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Returning to St. Eligius: ST. ELSEWHERE, 30 Years Later, Part 1

Press Play By Edward Copeland | Press Play October 26, 2012 at 8:00AM

In the video above, for the first time, the "St. Elsewhere" credit sequence, set to Oscar-winning composer Dave Grusin’s memorable and infectious theme, unites all 26 regular cast members who graced its opening credits for varying lengths of time, ranging from a single season to its entire six-year NBC run, which began 30 years ago tonight.
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The top-notch writing soon attracted many big name performers—some of whom rarely did television—to check in to St. Eligius. “The writing was so strong that very good actors who were not on the show would request to be on the show because they knew they’d get very good scenes to play,” Daniels said. In the second season premiere, two of them memorably came crashing literally through the emergency room as Alan Arkin (as Jerry Singleton) plowed his car through the hospital walls after his wife Fran (Emmy nominee Piper Laurie) suffered a stroke. Laurie, who last year published her memoir Learning to Live Out Loud to much critical acclaim and success, had known Arkin for years but never worked with him before St. Elsewhere. “With Alan Arkin, it was really exciting because I’d  never worked with an actor on film who had such freedom in terms of the actual dialogue,” Laurie said. “He just took it. I never quite knew what he was going to say. It was an interesting and exhilarating experience for me.”

Morse’s Jack not only treated Laurie’s character, years later she would play his mother in the films The Crossing Guard and Hound Dog. Patricia Wettig, who eventually played Jack’s second wife on St. Elsewhere, also crossed acting paths with Morse frequently, which is what the actor says is one of the things he loves best about his job. “I worked with Alan Arkin and since then, I’ve become friends with Adam, his son. I’ve worked with everybody in his family at one point or another over the years. Working with Patty (Wettig) over the years, working with Piper Laurie over the years—this just happens with more and more actors and it’s one of the things I really, really love about this business, if you’re lucky enough to keep working, is just touching on these people’s lives over the course of a lot of years,” Morse said. “To me, there’s something very touching about it and very gratifying to have these connections. At one time, it feels just like we have a job together and ‘See you later,’ then 15 years later, you’re doing something together again. Like I said, it’s one of those things that really means something to me.”

(Special thanks to Daniel Butterfield of The St. Elsewhere Experience.)

From an early age, Edward Copeland became obsessed with movies, good television, books and theater. On the side, he nursed an addiction to news and information as well that led him into journalism where he toiled for 17 years until health problems forced him to give up the daily grind of work. In addition to writing for Press Play, he ran the blog Edward Copeland on Film (later renamed Edward Copeland's Tangents and currently in hibernation) and has written for The Demanders on rogerebert.com, at Slant Magazine's The House Next Door, Movies Without Pity, Awards Daily as well as the political commentary site The Reaction.

This article is related to: Edward Copeland, Television, video essay


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