1987 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
June 6, 1987, Saturday, SATURDAY SECOND EDITION
STARWEEK; Pg. S16
No shrinking Viola After a decade in the showbiz boondocks Curtis
settled down to a regular job on Moonlighting as an apprentice
eager to succeed
By Eirik Knutzen
"I have never seen anybody throw a piano across the room during
between Cybill (Shepherd) and Bruce (Willis)," says Curtis
the little guy who plays Herbert Viola, the moon-faced
private eye who became the object of Ms Dipesto's pentup passions at the Blue
Moon Detective Agency in Moonlighting the past season.
"They carry something like 98 per cent of the show and are under
physically and emotionally working together 14 to 16 hours a day,"
continues. "Under circumstances like that, with two very different and
creative people, there are occasional disagreements. But the media blow them up
to brawls. I've also seen the two of them make each other laugh so hard that
they can't get through a scene. But that isn't interesting."
No fool, Armstrong isn't about to let the culmination of 10 near-obscure
in the business slip through his stubby fingers by dropping a few negative
comments. "In the great scheme of things, Moonlighting is the biggest job
I've ever had. A lot of people saw me in Revenge Of The Nerds (as the utterly
disgusting Booger), but it's nothing compared with the millions who tune in to
the show every week. I'm also thrilled playing a character close to my
age for a change, having done a bunch of teenage,
There was considerable confusion when the skinny, 5-foot-6, 33-year-old
joined the Moonlighting cast four episodes into the 1986-87
says Armstrong. "I thought that Herbert was supposed to be in love with Ms
Dipesto (Allyce Beasley) and sweated out my first day on the set because I
"Viola was introduced as an accountant working at the Blue Moon on a
basis, then promoted to a gumshoe without explanation. Though
has mainly been running around helping David Addison with odds and ends, he and
Ms Dipesto managed to solve the mystery of a haunted house
They're clearly friends now and I think they'll fall in love next
The son of a Chrysler Corp. personnel executive, Armstrong was born and
in Detroit (except for four years in Geneva, Switzerland) along with a
sister. He lasted a year studying journalism at Western Michigan
in Kalamazoo, then enrolled for a two-year program at (the now
Academy of Dramatic Arts in Rochester, Mich.
Following graduation in 1974, Armstrong co-founded a theatre group in Ann
Mich., called Roadside Attractions Incorporated (since moved to Detroit
dubbed the Attic Theatre), and made his professional stage debut as Puck
A Midsummer Night's Dream. Armed with two years of solid acting experience, he
moved to New York City and became a mailroom clerk.
"My last position was for a giant Wall Street brokerage house in
I got a call from a producer wanting me for a bus and truck tour in Da and
down to the production office to sign the contract on my lunch hour."
Armstrong kicked around in various regional theatre productions until his
film came along, Risky Business (1981), in which he portrayed Miles Dalby,
Cruise's wisecracking best friend. It was followed in short order by
roles in the easily forgotten Bad Medicine, Better Off Dead, One
Summer and Clan Of The Cave Bear (1986).
Given the vagaries of the entertainment business, Armstrong spent the
Moonlighting unemployed. "The nicest surprise about the series is that I
expected a one-time guest shot as a body for Allyce (Beasley) to play
When they brought me back the following week and it became apparent that I would
be at least a recurring character, I spent my first Moonlighting cheque on a
letter written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a soldier in the field during
"I'm a Sherlock Holmes freak and a collector of books, so I spend
in used-book shops. I'm also writing a screenplay based on a short
by P.G. Wodehouse with a friend and fellow actor,
For the past eight years, he has enjoyed a long-distance marriage with
Cynthia Carle (there are no children) as they divide their time between
York and Los Angeles apartments. "We're renting on a month-to-month basis
because we're seldom in the same place at the same time," says Armstrong.
- Eirik Knutzen
photo Curtis Armstrong
LOAD-DATE: May 13, 1999