By Doug Schroder


PECATONICA – For Pecatonica native Jesse Dabson acting and directing was never a profession he meant to get into. After graduating from Pecatonica High School in the lat 1970’s Jesse went to Knox College and obtained a degree in economics and theater. From there he enrolled at Northwestern College to go for a Masters in theater, but then things changed and he moved out to California to obtain a law degree. While there he finished classes and was accepted to various major colleges to get his law degree. He never made it to any of those colleges as he took a chance and auditioned for a part in the movie Hanoi Hilton. In the audition he broke all the rules, having never auditioned for anything before. Surprisingly, he got a part in the movie, playing the role of the man who collected all of names of the prisoners who were at the POW prison.

This led to other roles for Jesse, such as performing with Charles Bronson in Death Wish 4. Jesse has also appeared on such TV shows as Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Blossom. For 18 years he was a one of 1800 members of the Screen Actors Guild, out of the 30,000 members, who actually made a living at acting.

“Charles [Bronson] could not have been a nicer person to work with,” said Jesse.

In 1990 Jessee played Scotty Moore in the Elvis TV series. Scotty was the original guitarist and manger with Elvis. While playing the role Jesse got to meet Priscilla Presley and got a private tour of Graceland, meeting Lisa Marie Presley also.

Even though Jesse met and worked with many stars, he was never really star-struck.

“They put their pants on just like said in a phone interview.

One person Jesse met did leave an impression and that was Bill Clinton, when Bill was running for President. Jesse said there was a magnetism that Clinton exuded

Jesse moved back to Pecatonica in 2000 and bought Booties Tap, which he expanded. Jesse then sold that and owned a couple of other businesses in the area.

Jesse is currently living in Rockford where he is a realtor and still does some acting. He auditioned for a pilot a few weeks ago and is waiting to hear back.

Moon Over Buffalo, the current play showing at Pec Playhouse, is the eighth play that Jesse as directed for them.

“They do really well. The level of talent that comes out to the show is great. Pec Playhouse has committed people. I love directing there. It is easy to direct well when you have good talent,” said Jesse.

Jesse Dabson


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