'Friday the 13th' Brings Him Luck

Chicago South Town Economist TV Magazine--Cover Story
Anna Marie Kukec
November 20-26, 1988; pp. 8-9.

Ryan Dallion survived electrocution, fought a rabid ventriloquist's dummy & was bit on the neck by a ravaging crow. But that's nothing compared to being tough with the devil each week.

Former Chicagoan John D. LeMay portrays Dallion, the co-owner of the infamous antique store on "Friday the 13th: The Series," now in its second season on WPWR-TV (Channel 50). It airs Fridays at 8 p.m. and again Saturdays at 11 p.m.

Being an heir to horror has become a real challenge for LeMay.

"It's been a struggle with the devil & the writers each week," he added, laughing. "In the show, I've lost so many girlfriends. It's hard to keep a relationship."

LeMay's character of Dallion & his two distant cousins Micki Foster (model-singer Robey) & Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins) try to retrieve the many cursed antiques from unsuspecting customers.

Since the first season, Dallion seems to have grown into a more responsible adult. After all, he feels Dallion is "an ordinary guy stuck in extraordinary situations."

"He can't help but grow up," LeMay noted during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto where the series is filmed.

"When you're faced with all these horrific things every week, you develop more of an edge. As a defender of good, he's become more serious & not so reluctant to jump into a situation."

LeMay himself was rather reluctant about what to do with his future. He was born in Minnesota & raised in Normal, Illinois where he attended Illinois State University. He graduated in 1984 with a degree in theatre arts, including dance & music.

"I lived with some actors when I was going to school then. At that time, I didn't really know what to focus on, but living with those actors soon helped me to make a decision," LeMay recalled.

His family was reluctant about his career choice, but supportive, LeMay recalled.

"They just wanted to make sure I had something to fall back on," he noted.

He then moved to Chicago to study at the Theatre Building, Steppenwolf & the Fine Arts School of Dance.

Besides his stage work in Chicago, he starred in locally-made television commercials for Equal sugar substitute & Illinois Bell.

He moved again, this time to Los Angeles, & did more commercials & even a role in "Couch Trip" starring Walter Matthau & Dan Ackroyd.

This season on "Friday the 13th", viewers may spot some Chicago White Sox paraphernalia subtly tucked into the background of some scenes. That's an added touch LeMay enjoys, & which helps him keep in touch with Chicagoans. Hopefully that doesn't mean those items as well are cursed.

Also, LeMay had his father as an extra in one show.

"He was visiting me while I was doing an episode with Michael Constantine who was playing my father. It felt pretty strange to walk down the hall in the scene & I'm walking with two dads. I guess I helped him get a 'second' career," LeMay added, laughing. "Now he's asking me about residuals."

Upcoming episodes will have LeMay's character going back in time to the Civil War about 1862 & entering enemy lines to reach General Lee. That's just one of several shows that focus on LeMay's character.

"We're going to take more risks this year, especially with theatrical-type shots & details," he said.

But the audience, he feels, will be able to relate even more to the universal themes & the style of the show.

"We're providing a complete fantasy every week, which the audience can relate to. It's almost like how the old serial shows were like."

Plus he feels "Friday the 13th" gives him a "tremendous opportunity for me to work every day & stretch my acting muscles."

He's also worked with some veterans like Constantine & Ray Walston ("My Favourite Martian") & others.

"I still feel like a little kid from Normal. I was absolutely star struck when I first met these actors." LeMay admitted.

"But I enjoy watching them & learning. They've taught me how to pick up a line if I'm not happy with it the first time around or a few other time-saver techniques."

Like most young actors, LeMay hopes that starting out in a lead role in a syndicated series will be a marvelous stepping-stone for his career.

"My goal is to get more roles that can utilize some different things that make up John LeMay," he noted.

"During my three years in Los Angeles I learned producers will always need an actor who can hit their mark. I'd love to go back to the theatre. I miss that tremendously. But like most actors, I would like to balance the theatre & feature films."