Happy Birthday, 'Melrose Place'! Reminiscing with Thomas Calabro (Dr. Michael Mancini) 20 years after the series premiere
Melrose Place” from 1992 ‘til 1999. In honor of the iconic primetime soap’s 20th anniversary (July 8, 1992), we discussed everything from the show’s key to success (“Special Guest Star” Heather Locklear) and lasting appeal to his favorite scenes and take on why the 2009 reboot didn’t succeed.A few days ago, I had the opportunity to chat with one of television’s all-time best baddies, Thomas Calabro, who portrayed Dr. Michael Mancini on “
Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the "Melrose Place" pilot aired?
[Laughs] It seems like a lifetime ago.
Do you remember watching the pilot? Were you with friends, family, cast members?
I think I had a lobster boil at my place, the apartment on Hayworth in West Hollywood. That’s how it went down.
Were you worried about the show launching in summertime, or were you confident after you taped the pilot?
No. At that time in my career, I never even thought in business terms. I was an artist from New York who just did the best job he could with his part and just trusted everything would sort itself out.
Are you surprised by how well the series has held up over the years?
No. When you’re doing something like that, you just do the best you can and let the chips fall where they may. I didn’t think I was making frickin’ television history. Not by a long shot.
At what point did you know you had a hit on your hands?
I don’t even think we were a hit by the beginning of the second season. We got picked up, and it seemed like it was really begrudgingly so. We changed the tone of the show. We went from a regular drama -- which was sort of a spin-off of “90210” -- and we changed it into a soap opera. Bringing Heather Locklear onboard as Amanda Woodward changed the tone. She’s what made the show a hit.
Are you proud of the fact that you were the only original cast member to remain on the series for the entire seven-season run?
Am I particularly proud of it? I don’t know. It’s no big deal to me, but it was nice. Money’s nice. [laughs]
Who was your favorite co-star to work with?
They all had great qualities, but I really loved working with Jack Wagner (Dr. Peter Burns) and Laura Leighton (Sydney Andrews) in that bloody office doing all kinds of shenanigans. That combo of personalities and characters was my favorite. It was really a joy to go to work for every single episode.
Do you have a favorite episode, or is there a particular scene you especially enjoyed?
There was a scene when I’ve served Kimberly her divorce papers. I’m walking down the hospital hallway, and she calls me on it, and I just act so cruelly. It’s not even funny. I laugh in her face as she crumbles on the floor, and then I tell her to pull it together. Then there’s the scene when I go into the strip bar. Sydney’s stripping, and she recognizes me and runs out back. I follow her with the garter she threw into the crowd during her act. I remember, in an impromptu moment, I stuck it on her head like a bandana and pointed at her and laughed. [laughs]