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Robert Clohessy '77

Alumni Success Story

Robert ClohessyActing Career Was Sparked At RCC

Robert Clohessy had no idea what he wanted to do with his life when he enrolled at RCC in 1975, fresh out of Pearl River High School. He had been a Golden Gloves boxer but elbow tendinitis KO’ed his ring career at age 17. He had performed in Pearl River’s senior class play but had no burning desire to make theater his life’s calling.

Still, when he heard that RCC was launching a Performing Arts program in ’75, he enrolled “casually and curiously,” igniting a spark that led to a full-blown acting career. Some 40 years later, he’s still a show business staple, having appeared in a multitude of starring and supporting roles in television, cinema and theater.

Clohessy’s TV credits include well-known roles in Hill Street Blues; the HBO prison drama Oz; HBO crime drama Boardwalk Empire, for which he won a Screen Actors Guild award in 2011; and miscellaneous characters on Law and Order and its spinoffs. He currently plays Lt. Sidney Gormley in the police drama Blue Bloods. His most recent award was the prize for Best Actor from the Independent Film Association for his portrayal of an existential hitman in the 2014 film, The Man From the City.

Clohessy was greatly influenced by Isaiah Sheffer, founder of the RCC Performing Arts program. “Isaiah was everyman – producer, director, writer, actor – he did everything,” he said. “He took me under his wing.” Clohessy went on to earn a BFA from SUNY Purchase, where he received expert tutelage from acting teacher Walt Witcover.

Clohessy lives in West Cornwall, CT, with his wife, Catherine Erhardt, a schoolteacher whom he met in Los Angeles. They have two grown sons: Byron, a musician, writer and actor; and Myles, a student at SUNY Purchase who is enrolled in the school’s theater arts program and who hopes to pursue a career in television and film, like his father.

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