Santa Ana College Foundation Month Year
A History of Success, A Future of Promise

Hall of Famer Robert David Hall
Attends White House Ceremony

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Robert David Hall, one of this year’s inductees into the Santa Ana College Hall of Fame, attended an historic event at the White House on July 24. One of the most prominent disabled actors working today, Hall joined President Barack Obama and others to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the landmark civil rights legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act. The President also announced that the United States would sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“In some countries, a child born with a disability is automatically discarded—literally thrown away. My career is living testimony to what a person with a disability can achieve,” Hall observes. “I’ve had the good fortune to speak before a United Nations subcommittee on the importance of promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, while encouraging their abilities. It is a pleasure to witness our President and this country take a proactive, leadership stance, and I was honored to be at the ceremony.”

Born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1947, Hall moved with his family to Tustin in 1951. Upon graduation from Tustin High School, he enrolled at UCLA. “At the end of my freshman year, my father and I had a strong disagreement about my grades,” Hall recalls with a smile. “I informed him I would henceforth pay for my own education, took a job as Dangerous Dave on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise and enrolled at Santa Ana College.”

A number of lessons learned in and out of the classroom at SAC have served Hall well during his career. “Young, brash and arrogant, I decided I did not really need to attend my English classes as long as I passed the exam,” he remembers. “When I showed up—late—to take the final exam, Professor Harold Milnes kicked me out and gave me the only F I ever got in college. Believe me; I have never again been late for an audition or appointment!”

Of his years at SAC, Hall primarily remembers his experiences working on the college newspaper, el Don. “The relationships I forged there are still important to me today,” he explains. “Yet watching play rehearsals across the hall from the newsroom ultimately led me to theatre classes at UCLA. I hungered to try my hand at performing.”

Hall graduated in 1970 from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a minor in Theatre Arts, and then embarked on a promising career in radio broadcasting. However, fate stepped in—or, rather, rolled in--when his car was struck by an 18-wheel truck in 1978. The car’s gas tank immediately exploded, engulfing the vehicle in flames. Hall was severely burned and injured.

His treatment at the University of California Irvine Regional Burn Center required that both of his legs be amputated. After multiple reconstructive surgeries and extensive physical therapy, Hall now walks comfortably with two prosthetic limbs. “It was the care and compassion of the staff at the Burn Center that allowed me to recover and resume my career,” he says.

His role as a burn survivor in the 1991 film Class Action with Gene Hackman ultimately led to numerous television guest-star appearances in both dramas and comedies, and most recently to his role as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins on the CBS prime-time show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, currently in its 9th season. He also works as a voice-over actor and can be heard on hundreds of commercials, animated series and animations.

A list of Robert David Hall’s awards and accomplishments would be extensive and impressive, but none more than his commitment to help other burn victims transition from victim to survivor to victor. He also chairs the Disabled Actors Committee for the Screen Actors Guild and works tirelessly to promote the disabled in the artistic community.

“I didn't realize it at the time, but Santa Ana College played a huge role in my development as an artist and as a human being. My first tentative interest in acting occurred while watching plays at SAC. I had a couple of professors who encouraged my creativity--English teacher, Dr. Victoria Stevenson and Journalism instructor Carl Vensrom. The greatest gift I received from Santa Ana College, however, was the gift of friendship. I met three lifelong friends during my two years there. Michael Wilde, Joe Cantrell, and Valerie Westen all went on to distinguished careers, but during that tumultuous time in the mid-60's, we were just friends exploring the possibilities of life. Santa Ana College was, and is, a great place to do that."

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Hall of Famer Robert David Hall Attends White House Ceremony

Robert David Hall, one of this year’s inductees into the Santa Ana College Hall of Fame, attended an historic event at the White House on July 24. One of the most prominent disabled actors working today, Hall joined President Barack Obama and others to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the landmark civil rights legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act. The President also announced that the United States would sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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