Soap Opera Star Bubbles Over Role
By Cleveland Amory
May 26, 1978
BEVERLY HILLS - Kin Shriner looks a lot like his father, the late Herb Shriner, the Indiana Hoosier, who, with his wife, was killed in an automobile in Florida seven years ago.
But Kin is a very different fellow.
"A lot of people were expecting me to be just like my father when I came out here," Kin told me over a breakfast at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge. "Agents and producers would expect me to come in and tell jokes and maybe play the harmonica like my dad did. I play the harmonica, but not very well, and I like comedy - I like to do it - but I also like to do serious stuff. I'm an actor, not a stand-up."
Shriner plays the 19-year-old kid who works around the hospital in the famed soap, GENERAL HOPSITAL, and lately his part has grown larger and larger. "I used to be the guy who Pete Hansen, my father in the show, was trying to help - now I'm the guy who's helping him."
Shriner was 16 when his father and mother were killed. His father was driving back from an engagement and the care went off the road into a tree.
"My twin brother and my sister and I went to live with my grandmother in Texas," Kin said. "I stayed there until I felt it was time to cut out on my own, and now my brother and sister are in show business, too."
Was it a problem living with a father who was known to be so funny?
"No," Kin told us, "we were a close family. Dad and Mother were very close. Dad was very funny around the house, but when I was young, most of it went over my head.
How about the twin brother thing?
"That was difficult," he said. "We weren't identical twins but parents have a tendency, when they have twins, to want to dress them alike." He paused and smiled. "Who likes to walk around wearing the same clothes as somebody else? Who likes the Army?"
One trait he has like his father is being very un-Hollywoodish. He has a motorcycle and a boat and likes to get away. "I'm not a country person who likes to sit alone and fish or something. I like to be where the action is, but I also like the option of being outside looking in.
"It wasn't that way when I was doing everything I did before I was an actor," Shriner continued. "I had every odd job you can name - Fuller Brush man, real estate telephone salesman, waiter, dishwasher, busboy, gas station, taxi driver. There I was right in them - not outside - and it was great training for acting.
"On the telephone real estate thing, for example, it was in Dallas, and I'd call people blind and ask them to come and see a film about properties for sale. I'd try all sorts of accents," he paused.
"But the taxi-driver job was best. It was a real adventure. It was in Ft. Lauderdale. I drove the night shift, and you really find out about a city - what goes on underneath.
"It's not that the jobs themselves were that interesting," Shriner concluded. "What was interesting was when you realized you were a guy just passing through - but for them it was for real, their whole life."