Actor and Paso Robles resident Casey Patrick Biggs says he “got bit” by the showbiz bug as a young man and never looked back. “I loved being on the stage and connecting with an audience,” he said. “The artist’s job is to hold a mirror up to nature; it’s a huge responsibility to do that, whether it’s music, theatre, visual arts or whatever.” His life adventure has taken him to heights in stage, screen and television beyond what he said he could have ever imagined—in that he is able to translate his craft into higher goals, like working toward the realization of a performing arts center in Paso Robles, educating future aspiring talent and assisting with programs for foster children.
Casey’s also garnered a significant amount of attention as the Paso Wine Man on YouTube; tirelessly, he performs in musical groups of a variety of genres and is currently working on marketing his latest production “The Heart of Paradise” that Casey describes as “hope for the heart.” Best known for his role as Cardassian Damar in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (though you may not recognize him as the “Leader of the Empire” if you saw him walking down the street in downtown Paso), he’s a celebrity not only for his roles in show business but also for his efforts to support the arts locally. “Paso has ‘Festival’ in its DNA,” he said. “With all the talent in this area, a lot of artists have no place to perform. But this is a problem that can be solved.”
Casey, who sang as boy soprano in his church, attended Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio, famous for its musicals in which he had lead roles. “A representative from the Toledo Repertory Theatre happened to see me perform and said he ‘saw something in me’—would I like to be a professional actor?” At which point Casey said he knew he wanted to commit to the theatre (thus giving up his beloved football aspirations) and after graduating high school applied to The Juilliard School in New York where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1977. “They took a thousand applications and at the end only 15 of us were accepted for that year,” he said. “I had some great people in my class, including Robin Wiliams and Kelsey Grammer.”
From there, Casey’s life truly launched.
“I was fortunate to do what I wanted to do,” he says, as he garnered role after role in movies and television including his Star Trek role that was supposed to be a one-off and became a career changer instead; roles in X- Files, General Hospital as Dr. Lasaris, Ryan’s Hope, The Pelican Brief, Broken Arrow, Farther Dowling Mysteries, Matlock and many more. “The one time I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do was when I had to take a job selling high-end shoes at Bloomingdales. I was so good, I even sold a lady a pair of shoes that didn’t fit her!” But, shortly into that stint, he was offered a part in a movie and happily gave his notice in the footwear industry.
Casey, born in 1955 in Toledo, was the youngest of five children with four older sisters. He lived his early years in a foster home in Michigan that he describes as full of love, and returned to live with his mother and sisters in Ohio while still a young boy. He considers that a blessing in more ways than one.
“If I hadn’t lived where I lived then,” he explained, “I probably wouldn’t have been inspired in the arts.”
From that experience, a cause that remains close to his heart is supporting foster children through a program called Penny Lane in the form of the Casey Biggs Scholarship Fund. With his continued appearances at Star Trek conventions and annual Star Trek cruises, he is able to raise funds for the organization. “The meaning of my life is being of service,” he said.
To that end, Casey is engaged with the local arts scene, heaven-bent on finding a location for not only an 800- to 1,000-seat performing arts center but for the entire community to aspire to promote itself as an artistic destination à la Ashland, Ore. “It’s worth mucking it out,” he said of schlepping his ideas for venues to whoever is interested—though he thinks he might have an interested party after experiencing a few turndowns and fall throughs. “Paso is very seductive and on the verge of a huge thing right now,” he insists. “I have friends who come to visit,” said Casey, who moved to the area with his wife 10 years ago, “and they want to buy a house here. We have the opportunity to sculpt the area to what we want it to be and are putting Paso out into the world.”
Casey and his wife Brigit Binns, who lived in the Hudson Bay area of New York, often visited the North County area to connect with local relatives. Brigit—an accomplished cook and author of more than 30 cookbooks, remarked that the Paso area was as close to Tuscany where she and Casey were married—as you can get in the U.S. and wanted to move here. “It’s Tuscany with cowboys,” Casey proclaimed. The couple, now married 16 years, purchased a home while Casey commuted coast to coast for a couple of years before adopting the five-acre north county homestead as his permanent home. A feature of their property includes Refugio Paso Robles that offers two vacation suites as well as a beautiful kitchen that can be rented for private and corporate events, dinners and meetings where Brigit holds cooking classes.
This month, Casey and friend and actor Cynthia Anthony (profiled in Central Coast Journal in November 2019), founder of Wine Country Theatre, appear in—fittingly for Valentine’s Day, February 14 and 15—Love Letters, a romantic play by A. Gurney with two dinner-theatre and one show-only options at the Park Ballroom in downtown Paso Robles. A review states: The piece is comprised of letters exchanged over a lifetime between two people who grew up together, went their separate ways, but continued to share confidences. As the actors read the letters aloud, what is created is an evocative, touching, frequently funny but always telling pair of character studies in which what is implied is as revealing and meaningful as what is actually written down. Visit www.winecountytheatre.com for information.
Casey reflects on life:
• “If I had started earlier, I would have been a dancer.” (He loves the Tango.)
• Casey, married previously, realized that putting work first wasn’t conducive to wedded bliss and this time around has turned down offers accordingly. “In marriage, attention must be paid.”
• Advice? “Fall in love with something every single day and you will have a happier life.”