"I think basically all actors are children," Larry Bryggman articulates. "I don't mean that in a degrading way because if you're not a child, or if you don't have that capacity inside of yourself to let the child come out, then you won't be very creative. Creativity comes from a child-like thing inside of us. As an actor, you've got to be able to suspend the reality of what you are in order to become what the character is. It's a matter of who can play 'let's pretend' the best."
Born of Swedish descent in Concord, California on December 21, 1938, Bryggman grew up in nearby Oakland. His father worked for a neon sign company in San Francisco while his mother taught piano. A serious student of music, he learned to play the piano, drums and various woodwinds, including the bassoon. He also learned to play the accordion at the request of his father, often accompanying the Swedish dancers in his community. "I've always wanted to be able to play a fine piano, to play a concerto," he says. "I studied piano a long time and I wanted to be a musician."
Bryggman entered City College of San Francisco with the intention of becoming a professional musician but was persuaded to join the theater department and has been a working actor ever since. His junior year of college, Bryggman moved East where, in addition to acting, he worked as a theater lighting designer and technical director to make ends meet. "I wasn't really interested in motion pictures," he says. "Theater work was far more appealing to me." Bryggman soon won a scholarship to the American Theater Wing and during his first semester was cast as "Biff" in Death of a Salesman at the San Juan Drama Festival in Puerto Rico.
Bryggman made his official Off-Broadway debut in A Pair of Pairs in 1962. That same year he auditioned for and won a role on the CBS daytime drama The Guiding Light as one of the Bauers, but was drafted by the Army before getting a chance to embark on the commitment. Discharged in 1964, Bryggman's first major break came when he joined the prestigious Theatre Company of Boston. A few members of the Company during his tenure there included Robert Duvall, Stockard Channing, Jon Voight, Blythe Danner, Hector Elizondo and Ralph Waite. In the late 60's he had a short stint on the CBS soap opera Love is a Many Splendored Thing which led to his association with As the World Turns.
In 1974, he made his first Broadway appearance in Ulysses in Nighttown when he replaced David Ogden Stiers in a role which required him to play multiple characters with only a week of rehearsal. "I was at CBS when I got a call asking me if I wanted to do Ulysses," Bryggman elaborates. "I was so excited, I went running down the hall yelling out the news. I was to replace the actor who won the role after he and I ran neck and neck at the auditions right down to the wire."
Long considered the best actor in daytime television, Larry Bryggman has portrayed Dr. John Dixon on As the World Turns since the character's villainous inception in 1969. What was originally written as a three-day role was extended to thirteen weeks, then two years and now, ultimately, a role that embodies one of the most integral, indelible, and irreplaceable personas of mythical Oakdale.
Bryggman has found his experience with As the World
Turns rewarding. "As an actor, the show taught me how to work in front of a
camera, which most stage actors do not learn," he explains. "And it's allowed me
to do what I want, to turn things down and to stay in New York."