Actor John Larroquette didn’t start out in the acting business . In fact, he was a DJ in New Orleans in the 1960s, then worked at a San Diego record label, and it was there that acting drew his passion. He moved to Los Angeles in 1974 and has been steadily employed by the theater, TV, and films ever since. He’s won Emmys, and a Tony for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Larroquette can be seen in TNT’s action adventure series “The Librarians.” But in 1974, Larroquette had just arrived in L.A., didn’t have an agent, but landed a role in “The Crucible” at the Odyssey Theater, which launched his own Hollywood odyssey.
What was it like in L.A. in 1974 for an aspiring actor?
There was a casting of “The Crucible” at a theater at Santa Monica and Bundy. Late summer in ’74. It was an open audition and I had just gotten here. My friend Norbert said, ‘Look, there’s this ad for a play.’ So we were cast. I was cast as Rev. Hale, the exorcist.
Did you work on stage a lot?
As we were doing that, we wanted to do another play on our own and start a theater company. So we started the Colony. Rented a theater on El Centro in Hollywood.
What was your first big break?
We did a play called “Enter Laughing,” based on Carl Reiner’s autobiographical novel. I played the lead. Terrence Shank directed that. I met my wife in that production, and I got an agent from that production too.
That makes sense — you’re very funny.
I shaved every morning and looked in the mirror and knew I was not going to be a leading man. But the plays showed me that I was funny. It became clear to me that I was funny and that I could be funny. I just wanted to work. Just wanted to continue to make a living by acting.
How about TV in the 1970s?
I was a bit player on “Kojack,” “Ellery Queen,” little bits. With the theater company, we did play after play and it was constant work. Luckily my wife, Elizabeth, was working for National Airlines. It allowed me to not have to wait tables, and concentrate on going to auditions. Shortly after, I got a job on a series in late 1975, “Ba Ba Black Sheep.” We were opposite “Charlie’s Angels.”
The 1980s really made you a household name with “Night Court.”
The shows I got to work on were “Mork and Mindy,” “9 to 5,” “Sanford and Son.” Along came the ‘80s and it really exploded. I stood by the camera whether I was working or not. Comedy is in the two-shot — I took that to heart.
What happened to your friend from the early L.A. days?
Norbert owns the The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, one of the finest cheese shops in the world.