The Student Connection

...a student-run newsletter

Meet Alan Rachins '74

By Helen Edelman, manager, Exchange

October 17, 2013

Alan Rachins at 1992 Emmy Awards.Alan Rachins ’74, at left, graduated with a B.A. in the arts from the Metropolitan Center. The Boston native is one of an elite group of actors who has starred in two successful television series in his career, both the Emmy Award-winning “L.A. Law,” for which he created the complex character of Douglas Brackman that earned him both Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, and “Dharma and Greg,” now in syndication, in which he starred as Larry Finkelstein, the hippie father.

Rachins pursued a rigorous academic schedule at the Wharton School of Finance. He always had a passion for acting and decided to move to New York City to study with teachers William Ball, Warren Robertson, Kim Stanley and Harvey Lembeck, among others. He performed in a succession of plays, including the original Broadway productions of “After the Rain” and “Hadrian the Seventh,” as well as the original off-Broadway productions of “The Trojan Women” and the controversial “Oh! Calcutta.”

In 1972, Rachins put his acting career on hold when he was accepted as a fellow in the writing and directing programs at the American Film Institute. He went on to sell scripts to a variety of shows, including “Hill Street Blues,” “Fall Guy,” “Hart to Hart” and “Knight Rider.” He also directed an episode of “Paris” with James Earl Jones, as well as an Equity waiver play. Rachins’ "Hill Street Blues" episode won an Emmy that season for the talented actress Barbara Babcock. 

Despite his burgeoning successes as a writer and director, Rachins returned to his acting career with a leading role in Henry Jaglom’s independent film, “Always.” This critically acclaimed film brought him widespread attention and ultimately led to his role on “L.A. Law.” 

Rachins continued to work in feature films such as “Heart Condition,” co-starring with Denzel Washington and Bob Hoskins, Paul Verhoven’s “Showgirls,” Rob Reiner’s “North,” “Meet Wally Sparks,” “Starquest,” “Leave it to Beaver” and the independent feature, “Taken.” 

On television, he starred in the two-hour reunion “L.A. Law: The Movie” on NBC, “The Elian Gonzales Story” for the Fox Family Channel, as well as for the highly rated "Animal Planet" alongside Robert Hayes and Robert Wagner. Additional television appearances include the Jackie Collins miniseries, “Lady Boss,” as well as in “Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Silent Singer.” Other starring roles include the television movies, “She Says She’s Innocent,” “Single Women,” “Married Men,” “Tales from the Crypt” and “Unwed Father.” 

Off-Broadway and regional theater appearances have included the world premiere of Arthur Laurents’ “Attacks of the Heart” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., directed by David Saint. At the Cape Playhouse, he played the part of Matthew Harrison Brady in “Inherit the Wind.” Additionally, he tackled the role of Albin, the flamboyant transvestite, in the famed Jupiter Theater production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” was seen in “Love Letters” with Swoosie Kurtz at the Coronet Theatre in Beverly Hills and starred in the reprise production of “Promises, Promises” with Jason Alexander, Jean Smart and Alan Thicke at the Freud Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Rachins and his wife, Joanna, have a son, Robert. The couple has formed a production company, Allofit Productions, which has acquired books and original screenplays to develop for television and feature films.