When Bronson Pinchot began auditioning for Broadway roles, he refused to do accents. Years later, his ability to do accents is what gave him his first break in film and led to television success as Balki Bartokomous, the odd cousin from a Mediterranean island who comes to live with Mark Linn-Baker on the sitcom Perfect Strangers (1986).
Pinchot was born in New York, raised in Pasadena, and attended Yale on a full scholarship, first being interested in art. Although he came from a poor family, he was a class valedictorian. It was during his art studies that he began to pursue acting. Cast in an off-Broadway play soon after his 1981 graduation, Pinchot was seen by a casting director and gained the role of one of Joel’s poker playing friends in Risky Business (1983) and appeared the next year in The Flamingo Kid (1984). Cast as Serge, an associate art dealer, in Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Pinchot stole his one real scene from Eddie Murphy. This role led to Balki with his odd accent and eccentric style. The series continued for seven seasons. He didn’t fare as well in The Trouble with Larry (1993), where he again played a visitor who comes to stay.
His small screen success did not translate as easily to the big screen. The box office flops Second Sight (1989) and Blame It on the Bellboy (1992) didn’t repeat his earlier successes. It wasn’t until his role in True Romance (1993) and his reprisal of Serge in Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) that audiences took note of his talent again. He appeared in Courage Under Fire (1996) and took a familiar comedic role in The First Wives Club (1996) as Duarte Feliz, a flamboyant interior designer.
Television has continued to offer Pinchot opportunities. In 1995, he appeared in Stephen King’s The Langoliers (1995). The following year, he joined the cast of Step by Step (1991) as the owner of a hair salon. Unlike the manic bizarrely-turned characters Pinchot often played, on TV talk shows he has proven to be witty and erudite.
He first appeared on Broadway in 1990 in ‘Zoya’s Apartment,’ a comedic play at the Circle in the Square theater. In 1999, He appeared with Carol Burnett and John Barrowman in _Putting It Together’ (1999) and in 2004’s revival ‘Sly Fox,’ with Richard Dreyfuss and Eric Stoltz. More recently, he appeared on the 5th season of The Surreal Life (2003).
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