Robert Clohessy, who stars as Lieutenant Sid Gormley on CBS’ hit show, Blue Bloods, won the 2014 Best Actor Award from the Independent Film Association for the movie, The Man From the City and a Screen Actors Guild Cast Ensemble Award for Boardwalk Empire. Besides playing Lieutenant Gormley, he has also appeared as an actor on NBC’s Hill Street Blues and HBO’s Oz, among other roles.
Not bad for an alumnus of the Rockland Community College (RCC) Performing Arts Program at the State University of New York (SUNY), which Clohessy graduated from in 1977.
View this post on Instagram
Not that he believes Isaiah Sheffer, the founder of the RCC program, initially thought much of his abilities.
“I ran the light boards and built sets,” recalls Clohessy. “I guess he thought I was going to be a teamster.”
Sheffer would be proud that his former student, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at SUNY Purchase, has done so well for himself. Especially since, on April 9, 2020, Clohessy was scheduled to add another credit to his resume when the world premiere of his first play, Welcome Home, Johnny, which was set to debut at the Charles R. Wood Theatre in Glens Falls, New York. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the event was postponed to 2021.
“Off and on, it’s taken me 25 years to write,” says Clohessy, who doesn’t foresee writing any other shows.
“No, this is it,” he says. “If it goes to Off-Broadway, or even Broadway, that’d be great, but if it just gets staged at this level, that would make me very content and happy.”
Set in 1969, the play follows the Moran family as they await the return of their eldest son from the front lines. Directed by Jarel Davidow, the show offers an intimate look at a family during an age of uncertainty and change.
“These days, everyone talks about family first, like it never existed before,” observes Clohessy.
Clohessy explains that Welcome Home, Johnny has its origins in the real-life conflict that occurred when his older sibling, John, left college after only one semester at the University of Colorado, where he had received a scholarship to play football.
“It totally infuriated my Dad,” says Clohessy, who points out that his father had fought in the South Pacific during World War II. “Given the times, he couldn’t understand that Vietnam was not his war, but my brother’s.”
The war divided America and sparked many demonstrations and protests as well as closures of college campuses. Upwards of 40,000 draft dodgers from the United States reportedly fled to Canada between 1965 and 1975. More than 503,000 U.S. military personnel deserted.
And those who did serve their country, like Clohessy’s brother, often faced negative criticism because, in the view of opponents of the war, they had killed innocent civilians.
“People were spitting at my brother and crying out that he was a baby killer,” remembers Clohessy. “Nowadays, the tenor and tone has changed. Everyone is so respectful of our military troops, and they should be. They are going out there and putting their lives on the line for us.”
Admittedly not someone who heavily markets himself, Clohessy does allow that he has a small part in the Amazon Studios movie entitled Chemical Hearts. Based on the book by Krystal Sutherland, the film reunites Clohessy with his former Blue Bloods castmate Bruce Altman.
As for the future of Blue Bloods, the show returns for its 11th season on December 4. Will you be watching?