Burly, round-faced actor and comedian who has also written material for the screen and other comedians, Royce Applegate has worked on the comedy stage, in TV, in films, and even as an ADR (foley) performer in his 20-plus years in Hollywood, but probably earned his best exposure as the blue-collar, no-nonsense Chief Manilow Crocker on the NBC series "seaQuest DSV," on which he appeared during the 1993-94 season, and as the grieving husband whose wife is murdered by a serial killer in William Friedkin's "Rampage" (1992). Applegate left a corporate job at a drug firm to become a folk music DJ and comedian in Dallas, Texas. After performing at The Rubiyat there, he became the opening act for Jose Feliciano on tour, and also performed at Playboy Clubs throughout the U.S. He matriculated to Hollywood, performing an act that was a cross between hip and hick, done in the thick Oklahoma accent of his youth. He began to write for other comics, including John Candy's radio show, and also won roles on such series as "That Girl." By the late 70s, Applegate was appearing on TV and in films with regularity. On TV, he was opposite Yvette Mimieux in the 1978 TV movie "Outside Chance," and in 1979 played the aptly-named race car driver Johnny Hurricane in "Hot Rod" for ABC. He appeared in the pilot of "Stir Crazy," a short-lived 1985 CBS series, as Crawford, the cowboy murderer, but was replaced for the series itself. In 1987, he made several appearances on "Houston Knights," also on CBS, and in 1990 was Deputy Winter, one of the murderous brood of in "Murder in Mississippi," the NBC telling of the Schwermer-Chaney-Goodman assassinations. "seaQuest DSV," in which Applegate was Chief Crocker, Roy Scheider's friend, followed, but Applegate was only on the NBC series' first season, being dropped from the cast due to budgetary and demographic concerns after the first season. In feature films, Applegate has had many small roles, including townsperson Dutch in "Harper Valley, PTA" (1978) and in the "Coming Attractions" segment of "The History of the World Part I" for Mel Brooks" in 1981. A more substantial part was for Friedkin in "Rampage" (1992). Applegate has also been occasionally active as a writer in both TV and motion pictures. He wrote episodes of "Welcome Back, Kotter," in the 70s. In 1977, he contributed the original story to "God Bless Dr. Shagetz," his first feature film credit, and co-wrote the screenplay for "Loose Shoes," a 1981 film lampooning coming-attraction trailers and starring many comedians including Buddy Hackett and Steve Landesberg.
Toward the end of his career, Applegate could frequently be found on both the small screen--guest-starring on series such as "JAG" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" as well as appearing in well-regarded pay-cable telepics including "Phoenix" (1998), "Poodle Springs" (1998) and "Inherit the Wind" (1999)--and on the big screen in supporting roles in major films such as the 1994 remake of "The Getaway", "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000), "The Rook ie" (2002) and "Gods and Generals" (2003) before his unexpected death at age 63 on New Year's Day in a blaze at his Hollywood Hills home.