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Michael Ontkean Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (12)

Overview (3)

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Birth NameMichael Leonard Ontkean
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Michael Ontkean, best known for playing the minor league hockey player Ned Braden in the cult classic Slap Shot (1977), was born on January 24, 1946 in Vancouver, British Columbia. His parents, Leonard and Muriel (née Cooper) Ontkean, were actors. Michael was raised Catholic and attended Catholic elementary and high schools. Like many young Canadian men, he grew up playing hockey. He was good enough to earn a hockey scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, a Division I program. He was a standout player at UNH in his three seasons as a varsity player from 1966-69. (Division I hockey teams did not allow freshmen to play on the varsity team in those days.) After graduating from UNH in 1969, he did not pursue a professional hockey career but appeared on the Canadian series Hudson's Bay (1959), which ran for one season in 1959-60, but did not appear again professionally as an actor until an episode of Ironside (1967) was broadcast in 1970. He moved to Los Angeles to become an actor.

After taking roles on episodic TV shows and appearing in TV movies from 1970-72, he had his breakthrough with a lead in the TV series The Rookies (1972), which debuted in September 1972. He played policeman Willie Gillis on the series, but left after the 1973-74 season and was replaced by Chris Owens (Bruce Fairbairn). His co-star, Kate Jackson, would later appear as his wife in the then-controversial 1982 film Making Love (1982), in which Ontkean played a married man who leaves his wife after coming out after an affair with his gay lover.

Earlier, Ontkean's skill as a hockey player enabled him to beat out Peter Straus and other actors for the role as the disaffected Ned Braden in Slap Shot (1977). In the film, he performed all of his on-ice shots himself. Subsequently, he had a major role in Paul Mazursky's Willie & Phil (1980), but neither that movie or "Making Love" was a hit. (Peter Strauss -- who lost the role in "Slap Shot" to Ontkean but became a bigger star after the success of Rich Man, Poor Man (1976) -- turned down the role of the closeted gay husband played by Ontkean in "Making Love".)

Ontkean's most memorable role since the early 1980s was Sheriff Harry S. Truman) in David Lynch's cult classic TV series Twin Peaks (1990). He lives in Hawaii with his wife, Jamie Smith Jackson.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood (updated by R.M. Sieger)

Spouse (2)

Jamie Smith-Jackson (1987 - present) ( 1 child)
Frances E. Knight (1971 - 20 March 1980) ( divorced)

Trivia (12)

Mother: Muriel, father: Leonard, sister: Sheri
Elementary School: St. Michael's Choir School and Holy Rosary School
High School: St. Michael's College School (Toronto)
University: University of New Hampshire (1970)
Sports: Skilled hockey player (won University hockey scholarship) Inducted into the UNH Athletic Council Hall of Fame
Early Credits: Boy actor in Toronto (various appearances on CBC
Television from (1953-1962) Newspaper Delivery Boy: Toronto Telegram (1957-1958)
Was great fan of "Twilight Zone" as a boy
Has a daughter with wife Jamie Smith-Jackson, and a stepdaughter, Jenna Millman.
Played Right Wing for the University of New Hampshire ice hockey team for 3 seasons (1966-1967 thru 1968-1969). career totals were 63 goals, 48 assists, 118 points and 44 penalty minutes in 85 games.
Had contracts with the hockey teams the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers.
Currently living in Hawaii [January 2020].

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