Wesley Eure could easily be thought of as the Forrest Gump of the entertainment world.
The 67-year-old, best known for his 1970s roles as Will in “Land of the Lost” and Mike Horton in “Days of Our Lives,” has turned up in all sorts of interesting shows and situations over the past four decades. He’s making an appearance at this weekend’s Ogden UnCon in the Eccles Conference Center downtown.
In a telephone interview with the Standard-Examiner from his home in Palm Springs, California, Eure talked about his long and varied career. The conversation unearthed a treasure trove of trivia about the actor, writer, activist and producer.
WESLEY EURE FUN FACTS:
• He’s from the South, and worked with a dialect coach to lose the Southern accent.
Eure was born Aug. 17, 1951, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
• He started out as a Shakespearean actor.
Eure began his acting career on the East Coast at age 17, working at a Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut. He then moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. He was first hired there to shoot a pilot for a Kaye Ballard TV series, “The Organic Vegetables,” about five musicians who worked as waiters in an organic restaurant.
“It was done by the guys who produced ‘The Monkees,’” Eure said. “I was the drummer, and we were doing things like jumping out of trash cans.”
The show wasn’t picked up.
• He starred in “Land of the Lost” and “Days of Our Lives” — at the same time.
For three seasons, beginning in 1974, Eure played Will Marshall in the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning children’s adventure show “Land of the Lost.” That year he also landed a part on “Days of Our Lives,” He played Mike Horton in that soap opera until 1981.
• He became a teen mag heartthrob in the 1970s.
As a result of his early television work, the easy-on-the-eyes Eure became a feature in teen magazines like Tiger Beat.
• He almost replaced fellow ’70s dreamboat David Cassidy on the show that made Cassidy a household word.
After learning that Cassidy was threatening to leave “The Partridge Family,” Eure auditioned for and won the role of a neighbor boy who would take over as frontman of the TV family’s band. In the end, however, Cassidy agreed to stay with the show and it was subsequently canceled.
• He beat out actor Mark Hamill for the role of Mike Horton in “Days of Our Lives.”
But, as Eure points out, Hamill managed to land on his feet after that setback. “I did ‘Days of our Lives,’” Eure quips. “He did ‘Star Wars.’”
• He’s never been to Utah.
Although he lives less than six hours by car from St. George, Eure confesses he’s never been to the Beehive State.
“I think I flew into the airport once,” he says. “So I did see the (Great) Salt Lake from the air, but then I flew out again. But I’m thrilled to finally be coming to Ogden.”
• He got to play with the actual joystick for the Mars rover.
After meeting a NASA scientist at a convention, Eure and fellow “Land of the Lost” castmate Kathy Coleman were invited for a private tour of JPL’s Mars science laboratory.
“They took us into this room where one guy has a driver’s license to pilot the Mars Opportunity rover, and they let us play with the joystick,” Eure says. “We weren’t moving the rover on Mars, but we did get to play with the joystick.”
• He splits his time between California and Mexico.
“I have a house in Puerto Vallerta where we live for six months,” Eure said. “But then we come back to Palm Springs for the summer.”
Summer? Why return to the well-known California desert community for the hottest months of the year?
“Because I’m stupid,” Eure explains.
• He was a co-creator of the popular “Dragon Tales” animated show on PBS.
The show, which ran from September 1999 to November 2005, was nominated for three Daytime Emmy Awards.
• He was host of the children’s game show “Finders Keepers.”
The show, which featured two teams of children searching for hidden objects, ran from November 1987 to July 1988 on Nickelodeon.
• He was once in a boy band.
Whenever the acting gigs would wane, Eure says he’d fall back on his singing. He once sang on stage with Diana Ross, and was briefly in a boy band for Motown Records.
“Obviously, that didn’t go anywhere,” he laughs.
• He almost hosted the Australian version of “The Tonight Show.”
Says Eure: “I was hired to host ‘The Tonight Show,’ out of Australia, but the government didn’t want an American hosting and wouldn’t let me in.”
• He also almost played Gopher on the ABC television series “The Love Boat.”
Eure says he was hired to play the part, but that fell through when NBC, his “Days of Our Lives” network, wouldn’t share him.
• He’s an author, too.
Eure has written a number of books, including the children’s novel “The Red Wings of Christmas,” which was illustrated by Ron Palillo (who played Arnold Horshack on the ’70s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”). Disney bought the rights for the story, according to Eure.
“I was over the moon about that,” he said. “Disney has it sitting on the shelf now, but writing the screenplay for them and coming up with the songs was amazing.”
• He taught comedy legend Lucille Ball how to play the game show “Password Plus.”
At one point, Eure was a regular on a couple of TV game shows, including “Match Game” and “Password.” When Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy” fame was going to be on a new version of “Password,” called “Password Plus,” producers asked Eure to spend the day teaching her how to play.
Recalls Eure: “I called my mom and said, ‘What are you doing today?’ I go, ‘Wanna spend the day with Lucille Ball?’ That was a great time.”
• He’s currently got a couple of new projects in the works.
Eure says he can’t mention titles just yet, but he’s going to star in the first eight episodes of a new TV show. Plus, he just signed a deal for a reality show that he helped create.
“I’ve been really lucky in life, to be totally honest,” he said. “I’m in a position where I don’t have to work, so I only do things that make me happy and are fun to do.”
• He’s incredibly upbeat and optimistic. About everything.
“I like to say that Pollyanna is my spiritual guide,” he says, referencing the book and film about an orphan who goes to live with her wealthy but stern aunt. “Here was a little girl who came into a nasty family, and within two weeks everybody loved each other. I find that remarkable.”
• He completely embraces his legacy as Will from “Land of the Lost.”
Eure says when he, Coleman and fellow “LOTL” actor Phillip Paley get together, “It’s like summer camp for us.” They’re booked at nine pop-culture conferences this year, and he says it’s a flat-out good time.
“Unlike a lot of casts, we truly love each other,” Eure said. “Sid and Marty didn’t just cast a show, they cast my family.”
• He promises a good time at Ogden UnCon.
Eure says the three actors from “Land of the Lost” are bringing a big yellow raft, complete with oars, to the Ogden convention. (The premise of the show involves rafting on a river when a massive earthquake plunges the characters down a waterfall and into a prehistoric land.) They then take photos in the raft with conference attendees.
“So it’s not just standing there with a selfie,” Eure said. “And we sing the theme song, too. We figure if we’re going to be there together, let’s have fun.”
Eure says he doesn’t take for granted the fans at these events.
“For somebody to come up to our table and want to talk to us, and spend their hard-earned money on an autograph, that means a lot to me,” he said.