From Seinfeld to New Theater, Overland Park Actor has Seen it All 2

 

(IN SOME KIND OF MOVIE SCRIPT FONT)

Dr. Gold: “She’s expired.”

George Costanza: “Are you sure?”

Dr. Gold: “Let me ask you, has she been exposed to any kind of inexpensive glue?”

… “We found traces of a certain toxic adhesive commonly found in very low-priced envelopes.”

 

You know who he is. But you don’t know you know who he is. But he knows that you know who he is, without knowing it.

Whether he’s playing Dr. Gold on the wedding invitations and Junior Mint episodes on Seinfeld, or the Friends doctor who administers a shot Ross to treat his allergy, or roles on the big screen in The Pursuit of Happyness to Minority Report or locally on stage in Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins and other New Theater productions, actor Victor Raider-Wexler has seen it all in his more than 50-year career.

Yes, Raider-Wexler, of Overland Park, is that guy.

“I had no idea who Victor was when he walked in,” says Paul Mesner, artistic director for Paul Mesner Puppets, who first worked with Raider-Wexler when the actor offered his voice services pro bono at a local fundraiser. “He came in with absolutely no attitude. Within moments though, I realized he was a professional.”

Since first meeting Raider-Wexler in 2010, Mesner has hired him to star in Herschel and The Nativity, a production surrounding the birth of Jesus still playing in the Kansas City area.

Raider-Wexler, a native of Toledo who has lived in both New York and Hollywood, first moved to Kansas in 2007 to support his wife, a resident at the time at the University of Kansas Medical Center in psychiatry.

“I like it here. I like it plenty. I like my house. I like Overland Park. I like the Midwest,” Raider-Wexler says. “I’ve become a huge Royals fan. I’ve watched every game this year.”

In a career that dates back to the early 1960s, Raider-Wexler’s accomplishments include a prestigious Camie Award for portraying Bob Bolton in the ABC movie Secret Santa, as well as a 1999 best actor award in the Brussels International Festival of Independent Film for his role of John in John.

In a recent performance last year in Murder Among Friends at the New Theater, starring Morgan Fairchild, he jokes that Fairchild remarked that Raider-Wexler had been around so long, “There was a time when he was the big name, and I wasn’t.”

Raider-Wexler happily refuses to reveal his true age, neither confirming nor denying IMDb’s 71-year-old listing. He once tried out for the father role and the son role in the same movie. When he made the final casting call for both parts and appeared in front of the real father and son, who were casting directors, let’s just say, that ended the opportunity.

“The key to being cast is to try to be who you think they want you to be,” Raider-Wexler advises.

Stocky, witha deep voice and looking like everyone’s favorite grandfather even in his younger years, Wexler has played an impressive variety of roles. But he was best known in the 1990s for as many as 45 credits, often playing doctors, judges and lawyers.

“When he speaks, you are drawn in,” says Joe Fox, vice president of production for the New Theatre Company. “You want to listen to what this man has to say.”

On any late night, you may be watching an old series on TVLand and see him without knowing it. Such was the case when I saw him on Friends.

“You think that’s funny,” Raider-Wexler says. “One time I was upstairs and my grown daughter was downstairs. She shouts, ‘Dad, you are on TV again.’”

So what’s the key to Raider-Wexler’s longevity?

“Never tell anybody your age,” he boasts. “That way you can have a 50-year career and still be 30 years old.”