Adrian Zmed got his start on Broadway, appearing in the iconic role of Danny Zuko in the stage version of Grease. A few years later, he would return to the era of fast cars and leather jackets with a role in the sequel Grease 2, but he found his most enduring success on television, playing rookie police Officer Vince Romano opposite William Shatner's titular sergeant for five seasons on ABC's T.J. Hooker.
If Zmed never again found success quite so visibly, he has maintained his career in Hollywood throughout the nearly four decades since that show ended—and has recently taken his work in a surprising new direction. Keep reading to learn what he's doing now, at age 68.
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He's appeared in dozens of B-movies.
Just prior to landing the role on T.J. Hooker, Zmed made his film debut in the musical bomb-turned-cult-favorite Grease 2, alongside Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield. In between seasons of the series, he also filmed a role in the early Tom Hanks vehicle Bachelor Party. Then, in the decades since T.J. Hooker ended in 1985, he logged a dozen more film roles, mostly in low-budget and direct-to-video productions with titles like The Drone Virus, Shira: The Vampire Samurai, and Improper Conduct.
Zmed seems to have a sense of humor about his star persona and his resume. One of his more recent film roles was a cameo appearance—as himself—in the action horror spoof, Sharknado 4.
He hosted a dance show.
Zmed found greater success on the small screen. From 1985 to 1987, he hosted 60 episodes of the syndicated musical variety show Dance Fever, on which he had previously appeared as a judge, taking over for original host Deney Terrio.
"They were in a frenzy to find somebody who could dance in Hollywood and host it, and there weren't a lot of people who could [do that]," Zmed said in a 2021 interview with the YouTube show The Locher Room. "[T.J. Hooker] was just canceled, literally, and…the week that they heard that it was canceled, and my heart was broken that it was canceled, I literally got the offer from [producer] Merv Griffin. And I said 'Oh my god I get to host a show and dance in Hollywood? I don't have to go to Broadway to do it? OK, I'll do it.'"
While he was happy to get the gig, the timing was unfortunate: Though he took the Dance Fever job only after T.J. Hooker was canceled, the series was briefly revived to film 10 additional episodes to fill out a syndication package, and Zmed was contractually barred from returning to due to the new gig. This has given many fans the mistaken impression he left T.J. Hooker for Dance Fever, he told The Locher Room.
Post-Dance Fever, Zmed has remained a familiar presence on the small screen, typically as a guest star, appearing in episodes of The Love Boat; Empty Nest; Murder, She Wrote; Silk Stalkings; Diagnosis: Murder; and Caroline in the City. More recently, he again played himself in an episode of the Netflix comedy Lady Dynamite.
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He prefers to act on stage.
Zmed has had a long stage career, as well. As previously mentioned, he played Danny in Grease on Broadway, both during the show's original run and 1994 revival. He later returned to the iconic musical in a more recent regional production, this time as the Teen Angel. He also appeared on Broadway in Falsettos and Blood Brothers.
The actor has also performed in a number of off-Broadway and touring productions, including The Ark (as Noah), an stage adaptation of the black comedy Eating Raoul, and more recently, Middletown, about two couples who meet every week for dinner across decades, a performance of which was streamed online last November.
He's producing a documentary about Indigenous American women.
When not acting, Zmed has kept busy with other endeavors, including operating a business focused on booking celebrity appearances at casino events, according to his LinkedIn page. But in recent years, he has focused on work that he finds personally meaningful—namely, raising awareness of a troubling issue that is impacting the Indigenous American community today.
"I'm at a point now in my life where…if I'm going to be doing something with television or film, I'd rather be behind the camera…and I also want to do something that means something at this time in my life," Zmed said in his YouTube interview.
The actor, who said he's had a "passion for the Native American way of life" since his teen years, learned of the thousands of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous American women in the U.S. that have gone largely unsolved and unnoticed by the mainstream. Deeply moved, he partnered with a Native American production company to produce Women Erased, a documentary TV series that seeks to raise awareness of these tragedies and "give voice" to some of these women. The series is currently in production.
He's happily married—for the third time.
Zmed married his high school girlfriend, Barbara Fitzner, in 1978, and the couple had two sons, Zachary Aidan and Dylan (who would go on to form the band The Janks, as well as The Everly Brothers tribute band, The Bird Dog), before divorcing. The actor later married stage actress Susan Wood in 1995, though that relationship also ended in divorce.
Since 2012, Zmed has been married to Las Vegas entertainer Lyssa Lynne Baker, who he met in 2005. A singer and dancer, Baker fronts the band Mr. $ Mrs. Smith, has performed with Meat Loaf in his Vegas show "RockTells and CockTails," and is currently part of BAT: The Experience, a tribute band celebrating the late musician helmed by American Idol winner Caleb Johnson.