Actor, Writer, Director, Musician
Stephen Collins was born in Iowa, but grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, graduating from Hastings High School, where he played a little baseball, was elected to the National Honor Society, started the the first of many rock bands, became a lifelong Mets fan, and acted in a few plays. He graduated cum laude from Amherst College after appearing in 22 plays there and immediately jumped into a career on the New York stage in the summer of ’69 in Shakespeare’s 12th Night at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, directed by the great producer-director, Joseph Papp, and starring a then-unknown Charles Durning.
Stephen went on to star in the first National Company of the hit comedy, Forty Carats, opposite Barbara Rush and directed by Broadway legend, Abe Burrows. Upon returning to New York from the Forty Carats tour, Stephen landed a role in the Broadway comedy, Moonchildren, in a cast including fellow-unknowns James Woods, Christopher Guest, and Edward Herrmann, and directed by another Broadway legend, Alan Schneider, who helmed the original productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Waiting For Godot. In 1975, Stephen co-starred in Terrence McNally’s Broadway farce, The Ritz, with Rita Moreno and Jerry Stiller, and was cast in his first movie, the classic All The President’s Men, working alongside Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
Over the next forty years, Stephen moved easily back and forth between films, theatre, and television, beginning with a guest role on The Waltons and later working with (or for) TV greats like Carl Reiner, George Burns, and Aaron Spelling. Another legend, Billy Wilder, cast Stephen to play the young counterpart of William Holden’s character in Wilder’s movie, Fedora, and Stephen then filmed Between The Lines, with a cast including then-unknowns Jeff Goldblum and Bruno Kirby. Stephen then starred in one of television’s first miniseries, Robert Ludlum’s The Rhinemann Exchange, heading a cast with Roddy McDowall, Lauren Hutton, Larry Hagman, and Jose Ferrer.
Soon after filming an episode of Charlie’s Angels opposite Farrah Fawcett, Stephen was tapped for a lead role in Star Trek — The Motion Picture, the first of the Star Trek movies, and was — briefly! — Captain of the Enterprise, starring opposite William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and the entire original Star Trek cast, and directed by Oscar winner (and, yes, legend) Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music).
Stephen’s first television series was the short-lived but cultishly-loved Tales of the Gold Monkey, in which he teamed up again with Roddy McDowall. Stephen earned an Emmy nomination for his work opposite Ann-Margret and Claudette Colbert in the acclaimed miniseries, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles by Dominick Dunne. Tattinger’s, a short-lived series created by Bruce Paltrow (St. Elsewhere and The White Shadow), had Stephen starring opposite Blythe Danner. Of his work in Tattinger’s, David Bianculli, critic for the New York Daily News, wrote, “Stephen Collins is doing the best work of any actor in dramatic series television.” He also played JFK opposite Roma Downey in A Woman Named Jackie, which won the Emmy for Best Miniseries.
Stephen is probably best known for his role as Rev. Eric Camden on the family drama, 7th Heaven, which, in its eleventh season, passed The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie to become the longest-running family drama in television history. He also had stints in two short-lived, but critically acclaimed, television drama series, No Ordinary Family, with Michael Chiklis, and J.J. Abrams’ post-apocalyptic Revolution.
Among Stephen’s other films are roles as Diane Keaton’s philandering husband in First Wives Club, Jumpin’ Jack Flash opposite Whoopi Goldberg, Brewster’s Millions opposite Richard Pryor and John Candy, Because I Said So (again opposite Keaton), and the villain in the Farrelly Brothers’ The 3 Stooges.
Other television highlights include perennial Lifetime movie favorites, The Betty Broderick Story and The Babysitter’s Seduction, and more recent appearances on Scandal, Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies, and Marc Cherry’s Lifetime hit, Devious Maids. In addition to Moonchildren on the New York stage, Stephen created roles in the original productions of The Ritz, Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy opposite Sigourney Weaver, and A.R. Gurney’s The Old Boy.
Twenty years after his New York stage debut in Central Park, he played Orsino in a new production of 12th Night, this time alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, and Gregory Hines. He sang off-Broadway opposite Julie Andrews in Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together, was Macduff to Christopher Walken’s Macbeth at Lincoln Center, and did a stint on Broadway as King Arthur in Monty Python’s smash hit, Spamalot, directed by yet another legend, Mike Nichols.
In the early 90s, with Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Blythe Danner, Susan Sarandon, and Alec Baldwin, Stephen did political advocacy work, testifying before a Congressional subcommittee to help save the National Endowment for the Arts, which was threatened with massive spending cuts.
Stephen is the author of two novels, including the best-seller, Eye Contact, as well as several plays, including Super Sunday, originally produced at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and revived at the Moth Theatre in Los Angeles. He’s also published several short stories and pieces for The Huffington Post and recorded two CDs, The Hits of Rick Nelson, and another simply titled, Stephen Collins. Since 1976, Stephen has avidly practiced Transcendental Meditation.