Charles Rocket (August 24, 1949 – October 7, 2005) was an American film and television actor, notable for his tenure as a cast member on Saturday Night Live as well as for his appearances as the villain Nicholas Andre in the film Dumb and Dumber, Dave Dennison, the father in Disney's "Hocus Pocus" and Adam, the Angel of Death, in the series Touched by an Angel. He was found dead on October 7, 2005. His manner of death was ruled as suicide.
Early life and career
Rocket was born Charles Adams Claverie in Bangor, Maine. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design in the late 1960s and was part of the Rhode Island underground culture scene in the 1970s that also included Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and film director Gus Van Sant. He had a son with his wife Beth. They were married on board the battleship USS Massachusetts anchored in Fall River, MA. Charlie also appeared from time to time with friend Dan Gosch as superheroes "Captain Packard" and his faithful sidekick "Lobo". In a RISD yearbook the dynamic duo appeared in a photo at the Rhode Island State House with then Governor Frank Licht.
Rocket made several short films and fronted his band, the Fabulous Motels, on accordion. He later anchored the local news at Channel 12 WPRI and at KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs under his own name, and WTVF Nashville under the name Charles Kennedy. He made his network debut on the popular late-night television Saturday Night Live. Later in his career Rocket would lend his accordion talents to the David Byrne-produced B-52's album Mesopotamia.
Saturday Night Live
Rocket was cast for the 1980–81 season, which followed the departure of the remaining members of the show's popular original cast and original executive producer Lorne Michaels. Singled out by new executive producer Jean Doumanian as the star of her new ensemble, Rocket was promoted as a cross between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. Rocket was given the role of anchor for the show's Weekend Update news parody, and was featured in many sketches. He was a "utility man" of sorts, as he appeared in more sketches than any other male cast member that season with the exception of Joe Piscopo. Several clips of Rocket's performances appear in both the feature and featurette of the "SNL In The 80's: Lost and Found" DVD.
The February 21, 1981 episode hosted by Dallas star Charlene Tilton featured a parody of the famed Who Shot J.R.? episode of Dallas. In the episode, Rocket was shot in the chest by a sniper while doing a sketch about a sexy couple (with Gail Matthius as his partner) bathing a dog and spouting innuendo. At the end of the show, as cast members traditionally gathered around the host to say good night, Tilton asked Rocket how he felt about being shot. In character, a wheelchair-using Rocket improvised, "Oh, man, it’s the first time I've ever been shot in my life. I'd like to know who the fuck did it", followed by the cast and audience reacting with shock and laughter.
Due partially to the violation of broadcast standards, along with Saturday Night Live's low ratings, Doumanian and Rocket were soon fired (along with most of the writers and fellow cast members Gilbert Gottfried and Ann Risley). Piscopo and Eddie Murphy were the only cast members to survive the axe, after new producer Dick Ebersol replaced Denny Dillon and Gail Matthius after producing one episode. In "Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live," it is reported that Rocket was particularly hostile to Murphy and Piscopo.
Rocket recovered from this early career screw-up and acted in many films, including Earth Girls Are Easy, It's Pat, Dances with Wolves, and Dumb & Dumber, often portraying the antagonist. In television, he secured a series of guest spots on several 1980s sitcoms, co-starred in the short-lived 1992 comedy-drama series Tequila and Bonetti, and played rival network president Ned Grossberg on the 1980s cyberpunk series Max Headroom. Rocket became well known for his role as Richard Addison (brother to Bruce Willis' David Addison) on the popular comedy-drama Moonlighting and as "Adam" the first "Angel of Death" on CBS's Touched by an Angel.
During the 1990s, some roles for Rocket were box office duds such as the animated Titan A.E. and Fathers' Day and the short-lived 2000 John Goodman series Normal, Ohio on the Fox network. But he made frequent guest appearances on many popular television programs in the early 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, including Quantum Leap, Wings, The King of Queens, and recurring roles in Touched By An Angel, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the last of which marked his final appearance on network television. He also lent his voice to popular video game titles Star Wars: Starfighter, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (as the character "Nym" in both games), Descent 3, and Age of Mythology.
His final film role came in the 2003 movie Shade which starred Sylvester Stallone and Melanie Griffith.
Rocket was found dead in a field near his Connecticut home on October 7, 2005; his throat had been cut. He was 56 years old. The state medical examiner later ruled the death a suicide. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered.