Actor Michael Zaslow Dies

Michael Zaslow, a soap opera star who won a Daytime Emmy Award for best actor, died Sunday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a nerve-cell disorder better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ABC announced. He was 54.

For 25 years, Zaslow portrayed manipulative businessman Roger Thorpe on Guiding Light, a role that garnered him a Daytime Emmy in 1994. Most recently, he played the charming David Renaldi on One Life to Live.

Zaslow also appeared in other television shows, including Law & Order.

His Broadway roles included Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Onward Victoria, and Boccaccio. His film credits include Seven Minutes in Heaven (1985), Meteor (1979), and You Light Up My Life (1977).

He served on the National Board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and, as a board member of the Creative Coalition, he campaigned for more effective health care. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in political science from UCLA.

After being diagnosed with the ALS, Zaslow helped form ZazAngels, which raises funds and awareness to fight the disease. In a statement a few months ago, Zaslow said, "I see my opportunity as doing for ALS what Chris Reeve did for spinal cord traumas, though on a more modest scale perhaps. This is a healing activity for me and Susan and dear friends, and our children as well."

"We will carry on the work Michael knew to be so important," said Dorine Gordon, president of The ALS Association, Greater New York Chapter. "The mission of the ALS Association has been advanced because of Michael's efforts."

Among the bits of information to be found at Web sites devoted to Zaslow:

  • He is the godfather of actor Christian Slater.
  • He appeared in the first episode of Star Trek to air, in 1966. It was actually episode No. 6 but was the first to be broadcast.
A public memorial for the California native will be held Jan. 25 at the Royale Theatre in Manhattan. He is survived by his wife, Susan Hufford, and their daughters, Marika and Helena.
To honor Zaslow's memory, his family has requested that contributions be made to ZazAngels, c/o The ALS Association of Greater NY, 40 Wall Street, New York, N.Y. 10005.