Hollywood actor calls Tri-States home

Richard W. Elsenpeter's headshot during his days as an actor in 1940s Hollywood.

A Tri-State man can trace his long career in the entertainment world back to the golden age of Hollywood.

Richard Elsenpeter started his acting career traveling with an acting company in Wisconsin. But soon he found his way to tinsel town, a place he says is much different than it is today.

"Old Hollywood was like a neighborhood," Elsenpeter said. "You would go out on the street and you would see the stars."

Click here to hear Elsenpeter talk about "Old Hollywood" on KHQA This Morning.

One of the highlights of his career was acting alongside Shirley Temple in the The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. Click here to watch actor Richard Elsenpeter talk about working with Carey Grant and Shirley Temple in the 1940s. Around that time Elsenpeter literally had his own run-in with famous actor Cary Grant.

"A friend of mine yelled at me while I was in a food line," Elsenpeter said. "I spun around with my food tray and hit Cary Grant with the tray and spilled everything all over him. I was panicked. I was saying, 'I'm so sorry.' He said, 'It's alright kid!'. I thought, 'Oh Lord, I'll never work again."

But work he did, in Hollywood and on the road, traveling with various shows through the years.

Elsenpeter found his way to Quincy in the 60s when a car dealership asked Elsenpeter to design a new country music show. "The Possum Holler Opry" was born from that partnership and ran for a decade, with Elsenpeter acting as the funny man under the stage name 'Toby Dick Ellis.' Click here to watch Elsenpeter give his perspective of how the Opry got started from KHQA This Morning.

He and his actress wife Delores had four children on the road during their careers. Elsenpeter says being an actor was a lifestyle - not a job.

"It was just something we did and never thought about," Elsenpeter explained. "We just traveled and the kids were with us of course. They spent a lot of time backstage coloring. Mother and Dad were there. They became children of the show. Everybody watched out for them."

Click here to watch Elsenpeter talk more about life on the road during KHQA This Morning.

When he wasn't on stage, he was building marionettes for someone else's show.

Elsenpeter still calls the Tri-States home, but to him Shakespeare was right - "All the world's a stage."

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