The Professional Corpse

Chuck Lamb makes his living playing a dead person. Over the past decade, the former Ohio truck driver has appeared as a corpse in dozens of TV shows and movies, including numerous low-budget slasher flicks like ThanksKilling and Horrorween .

Lamb, 56, says that his bland, cadaverous appearance has made him a favorite with filmmakers looking to cast a murder victim. “It’s funny that God made me look like this,” he says. “I’ve got bags under my eyes, I’m pale, I’m bald, so you can fit any kind of wig on me, I don’t have tattoos, and my back isn’t full of hair — because who wants to see that, even on a dead body? No one’s ever going to call me and ask me to be the leading-man heartthrob, so I thought I’d put what God gave me to good use.”

Lamb started playing dead at 47, but says he spent decades training for the unique demands of the job. “I got so good at it mainly just sitting around watching TV, being lazy. You need to get very relaxed [to act dead], and it’s even better if you can nod off with your eyes half open or go to a happy place.”

Lamb’s family gets a big kick out of his morbid work. “My mom says she gets no more pride than when another woman says, ‘Oh, by the way, Betty, how is your dead son?’“ [1]

Plenty of Christians are good at being dead. In the Risen Christ’s letter to the church in Sardis he wrote, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:1-2). Weak, pallid Christians don’t do Christ any good. The only “dead” we should be is to the world; as Paul tells us in Romans 6:11, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Do people think of you as being really alive, or kind of dead?


Adapted from “The professional corpse,” The Week magazine, February 20, 2015, page 10; originally by Joel Lewin in Financial Times .