There's a new hulk in TV-land and he's not just standing around and flexing his muscles. In addition to watching his role in "Falcon Crest" expand, Daniel Greene is making movies and genuinely enjoying his successes.
"Life is getting better and better, week after week," Greene said during a visit to Washington several weeks ago to launch the movie "Hands of Steel" in which he was featured as the guardian of the future who is "much more than a man."
In real life he's a bubbly 30-year-old former Florida State football player who eagerly talks about his good fortune. "Look what I picked up at the airport newsstand today, " he said, pointing to the desk top of his Madison Hotel room. There was the National Enquirer with a color picture of Green lifting eights, highlighting a story on how stars keep fit. Then there was "Sports Car Digest," with a picture of Greene standing alongside his red Corvette, and The Washington Post with a large advertisement displaying his muscle filled torso to call attention to his latest movie.
He said fan adulation is new to him, "but I have to admit I'm enjoying it. I'd be lying if I didn't say I enjoy being recognized." Recently at a celebrity tennis tournament in Deerfield, Fla., with such stars as Tony Danza, Ed Marinaro, Marcus Allen and Eric Dickerson, "I was mobbed several times for autographs. I do a lot of charity spots. I'm so happy, I want to give something back." Greene noted.
On the flight to Washington he dosed off and when he opened his eyes, there was a little boy starring at him. "We were almost nose-to-nose and he blurts out, 'Are you the truck driver?' I nodded and he asked for my autograph."
Thus far his movies have not threatened any box office records, but his role in "Falcon Crest" has been expanding and producing gobs of fan mail. "The fan mail for Dwayne Cooley has been incredible. It's all positive. When you play a true-blue, all- american, down-to-earth kind of guy, the people love you."
Greene will be back next year to continue trying to marry Emma (Margaret Ladd), the youngest daughter of matriarch Angela Channing (Jane Wyman), who along with a season's ending earthquake put the pending wedding on hold for at least another season. The producer and writers "are thrilled with results of the Dwayne and Emma romance they've created and don't forget Ursula, my truck."
As a newcomer Greene is not intimidated working with Wyman, who has been listed as TV's highest paid star at more than $250,000. per episode. "I learned so much just watching her. She's been real sweet to me. My first scene with her was shot in Napa and there were about 200 people watching. It was scarry with closeups and everything. When the scene was over Miss Jane ('We all call her Miss Jane') said, 'Daniel, it's going to be a pleasure working with you. Welcome to the family.'"
He also recalled a scene when he was called upon to confront Miss Jane and he wasn't tough enough. Before the re-take Wyman said, "Daniel, I want you to give it to me." Greene also noted that on the set, he and others take Wyman's "coat, walk her back to her dressing room and all. She is definitely the queen of 'Falcon Crest.' You have to have her approval to stay on the show."
When he joined "Falcon Crest" he signed a four-year contract, "but they have all the options. I want to stay as long as they'll have me," Greene said."We shoot an episode in about two or three days. I'm working with great people. It's a wonderful experience, and a great paycheck. It couldn't be better. 'Falcon Crest' is big and wonderful."
Handsome Lorenzo Lamas (Lance), has two years left on his contract, but has threatened to leave the show so he can drive race cars. Greene thinks Lamas will be back next year ("if the money is there") and, if not, he says with a smile on his face, "It's not going to hurt Dwayne, is it?"
Greene has two other films "Hollywood Air Force" and "Pulsebeat" due for release this summer. Lloyd Bridges and Chris Lemmon co-star in "Hollywood Air Force," which he describes as a sort of "Stripes" about the National Guard in 1961. He has had "hulk" roles in "Rosebud Beach Hotel" and "Gone Are the Days." He describes "Hands of Steel" as a cross between "Rambo" and "The Terminator." His guest-starring credits on TV include such shows as "General Hospital," "Alice," "Three's Company," "Dynasty'" Scarecrow and Mrs. King," and "The A-Team." He's also had a somewhat torrid run in national commercials doing everything from bubble gum, to Chevy trucks, to Coca Cola and Dr. Pepper (Tarzan in a blonde wig).
"Commercials are easy and they pay about $10,000. Movies are totally different than TV. I love the experience. I'm hoping that one of these days I can become one of those actors who can make the crossover to films. To me, doing both TV and good film roles would be ideal.
"I don't want to be only a hunk, or beefcake. I feel I have a lot to back it up," Greene said. Although he wouldn't mind doing Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan) type roles and the likes of Buddy Baer (of "Quo Vadis"), Steve Reeves (Hercules), Christopher Reeves (Superman) or even Sylvester Stallone (Rambo). With a kind of Ted Danson ("Cheers") impish grin on his face, he says, "I'm looking foward to roles with emotion, feelings and romance, not just robot or beefcake parts."
After starring in high school baseball, basketball, track and football in the Miami area, he went on to play defensive back for Florida State from 1973 until 1977. The team didn't win many games in those days, he recalls.
He played college football 13 years ago at 195 to 205 pounds, the same weight he now carries on his six-foot-three frame.
Actually, he's the third Florida State football player to make the grade in acting. Burt Reynolds and Robert Urich also played for the Seminoles. Greene recently visited his old school, met coach Bobby Bowden (who took aver after Greene graduated, University President Dr. Bernard F. Sliger and Gov. D. Robert Graham. He noted that "they said they were thrilled to have another 'Nole making it, and invited me back to be a special guest at next fall's homecoming game."
He spent most of his junior year in Italy and graduated with a degree in foreign studies. He then spent three years working as an instructor in a Florida health club. "I always had acting in the back of my mind, but as an athlete in high school, baseball, football, track and basketball won."
Then in 1980 he set forth for the West Coast and a career in acting. Without a single connection and no experience, he started making the rounds. He was paying his rent from a job in a fitness gym. At first it was a few commercials, then a spot on "Alice," and then "things just started picking up."
Today he lives with two buddies in a three-bedroom apartment in Brentwood, with high hopes of buying a house in the next year. He works out regularly. "I run five miles every other day. If I can't run, I use a stationery bike. He is also into aerobics. On days he doesn't run he lifts weights for an hour. He is also getting into tennis in a big way.
"You have to burn up those calories. Keep that body fat off. I'm big on health, nutrition and common-sense eating. I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, fish and chicken. I don't do much cooking for two reasons: I don't like cleaning up and there are some great places to eat right near where I live. I like cookies and hot fudge sundies and once in a while I splurge, but I know what I'm doing and what I'll have to do because I ate that stuff. Gotta splurge every now and then. Can't be perfect all the time," he said.
"Hey, if I didn't look the way I do, I wouldn't have gotten the part in 'Falcon Crest'. I have to come off with the viewer noticing a good-looking body. But, I'd like them to say, 'And, he can act, too.'"
Greene is very close to his family and old friends. His mother is an area director for Dade County public schools, his father is a portrait photographer and his sister, Debbie, is in banking and real estate. His father joined him on his movie promotion tour in the east.
"We're very close," Greene says of his family. "The thing that motivates me most is the excitement, great enthusiasm and support I get from my family and close friends. It means everything to be to be able to share whatever success I have with them."
Still cheerful after an afternoon of interviews and a photo session, he added. "I'm just happy and pleased as can be. Since I decided to become an actor, I have always been confident that my time is coming.''