James Tolkan (Actor) - Back to the Future
James Tolkan 1
Updated: 2/22/12

Name: James Tolkan

Born: June 20, 1931, Calumet, Michigan

Claim To Fame: He is best known for his role in the 1985 film Back to the Future as Hill Valley High School principal Gerald Strickland.

Family Life: He is married to a costume designer by the name of Parmalee.

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Info: Tolkan has made a career for himself as a prolific actor of stage, film, and TV. On television, he made guest appearances on such classic sitcoms as "The Wonder Years" and "Hill Street Blues." He was also a regular on many short-lived series, including "Mary" and "The Hat Squad."

However, he is probably best known for his supporting roles in the 1980s blockbusters "Top Gun" (1986) and as the Vice Principal Strickland in Robert Zemeckis' "Back to the Future" (1985). He ended up reprising his role for the sequel "Back to the Future II" (1989) and did a cameo as Marshal Strickland for the Western-themed "Back to the Future III" (1990).

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Trivia: Was the first person in mind for Strickland in Back to the Future (1985).

Attended college at the University of Iowa.

Studied with Stella Adler in New York and was an understudy to Robert Duvall in the 1965 production of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge.".

Acted on stage with Al Pacino in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and Jungle in the Cities.

Left Eastern Arizona College to serve in the US Navy.

Provided narration for several installments of America Undercover documentary specials on HBO.

His father, Ralph M. Tolkan, was a cattle dealer.

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Where Are They Now: In the early 2000s, Tolkan was part of the cast of the A&E television series "A Nero Wolfe Mystery." He appeared in varied roles on the series and also directed two episodes ("Die Like a Dog" and "The Next Witness").

He appeared in a 2011 episode of the TV series "Leverage" as Dean Chesny, and is currently filming a TV movie based on the relationship between Phil Spector and defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden.

Tolkan currently lives in Lake Placid, New York.

Write To James Tolkan:
Agent: Paradigm, 360 N. Crescent Dr.
North Building
Beverly Hills,CA 90210


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