Philadelphia Daily News

Wednesday, August 1, 1984



When Fred Dryer, the 6-foot, 6-inch former football star, answered the acting call for "Hunter," NBC's fall series (Channel 3, Fridays at 9 p.m.), the description of detective Sgt. Rick Hunter, the character he auditioned for, read: "A 'Dirty Harry'-type of fellow."  As Dryer explained," 'Dirty

Harry' is a popular film character.

Every time the Clint Eastwood movie was shown during a sweeps period it drew big audiences.  People went wild about it.  It meant they wanted to see violence in the streets on TV.

"But I'm not playing 'Dirty Harry.' My intent is to play Rick Hunter.  I admire Clint Eastwood and how he has handled his career.  But I certainly wouldn't make the acting choice to play someone who was already out there."

Still, anyone who even vaguely resembled Eastwood was sent out on the same call.  "It's the only way the series' creator has of letting you know what he's talking about," said Dryer, who also bears a close resemblance to Richard Widmark. "Hunter is a no nonsense-type of fellow, someone who is a good friend, loyal, and who lives his job as a plainclothes detective."

In the hard-hitting police action drama, Dryer co-stars with Stepfanie Kramer as Dee-Dee McCall, a woman described by the actress as "a strong, assertive, together lady who can be tough when she has to be.  As Hunter's partner she'll be undercover a lot. She's always in total control of herself and her work."

Together they fight crime on the streets of Los Angeles, but not always by the book, to the frustration of their superiors. The new series was created by Frank Lupo, who co-created "The A-Team," with Stephen J. Cannell, who also does "Riptide" and will serve as executive producer for "Hunter."  According to

Cannell, this series is "more reality-based than either The A-Team' or 'Riptide.'  But there'll be a lot of humor in it."  For NBC, it makes an action-packed Friday night lineup of "V," "Hunter" and "Miami Vice."  Anyone who doesn't like violence had better not tune in.

At age 38, Dryer, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, is on his second professional career.  He played defensive end for the New York Giants, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.

He sowed his wild oats in New York during the days he played with the Giants and wouldn't trade the experience of this city for anything.  But he has settled down now, married to actress Tracy Vacarro, and has an infant daughter, Caitlin.

"I could have gone the same route as so many pro players and become a sports announcer," said Dryer, who passed up an offer from CBS.  "I turned it down," he said, "because I didn't want to travel.  I wanted to stay in Los Angeles and study acting."

Since 1980 when he turned to acting seriously he has appeared in several TV movies including "The Kid from Nowhere," "Starmaker," "Pursuit of D.C. Collins," "Force Seven," "Girl's Life" and "The Marshall of Slade Town" plus made several guest appearances including on "Hart to Hart" and "Cheers." Dryer even tested for the lead in "Cheers," but he thinks that the right guy (Ted Danson) got the part.

Dryer eventually did a guest appearance as a Boston sportscaster on one "Cheers" episode.  Dryer can be seen currently in "Cannonball Run II," with Burt Reynolds.

Dryer considers "Hunter" to be a lucky break.  While he's not a vigilante, he feels strongly about crime today and thinks the law authorities are far too permissive.  So, too, does his co-star, Kramer, whom you may remember from "We Got It Made."  Both said they believe in capital punishment and think it would be a deterrent to crime.  The character he's portraying believes playing by the book isn't always the best way to keep law and order.  Dryer admits that he has a little of Hunter in him.

"I have a gun at home," he declared, "and I'd flat shoot anyone who comes in.  It's my job to protect my family.  While I consider myself civilized, I think it's a flaw in our society that we're always taking the side of the criminal.  I get fed up reading about someone getting off after they've committed a crime, or reading about plea bargaining and other things that go on in our courts.

"Rick Hunter is the kind of detective who's determined to get criminals behind bars.  In that respect I'm like him.  While this isn't 'Death Wish' or 'Dirty Harry,' I hope I can bring that kind of reality to it.  Hunter is very much a human being and 1 have no problem identifying with him."

(End of quote)