Michael Forest was born Gerald Michael Charlebois in Harvey, North Dakota, then moved to Seattle at a very young age where he lived until his second year in college (University of Washington). He then made his way south to California attending San Jose State where he graduated with a B.A. in English and Drama. Michael came to Hollywood in 1955 and began acting on television and on stage (Players Ring). But his acting career really began in Washington when he went to see a production at the Seattle Repertory Playhouse where a friend of his was performing. He was totally entranced by the whole theatrical experience and knew that’s where he wanted to be.
Actually, Michael, who has excelled in athletics since his school years, was training to be a boxer when his coach suggested he choose between boxing and acting, since he could possibly have his face smashed in the ring, and that could end any acting career to which he might be aspiring! He made the right choice! When Michael arrived in Los Angeles, he began to study with veteran actor/acting teacher Jeff Corey where he first met Roger Corman who asked him to be in “The Saga of the Viking Women” (1957), a film he was directing. His brother, Gene, then cast him to co-star in “Beast from Haunted Cave,” followed by Roger’s “Ski Troop Attack” (1959) and then “Atlas” (1960), which was filmed in Greece. In between these movies, Mike continued as a stage actor in Shakespearean plays and other legitimate productions. For the next ten years, he juggled his theatre career and his starring roles in hundreds of television shows. He played “Othello” three times at the San Diego Old Globe where he also appeared as Petruchio in “Taming of the Shrew.”
In fact, when they were casting the part of ‘Apollo’ for the now famous episode of "Star Trek", "Who Mourns For Adonais"?, there was a call out for an actor who could handle Shakespeare’s dialogue and had the stature necessary for the character. At the time, Mike was appearing at the Globe Theatre and was the one actor they recommended. And of course, the rest is history! Throughout the late ‘50s and ‘60s, Michael went from one television show to another. He was under contract to Warner Brothers and Universal and it was at the height of westerns, cops and robbers and other episodic shows. Michael starred or co-starred in most of them, all the while appearing on stage in regional theatres around the country. “One of the shows that has given me the most attention was the segment on "Star Trek". It was a good show to be on and I felt pretty good about the work,” states Forest.
Some of his other favorites, besides Zorro with Guy Williams include his recurring role on “The Alaskans” with Roger Moore, the very watched "Twilight Zone" episode in which he played one of three alien black leather jacketed motorcycle riders that were terrorizing the neighbors, a wonderful episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (he played a priest) and a “Doctor Kildare” episode with Molly Picon entitled "The Eleventh Commandment."
An interesting note is that Michael played many Indian characters in tv and film and through a genealogy search his niece was making recently, he found that he, indeed, was an eighth Sioux and Chippawa!
From 1968 to 1978, Michael lived in Rome, but made films throughout Spain, France and England. He loved living there – “I thought it was wonderful! When you live in Europe, you begin to know its people. You learn the language (he speaks fluent Italian) and you get a feeling for their way of life, which is considerably different from our way.” When he arrived, he was immediately cast in “100 Rifles,” went on to make 26 films and dubbed over 500 films while he was in Rome. His last feature overseas was “Mohammed” (known also as “The Messenger”) on which he worked for a year all over North Africa. An accomplished athlete, Mike did almost all of his own stunts over there, horse-back riding, fencing, etc. In fact, he is still an avid tennis player and works out at the gym every morning. In 1979, just after Michael returned to Los Angeles, he was asked to co-star in a film with Franco Nero, “Shark Fighters,” which was made in Cozumel. When he returned from location, Michael was contracted to play a leading role on “As The World Turns.” He relocated to New York City where he lived for the length of his contract playing Nick Andropolous and even traveled to Greece to film segments of the soap opera. The work was demanding, but he loved it.
While living in New York, he even ended up in a Broadway Show, “Breakfast With Les and Bes”, back on stage, his first love. After a few years on another soap, “The Catlins,” shooting in Atlanta, Michael returned to Los Angeles again where he has worked in film, tv, stage and dubbing the voices on hundred’s of films and cartoons. He is a member of an Equity-Waiver theatre company, Theatre 40, where he has appeared in many productions, and was recently nominated for an award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama for his performance in “Painting Churches.”
Since Mike was a teenager, he has had a fascination with airplanes. In fact, he was learning to fly seaplanes in Washington. When he moved, all that was put on hold. However, while he was living in New York, he started flying Ultralights and that led to the realization of his boyhood dream. Mike now holds a pilot’s license and goes flying as often as time allows. Look for Mike as a pilot in the Tom Hanks film, “Castaway.” He lives in Los Angeles with his lovely wife, Diana.
Update: Mike reprises his role of Apollo in the first episode of Star Trek Continues! Episode titled, "Pilgrim of Eternity". Playing Athena is Diana. Watch the episode here!