From Hollywood Actor to Preacher
The Dino Andreadis Story
A solitary figure stood on a dark, deserted hilltop, high above the City of Angels. Overhead, a myriad of stars twinkled in the beautiful night shy as the blazing neon lights below beckoned intensely... I was the lone figure on the Los Angeles hilltop. It was 1978. I was 19 and at last I stood on the threshold of my dream becoming a reality. The dream had gripped me since boyhood - that of becoming a Hollywood actor.
Grasping for the slightest chance to make a connection in the movie industry, I visited the posh Woodland Hills mansion of movie actor Telly Savalas, known especially for his TV series "Kojak". Being a Greek like myself, I was certain Telly would be my link with Tinsel Town's big league.
Every nerve ending in my body was tensed with a strange mixture of energetic excitement and fear as I knocked on the massive door of the Savalas home. In a few moments the door to fame and fortune would be opened wide. The door swept open with expensive ease. "Good evening. My name is Dino Andreadis. Is Mr. Savalas in?" In spite of my jolting nerves, I managed to sound cool and collected. "This is it!" I told myself. "My ticket to the stars!" The stranger standing in the brightly lit doorway stared at me for several seconds, then he laughed. As the ornate door was slammed in my face a few moments later, all I could hear was the stranger's laugh as he looked at my shocked face, and told me that Telly hadn't lived there for at least ten years!
My fascination with show biz went back to my childhood when, at the age of four, I was already a fan of the fabulous Chubby Checker. Once, during a trip on a cruise ship with my parents, I heard the dinner orchestra strike up a familiar Checker tune. Before my parents knew what had happened, I bolted onto the dance floor to a round of applause. That night I stole the show. In my teens I lived for the dynamic night life of Montreal. Entertainment paid good money. I was earning about $400 a week and that was quite a bit of cash for a seventeen year old back in 1976. One day my vice principal told me I should consider going to Hollywood. The idea caught hold of me with a passion. With high hopes and nearly empty pockets, I arrived in Hollywood in 1978. In a morass of eight million people I began to pound the pavement earnestly along with thousands of other hopefuls.....in search of stardom. Each night I returned home to my tiny, humble apartment with tired swollen feet and not a break in sight. Every night as I went to sleep, I looked up at the ceiling crying out to an unknown God, "If You're up there someplace, please help me!" As long as I can remember, I always had a longing for truth. I didn't go to church and I didn't know God, but as I cried out night after night to the lonely ceiling in my L.A. apartment, I was crying out for help, for truth, for reality.
There was something missing in my life......perhaps stardom was the key that would fill the void. Several long months passed. Still no hope of a breakthrough. I decided to sneak promotion photos under the doors of casting directors at the major film studios. Out of the blue, my telephone rang. My hearty pounded with inexpressible excitement.
It was the casting director of a major studio. He wanted to see me. At last! We met for a forty five minute interview, which is a long interview in Hollywood. The man wanted to meet me again later that evening. I could hardly contain the thrill inside of me at this dynamic turn of events. At precisely 8:00 p.m. a white Mercedes sports coupe arrived to pick me up. The casting director took me out to a popular night spot. After fifteen minutes with him, I began to feel uneasy. I couldn't explain it. But I was not totally naive about the lifestyles of people in the entertainment world. Bluntly, I asked the man what he wanted from me. With sickening horror, I realized I was face-to-face with the Hollywood casting couch. The casting director said that he would give me part in his next film if I paid the price.......sexual compromise. Much later, I discovered just how many are willing to pay that price of the chance at stardom. I asked the casting director to take me home immediately. What he was asking me was out of the question.
Then an acting tryout came through from NBC studios. A script arrived by messenger. What a sensational feeling! A chance to do Harvey Korman's lines on the Carol Burnett show! Arriving at the studio, I saw Tom Snyder finishing a show on my left. Further on, I saw Bob Hope finishing a Christmas special. I couldn't believe it! Suddenly my knees began to shake. I stood in front of a monstrosity of a camera and heard the director say "Action!" I froze. Not a line of my memory work came to mind. I ran out of the studio, terrified and embarrassed, a scared 20 year old kid. Yet a windfall of calls began pouring in after that! My dream was unfolding father than I would keep up with! Experienced actors were utterly amazed when I told them about the calls I was getting.
Finally a major breakthrough. An offer came in from the casting director at 20th Century Fox for a part in a series. There was one slight hitch. The director said he wanted to hire me but he couldn't. "What?! Why not?" I exclaimed. "Because you are Canadian," he said. "Canadian? What do you mean, 'I'm Canadian?' So is William Shatner. What does it matter if I am Canadian?" The problem was simple. I was an illegal alien. I couldn't be hired for a legal job in the U.S. without a green card or working permit. "How do I get a green card?" I practically shouted. "I'll get one! I'll do anything!" "This has to be it!" I cried out to the ceiling and to my unknown God that night. How many hundreds of nights had I cried out like this? Not for a minute did I realize that in all of those heartrending cries, I was searching not for my dream of stardom ... I was searching for God. The next day I handed over $96 for a five minute appointment to a lawyer who presented me with two options for getting a green card. I could invest $65,000 in a business in the U.S. or I could marry an American girl. What could I do? I didn't have a quarter to buy a bag of candy! How could I invest in a business? There was only one option. I began to search for an American wife.
The very next day, amazing as it seemed, I met a man who introduced me to a lady who would marry me to get me my green card. The fee was $500. I paid a deposit on the five hundred and two days later, I called to check the progress of the arrangements and I discovered that I had been had. The woman and her "business manager" had disappeared. Frantic to get my green card, I began combing the L.A. night clubs in search of a woman who would marry me. A few days later, I met a beautiful young woman who told me that she had fallen instantly in love with me. When she heard about my dilemma, she said she was willing to marry me. In reality, I later realized that since she knew I was to be an actor, she just wanted to marry me to get a cut of the pie. Elated, I headed my way home and began making plans. Things were falling into place. A wife! A green card! An acting career! Then as I waited for the bus, a young man slipped a piece of paper into my hand. Perplexed I looked at the paper and saw words stare right up at me. "Jesus Christ is Coming Soon. Are You Ready?" The message pierced through my cluttered thoughts like a lightning bolt. I had heard about Jesus Christ. I had gone to church only when I had to .... sometimes at Christmas or Easter when my mother pulled me by the ears to go. But something told me, "This is the truth. I believe this!"
Suddenly I felt confused. In my desperation to get home and put my thoughts in order, I jumped off at the wrong bus stop. Standing there was the same young man who had given me the tract. He mentioned he, too, had somehow landed at the wrong stop. Coincidence? Unannounced to me, it was providence.
Discussing the "coincidence" we began walking together for a short distance. The young man's name was David. I decided to invite him into my apartment for a cup of coffee. I had some questions about the tract to ask him.
David began sharing the message of the Bible with me. He told me about God's love for me, and that God has a special plan for each person's life.
Suddenly, I wanted David to get out of my apartment. I didn't want to hear anymore.
"What's the matter," David asked. "You wanted me to tell you these things!"
"Yes, David, I did. I know I can't live the way I would have to live if I gave my life to Jesus Christ as you're encouraging me to do. I know if I did that, I'd have to give it all to Him. There's too much at stake in my life right now. I can't do it. Get out! Get out!" David left.
The next morning at ten, I had an appointment with my bride-to-be. I pushed thoughts of David and his message about Jesus Christ out of my mind. It was nine o'clock and there was a knock at the door. I thought my bride-to-be was early. A kindly, tall, black lady stood at the door. She introduced herself as David's pastor, and said that he told her about him. "When he told me about you, I felt compelled to pray for you throughout the night. Dino do not do whatever you are about to do," she said, and with that she turned and left. I was flabbergasted, and for the first time a real holy fear came over me.
Somehow I felt a warning in my heart to do as she said. I did not realize it at the time, but God had led this woman to my place at the right time. If she had not come, I would have married this woman I hardly knew and God's plan for my life would have been shattered.
When my bride-to-be arrived an hour later, I told her I couldn't go through with our plans. Deep inside, I had always wanted to marry and build a life with a special person. To marry now and divorce three months later suddenly seemed like such a sham.
Hurt and angry, the young woman cried, "Dino! What about your green card! Don't throw everything away! Don't be crazy!"
"Go! Just go!" I told her.
"Dino, you have a television series in the palm of your hand!" I told her I was sorry and asked her to leave.
However, the next day I decided I was letting go of the chance of a lifetime. It is amazing how when God does something in our lives how quickly we forget about it. All of a sudden, I had to find a wife again. All of my convictions of the day before were forgotten.
I called up an old girlfriend whom I had dated in Montreal, at the time living in Wisconsin. When I explained my situation and the need for a green card, she said she would be willing to marry me. We made our hasty plans. The day she was to arrive, I had a strange feeling she wouldn't show up. I placed a call to her home in Wisconsin. Sure enough.
"Dino, I can't explain it, but I just couldn't go through with it."
My plans were falling like a row of dominoes. In my anguish, despair and confusion, I turned to reading the Bible David had given me ... searching for answers ... any thread of direction to show me what to do.
I began to read the Word of God and something was happening inside of me. I found myself not just reading, but soaking and immersing myself in the Word. The words spoke life, and I was reading day and night, not being able to put it down. I realized that I needed more than stardom to fill the emptiness in my life. It was then that I asked Jesus to be my personal Savior. I didn't understand it, but God was breaking the walls of pride in my life so I could open my heart and draw close to Him.
One day, I sensed a quiet urging within me. "Go and preach the Gospel on the corner of Western and Wilshire." I thought I must be going crazy! Then God's Holy Spirit prompted me again.
But how could I go preach in Hollywood at 1:30 in the afternoon? Nonetheless, I followed the prompting in my heart and off I went.
"Shut up you idiot" "You're out of date!" The insults flew fast and thick as I went on the corner of Western and Wilshire and preached the Gospel. People laughed and jeered.
"God, what do You have me doing this for? What's the purpose in all of this? Show me!" I cried silently.
Then it happened. A man came up to me. Humbly, he asked me to tell him more about Jesus. As I began talking about the Bible's message of salvation, hope and new life in Jesus Christ, the man got on his knees right in from of me and asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. I was so excited, that I asked him if he wanted to be baptized because I had read that in the Bible. He said yes, and so I took him home and baptized him in the bathtub of my apartment!
Walking the streets of L.A. and the skid row areas, I began to share the Gospel, day after day. But I hadn't forgotten abut my quest to become an actor. Even though I was serving God, I still wanted to pursue my long held dream of stardom.
A call came through for a part requiring a six-foot two inch blonde guy with blue eyes. I'm five-foot nine, with brown eyes. I had a new agent and I quickly phoned him asking why they would be calling me when I didn't even fit the description of the part. They had torn up the script and put in my characteristics. It simply does happen for unknowns like me. You see as God does things in a person's life, you can be sure the enemy is right behind trying to trick, trap and ensnare. And so, with this new offer, the things of God began to diminish in my life. Hollywood began to consume me again.
I stopped reading the Bible and praying. It was the first sign of Christian back-sliding but I knew nothing about falling away from God. Instead of praying and seeking God I became desperate and really wanted to know if I was going to make it in Hollywood. So I decided to see a fortune teller near my home. I needed some answers again and had forgotten all that God had done for me.
As I entered the fortune teller's, I was greeting by terrible, hideous screaming. "GET OUT OF HERE!!!"
I couldn't understand why the woman was screaming at me. I had never seen her in my life. Trying to make some sense of the situation, I drew closer. She raised her hands in front of her face, pulling away from me, unable to even look at me and screamed and bellowed even louder: "GET OUT OF HERE!!"
I high tailed it out of the fortune teller's completely baffled. I had no clue what had happened. When I got home the Lord lead me to a scripture I had never seen before in Psalm 91:11 "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." I was amazed! What the fortune teller had actually seen even though I did not see it were angels protecting me, and all the demons within her were screaming.
Although I was going my own way, doing my own thing, God in His mercy was protecting me, not because of my goodness, because there was none, but because of His goodness. Something deep within me still wanted God's way and I know that He saw that and rescued me from my own follies.
About this time I had an unusual experience. Before I went to sleep one night, I saw something that I will never forget. In a vision, I saw a man preaching the Gospel, with people all around him. As he preached the Gospel, in the midst of his preaching, I heard a loud sound like a trumpet and above me in the clouds, I saw Jesus, clothed in a white robe, His face brighter than sunlight. Suddenly, we were all rising up to meet Jesus together in the air.
Shaken and startled, I opened my Bible and read these words which I had never read before: "for the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a mighty shout and with the sour stirring cry of the archangel and the great trumpet call of God. And the believers who are dead will be the first to rise to meet the Lord. Then we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with this news" (1Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Everything began to make sense to me, as though the pieces of a puzzle were being fitted carefully into place in my mind. I recalled the tract from David and the conviction of its words when I had read it. From that point on, my desire to preach the Gospel was renewed.
Once I went to the skid row area of Hollywood. It is a sad, pathetic gathering of destitute, homeless people. Jesus had made himself so real to me. I felt that I had to preach the love of Jesus to others. I began preaching wherever I went. People were giving their lives to Christ as I shared.
Another call for a screen test. I had no green card, but the studio was willing to sponsor me. Another thing that doesn't happen for nobodies in Hollywood. The enemy was trying his best to keep me as far away from God as possible pursuing my own interests and desires.
Then, in a large studio, filled with a group of attractive women, one lady spontaneously asked me: "What so you think of common law marriage - modern marriage?
Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I began preaching the Gospel to those women. I realized only later what I had done. I was preaching in a Hollywood studio! I can't remember what I had said, but within minutes, most of them had tears running down their faces as God's conviction took hold of their hearts. One woman was so convicted she ran out of the studio. Being young in God, I thought I hurt her feelings and ran after her.
"You didn't hurt my feelings," she said. "You see I once served God whole heartedly, but I backslid to become an actress."
That same woman I was able to lead back to the Lord and bring her to church. The battle was strong in my life for wanting Hollywood, but I finally got down on my knees and put all of my life into God's hands. I realized that I had to give God everything. Hollywood was not fulfilling me although it looked promising. I realized that when I was after my own pursuits and out of the will of God I was the most empty. That's when I realized I had to surrender everything to the Lord, as hard as it was to give up Hollywood. I realized that as the Bible says, I cannot serve two masters. I called my agent and asked him to tear up all of my files for acting roles. "Don't call me anymore," I said. The chapter was closed, and the quest was ended.
I felt God's direction to let go of my Hollywood quest once and for all and to return back home to Montreal. I ended up working in my mother's boutique as I took time to sort out what God wanted me to do with my life.
A terrible salesman because I was more concerned about sharing the gospel with customers than selling, I soon found out that God had other plans. Before long, it was becoming more like a church than a boutique. I had such a compulsion to share the gospel, and in the church I was attending they reserved the front row every Sunday for the people I brought off the streets. It was then that I was told by a pastor that I had a tremendous call on my life and should go to Bible College.
Bible College? How could I do it? I had cheated all my way through high school. With the help of the Lord and spending the first 2 weeks in Bible College on my knees for His help, I graduated with Honors and was chosen the Baccalaureate Speaker. I began pastoring in a church in Montreal, and later was involved in full time evangelism in Montreal.
Reaching for the stars hadn't brought the fulfillment I'd been seeking so long. But finding Jesus Christ, knowing and serving Him with all my heart brought me to the fulfillment of my quest for true happiness. God has given me the greatest life there is. The wife that I sought, God so sovereignty brought her into my life in 1986, and together we serve the One who created the stars!
Dino's story can be found at:
- His church web site: http://www.brokenhearted.org/
- Email Dino at: [email protected]
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