stack says: That's very touching, and thank you, and never lose the memory of your mama. I don't mine, I talk to her all the time.

WintermistStudios asks: I love the touching animal stories! What was your favorite Animal Story you told on UM's?

Robert Stack says: The one about the blood hound really touched me. And also educated. I put my arm around this darling dog, and we got to be friends, and I realized the extra sensory gifts that this animal had. Where he could track a car through the exhaust of an airconditioning in the car, so that this fantastic dog could follow this car, and do things that are really magical. I was very close to him, I felt he was a real person, we got to be chums.

cool7upguy asks: Are they planning on having you go on location or will they continue having you host from what appears to be a Church?

Robert Stack says: Locations are like diamonds, very different to find in this day and age. I used to be a photographer, and I know visually how important a background can be. We do use them occasionally. A church is important because of course the stained glass windows, and multi colored backgrounds. They have a book of locations, and we would do a story about the Sahara Desert for instance, and in the California book you would find a comparable location, to match that location in California. Again, to try to bring the viewer the best of all possible worlds, we tried to match a foreign location with what we could do in California. The fact that you took the time and trouble to match the two, so you'd feel the narrator was there, because not too many people go to the Sahara on location. On purpose!

BerettaU22 asks: Stacker! how is it that you look exactly the same as when the show started in '89?? Amazing.

Robert Stack says: All I can do is blush or courtesy. I have no idea. Genes I guess! I learned early on, having known the most handsome, successful, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, don't ever spend too much time looking in the mirror. Because it ain't what you look like daddy, it's how you come of. off. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any Bogarts. Bogart was a dear friend of mine. That was a great thing about growing up in this town, knowing people like Bogey. That's why I never took this business too seriously, thinking I was something special, when I knew the truly great performers in motion pictures. pictures.

rqueen11 asks: I'm a kindergarten teacher, and one day a students said to me, "do you know that cats can save old people from gas leaks?" Since I am such a huge fan, I knew that he was referring to the episode of UM that was on the previous night!

Robert Stack says: Thank you for watching. It was true actually. I don't have a cat though!

Thabettahalf1 asks: Does the sad stories that you show make you feel down sometimes?

Robert Stack says: This show deals with truth, and if you care at all, and I do care, when you are doing the narration on it, we had parties at one time after the show, and we would get to meet some of these people, and you'd have full realization then that this is for real, not just storytelling. It's their personal stories, and you better darn well do a good job. Yes of course, it gets me down, child molestation, beatings, they do impact on you, you can't help it, otherwise you wouldn't read the papers. But there is an effort to rectify on the part of people tuning in that I find interesting.

Shannaishere asks: I would like to know, how did you feel when you were first presented with hosting "Unsolved Mysteries?"

Robert Stack says: I felt like I was walking into something I had no idea would work or not. I did it because 2 good friends of mine, Raymond Burr and Karl Malden, had done it before me. But it's not acting, it's a different kind of show business. You have to wait for the audience to tell you if it works or not. Happily over the years, people seemed to care. It's very touching to me, because the stories are true, and it's the average citizen trying to help another citizen.

kookie96 asks: You broadcast several cases of Unexplained phenomena. Have you ever experienced any "unexplained" phenomena? And do you believe a lot of it?

Robert Stack says: I don't really know. I've never truly experienced....I'll tell you one show my dear friend Jim Lindsey did on location... I qualify it by saying that there are no more sophisticated people inthe world than a motion picture crew, the strange "haunted house" in Florida, all I can tell you is things happened within that house, to the degree that nobody in the crew would go back in to the house after the sun went down. Windows exploding, things that were phenomenal. You make up your own mind. When the crew wouldn't go back in, then you KNOW something was going on.

msmep asks: Are you currently involved in any other acting projects?

Robert Stack says: We have a show in the works about heroes of World War II. Which everyone seems to, since my good friend Steven Spielberg did Private Ryan, has an awareness of the fact that had we not won that particular war, we wouldn't be here... So anyway, I'm going back on the 17th of July, when Eagle Squadron is being installed sixty years late, in the Aviation Hall of Fame. I made a movie called Eagle Squadron, about the Americans who involved themselves in the war against Hitler before America declared war on Hitler. I found out I was on Hitler's hit list, because I had done an anti Nazi movie called The Mortal Storm. And so I was aware of what was going on before America declared war, and I take my hat off to these young men who had the guts to go out there, and involve themselves in something they believed in, before America backed them up.

JuliansFairy asks: How much longer will "Unsolved Mysteries" be on TV for?

Robert Stack says: The show has an amazing life conditioned upon the reaction of the viewers. It's ever youthful, and ever topical. Life itself is strange enough. I get a kick out of it, because it's on the side of good, and it makes all of us, if you believe in democracy, involved in making the country a better place. We're very fond of Lifetime because they are a support group, and a team, and in this profession that comfortable wonderful feeling of doing it together is the greatest.

WintermistStudios asks: What are your plans for the future?

Robert Stack says: To be available, as every actor is, for the next job that comes along! Not desperately, I know the profession well enough, but as my darling Carole Lombard said, It's nice to get invited to the party!

Lifetime_Moderator says: Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Mr. Stack!

Robert Stack says: I want to thank everyone who tuned in, thanks for listening to me, it's been a very exciting evening for me. God Bless you and thank you!

Chicknskinz asks: Bye!!! Thanks so much!

pepperann768 asks: THANK YOU !!YOU ARE GREAT!

ReneePalmer asks: Thanks Mr. Stack! you are the coolest!


cool7upguy asks: ROBERT YOU ARE AWESOME!

TheOneCalledPhil1 asks: I SALUTE YOU, MR. STACK

TKESigmadelta182 asks: Thanks Mr. Stack! you are the best!

This Transcript has not been copyedited.

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©2002 Lifetime Entertainment Services

Memoriam: Robert Stack
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