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The Untold Truth Of Scott Bakula

He has been a time-traveling hero in the NBC adventure drama "Quantum Leap," the beloved Captain Jonathan Archer in "Star Trek: Enterprise," and Special Agent in Charge on "NCIS: New Orleans," but perhaps Scott Bakula's best role is one of Hollywood's most revered, underrated stars for the better part of the last three decades. Typically cast as kind, noble do-gooders, Bakula possesses a unique talent for inhabiting strong, empathetic heroes with a twinkle in their eye, reliably injecting them with a humor, charm, and pathos that has become his signature.

When you think about it, the multi-faceted thespian has perhaps portrayed more characters than anyone else on television, because as Sam Beckett on "Leap" he spent five seasons becoming a different person each week, solving problems and righting wrongs before leaping out and into another life to do it all over again. The heartwarming sci-fi series not only developed a strong core audience, but also put Bakula's unique talents on display in versatile ways, week after week.

As a recent cameo on "What We Do in the Shadows" delightfully reminded fans, Bakula is many things — but he is not to be confused with Dracula. This charm, charisma and ability to laugh at himself may have secured a place on the Mount Rushmore of TV's strong, sensitive leading men — but what do you really know about Scott Bakula? Scroll down to uncover the untold truth.

He's Had a White Streak Since He Was Four

Some actors have a physical quirk that often goes unnoticed — like Tom Cruise's center tooth or Megan Fox's toe-thumb; things you don't immediately notice, but once you see it, you can't unsee it. Scott Bakula has one too.

Though he's known for his rugged, old-fashioned good looks, he's also known for his mop-ish hair, and if you've ever looked closely he has —well, had, before he went grey — a white streak just above his forehead. Bakula has had the streak since he was just four years old, and it apparently got him a nickname growing up, as he told Vulture in an interview in 2010 to promote his series "Men Of A Certain Age." 

"I had the white streak in my hair in the front of my head," he explained. "So I not only had all the Dracula references, I had 'grandpa' and 'skunk' and 'stinky,'" 

While the white streak may have earned him some mean nicknames, he says it helped. "I really was made to suffer," he explained in 2002. "But you know, it made me strong." It also gave Bakula a unique, striking feature that many fans have found endearing over the years. In fact, his white streak even has its own social media page.

He got his start on Broadway

It may surprise Scott Bakula fans to hear, but his long career in television and film wasn't always in the cards. "I never set out to be on TV or in a movie," he said in 2008. "Theater's my first love."

Born in St. Louis, Bakula moved to New York when he was 22 in order to follow his dream of pursuing a career in theater. It took him some time to find his footing, but he made his Broadway debut seven years later playing baseball legend Joe DiMaggio in "Marilyn: An American Fable." After that, he appeared in a string of well-received productions on and off Broadway, including "Three Guys Naked From The Waist Down" and "Nightclub Confidential" in both Los Angeles and Boston. In 1988, he starred as the lead in a Broadway musical called "Romance/Romance" in the role of a wealthy playboy named Alfred who meets the love of his life while pretending to be a struggling poet. 

Bakula's talent on stage got him noticed, earning performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Hollywood Bowl. This theatrical experience manifested itself years later, when he performed the acting and singing parts for Danny the Cat in the 1997 Warner Bros. animated musical "Cats Don't Dance." Bakula would return to the theater stage in 2007, starring in the musical "No Strings!" in Los Angeles.

He left for L.A. after a Tony nomination

By the mid-'80s, Bakula was a star of the stage, with 1983's "Marilyn: An American Fable," 1985's off Broadway "Three Naked Guys..." and the musical "Nightclub Confidential" (which co-starred his wife, Krista Neumann) all earning him solid notices. At this point his agent, Maggie Henderson, urged Bakula to try out for television.

"I had a little bit of [momentum], and then I coincidentally had done a Disney Sunday Night ABC movie that was gonna come out some time in the winter. It was the time to go," he told the fansite "Sciography: Quantum Leap" in 2000 of the permanent move to LA. "The show I did turned out to be a big hit out here. It got me a lot of attention out here and I jumped onto 'Designing Women' in the beginning and was able to do that pilot, a couple of recurring on that and things kind of took off. But I waited and waited and waited to come out and it just, it happened that I got this show."

Arriving in Los Angeles on New Years Day, 1986, he earned a starring role in the short-lived TV adaptation of the Michael Keaton hit movie "Gung Ho." He returned to New York for one final theater performance, in "Romance/Romance" for which he received a Tony Nomination. But despite the recognition, it was clear that Hollywood was where his future was — and upon his return to Los Angeles, he secured the role that would change his life and make him a household name: Sam Beckett in "Quantum Leap." 

"I left during the writers' strike and went back to New York and did a Broadway musical," he explained of that time. "Then I came back and got 'Quantum'. So I felt like I was in the right place, and that the business was going to find me."

He likes his privacy and hates interviews

Fans of Scott Bakula may be hard pressed to find all the sordid details of the actor's personal life, because Bakula rarely shows up in paparazzi photos, the back pages, or the gossip column — the result of his distaste for self-promotion.

"The world today is full of people who want to be famous, people who just want to take selfies and have followers and stuff," he said in 2017. "That's fine and I get that, but that's never interested me." 

A fiercely private actor, Bakula doesn't grant many interviews — and when he does, he doesn't open up about his personal life tin he way many actors do. "For a hundred million years People Magazine wanted to do interviews with me at my home," he recalled in 2016 while doing "NCIS: New Orleans" promotion. "I said, 'I can't, I can't.' Where do you stop?"

Although his "personal life" section on Wikipedia might be much briefer than most stars who've been a household name since the '80s, this much is known about Scott Bakula: he had two children with Neumann before divorcing in 1995; in 2009, he married actress Chelsea Field, and they share two children. All his children are now grown, and his daughter Chelsy (who at one point dated Prince Harry) is attempting to follow in her parents' footsteps as an actor.

Bakula continues to embrace his privacy — and has joked that this aversion to self-promotion is why he isn't a bigger star. "That's what's wrong with my career!" 

His Contract Said He'd Be Home For Dinner

When Bakula moved to Los Angeles to pursue his television career full time, he brought his then-wife and daughter along. Although "Quantum Leap" was a career-making role, starring in an hourlong weekly drama is extremely time-demanding, which meant he was away from home for most of the series' five year run.

Looking back now, Bakula admits that the experience damaged his relationship with his wife and daughter. In 2015, he admitted regretting that he missed his daughter's "formative years," and said it made him determined to keep his priorities in order. It took me a long time to work out my feelings about our relationship," he explained. "[A marriage] takes energy and focus ... [you have to] work hard to stay present in the relationship."

So, during lengthy negotiations to join the cast of "Star Trek: Enterprise" in 2001, Bakula made sure he wouldn't repeat his past mistakes. "I had it put in my contract that I would be done every Wednesday at six so I could be home for dinner," remembers Bakula, who by that time was married to Field. "I made time to coach my sons' soccer and baseball teams."

He was on the cover of Playgirl

You've seen Scott Bakula starring in hit TV shows, but one place you might not have expected to get a glimpse of him is in the pages of "Playgirl." 

Never averse to showing some skin ("Quantum Leap" fans will remember he sometimes seemed to be taking off his shirt once per episode), the notorious beefcake magazine represented an extra step beyond even that. Since his appearance on the cover of that March 1995 issue of "Playgirl", Bakula has been  proud of the fan following it seems to have earned him in the LGBTQ community. In 2013, he appeared in "Behind the Candelabra," the high-profile Liberace biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh that had him playing a gay Hollywood producer who introduces Matt Damon's character to Liberace (Michael Douglas), with whom he'd have a years-long relationship. A year later, Bakula took on the recurring role of Lynn in the LGBT-centric HBO series "Looking."

In a 2014 interview with "Out Magazine," Bakula reflected on the support he has received from the LGBTQ community. "I've certainly had a lot of gay fans over the years. I welcome that," he said. "And I'm grateful for the kind of career I've had, that I've been able to do a lot of different things and reach a lot of different communities. As actors, that's our great hope, that we're universal and that we can move freely and easily and be accepted."

He's a real-life Sam Beckett

Perhaps one of the most genuine "good guy" characters in television history, Bakula's character of Sam Beckett on "Quantum Leap" was more than a hero;  he was a relatable everyman, driven by a sense of moral obligation to do the right thing. From all accounts, Bakula is very much a real-life Sam Beckett.

The versatile actor has often been described as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood; perhaps the only criticism of Bakula has taken form in the reception of the murky New Orleans accent he adopted at times for "NCIS." But as one review put it: "If the worst thing that can be said about you in Hollywood circles is how poor an accent you can muster up, then you must be doing something right." 

"They wrote this character who is born and bred in New Orleans, but they didn't want the full-on accent," Bakula told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2014, as he developed the character. "We're still working on how I'll sound."

In a 2021 appearance on friend Bob Saget's podcast "Here For You," the pair reminisced about an incident that happened on the set of the classic "Leap" episode "Stand-Up" (Season 4, Episode 21), in which Saget appeared as a guest star. According to Saget, Bakula may have saved a co-star's life by yelling "cut" in the middle of a scene, when he noticed an exposed knife's blade protruding from a part of the set that an actor could have fallen on if the scene had continued. Just like his character Sam Beckett, Bakula set right what could have gone disastrously wrong.

Of course, it's heartwarming to believe that good things happen to good people — but Scott Bakula hasn't always proven adept at every role he wanted. Believe it or not, Bakula once auditioned for "Saturday Night Live" — but bombed so badly, that he kept that bit of career trivia secret for years

He's a talented piano player

"Star Trek" icons William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy both embarked on notorious, somewhat half-baked music careers following their fame in the late '60s. But unlike Kirk and Spock, Bakula was already a talented singer, songwriter and theater player before he came to prominence in Hollywood. Although he never got a chance to sing or play music on "Trek" (as Spock did in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren"), Bakula describes music, like theater, as his "first love," and continues to play piano and sing regularly.

Bakula has tried to find ways to work the piano into his other productions whenever possible, such as when he appeared in an episode of "Boston Legal" (alongside William Shatner) in 2008, tickling the ivories and singing "Once Upon a Time" to his former "Murphy Brown" co-star Candice Bergen. He also sang, danced, and played piano in several episodes of "Quantum Leap," most notably writing and performing all the original songs in the episode "Piano Man" (Season 3, Episode 15). He has even been seen playing the piano as Dwayne Pride on "NCIS: New Orleans" from time to time.

Because of this lifelong love of music, being on location for "NCIS" in the birthplace of jazz was a true thrill. "As a musician, to be in the place where jazz was born," he said in 2020, "is breathtaking all the time." But as talented as he is, Bakula thinks his piano playing still needs more practice. 

"I'm not as good as I'd like to be," he joked in 2020. "I'm a hack, you know? Especially in New Orleans."

He thought he'd never reach 100 episodes

With a career that has spanned decades, the multi-talented actor has done so much, but one thing eluded him until very recently: a long-running success. 

Though "Quantum Leap" ran for nearly five years, the show was never a bona fide ratings bonanza; the series remained on air mostly because NBC believed in it, even trying such stunts as running the show every night for a week in primetime — twice — in an attempt to hook viewers. The series ultimately concluded just short of the highly-desirable 100 episode benchmark for syndication; "Star Trek: Enterprise" similarly struggled to find viewers after its first season, seemingly always on the brink of cancellation for the rest of its run. By 2005, Bakula found himself in the unique situation of starring in two series that had plenty of fans, but had nevertheless concluded with 97 episodes produced ("Leap") and 98 episodes produced ("Enterprise"). 

So, the 100 episode milestone must have seemed frustratingly out of reach when he signed on to "NCIS: New Orleans" in 2014; as it turns out, the procedural drama would finally put Bakula over the top, but not without some moments where the series star (and producer) held his breath.

As the show approached its one hundredth episode, Bakula still didn't think he'd make it. "I was very superstitious when we got close to 100 that we weren't going to get there," he said in 2018. "Of course, two days before we almost finished our 100th episode, the hurricane [Katrina] was coming up the Gulf and it was headed for New Orleans. I said, 'This is ridiculous, it's going to wipe out the studio, we're gonna have floods, and I'm still not going to get to a hundred!'"

As it turned out, Bakula's concern was unwarranted, and he'd blow past his previous episode totals by half. "NCIS: New Orleans" took its final bow in May of 2021, with a total of 155 episodes produced.

He loves geeks, because he is one

Scott Bakula has been the star of multiple beloved franchises that boast passionate fanbases. Sometimes, this sort of enthusiasm can make an actor uncomfortable — but considering Bakula's desires to maintain privacy, he appreciates that his fans have a history of embracing him without crowding him.

Bakula finds time to make appearances at "Star Trek" and "Quantum Leap"-themed conventions, has appeared in numerous documentaries celebrating his shows, and enjoys encounters with his most passionate followers. "Having been in the sci-fi world for many years now, I am never surprised that people have such strong connections to these shows," he said in a 2012 interview. "That's part of the joy of being a devoted fan, immersing yourself in that world. And you know, people go to different lengths to show their devotion." 

In 2021, Bakula told Bob Saget on his podcast that he was "very much" a Trekkie himself before he ever landed a role in the Roddenberry universe. Because he grew up a fan, it's clear that he understands why viewers have embraced his shows to such a degree, and he can appreciate their fanaticism. 

His wife was written into NCIS

Beginning with Season 3 of "NCIS: New Orleans," actress Chelsea Field has had a recurring role as New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Rita Devereaux, an old friend of Bakula's Dwayne Pride. Over the course of her appearances, their professional relationship became more personal — and if their chemistry feels easy and natural, it may be because in real life the actress is Bakula's wife.

In 2020, Fields officially joined the main cast, undoubtedly a nice perk for Bakula, who once found it so difficult to strike a work/life balance. This point was perhaps driven home further as the COVID-19 pandemic began raging at the start of 2020 — as the final season about to enter production and Bakula faced the possibility of being stuck in The Big Easy for most of the year. With so much uncertainty, travel restrictions, protocols on set and quarantine requirements, when the producers bumped Fields up to a main cast member, it allowed her to pack her bags and relocate so the two could be together full time. 

"I love working with her," Bakula told Rachael Ray in 2018 while appearing on her show. "She makes me a better actor because she works more intensely and more deeply than I tend to work ... when you're working with your wife, it's pretty fantastic."

A year later, the series had a happy ending — and so did Bakula and Field. In May of 2021, the finale of "NCIS: New Orleans" featured Dwayne Pride and Rita Devereaux getting married — as cameras rolled on the second time Bakula and Field had exchanged "I Do" with each other. This time, however, we were all invited to watch.