Robert Z’Dar was born Robert J. Zdarsky on June 3rd 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, Z’Dar was of Lithuanian descent. He first started acting while attending Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois. After high school, Z’Dar attended Arizona State University where he received a BFA and played on the university football team. After graduation, Z’Dar returned to Chicago where he was employed variously as a Chicago police officer, member of the band Nova Express, commercial jingle writer and a Chippendales dancer.
Eventually Z’Dar moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. His first feature film appearance was in Hellhole (1985). He went on to appear in further movies of cult status such as Hot Chili (1985), The Night Stalker (1987), Cherry 2000 (1987), The Killing Game (1988), and Grotesque (1988).
Z’Dar’s name became further cemented in cult film when he took on teh role of Matt Cordell in 1988’s Maniac Cop, a film about a back from the dead hero NYPD cop turned evil avenger who brutally murders people. Z’Dar reprised his role in the 1990 sequel and Badge of Silence (1993).
It has been suggested that Z’Dar’s turn in Maniac Cop resulted in him landing the role of Face in 1989’s Tango & Cash alongside action stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. He went on to appear in films such as The Final Sanction (1990), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), Killing American Style (1990), Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), Mobsters (1991), Samurai Cop (1991), Return to Frogtown (1993), Marching Out of Time (1993), and Death from Above (2011). TV appearances included Moonlighting, Growing Pains, The Flash, Marked For Murder, CyberKidz, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, and Mike and Corey in LaLa Land.
Z’Dar suffered from cherubism, a medical condition resulting in an enlarged jawline, it led to a highly recognisible look for him and aided the sinister look he often needed in his roles.
Sadly Z’Dar passed away shortly after completing Easter Sunday. He was appearing at Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida, when he was hospitalised for chest pains. He seemed to recover but subsequently went into cardiac arrest and died at the hospital on March 30th 2015. He was 64 years old.