Vowing to “fight like hell to get actors their fair share,” Alan Rosenberg was elected the 24th president of the Screen Actors Guild on September 23, 2005. Rosenberg inherits the mantle of Robert Montgomery, Eddie Cantor and James Cagney in leading one of the nation’s most high-profile and storied unions at a critical time for working actors and the American labor movement.
A true actor’s actor, Rosenberg has earned a formidable list of credits encompassing the stage, motion pictures and television. His best-known credits include his portrayal of Eli Levinson on the 1990s courtroom series Civil Wars – a character so popular it was reprised on the hit TV series L.A. Law. Rosenberg also won legions of fans for his portrayals of Ira Woodbine, the amiable ex-husband of Cybill Shepherd, on the sitcom Cybill, and Alvin Masterson on The Guardian. On film, Rosenberg memorably portrayed the apostle Thomas in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. And on Broadway, Rosenberg performed in Lost In Yonkers, among other credits. In 1995, he received an Emmy nomination for his guest role as an ailing cardiac patient on NBC’s ER. More recently, Rosenberg lent his vocal talents to the animated film, Robots, and portrayed himself in the film, Frankie and Johnny Are Married.
Yet his passions take him well beyond his craft. A native of Passaic, New Jersey, entertainment and social justice are blended in Rosenberg’s DNA. His father, a businessman, was also a swing band musician. His older brother, Mark, a former president of Warner Bros., was a prominent civil rights activist, and his sister-in-law is the highly acclaimed producer Paula Weinstein. He cites his brother, who passed away in 1992, as an enormous influence on his life and outlook. “I came of age in the sixties,” Rosenberg explains, a time during which he was highly involved in the civil rights movement and protested the Vietnam War. “I fell in love with acting and became politically active simultaneously. I am passionate about the need for social and political change and believe our art can help transform the world. I learned back then that large groups of people can achieve amazing things when bound together by a just cause. I also learned that you have to be bold in standing up for what you believe in.” Rosenberg first became active in union politics as a New York stage actor. He recalls earning his Actors’ Equity card as “one of the proudest moments of my life” and became even more active after then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers. He first ran for the national board of Screen Actors Guild in the wake of the September 11th attacks, unhappy with the country’s direction.
Rosenberg was married to actress Marg Helgenberger (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), whom he first met while making an appearance on the ABC soap opera Ryan’s Hope. They were married in September 1989 and have a son, Hughie. Together, they hosted an annual golf tournament for breast cancer awareness in Marg’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Rosenberg also is active in the fight against ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Rosenberg was elected to the Guild presidency by his fellow actors on a platform that called for greater openness in union governance and a tougher stand against networks and studios for fair compensation. His vision for SAG is one of “strength, self-worth and solidarity.” After all, he reminds his fellow actors, “We are the product. They can’t do this without us.”