I think I first came to know Peter Haskell through the creepy made for TV movie Phantom of Hollywood, but it was his starring role in The Eyes of Charles Sand that struck a cord with me. Peter was perfectly cast as the befuddled bachelor (with a killer pad) who inherited some nifty and scary psychic powers. It’s one of those TV movies (also a pilot that never made it to series) that made me love TV movies. Bare bones, but thick with atmosphere, I fell in love with not only the movie but I also found myself smitten by Peter. He’s exactly the kind of actor I gravitate towards, with his under the radar persona.
Peter died unexpectedly yesterday. I didn’t know him personally, but I got a chance to actually correspond with this wonderful actor via Facebook. Here’s a snippet of what he shared regarding appearing in the made for TV movie Love Hate Love:
Fun show to do. I knew Ryan [O'Neal] really well, Lee Majors and I used to hang with him. My dad died while we shooting the picture and Ryan and Leslie [Ann Warren] were hugely supportive. The director, George McCowan, had the entire company referring to us as the Star, the Girl and the Actor by the end of the first week. If the scene was between Leslie and me, the call would go out for "the Girl and the Actor are needed on the set."
Peter’s work in the made for television genre is something to behold. Here’s a list of the films he did in the 70s:
The Ballad of Andy Crocker (1969)
Love Hate Love (1971)
The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972)
The Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Man Who Came to Dinner (1972)
The Phantom of Hollywood (1974)
The Wide World of Mystery: The Cloning of Clifford Swimmer (1974)
The Wide World of Mystery: The Suicide Club (1975)
Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II (1976)
The Night They Took Miss Beautiful (1977)
The Jordan Chance (1978)
The Cracker Factory (1979)
The Fantastic Seven (1979)
In the 80s and beyond, he mostly worked in episodic television and I think that suited him fine. I loved seeing him now and again on all my favorite shows, such as Fantasy Island, Frasier, Hart to Hart and well, the list is endless.
Here’s a review I wrote for a Lifetime movie he made called Sex & Lies in Sin City. It was one of his last appearances on television. He had a small but interesting part in this true crime story.
Very few of us get a chance to actually meet/correspond with the actors we admire, but Peter was up to the task of making his fans feel very welcome into his life, if only through the internet. I will forever be grateful for those few moments he took to share a couple of memories with a goofy television nut. Peter, my heart goes out to your family and friends right now. I know they lost a one of a kind man, the likes of which I am sure we are not to see again. And thank you for your time and for just being incredible.