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At DeSales, Hollywood actors Dan Lauria, Dan Roebuck reflect on their craft and show biz

Dan Roebuck, Dan Lauria cropped
Micaela Hood
Danny Roebuck and Daniel Lauria at DeSales University on April 19, 2024.

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — In 2012, Dan Lauria made a heartfelt request to dim the lights on Broadway when actors Charles Durning and Jack Klugman passed away just hours apart on Christmas Eve.

Now in his 70s, Lauria, known best as the dad on "The Wonder Years," recounted that story during a panel discussion on Friday inside DeSales' University Center.

He was joined onstage by fellow actor, and soon-to-be Santa, Daniel Roebuck.

The pair appeared together onstage during the "Conversations with the Dans," part of the "Reading, Writing and Retail Symposium" workshop.

The event also featured author talks with author Maria Rodale, professor Dr. Katherine Ramsland, actress Shelley Dennis, and journalist Vicki Mayk.

'Used to feel more human'

Lauria and Roebuck, who both started working in TV and film in the 80s, breezed over the subject of artificial intelligence and ageism in Hollywood, while addressing other critiques.

The audition process, they agreed, lacks depth, as it is conducted on video calls, cellphone recordings, and other techie means.

"We used to go into an audition a have an experience that felt more human," Roebuck, 61, said.

"I remember one time I brought my father to an audition and he wanted to meet Tom Wilson, who played Biff in 'Back to the Future.' Next thing, all I could hear was my dad laughing hysterically. Now you can't bring anyone with you. I [also] blame COVID for that."

Faith-based films

Midcareer both of the "Dans" decided to flip the script, literally, and decided to pen their own material.

Roebuck, known for his roles in the TV series “Lost” and “Matlock,” and in films such as "The Fugitive" wrote and starred in four movies, which he filmed in the Lehigh Valley, as love letters to his hometown.

"Getting Grace," "Lucky Louie," "Hail Mary," and most recently, "Saint Nick of Bethlehem," which wraps filming next week.

The idea to make a holiday film was a cheeky response to 2023's Hallmark flick "Miracle in Bethlehem, Pa," which was shot in Winnepeg, Canada.

The public is invited to a Christmas Bazaar and wrap party at the SureStay Plus By Best Western Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem on Saturday, April 28.

The event will raise money for Channel of Peace, a charity he cofounded to fund faith-based films such as "Saint Nick."

'Actors don't retire'

Lauria, who starred on Broadway productions of “Lombardi,” and “A Christmas Story, The Musical," is equally as busy, and will soon begin rehearsals in Manhattan for his off-Broadway play, "Just Another Day," slated to debut in May.

To help fund the cost of that $300,000 project, the veteran actor sold his home in Los Angeles.

"Actors don't retire, they keep going."
TV star Daniel Lauria

"What am I going to do with it, I'm 77," he said. "Jack Klugman and Charles Durning were literally my mentors. When they were 87 and 86, they did a play that I found for [them] and they loved it. Actors don't retire, they keep going."

One of Lauria's first screenplays, "Dinner With the Boys," is a play about his four good friends: Klugman, Durning, Dom DeLuise and Peter Falk.

"When Peter passed away, I put the play away for almost 10 years before I brought it back out," Lauria said of the "Columbo" star who died in 2011.

"Jack and Peter were the most hardworking actors. Peter would drive me crazy and Charlie and Dom, we would have so much fun. They were great guys."