I said yesterday that you could do a single episode of Star Trek and coast on conventions for years, and that’s certainly true. Perhaps not at the moment, but the entire entertainment industry is up in the air at the moment. However, Mike Genovese is the sort of person I was thinking of. He did one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing a desk sergeant in the holodeck-based episode “The Big Goodbye.” And based on that, he could probably just go to smaller conventions, the ones where they can’t afford Patrick Stewart or Gates McFadden, for the rest of his life.
Instead, he’s a Hey, It’s That Guy! The sort of minor actor who’s familiar, but whose name you never really learn. The sort whose career is long and wide-ranging and yet you cannot, without looking it up, name anything else in particular that he’s done, because mostly you just know he looks familiar. In fact, his character’s name has been “Desk Sergeant” three times. A lot of the time, when his character has a name, you know he’s been given that name even though it might as well just be a designation like that.
And my goodness a lot of those characters have been cops. He’s played at least a dozen characters that just from the name are obviously cops on TV, and about another half-dozen from movies. Possibly some others that just don’t have “detective” or “lieutenant” in their names, though he did also play the delightfully named “Milos the Foreman” on an episode of St. Elsewhere. (That show was wild even before the last few minutes.) He played someone named Marshall Stone in the movie Oblivion, one of those movies that clearly exists to get Isaac Hayes, George Takei, Peter David, Meg Foster, and others all in the same film—and its sequel.
And, important for our purposes, twelve episodes of ER as Officer Al Grabarski. A minor character to be sure, but one with something of an arc. He gets married, even, on one episode. The fact is, people who work in real-life emergency rooms will indeed spend a fair amount of time interacting with police officers. So, yes, ER made a couple of cops into recurring characters, along with various paramedics over the years and so forth. Mike Genovese wasn’t one of the more notable members of that cast, but you know, that still leaves an awful lot of cast; the recurring characters over the course of the show number in the dozens.
Though I do still remember him, when looking over his career, as Don Geno Frascotti from That One Episode of Quantum Leap Where Sam Leaps Into the Mob. It’s a fun performance, after all. Pretty sure Sam Leaps into his character at the end of the episode for a charming, heartwarming finish because Quantum Leap was never the sort of show where the mobster was going to get gunned down in a restaurant or something. Or even arrested by a character who could himself have been played by Mike Genovese.