"I loved horror movies. I was playing Dracula when I was 9. I guess Dark Shadows was just a natural thing for me to grow into."
Dark Shadows Characters:
Aristede, Bruno, Laszlo
Appeared in: 64 episodes
First episode: # 791, July 7, 1969
Last episode: # 1158, December 2, 1970
Born: May 9, 1939, Passaic, New Jersey
Died: April 14, 1997, of cancer
Movies were an escape and inspiration for young Michael Stroka. Forced to move from his hometown of Passiac, New Jersey, to nearby Garfield, with his family when he was in second grade, young Michael relied on his imagination to cope.
"That's when I really started escaping into my own little world, and I think that's what made me decide to be an actor," he told 16 magazine.
Nearly every Saturday, Michael and a small group of friends attended movie matinees. Then they reenact the stories they'd just watched. "I loved horror movies," he said. "I was playing Dracula when I was 9. I guess Dark Shadows was just a natural thing for me to grow into."
Michael attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology then moved to California to further his dream of being a movie star. First using the professional name Mike G. Stroka, he found work on stage and soon in films. His early stage appearances included The Man (in 1964 at the Santa Monica Playhouse), and he was in the movies 36 Hours (1964, starring James Garner and Eva Marie Saint) and King Rat (1965, starring George Segal). He also appeared in several TV classics, including three episodes of The Twilight Zone and Combat! (1965).
After returning to New York, Michael appeared in several off-Broadway plays, then was cast on Dark Shadows in the summer of 1969. He remained on the show for a year and a half, getting teen idol treatment in various magazines including Flip and 16.
From 1975 to '76, Michael played Dr. Quentin Henderson on The Edge of Night. His later movie roles included the TV movie Contract on Cherry Street (1977) and Eddie Murphey's Harlem Nights (1991). He guest-starred on Wonder Woman in 1978.
After a long battle with cancer, Michael died in 1997.
Daytime TV: Edge of Night (Dr. Quentin Henderson, 1975), Return to Peyton Place (1973), The Dating Game (1969).
PRIMETIME TV: Homefront (Johnson, 1980, pilot), Rome Sweet Rome (pilot), Buck Rogers (Rolla, 1980), Wonder Woman (Henry, 1979), Next Step Beyond (Dank Logan, 1979), The Dating Game (1969), Twelve O'Clock High (14), Combat (36), Next Step Beyond, Blue Light (4), Twilight Zone (3).
TV FILMS: The Disappearance of Flight 412 (1980), Contract on Cherry Street (1977), P.S.I Factor.
SCREEN: Harlem Nights (1989), Summer School, Thirty-Six Hours (Kurt) House of Dark Shadows (pallbearer, 1970), King Rat (Miller, 1965).
THEATER: Marathon Madness (1981, L.A.), Berchtesgaden (Count Ciano, 1976, NYC), Down the Morning Line (New York Shakespeare Festival), Funeral Games (Caulfield, 1973, NYC), The Office Murders (NYC), The Long Christmas Dinner (L.A.), The Happy Journey to Camden and Trenton (L.A.), Life in the Hotel Excellence (Westport, CT), Berchtesgaden (NYC), Wet Dry and Alive (NYC).