This Former Marvel Actor Is Now a Sheriff’s Deputy
Sometimes celebrities have their 15 minutes of fame, then quietly transition into something resembling a normal life. None other than the Incredible Hulk himself has done that.
Granted, once you play the Hulk, your life is never completely normal. But whereas Lou Ferrigno once saved the day in the 1970s show, now he’s a sheriff’s deputy in Socorro County, New Mexico.
How did Lou Ferrigno get famous?
Ferrigno was already famous in the 1970s when he worked the bodybuilding circuit. He appeared in the documentary Pumping Iron, along with another up and coming bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. That documentary put both men on the map, and although Schwarzenegger got more famous later, one could argue that Ferrigno capitalized on fame faster.
Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno both auditioned for the title role of The Incredible Hulk, but another actor of imposing stature, Richard Kiel, got the part. Kiel was best known for playing the villain Jaws in the James Bond movies, but his tenure with the Hulk turned out to be very short.
Producers decided Kiel didn’t have quite the right physique, and Kiel had reacted badly to the white-eye contact lenses he had to wear. So Ferrigno ended up becoming the Hulk.
The show ran from 1977 to 1982. While Bill Bixby’s David Banner was the central figure, Ferrigno got plenty of publicity too, including an appearance on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Ferrigno participated in both the 2003 and 2008 Hulk movies, making a cameo as a security guard with Hulk creator Stan Lee in the former, and he provided the voice of the Hulk in the latter.
Why did Lou Ferrigno become a deputy?
People might assume Ferrigno’s job as a deputy is an honorary or ceremonial title, but Ferrigno insists he’s the real thing. Yahoo quoted Ferrigno as saying, “This is not a costume. This I take very seriously and I’m very excited, very proud to be a deputy because my whole life I’ve always wanted to be a sheriff.” Ferrigno will help support patrol officers.
Ferrigno actually has experience as an officer, both firsthand and secondhand. Ferrigno’s father had been a lieutenant with the New York City police, and Lou Ferrigno had been a reserve deputy in San Luis Obispo, California.
Ferrigno said, “I’m certified and I have police powers which I’m very proud of. I went through all the driving, the shooting, the studying and it changed my life and I’m very happy to be a real-life hero, protecting life and property.”
Sometimes actors are content to live everyday life after fame
Ferrigno is not the only performer to get a “real world’ job having worked in entertainment. Many celebrities, particularly one-time child actors, eschew the spotlight and seek out down to earth careers.
Lisa Jakub, whose credits include two of the biggest hits of the 1990s, Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, is now a yoga teacher and author, having written two books: One is called You Look Like That Girl, about her Hollywood years, and the second is called Not Just Me: Anxiety, Depression, and Learning to Embrace Your Weird.
One of the more high profile cases of an actor who found himself in a workaday job was that of Geoffrey Owens, who had a recurring role on The Cosby Show. In 2018, numerous outlets, including CNN, reported he was bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s.
Owens was subjected to shaming for a perceived fall although others came to his defense, saying there was no shame in having an ordinary job once you had your moment in the sun.
Actor Chris Rankin, who appeared in Harry Potter movies, said he worked in kitchens once Potter was done. “I needed a job, no shame in that. And you know what? I really enjoyed it! You do what you need to do and that’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he said in a tweet.