In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to Jail," an iconic actor fills in for the role of "Dale the Whale," one of Monk’s greatest enemies, but you have to look under a lot of makeup to see which iconic actor it is.
In 2004, Tim Curry became the second actor to play Dale, a financier whom Monk saw as ruthless. It was a role previously played by Adam Arkin in the show’s first season.
Curry only filled in for this one guest spot on Monk, but in his career, this one guest spot marks a rare onscreen appearance for the actor who distanced himself from onscreen acting after he famously became disenchanted by fans who were obsessed with his Rocky Horror Picture Show character, Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
These fans became so fascinated by the cult film, that starting from its debut, they would notoriously dress up as characters from the movie and make mayhem-disrupting screenings at movie theaters nationwide in 1975.
Curry said this rampant fandom even once got him booted from a movie theater where he had gone with friends to see his own movie – because he was mistaken for being his own impersonator.
The actor told The Ottawa Citizen in 1979 that the New York movie theater where they went had a manager who was so sick and tired of all the Rocky Picture fan antics – which included dancing in the aisles and shouting added lines throughout the film – he banned all impersonators from attending viewings.
So when Curry went to buy his ticket, a gum-chewing cashier rolled her eyes at him.
"They said I was just another look-alike and kicked me out," he sighed.
Curry protested, but he said the cashier wouldn’t crack, asking him in a heavy Brooklyn accent if he was Tim Curry how come he didn’t have long black hair like Frank-N-Furter: "What happened to your hair?"
"It was dyed, miss," Curry explained.
The cashier squinted, allowing, "Well, you do look a bit like him." Then she asked, "Smile, willya?"
Curry smiled, but his grin didn’t gain him entrance, and instead he said they kicked him out of his own movie screening.
By this point in Curry’s career, he was just as sick as the movie theater manager was of how much fans loved him as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. He had even decided to distance himself from acting altogether, turning to his first passion: rock & roll.
Even on stage at rock shows, though, he said fans expected him to sing and dance like his famously campy movie character.
Abstaining from acting was difficult for Curry, and he told The Los Angeles Times in 1979 that his time away from acting was beginning to wear on him, hinting he’d be back soon.
"I do miss acting," Curry said. "I’m having withdrawal symptoms from acting. I’m sure I’ll act again at some point, but I don’t want to think about acting now."
In the Eighties, Curry did return to acting onscreen, appearing in movies and TV shows, but he ended up getting more involved with voice work.
Voice acting would comprise most of his career in the Nineties, outside of memorable roles like Pennywise in It, Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and the concierge in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
By the early 2000s, it became rarer and rarer to see Curry onscreen, until he suddenly joined the cast of a Family Affair reboot by stepping into the iconic shoes of Mr. Giles French, but unfortunately that role didn’t stick with audiences quite like Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and the reboot was soon canceled.
The next year, that freed him up so Curry appeared on Monk, and since then, glimpses of the iconic actor onscreen have seemed even fewer and further in-between.
In 2017, when It was being rebooted, the actor tapped to play the new version of Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård, explained why fans continue to treasure Curry’s character work, whenever he does make time to step back onscreen.
"Tim Curry is Tim Curry and no one will do Tim Curry as good as Tim Curry," Skarsgård said to The Tribune News Service.
We just wish Skarsgård had been with Curry that night at the movie theater to defend him against that gum-chewing cashier that kicked him out.