The Very Best Of

Best actors from USHL Eastern Conference cities

Best TV/movie actor from every USHL Eastern Conference city
The Good Wife was the third hit series for which Chris Noth's performance earned an award nomination. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment in a recurring series where a Pucks and Rec writer will select the top contemporary actor from each city in a hockey league. This week, we focus on the current markets in the USHL Eastern Conference. All filmography and award information was found on the Internet Movie Database.

Cedar Rapids: Michael Emerson
This was the toughest selection among featured communities on this list. Cedar Rapids was briefly the home of Priyanka Chopra, who has garnered gobs of acclaim in her native India. Decorated Lord of the Rings alumnus Elijah Wood is native to the city, as is Ashton Kutcher.

But the seasoned Emerson ekes out the virtual victory here. For four straight seasons, his performance as Ben Linus on Lost put him on the Emmy ballot. He claimed the prize for outstanding supporting actor in a drama on his third bid in 2009. A year later, the Golden Globes considered him for the same honor.

One year after Lost ended, Emerson began starring as Harold Finch on Person of Interest. In between and subsequent to that, he has garnered eight other credits, including one guest spot on Parenthood.

Central Illinois (Bloomington, Ill.): Joel Higgins
The 74-year-old Higgins wins by virtual default. But while he ran uncontested, he has a smattering of highlights worth mentioning.

From 1968 to 2003, Higgins answered calls to appear on the likes of One Life to Live, Family Matters, Home Improvement and Crossing Jordan. In addition, he broke a 12-year gap between credits in 2015 by appearing in a short film. The next year, he eased back into full-length films with a small role in No Pay, Nudity.

Chicago (Geneva, Ill.): Vacant
No living actors from the Steel’s technical home city have made enough of a splash for this list. As with the AHL’s Wolves, go back to our NHL Central Division edition for Chicago recognition.

Dubuque: Kate Mulgrew
The Golden Globe nominee from 1980 gave Orange is the New Black a little veteran presence at the show’s 2013 inception. Following that first season, Mulgrew added an Emmy nomination to her accolades log.

Among less mainstream guilds, Mulgrew’s current role has drawn outright triumph. She took home a Critics’ Choice and a Gold Derby TV Award after OITNB’s inaugural campaign.

More recently, she and her castmates have appeared on four straight Screen Actors’ ensemble ballots, winning three times.

Green Bay: Tony Shalhoub
Granted, the three-time Emmy winner and one-time Golden Globe recipient has yet to replenish his Monk magic. Still, no one can say Shalhoub’s talents have been unwanted over the last eight years.

A supporting part on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was the most notable of eight TV or movie roles to air in 2017. Given the show’s solid initial reception, it might not be a stretch to envision more hardware on Shalhoub’s horizon.

Best TV/movie actor from every USHL Eastern Conference city

Ed O’Neill was originally going to use his hometown university as a launching pad for his football career. Instead, he went from there to playing trophy-caliber roles on two sitcoms in as many centuries. (Patrick Wymore/ABC via Getty Images)

Madison: Chris Noth
We should note that the Capitols currently play in the small town of Middleton. But with no noteworthy entertainment products from the suburb, we will turn to the team’s dateline and previous home city.

Gone, which is halfway through its first season, has daunting standards to meet on Noth’s track record. The man starring as Frank Novak has not homered everywhere, but has logged a rich array of hits.

With Gone, Noth is back in familiar crime-drama territory one year after The Good Wife closed up shop. Before he joined that series as a regular, he tapped NBC’s nostalgia bone by reprising Law & Order’s Mike Logan on its Criminal Intent spinoff. He made 36 appearances on the second series between 2005 and 2008.

Oh, and in the decade between the Logan eras, he garnered his first Golden Globe nomination via Sex and the City in 2001. The Good Wife granted him another 10 years later.

Muskegon: Kate Reinders
Per her IMDB bio, Reinders got her start in a production of Gypsy at her hometown’s Cherry County Playhouse. She has since built the bulk of her repertoire — quantitatively and qualitatively — on stage. With that said, a multitude of high-ranking TV shows have enlisted her for guest spots.

Reinders saw action on ABC three times, first with two appearances on Ugly Betty, then one on Modern Family. She has more recently earned her a Behind the Voice Actors (BTVA) nomination in the video-game category.

U.S. NTDP (Plymouth, Mich.): Tom Hulce
While he is going on 10 years since his last credit, Hulce leaves a legacy beyond a default honor. He was in the distant Detroit suburb of fewer than 10,000; and he represented it radiantly in his heyday.

A 1985 Oscar nomination for Amadeus, a 1996 Emmy triumph for The Heidi Chronicles, four Golden Globe considerations.

If anyone can ever coax the 64-year-old Hulce out of retirement, they will dust off Plymouth pride in the process. The only other option is to simply wait for another head-turning performing-arts product to emerge.

Youngstown: Ed O’Neill
O’Neill briefly left home for Ohio University and Athens, only to come back to Youngstown State. His original plan was to pursue a career in football.

When a tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers sputtered, O’Neill turned back to YSU and shifted his extracurricular energies to acting. But he has channeled his pigskin passion into a pair of hardware-caliber sitcom characters.

To date, O’Neill has accrued 15 individual nominations as Al Bundy on MarriedWith Children and Jay Pritchett on Modern Family. For the latter, he has been up for three Emmys and helped the ensemble to eight straight Screen Actors Guild ballots. In addition, his part in 2016’s Finding Dory yielded both individual and team consideration at the BTVAs.

Al Daniel

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