Robert Swan

A retrospective video of Swan’s career, created by his dear friends: radio personality/anti-bullying advocate, Betty Hoeffner, and radio DJ/musician, Anthony Pratscher, is viewable at–KzeDbME  YES, that is Robert Swan singing opera on the soundtrack. For more information, go to

Media Contact: Betty Hoeffner/219-814-4248/Landline       219-789-5258/Text


(ROLLING PRAIRIE, IN) Robert Swan, actor, award-winning screenwriter, producer, voiceover legend, operatic bass-baritone, and founder of Harbor Country Opera, best-known for his riveting performance as the Canadian Mountie in THE UNTOUCHABLES, Gene Hackman’s assistant coach in HOOSIER’S, and Jane Fonda’s friend in THE DOLLMAKER, died peacefully in his sleep at 5:47 a.m., August 9th, in his Rolling Prairie, Indiana home after a long battle with cancer.  This SAG/AFTRA member, born October 20th, 1944, made the lines, “Coach stays” in Hoosier’s, and “I do not approve of your methods” in The Untouchables famous. 

At the time of his passing, Swan had been looking for partners to turn his award-winning screenplay, The Saint and the Scoundrel, into a movie. The screenplay is about Samuel Johnson, the man who created one of the most important and famous books ever published…the first modern dictionary. Swan was saddened that most people had never heard of Johnson, even though his sculpted likeness is on display in Westminster Abbey, and, in St. Paul’s Cathedral you can find a bust of him as well as see where his body is interred. According to his biographer, James Boswell, this prolific and comedic conversationalist suffered most of his life with Tourette’s syndrome, Autism and difficulties with alcohol. As an actor, Swan was immediately drawn to Johnson’s story and relationship with Boswell and wondered why no one had ever made a feature film about him, so he wrote the screenplay with the hopes filmmakers will agree this story needs to be turned into a movie. Of course, Bob saw himself playing the role of Johnson but also thought Sir Anthony Hopkins or John Lithgow would serve this film well. To-date, the screenplay has received numerous awards domestic and abroad.

Swan was also working on a table reading of his screenplay featuring his close friends, Golden Globe and two time Primetime Emmy award-winning actor, Daniel J. Travanti as Samuel Johnson, award-winning actor, Si Osborne as James Boswell, accomplished actress, singer, comedienne, author and painter, Holly Schroeder as Marguerite, and actor, filmmaker, producer, director, Arnie Saks who, with Michael Dawson, won awards for restoring Orson Welle’s Othello, as narrator. To make that dream come true, the table reading, with this cast, took place, as part of the Celebration of Life party for Bob, October 8th, 2023, at The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan. 

“Bob’s screenplay The Saint and the Scoundrel is astonishing for several reasons,’ explained Holly Schroeder. “The most important one? Bob understood the physically flawed, verbose, brilliant Samuel Johnson because he was very much like him.”

“Samuel Johnson’s mind was inquisitive,” noted Si Osborne. “He was an eclectic intellect with an all-encompassing compassion, like Bob. I’m honored to be playing Boswell, because in life, playing Boswell to Swan’s Johnson is much like sitting in the surf and hoping you can keep your head above the waves. If it wasn’t for Boswell, Samuel Johnson wouldn’t be known at all. “

According to Arnie Saks, “Sam is erudite and articulate, like Bob.”

After the table reading, friends and family shared their stories on the stage Swan often graced with his humor and beautiful operatic songs and acting. He, like so many, love The Acorn Theater and the  organizers of Bob’s celebration are deeply grateful they donated their venue for this celebration of all things Robert Swan. Heartfelt thanks also go out to David Fink, the former owner of The Acorn and close friend to Swan. Fink emceed the night, in honor of the many, times he, “had the pleasure and honor of introducing Bob at the numerous operas, shows and Chrismats Galas he brought to Harbor Country, Michigan.” 





Robert Swan started his career as a boy soprano singing in St. Paul’s Episcopal in Hyde Park/Chicago. In his early 20s, as a bass baritone, he sang at various synagogues and churches, plus Lyric Opera chorus and Chicago Symphony chorus.

His first acting job was in High School as the lead in The Bartered Bride. He worked on and off at Court Theatre at the University of Chicago.

In the early 70’s he performed at Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, Illinois. He lived in a tent and rode his bike to rehearsals and performances in Fiddler on the Roof with Shelly Berman, and in 1776 with Robert Conrad.

“I began my theatrical career by a reservoir in central Illinois,” said Swan. “After taxes and the union admission fees there wasn’t enough left for a room so I pitched a tent and rode my bike the seven miles to and from the theater for rehearsals and performances. There was always a German shepherd waiting to chase me at the bottom of the last hill. Summer stock among the cornstalks led eventually to a trip to Broadway as one of four original members of Goodman Theater’s original cast of Freedom of the City. Not long after, yearning for larger roles, I produced a production of The Lesson by Ionesco at the Orphans Pub on the near north side of Chicago, creating along with it a new kind of contract allowing Equity actors to perform in new spaces called the COLT contract, which helped give rise to a bunch of theater groups, including a new outfit called Steppenwolf. The play, which featured Barbara Gaines as the Student and Mike Nussbaum in his directorial debut, was, by itself, nominated for more Jefferson awards than all the productions at Goodman that year. Mike and I also acted together in Northlight’s inaugural production of Jumpers, directed by Frank Galati. Other pleasures: holding Gregory Mosher at the end of a rope as Lucky to my Pozzo in Waiting for Godot at Court Theater’s first professional production, and the sheer joy of playing Wiseman in Jules Pfeiffer’s Knock, Knock.”

Swan worked with Mickey Rooney in Show Boat in Philadelphia. He later worked with him at Drury Lane in Chicago. In the middle of the play, Mickey would venture into the audience and schmooze…going off script. This bothered Bob because he had his big scene coming up and it disrupted the mood. So, one night, Bob plucked Rooney out of the audience, carried him back to the stage, and delivered his silioquy. He thought he was going to be fired for sure, especially when Rooney bounded into his dressing room and told Bob……………………….”Keep It In.” Bob also worked with Broderick Crawford at Dury Lane.

During a lull in his career, he got into voice over becoming one of the most in demand voices in Chicago. He was the voice of Busch Beer, Nine Lives Cats Food. United Airlines, Schlitz, The Beef CouncilBEEF, IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER, to name of few. Here is link to hear his commercials, trailers, Promos, etc:

He started doing TV series including playing bad guy, Jeb Tidwel, on All My Children. Swan recounts being accousted by a woman in Central Park in NY. She said some disparaging words thinking he was the character Tidwel.

Bob produced and starred in the play, The Lesson, by Eugene Ionesco, performed at the Orphans Pub in Chicago. This show marked the directorial debut of Michael Nussbaum and co-starred Barbara Gaines who went on to become the founder of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. For this show, Bob created the Chicago Off Loop Theatre (COLT) which opened up professional theater jobs on the northside of Chicago. This production received more Jefferson Awards than the Goodman Theatre.