The Celebrity Collector
Al Bandiero, Star of the Fox TV Series "Desire,"
By Ken Hall
Watch sales may be down because everybody's using their cell phones to tell
the time, but that doesn't mean anything to Al Bandiero. The star of the new hit
series, Desire (Fox's MyNetwork TV, Mon.-Fri., 8 pm), and nationally syndicated
radio show personality has more than 30 watches in his collection. For Al, a
watch is a fashion accessory, one that changes right along with his clothes.
Having one watch would be like having one pair of shoes. It's just not
In fact, it was his ex-wife's grandmother who awakened the watch
lover in Al Bandiero when she remarked to him, "A woman of substance can tell a
lot about a man by his watch and his shoes." The comment clicked, and it was
reinforced sometime later when Bandiero was at an airport newsstand looking for
something to read when he spotted not one, but four magazines dedicated to
watches. Two were about today's watch trends; the other two were dedicated to
"Before then, I'd never really given any thought to the true
beauty and history behind watches," Bandiero said. "Those magazines were a real
He didn't go out and buy a lot of watches right away. His
budget, at least in those early years, wouldn't permit it. Instead, he set about
learning all he could about watches, and at the same time, he looked at them in
jewelry and department stores. He wanted to be informed (and better off
financially) when he made his first serious purchase.
That came in the form
of a Rolex. "It was about 20 years ago," Bandiero recalled. "It was a treat to
myself after having made it in radio." The watch has a blue crystal and
stainless steel band. Bandiero said he paid around $2,500 for it. "My most vivid
memory of buying that watch was going home and telling my parents about it, and
they were shocked. I don't think they were aware a watch could cost that much
money. And I'm not sure they thought it was a wise investment on my
Speaking of Al's folks, one of the watches in his collection is the
Elgin pocket watch (circa 1925) that had belonged to his father. "It's in
absolute pristine condition, probably because he rarely used it," Bandiero said.
"It's pink gold on the outside, and it has two other golds, too. It still has
the original crystal, and even the chain is in perfect condition. I really have
to get it appraised." Bandiero also has his dad's everyday wristwatch, a
50-year-old Bulova with a black leather band.
Bandiero said he's partial to
"strong, powerful watches with thick or large faces." His wife of nine years,
Marlyn, is aware of this and has bought several of Al's watches as presents. One
he particularly likes is a Franchi Menotti, made in Italy. The face and band are
all red, and on the tip of the outside there's a touch of gold. "It's very
classy," Al said. Marlyn also gave him a German-made Breitling watch about ten
years ago. It has a black face and brown leather band.
Another watch he loves
(but rarely wears) is a Movado with a dark blue crystal. He bought it about 20
years ago. The watch he gets the most compliments on even though it was one of
the least expensive to buy, at around $200 is a Fossil, with a beautiful blue
crystal and stainless steel accenting and band. "The producers of Desire saw me
wearing it on the set and were so impressed they asked me to wear it for an
episode," he said. "They were astounded when I told them what I'd paid for
Fossil has since discontinued the watch, but that's not the end of the
story. Bandiero began getting e-mail from fans wanting to know where he'd gotten
the watch he was wearing. "It was one of the very first episodes of the show,
and there's a scene where I cross my hands and you can see the watch very
plainly," he said. "I've alerted the Fossil people to it, so who knows? They may
reintroduce it as an 'Al Bandiero' limited edition timepiece!" He was kidding,
but the idea had a nice ring, too.
Bandiero's watches are displayed in his
Los Angeles home inside a three-tiered, polished wood grain case, another gift
from Marlyn. "The watches are set in little pillows," he said, "but they don't
just sit there gathering dust. I'm constantly going in and taking out and
putting back the watches, depending on what I'm wearing that day. I wear every
watch I own. In fact, I really need to get another case. This one's filled up,
and I have no doubt I'll add to my collection, or be given more watches by
A section of the display case is set aside for what Bandiero called
"fun watches." These include a watch with Elvis on the face (which he rarely
wears) and an original Mickey Mouse watch from the '40s or '50s, with a leather
band. Mickey's hands tell the time. Also, Bandiero, a huge New York Yankees fan,
has two Yankee-themed watches. One was actually a present from the team: the
case top pops out as a reclining chair, so it looks like the watch is "watching"
a Yankee game.
Al Bandiero was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is proud to be
Italian-American and a native New Yorker. His early goal was to be a
professional baseball player, and it wasn't just a dream; he was scouted by the
St. Louis Cardinals (this year's World Series winners). But a visit to a local
radio station changed all that. Bandiero was enchanted by the medium and
marveled that it wasn't anything like he thought it would be. "Radio is truly
theatre of the mind," he said. "I just fell in love with it."
graduating from Chelsea High School in Manhattan and spending a little time at
Brooklyn College, Bandiero landed a job at a small radio station in upstate New
York (Hudson), which was so tiny it signed off at 10 pm. "I think I had as many
pigs and chickens listening to me as people, but it was helpful in getting my
footing in the industry," he said. Eventually, he got a job hosting a Sunday
night dance show on 103.5 WKTU-FM in New York City, called "Studio 54
"It was and remains a show dedicated to dance and disco
music, mostly from the '70s and '80s," Bandiero said. One of the songs he
"broke" while hosting the show was "Far From Over," the theme from the Saturday
Night Fever movie sequel, sung by Frank Stallone, Sly's brother. Frank found out
that Al had given the song airplay and made it a point to visit him in New York
and thank him. That led to a meeting with Sly, who then cast Bandiero in the
1985 film, Rocky IV. He played an announcer.
That was Bandiero's first taste
of acting, and he didn't mind it, but it would be 15 years between that role and
the decision to relocate from New York to Los Angeles to pursue acting seriously
and full-time. After he left, the producers at WKTU tried to make do with a new
host for "Studio 54 Clubhouse," but without Al, the ratings plummeted. They
approached him with the idea of continuing to host the show, remote from his
house, on a time-delay feed. He agreed and continues to do the show
Since the move to Los Angeles, Bandiero has appeared in TV shows like
The Practice, Dragnet, Mr. Sterling and Girls Behaving Badly. He also starred in
two made-for-TV movies, Scene of the Crime and Reasonable Doubt. His film
credits include a 20-minute, award-winning short titled, I Am Stamos, in which
he played actor John Stamos' agent. He's also hosted or co-hosted shows like
This Week's Music (with Courtney Cox), TV 2000 and Nightflight.
acting break came in early 2006, with the role of Peter Evans on Desire, a hit
so far on Fox's fledgling cable channel MyNetwork TV. He also does voice-over
work in commercials for companies like Revlon, Nestea, Volvo and SBC. Bandiero
is also a physical fitness enthusiast, and he was featured not long ago in a
four-page layout in Fitness Plus Magazine. He continues to follow his beloved
Yankees and is also an avid boxing and basketball fan.
Fans of Al Bandiero
may write to the star c/o Sharp & Associates Public Relations, 8721 Sunset
Blvd., Suite 208, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
That's an Armani watch on Al Bandiero's wrist.
Bandiero loves this classic Breitling, because it has a
Front of the Elgin pocket watch (circa 1925) owned by his father and handed
down to Al.
Bandiero and actor John Stamos (r.) worked together in the award-winning
I Am Stamos.
Sylvester Stallone hand-picked Bandiero to play an announcer in his 1985
film, "Rocky IV."