Sharon Sachs first crossed my radar as a native of Rockford in a Facebook thread with a close, mutual friend. As soon as I realized that this star of television and stage was also a Rockford native, I politely asked for more information about her recollections of Rockford, her childhood, and her career today. I scarcely hoped for an answer but, astoundingly, this amazing woman was only too happy to take some of her valuable time to share her story with me. The story below has been edited from her original submissions, with her permission, but only in subtle ways that do not affect the story itself in any way.
It is both an honor – and a privilege – to present to you my first installment in the “Rockford’s Own” series, Ms. Sharon Sachs:
With all of the negative press that Rockford has received of late, how do you feel about the city that you hail from?
“I love my hometown and, really, I feel as though I never left. I’ve stayed connected to Rockford, my family and friends who still reside there, as well as several of my famous friends who hail from the Rock.
“Since the early 1960’s, my family have lived and been active in St. Bernadette’s parish, where I attended church and grade school. My parents, William & Corrine Sachs, my sister, Dr. Cynthia M. Sachs (my favorite dentist), my nephew, Dale, as well as several Aunts and cousins keep both myself – and the rest of my siblings – permanently tethered to the city. I’m still in touch with any of my old classmates and theatre friends as well and, “Go Rockford!” is the greeting I use when corresponding with – and congratulating – many of my chums.”
How did you find yourself immersed in the world of acting? Who – or what – were your early influences?
“As a young child, I waited with bated breath as WREX TV’s Roddy Mac dialed up the daily cartoon, hoping to see “The Little Rascals”. Oh, and I would especially look forward to the episodes where Spanky and the gang would ‘put on a show’. That was it, the moment that I realized that I wanted to be Spanky – I wanted to put on a show!
“It was at this time my parents sent me, along with my sisters, Cynthia and Sheila, to ballet class with Miss Marguerite, and then off to music lessons. My folks encouraged us girls – and my brothers Mike and Ed as well – by providing a creative, ‘crafty’ environment, with plenty of parental guidance.
“Back then, Rockford had an award-winning park district, as well as youngster-targeted television programming, such as the aforementioned Roddy Mac, Mr. Mustache, and Romper Room. Facilities and venues were as myriad as they were varied to a child such as I who was interested in the arts in all forms: the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., the Greenwich Village Art Fair, Beattie Is, J.R. Sullivan & New American Theater, Chuck Hoenes’ Dance Studio, The Clock Tower Dinner Theater, Rockford Civic Theater, Starlight Theater, Jim Crow & Patty Ingrassia at Hickory Dickory Players, Rockford College Summer Theater, Rockford Park District summer performance troops, ROPADI Players & “Magic to Do”, and Miriam Perrone with Camp Sunshine. I participated in all of these, and more.
“When I was 11 I recall the night my neighbors, Russell and Marilyn Kurth, took me to see a musical at Boylan High School. To this day, I remember my reaction: “Wow!” I exclaimed, “This is the greatest show I’ve ever seen!” To be perfectly honest, outside of school or church it was, in fact, the only live musical that I’d ever seen. If I wasn’t completely hooked before, I certainly was then.
“I attended Boylan High School and there I found a group of enormously talented and motivated friends. Soon I found my way participating both on stage and backstage. I built sets and costumes, designed posters, I made myself available for every possible job that needed to be done in the theater and did them all, joyfully.”
What are you most proud of in your career, to date?
“I’m most proud of my work and roles on stage. It was my first love and will always remain my greatest passion. I have been acting for over thirty years: it’s revealing, relentless, terrifying, and wondrous.
What happened after high school?
“After studying theater at Northern Illinois University, I moved to Chicago and again found myself surrounded by talented friends. The Chicago theater artists are, in my opinion, the most qualified in the country. Exceptional productions are found downtown, uptown, as well as in the suburbs. Each production offers up outstanding talent at every turn. I’ve spent thirty years in the field acting, and working backstage, with this amazing community and always look forward to my next opportunity.”
When – and why – did you take the plunge, and make the big move to California?
“My attentions turned to Los Angeles when I booked a television pilot, and found a Hollywood agent. Pursuing television work in Los Angeles is exciting but often discouraging. In this sense, it threatens my sanity while challenging my tenacity – all in the same moment. But when I do book a job, it feels so rewarding. And I’m – once again – in for the long haul.”
What is most satisfying to you, at the end of a typical day?
“I love to create and build. Whether it be a character, a dress, a glorious meal, a friendship, a garden, a craft project: at the end of the day, it’s fulfilling to point at a thing and say, “I made that. What’s next?”
What are some of your fondest memories in show business?
“In my career, numerous ridiculous and wonderful things have happened to me on stage. I have swallowed a moth, torn my meniscus, was passed a Kennedy half dollar in my mouth during a kiss, danced out of my wig, drank a glass of water filled with vodka, puked in a fire bucket (and not in that order), kicked my shoe into the audience, fell on my butt, danced in the rain, busted my zipper, played a teenager at 38, played a grandmother at 22, laughed until I cried, and lit my costume on fire: yes, on fire. I’ve also been surrounded by the most stimulating, clever, creative, creatures that a person could ever have the pleasure to know, and call friend. I am rich, in that regard – and realize it – and am thankful for it, each and every day.”
What Sharon was too modest to share:
She currently plays the role of Dr. Harper, the Medical Examiner on the NBC series, “Grimm”., and is also an award-winning costume designer. She has also made appearances on “Weeds”, “Huff”, “Dexter” & “My Name is Earl”, as well as having numerous other film, television, and stage roles rounding out her distinctive career.
You can learn more about Sharon’s many accomplishments here:
Photos of Sharon (Copyright Sharon Sachs, All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.)
Categories: Rockford's Own