Before They Were Stars: Stephen Tobolowsky in “Keep My Grave Open”

By the time you read this, all of us here at The Back Row will have seen legendary character actor extraordinaire Stephen Tobolowsky perform at the Ottawa International Storytelling Festival last night. So I’m happy to give him the “Before They Were Stars” treatment and post the first of many, MANY roles he has played in his long and distinguished career. Tobolowsky made his screen debut in a 1976 no-budget horror film called Keep My Grave Open, the story of a crazy woman who lives in her isolated mansion with her brother, who is conveniently never onscreen except when numerous folks turn up dead (if you’ve seen Psycho, you can probably guess where this story is going). Tobolowsky (sporting a full head of hair!) plays her unsuspecting stable boy who eventually becomes a victim. Keep My Grave Open is now in the public domain, so it’s posted in its entirety on Youtube, but if you’re not inclined to watch the whole thing (I wouldn’t blame you), you can skip right to the 15-minute mark to see Tobolowsky’s first appearance. Another interesting piece of trivia: at the very end of the film, you’ll also see the screen debut of prominent character actor Chelcie Ross. Sixteen years later, Tobolowsky and Ross would reunite to act together in Basic Instinct.

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