Actor Ray Hassett played Echo Base Senior Logistics Officer Tigran Jamiro in “The Empire Strikes Back,” where he famously warned Captain Han Solo (Harrison Ford) it was a suicide mission to jump on a tauntaun and go try to save Commander Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on the ice planet Hoth.
“Your tauntaun’ll freeze before you reach the first marker,” Jamiro cautions Solo.
“Then I’ll see you in hell!” fires back the irascible interplanetary smuggler.
BUT Ray did a lot more than every Star Wars fan’s favorite film, along with another Coolwaters’ client, John Ratzenberger, in 1973 they formed and performed the Sal’s Meat Market Theatre Troupe an improvisational comedy theatre to showcase their own brand of humor. They were a two-man collaboration, who built characters and situations based on their own experiences growing up in blue collar America. And they were a huge success having performed at the London: Oval House, Soho Poly, Bush Theatre and Hampstead Theatre and continuing the tour throughout Britain and Scotland – including Gardner Centre Brighton, Plymouth Arts Centre, Warwick University, Darlington Arts Centre – and parts of Europe.
‘So, whatever became of Sal’s Meat Market after it was disbanded? John Ratzenberger went on to work in film and television and ended up as ‘Cliff’ the hilarious mailman on the award winning sitcom, Cheers, while Ray went onto TWO other huge franchises! One for Warner Bros. “Superman” in which he played "Harry"; one of the two police officers chasing down Otis (Ned Beatty) and Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) the other in the infamous 007 film series “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Other acting gigs include roles in the TV series “Private Schulz”, “Body Double” and “ The Black Stallion Returns.”
In the mid eighties, having grown tired of industry politics; Ray began looking for a new career. Something a little different. Something where he could build on all that he had learned as an actor and a writer. Something with an element of risk, and something that was a big challenge. And in 1987, he found that career when he entered the Police Academy to become a Police Officer. He began working in a mid-sized urban city, a short distance from New York City, at a time when violence was rampant. It was a time when, in many neighborhoods, ‘crack addicts’ walked like zombies throughout the night. Drug dealers controlled neighborhoods through fear and intimidation, gunfire was a routine refrain most night, and good people hunkered down, many trapped in their own homes, with no one to trust, least of all the police. It was about as far from theatre or film as you could get. But it was People. People fighting for respect. People at their worst and their best. And he loved it from the moment he started!
After working two years as a patrol officer responding for calls for service, he was recruited to work undercover in an organized crime investigation. The assignment would be covert and last two years, and would require him to publicly leave law enforcement to assume a new identity in order to complete the investigation. Ray states; “When I look back now, this assignment, aside from the stress and danger of constantly doing this kind of work, becoming a villain was an actor/writer’s dream. You are building a character that constantly has to grow and darken over the course of the investigation. You must always be ready to improvise as things can and will change in a minute. And they always did. And I learned that in this type of work, a good review meant people believed you, and if they believed you, that meant they did not try to hurt you, or worse”.
After he concluded the undercover investigation, he resurfaced as a detective working in Narcotics, and then on to major investigations. Along the way, he became a Hostage Negotiator, of which he is most proud. Today, he trains Police Hostage Negotiators to be better negotiators (through the use of improvisation) so more lives can be saved. The training art of Hostage Negotiation to Foreign Police Agencies has brought Ray all around the world including The Middle East, Philippines, Tajikistan, Bogata, Columbia and India.
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