After the five-season run of Miami Vice ended in 1989, fans watched the core cast members move on to new projects. For Don Johnson (Sonny Crockett) and Edward James Olmos (Lt. Castillo), that meant feature-film work. But the show’s supporting players didn’t find new gigs quite as easily.
Philip Michael Thomas, who’d had the grandest ambitions, worked on a few TV movies before finding jobs in Italian television. Michael Talbott, who played Detective Stan Switek, took a journeyman route of his own in the post-Vice era.
After a few one-off appearances on TV series in 1990, Talbott entered a state of limbo familiar to so many actors. By the end of the ’90s, his career had mostly wound down. But an association with Brian Dennehy seemed to keep Talbott going into the new century.
Michael Talbott didn’t land major screen roles after ‘Miami Vice’
If you scan Talbott’s credits post-Miami Vice, you only need to read his character’s names to get the idea. He played “Coach” in an episode of Booker (1990); “State Police Officer” in Hero (1992); “Bartender” in Sunset Heat (1992); “Car Jerk” in Mr Payback (1995); and so on.
Prior to playing Switek in Miami Vice, Talbott had landed parts in major motion pictures. The list includes Carrie (1976), Big Wednesday (1978), First Blood (1982), and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). And he kept the run going with Manhunter (1986) during his Miami Vice years.
That streak didn’t continue after Vice wrapped. Brian Dennehy, who’d become close with Talbott in the ’80s, spoke about his friend (and former housemate) in a ’91 Tampa Bay Times article.
“[Talbott’s] trying to get another job. It’s pretty tough,” Dennehy said. “Coming off a TV series is a tough deal, and you go in limbo land for a while, if not forever. Most actors go immediately to the “Island of Lost Actors’ and stay there. Troy Donahue is the mayor.”
Talbott appeared in several Brian Dennehy projects in the ’90s
Judging by Talbott’s post-Miami Vice credits, you can safely say his friendship with Dennehy paid off, professionally. Of Talbott’s 10 screen credits from 1993-2001, six came in projects starring Dennehy. That list includes four TV movies featuring Dennehy’s “Jack Reed” character.
Talbott’s acting career effectively ended in ’01 following his final appearances on The Fighting Fitzgeralds (a sitcom also starring Dennehy). After ’01, the only credit listed on his IMDB page is the 2016 short film “Sal and the Goon,” directed by Magnus Diehl.
The director’s last name should look familiar to Miami Vice fans — he’s the son of John Diehl, who played Switek’s partner Larry Zito for the first three seasons of Vice. “Sal and the Goon” represented a reunion for Talbott and Diehl (aka Switek and Zito) that was 30 years in the making.
In Diehl’s case, the actor didn’t hang around until the end of Miami Vice. He asked to be killed off during the season 3 shoot, and executive producer Michael Mann obliged. The move seemed to work out for Diehl, who’s appeared in over 120 film and TV projects since he left the hit show in ’86.