Go Away With … Robert David Hall

Photo by Christopher Voelker

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
March 22, 2011

Best known for his role as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins on CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” actor Robert David Hall is also a musician. Hall’s current CD, “Things They Don’t Teach You in School,” showcases his bluegrass and rockabilly sensibilities. Check out his website (www.robertdavidhallmusic.com) for upcoming appearances.

Hall — who had to have both his legs amputated after a car accident — has a wicked sense of humor and delights in the fact that Dr. Robbins was designated as being one of the Top 5 Cool Nerds on television.

“I never let anything stop me,” says the 63-year-old Los Angeles-based actor. “I’m Welsh and Irish and very bullheaded. As long as I have good health, I will keep on traveling. You know that book ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die’? I think everybody should make their own version of that and just get out and see the world. And one of the things I would like to do with my life is to encourage people with disabilities to travel more. It can be done and it’s such a fun thing to do. It’s one of my big pleasures in life.”

Q. What are your favorite vacation destinations?

A. My wife and I really are travel nuts. We love to get away. I travel a lot now for “CSI.” But before the show, when money was very tight, we loved to visit our dear friends in San Francisco. We still try to go there once or twice a year. I grew up in New York so we try to visit Manhattan as often as we can. My wife will walk and I’ll take my wheelchair. There’s nothing better than a picnic lunch in Central Park. We keep strange hours and one of the great things about New York is that you can find anything you want to eat at strange hours. And as corny as it sounds, the ferryboat really is a lot of fun. We went to New Orleans for the first time two years ago and loved it! I wanted to see as much live music as possible. We even did an alligator boat trip. New Orleans is hard to beat for music and architecture. But my heart goes out to the people there — there is still so much to do (post Katrina). I also love Austin, Texas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Q. What was your first major trip?

A. When I was 22 or 23, I hitchhiked for a year with a girlfriend and some friends. We went from Amsterdam to Egypt. I spent time in Holland, Germany, France. … I finally came back home because my mother was very ill, but that trip set the tone for my life.

Q. What are some cities that have good wheelchair accessibility?

A. That’s actually one of the things I have to pay attention to when we plan a trip. I can walk, but I can’t walk for miles. I have a pretty cool manual wheelchair that I enjoy using. Chicago is a great walking/rolling place. Over the past 20 years, New York has become pretty good. Parts of Boston and Washington, D.C., are really good. I’m in D.C. a lot and the hotels and restaurants are fairly accessible. A lot of places also have Braille. Last year I had the great honor of introducing President Obama at the White House for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Let me tell you, acting is easy. Introducing the president of the United States had my knees knocking.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. One of my favorite things is to discover things by accident. It’s part of the way we function.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. I love to eat but I’m not a knowledgeable foodie! We went to the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and that was wonderful. One of the places we always go to in New York is called Famous Ben’s Pizza. They have the best Italian ice in America. It’s so good that it’s actually a destination for us. And there’s a cool little Italian restaurant called L’Ulivo that’s nothing fancy but serves delicious food. I’ll have a salad, a glass of wine and split a plate of pasta with my wife. It’s not that I’m not capable of gluttony, but I’m trying to eat a little better these days.

Q. Do you get recognized overseas?

A. People may not know my name, but many recognize me all over the world. That has less to do with me than the popularity of “CSI.” It was a fun thing to be in Italy and have a little kid run up to ask if I was Dr. Robbins.

© 2011 JAE-HA KIM
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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