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A 'dangerous' debut from Stephen Tobolowsky


The following story ran on the Sept. 22, 2012, edition of

September 25, 2012

Stephen Tobolowsky, an in-demand character actor from Dallas, makes his literary debut Tuesday with The Dangerous Animals Club, a collection of warped and wonderful autobiographical stories.

Fittingly, some credit for prodding Tobolowsky into writing goes to a dangerous animal. The actor was horseback riding in Iceland alongside an active volcano in 2008 when his horse, a "horrible, ill-tempered SOB," threw him onto a lava flow. Tobolowsky broke his neck in five places.

"While I was recovering," he says, "in my three-plus months of down time, one of the only things I could do was write. So I did."

Tobolowsky, whose new TV role is in The Mindy Project, a Fox comedy premiering at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, says he wrote the book for his sons, Robert and William.

"I wanted to leave something that would say, 'This is who your father was. This is what he was like when he was young, when he got in trouble, when he was uncertain, when he fell in love.'

"After I started writing, the stories took over. They seemed to have a say of their own. Different stories would present themselves and say, 'Wait. You have to write me next.'"

Tobolowsky, an SMU graduate, Class of 1973, will be on campus to discuss the book at the Umphrey Lee Center at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 3. The event is free and open to the public. He's also one of the authors showcased at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Oct. 27-28.