With his roles as a bare-chested warrior and a laser-gun slinging lizard slayer, Marc Singer was a film and television icon of 1980s sci-fi fantasy. Also a popular mainstay at conventions and fan gatherings, the hard-working, soft-spoken actor remained in the limelight as a kind of pop cultural touchstone, long after his most famous work was behind him.
While many actors are drawn to the stage, Singer barely had a choice. Born Jan. 29, 1948 and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Singer grew up in a family of performers. His father was a symphony conductor; his mother was a concert pianist. The apple not falling far from the tree with this family, his sister, Lori, would go on to enjoy a successful acting career of her own, most notably opposite Kevin Bacon in the film, "Footloose" (1984) as well as on the hit TV eighties TV show, "Fame" (NBC, 1982-87). Even more impressive, his adopted cousin was no slouch in the fanboy department himself - "Superman Returns" (2006) and "X-Men" (2001) director Bryan Singer.
Singer's family moved often during his boyhood - after leaving Canada they lived briefly in New York, before moving to Corpus Christi, TX, where he spent much of his childhood. Apart from more creative outlets fostered at home, young Singer was also interested in athletics, eventually pursing martial arts - Kung Fu in particular, in which he would earn a black belt. It wasn't until high school, when he was asked to fill in for another actor, that Singer first took to the stage. He went on to attend Indiana University, and during a time when he lived in Seattle, he met his future wife, Hawaiian-born actress Haunani Minn.
The first Hollywood job Singer landed was as Dalton on the short-lived television series version of "Planet of the Apes (CBS, 1974). His career progressed like many other young television actors, slowly, and with guest roles on episodes of "Barnaby Jones," (CBS, 1973-1980) and "Hawaii 5-0," (CBS, 1968-1980), often appearing as different characters in different episodes. He went on to appear in "The Rookies" (ABC, 1972-76 )and the short-lived "Jigsaw John" (NBC, 1976), before taking on leading roles in made-for-TV movies such as "The Taming of the Shrew" (PBS, 1976), "Something for Joey" (CBS, 1977) and "Roots: The Next Generations" (ABC, 1979).
Singer's first big-screen appearance was in 1978's "Go Tell the Spartans," playing a military captain in a story of the early U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He also played amateur boxer Johnny Captor in the miniseries, "The Contender" (CBS, 1980), as well as real life blind musician Tom Sullivan in the feature film "If You Could See What I Hear" (1982), opposite Shari Belafonte.
Singer's big break came in 1982, with his first big-screen starring role as Dar in the action-adventure fantasy, "The Beastmaster," opposite the equally (un)dressed Tanya Roberts. Apparently inspired by films such as "Conan: The Barbarian" (1982), "Clash of the Titans" (1981) and even "Star Wars" (1977), the film pitted the bare-chested Singer against ancient forces of evil, with only animals and nature as his allies. Singer, already a spiritual person, insisted at the time that it be made clear that the Beastmaster served the animal world as much as it served him. The movie was a modest box-office hit, but became a cult-classic on cable television, and although the film took itself seriously, a generation of fans came to enjoy the film for its occasional unintended romps into camp.
Singer immediately followed up his star-making part with another action role, trading in his big screen loincloth for tight small screen blue jeans in "V" (NBC, 1983). A ratings and special effects bonanza, the miniseries depicted an alien invasion modeled after the slow but steady rise to power of Nazi forces in Germany. Singer played Marc Donovan, a devil-may-care news cameraman who leads the human resistance to the otherworldly occupation. Singer reprised his leading role in the 1984 follow-up miniseries, "V: The Final Battle," which wasn't so final after all. The "V" franchise was so successful, NBC sanctioned the short-lived "V: The Series" (1984-85) which lasted only one season.
Throughout the 1980s, Singer made a handful of guest appearances on "Dallas," (CBS, 1978-1991), "Hotel," (ABC, 1983-88) and "Simon & Simon." (CBS, 1981-88), but mainly showed up in syndicated genre television such as "The Twilight Zone" (1985-89) and HBO's "The Hitchhiker" (1983-1991).
Into the next decade, a lower-profile Singer moved into genre and straight-to-video movies such as "Body Chemistry" (1990) and "Deadly Game" (1991). He reprised his role as Dar in 1991's low-budget flick, "Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time." He also voiced the character of Dr. Kirk Langstrom - also known as Man-Bat - in the first episode of the popular syndicated, "Batman: The Animated Series." (1992-95), as well as several additional appearances throughout the show's run. Continuing his voice-over stints, Singer went on to voice Adam in the home video release of "Animated Stories from the Bible" (1984), as well as characters in "The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest" (Cartoon Network, 1996-99).
In 1999, Singer went the soap opera route, taking a part on the daytime drama, "The Young and the Restless," (CBS, 1973- ) as Chet. At this same time, Singer also appeared in an episode of the Disney syndicated TV series version of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" (1997-2000).
With a resurgence in popularity of pop culture sci-fi during the early 2000s, Singer was asked to play a role, Dartanus, in two seasons of a new syndicated television series version of "The Beastmaster" (1999-2002). Fans who were children when the original film premiered, responded enthusiastically, and were just as anxious upon of a planned return to that other 1980s franchise, "V: The Second Generation," a miniseries planned for 2007.