Robert Parucha (ex-Matt, Y&R; ex-Hurley, SB; ex-Eddie, DAYS)

“I’m in the apparel business now,” he reports in his dressing room just yards away from the Y&R set. “I’ve been doing that for 15 years. I am a sales manager for a private-label sportswear mill in Orange County. It’s a good living.”Still, since he wasn’t exactly in the soap swirl anymore, Y&R had found it tough to locate the actor — and he almost didn’t get the gig. “I got a message on my cell phone from a fellow actor named Scott Perry, who I knew from high school and hadn’t seen in years. He happened to be looking at the breakdown services [which list the casting calls in Hollywood] and at the bottom was, ‘Will the agent for Robert Parucha please call YOUNG AND RESTLESS,’ so he called me. Ironically, he had just gotten my cell phone number from somebody he ran into who I hadn’t seen in a year. It was just a weird chain of events, because I never would have seen that listing! My wife was laughing. She couldn’t believe it. She was more excited than I was.”The fact that so much time had passed only made the experience sweeter. “I’m coming at this from a totally different place in my life,” he smiles. “Before, acting was my career. It was my chosen profession, and my only source of income. But when you have a family, you’re always anxious about: ‘Do I have enough money in the bank? What happens when I don’t work for a while? Where’s the next job?’ All that crap, so at this point, it was a gift.”Parucha, the father of a 13-year-old daughter, an 11-year-old son and a 17-year-old stepson, adds that while his wife was excited, his kids were nonplussed. “I was reading my lines with my 11-year-old and he went over to my wife and said, ‘I don’t think he’s going to get this part,’ ” Parucha laughs. “Then my daughter started coaching me. She’s in middle-school productions, you know.”The coaching paid off, but Parucha learned that his celebrity ain’t what it used to be. “I have a company that makes performance wear for surfers and extreme water sports enthusiasts and we sponsor a guy named Garrett McNamara, who’s the extreme surfing world champion. In fact, he had just slept at our house, and my son’s more excited about getting autographs from him and giving them to his friends because they all know who he is. He’s the guy who rides the 70- and 80-foot waves. This kind of stuff just doesn’t excite him, but it’s all fun.”And so, too, is the occasional recognition from long-time fans. “I had mentioned getting this job to one of my buyers at Ashworth Clothing, and she said, ‘Wow! I knew I knew you from somewhere, but I couldn’t quite figure it out!’ “With the exception of losing that 1980s mustache, the still-striking Parucha hasn’t changed much physically since leaving the tube. “I was always blessed with good health,” he demurs. “I’ve kept myself in shape. Exercise is a very important part of my regimen. If I’m grumpy, I go out and run and I feel like a new person. I work out at a gym and I’ve played beach volleyball all my life. I play in the annual Manhattan Beach Surf Festival. They have an amateur tournament, but a lot of the Olympians come and play. I’m in the over-40 division now, so I’m in the masters division. But I’m not in the over-50 division yet,” he adds with a laugh.So, now that he’s firmly entrenched in the real world again, would Parucha ever consider going back to daytime TV? “If somebody called and wanted me to go to New York, I wouldn’t because my life is here,” he nods. “It’s taken me 15 years to get my business up to where it is now. But if Y&R or GH or another West Coast soap were interested, that would be fine. Like everything else, I’ll just take it as it comes.”

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