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IT STARTED WITH SHAKESPEARE

Scenes from a working actor's life: select hits from the career of Bill Sadler. (Carefully note that his career has a story arc, as all good show-business narratives should.)

1977 -- "Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare." A CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People production. Everybody has to start someplace.

1978 -- "The Great Wallendas." Sadler plays wire-walker Dieter Schmidt, one of Karl Wallenda's nephews. Lloyd Bridges -- ever-ready to get physical -- plays his Uncle Karl.

1985 -- "Biloxi Blues." In Neil Simon's sequel to his "Brighton Beach Memoirs," Sadler makes his first appearance on Broadway, playing a tough drill sergeant.

1987 -- "Project X." One of the better movies about chimpanzees. Sadler plays Dr. Carroll. It co-starred Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt.

1989 -- "Hard to Kill." Consummate icy villainy begins. Sadler plays a senator. Steven Seagal is the good guy.

1990 -- "Die Hard 2." Consummate icy villain part 2. Sadler plays a military wacko who takes an airport hostage.

1990 -- "The Hot Spot." Sadler plays Frank Sutton, one of the slimier rednecks in a town full of them.

1991 -- "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey." One of the sublime comic moments in recent film: Sadler, as an unusually cheerful version of the Grim Reaper, plays a fierce game of Twister with Bill and Ted in a hilarious parody of Max Von Sydow playing chess with Death in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal."

1994 -- "The Shawshank Redemption." Another guy who makes things tough for the hero. Sadler plays Heywood, one of the nastier inmates.

1999 -- "Roswell" on TV. Sadler plays Sheriff Jim Valenti, a not-entirely bad guy, even if he makes life difficult for the alien teens in Roswell, N.M.

2004 -- "Kinsey." As horrifying -- and brilliant -- as movie cameos get. Sadler plays Kenneth Braun, a sexual degenerate so foul that even Kinsey's steely-eyed assistant can't stand to stay in the same room with him.

2004 -- "Wonderfalls." More obscure comedy for the ages, lest anyone forget. The Fox TV show set in Niagara Falls barely lasted as long as a butterfly, but Sadler was gloriously funny as the clueless doctor father of the angst-ridden heroine.

2005 -- "Julius Caesar." His biggest Broadway part. He plays Caesar in Shakespeare's classic, to Denzel Washington's Brutus, opening today. It's a long way from "Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare."

-- Jeff Simon