Life and career
Beck was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the third of nine children. He attended Memphis University School and then Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, on a football scholarship. While in college he was initiated into Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. After graduating with a degree in Economics, he was one of 30 (out of 2,500) applicants chosen for London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Michael's stage credits, beginning with college, include: Camelot (he was King Arthur); and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Besides acting, his hobbies include reading, music and cooking.
Beck is known predominantly for his roles as "Swan" in the action film The Warriors (1979), "Sonny Malone" in Xanadu (1980), "Lieutenant-Commander Dallas" in Megaforce (1982), and as "Koda" in "Triumphs of a Man Called Horse" (1982). (Both the Xanadu and Megaforce roles garnered him Razzie nominations, for Worst Actor and Worst Supporting Actor respectively.) Beck also appeared in other movies such as Warlords of the 21st Century, The Last Ninja, The Golden Seal (as an evil poacher), "Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story" (as Clarence Carnes), "Rearview Mirror", the 1984 TV movie "Blackout", and Wes Craven's Chiller (as a cryonically suspended sociopath). He read for, but did not get, the role of Sir Lancelot in John Boorman's movie Excalibur. Michael starred in a short-lived television series, Houston Knights (1987), in the role of "Sgt. Levon Lundy." More recently, Beck starred in television shows JAG, Robin's Hoods, Walker Texas Ranger (in the episodes Flashpoint and A Difficult Peace), "In the Heat of the Night (TV Series), and as the Mars-born terrorist-turned-cyborg assassin "Abel Horn" in the science fiction TV series Babylon 5 1994 episode "Spider in the Web", and as "Mr. Jones" in the spinoff series Crusade (episode The Well of Forever).
Michael has narrated numerous audiobooks of John Grisham's novels. He has also narrated Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz; A Darkness More Than Light by Michael Connelly; State of the Union by David Callahan; and the unabridged version of Bill Clinton's My Life. He also lent his voice to the popular video game adaptation of The Warriors (2005).
Beck lives in California with his songwriter-wife Cari (they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in September 2010), and with their two children: daughter Ashley and son Jesse. According to Michael, neither of his kids act.
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