From daytime television to feature films to sitcoms to hosting to entrepreneurship projects, actor and businessman John O’Hurley has his hands full! Growing up in West Hartford, Connecticut, O’Hurley is most well known for his role as haughty and handsome catalog king J.Peterman on NBC’s sitcom Seinfeld. His portrayal of J.Peterman opened many doors and eventually led to his partnership with the real-life J.Peterman.
O’Hurley’s love for animals, especially for dogs, propelled his involvement in several animal-related projects. He is the host of NBC’s National Dog Show, presented by Purina. His past projects include hosting In Defense of Animals, Guardian Awards Gala, Fox’s The First Annual Miss Dog Beauty Pageant, as well as being a celebrity Judge on Animal Planet’s Pet Star.
His role as actor, host and producer in film and television are not O’Hurley’s only talents. He just completed his first album The Peace of Our Minds, a compilation of his piano compositions in conjunction with Marston Smith, one of the top cellists in the country. Asked if Schoshi and Betty provide inspiration to his music, O’Hurley replied, “They have no influence on my music except to sit on the sofa and listen when I play and bark when I hit high notes.”
Q: How did you first become involved with the National Dog Show presented by Purina?
A: It all kind of stemmed from the movie, Best in Show. NBC had the monopoly of an audience because of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but they had nothing to hold it afterwards, so they had the idea to have a dog show air next. It’s a family show. Nearly 20 million people watched it the first year NBC aired it. The National Dog Show presented by Purina has become a tradition.
Q: What, if anything, do you have to do to prepare to host the event?
A: My job is really just to keep it moving and fun; take the edges off it. [The event] can be a bit of a dry affair unless you get in there and have fun with it. It’s meant to be an educational, fun day; it’s not meant to be highbrow at all.
Q: Have you ever had a favorite dog at the show?
A: I always do, and every year it changes. This year it was the Norfolk terrier. It was quite a good show dog, too, but it did not win “Best in Show.”
Q: Tell me about your own pets. How many do you have? What are their names? How old are they?
A: I’ve grown up with dogs all my life. I have two now. One is a Maltese, Schoshi (sko-shi), and the other is a rescued dog, Betty. Schoshi is 12, and we think that Betty is 6.
Q: What are their personalities like?
A: Schoshi is a typical alpha-male. He’s a bit like a bull in a china shop: he has no sense of size. He is very bonded with me, and with my fiancée, who, I’m pretty sure, he now likes better. Betty is the most loving animal I’ve ever seen. She loves all creatures. She has none of the animosities dogs usually have towards other animals.
Q: What do you think pets do for people in general?
A: They give them a sense of the present moment. Dogs have no sense of time, and they have no memories. Because of that, they communicate this sense of peace.
Q: What do you think are some of the important pet health care/preventive health issues that responsible owners need to be aware of?
A: Teeth are very important. So many animals develop tooth pain that their owners are not aware of, and it ends up affecting dog’s attitude and health. That’s a big issue that is easily preventable.
Q: If your character on Seinfeld, J. Peterman, was a dog, what kind of dog would he be?
A: Peterman was a one-man parade…He had a peacock quality to him. I think he’d be a hound of some sort, perhaps an Irish wolfhound. He walks in and he’s the largest thing.
Currently, you can watch O’Hurley on the new UPN comedy series The Mullets. O’Hurley is also voicing a new animated project alongside John Goodman called Father of the Pride, about the animals backstage at Siegfried and Roy.
His future film projects include Executive Producing The Richard Petty Story, a full length feature about the legendary race car driver, which will be shooting this summer and is developing the NY Times best-seller Ahab’s Wife into a full length feature, to begin shooting in the summer of 2005. While O’Hurley is one busy man, Betty and Schoshi know they’re his Top Dogs!