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Two Not-So-Great Comedies Ended Parker's Big-Screen Career

Starring Parker Stevenson

Biceps!

Stroker Ace (1983)

Parker played Burt Reynold's rival Aubrey James in this NASCAR racing comedy. Aside from being pushed on a stretcher into a pool, he mostly gets to play it straight, which was for the best. Parker can be very funny, but he tends to do better with dry or eccentric humor rather than the kind of broad slapstick you find a Burt Reynolds movie. Parker brought real-life racing experience to the role, having competed previously in such competitions as a 3,200 mile Safari Race in Kenya.

Buy Stroker Ace on DVD from Amazon.com!

Buy Stroker Ace on VHS from Amazon.com!

Aubrey with Bottle

Parker on "Stroker Ace"
 
Burt Reynolds. . . asked Universal, the company that was financing the film, to cast me as his nemesis. But the studio did not want me in the role. They wanted someone who fit the description a little better than I did - the character was supposed to be someone who had scars all over his face, huge biceps and who looked like he had spent twenty years in prison. In other words, he was supposed to be an animal. Burt had the sense to know that this wasn't me, and that wasn't how I would play the role. So he said to the studio, "C'mon, this guy's an actor. Give him a break. He'll bring something different to the role." The studio finally agreed to use me. Burt really stuck his neck out for me, and for that, I'll always be grateful.
 
- from Playgirl, October 1985

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Stitches (1985)

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"Stitches" is unquestionably the lowest point in Parker's career.* This medical school comedy is completely tasteless, and is lousy even for the genre of deliberately sophomoric comedies. It was so bad that the director exercised his right to have his name removed from the picture. "Alan Smithee," who is credited as the director, is the Director's Guild pseudonym used when the actual director doesn't want his own name associated with a film.

It's been a long time since I've seen this film. (Once was more than enough!) The one scene I liked, the only one in which Parker didn't seem horribly out of place and mis-cast, occurs when his character Bobby is nearby when someone has a heart attack. In a complete change from his otherwise irreverent and obnoxious behavior in the rest of the film, he immediately starts doing CPR and saves the man's life. The dean of the school, whom Bobby has been treating as an enemy, happens to be nearby and commends him. They have a conversation about Bobby's attitudes and his future as a doctor. It's a nice series of moments, and Parker is completely convincing. It's the only scene worth viewing in the entire movie.

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Bobby receives a dressing-down
from the dean, played by Eddie Albert

Parker at the Racetrack

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Q: How did you get involved in auto racing?
 
A: A few years back, I was invited to participate in a pro-celebrity event with the likes of Andretti, Johncock, and Sneva. Being adventurous and curious, I accepted. On the second lap of the event I "stuffed it," and realized that if I were going to have any future in the sport - or anywhere else - I had better learn what I was doing. I enrolled in several racing schools and began working out regularly wtih Jim Russell of the British School of Motor Racing. This led to Formula Ford, off-road, and sports-car racing in events like the 3,200 mile Safari Rally in Africa and the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Circuit, here in the States. There has been a benefit in all this racing. I suspect it had something to do with my being cast opposite Burt Reyonds in the film "Stroker Ace." (from Celebrity Fitness)

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Parker at the track with Perry King and William R. Moses in 1990.

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At California's Irwindale track in November, 2001.