Though he may be in a wheelchair, Alan Toy is nothing but a mover and a shaker having spent his Hollywood career breaking down barriers for performers with disabilities and his civic life fighting for Santa Monica residents through almost 20 years of public service.

Now for his next act, at the age of 71, he will be rolling onto stage in the role of FDR in NBC’s star studded cast of “Annie Live!” Having survived polio with partial paralysis at the age of three, Toy will be the first actor to portray the role while having the exact same disability from the exact same cause.

For Toy this is an exciting honor to perform alongside celebrities including Nicole Scherzinger and Taraji P. Henson, and a one-in-a-million opportunity for representative casting as he is one of very few still living partially paralyzed polio survivors.

Toy’s journey into the spotlight began at a young age and is in part connected to his disability. Given the severity of his paralysis and the adorable nature of his toddler self, Toy became a poster child for the polio charity March of Dimes, which was coincidentally founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“I was a very cute little blond three and four year old and also was quite badly disabled for the survivors, so I was the one who was sitting on the Cadillac during the parades to raise money,” said Toy. “By age five, I had already been on so many radio shows… been the cute kid at little rodeos and bake sales and I was the captain for a day on the USS Destroyer.”

It was this experience growing up in the public eye and a love of community theater instilled in him by his mother that inspired his Hollywood dreams, but it was his own grit and tenacity that made them a reality.

Toy fondly recalls being a professional schmoozer, networker and eager beaver to land any and every role he could. A job on “M*A*S*H” came from meeting David Ogden Stiers while lurking in the Fox commissary, working as Stiers’ driver for a year and then parlaying that connection into a role.

While he was thrilled to be landing jobs, Toy found himself being consistently cast as an actor or extra in the same stereotypical disabled roles. That changed when he was playing an extra in a hospital scene on Trapper John and the head of wardrobe decided to give him a doctor outfit instead of a patient outfit. Toy went on to be a recurring extra and eventually landed an acting episode in this role.

“I got hired in one of them to actually be an actor as a doctor on crutches, which at the time in the early 80s was revolutionary,” said Toy. “So I was breaking down those walls and at the same time looking at the situation within the Guild and the business and so forth and I knew changes needed to be made.”

Changes he did make. By serving on the Screen Actors Guild Contract Negotiating Committee in 1980, Toy helped create the Interguild Performers with Disabilities Committee, which put disability in the spotlight.

He worked with producers and directors to alter the language and characterization typically used around performers with disabilities and to create characters, storylines and images that broke down or worked against age-old negative stereotypes.

One such role he landed for himself was that of the cult leader Professor Finley on “Beverly Hills 90210”.

In addition to his acting career, Toy embarked on a parallel career in disability rights activism. He initiated the inclusion of people with disabilities in the protected groups contract language within the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He served as the president of the Media Access Office in Hollywood from 1984 to 1989; was elected to the National Board of the ACLU in 2004; and chaired the National Disability Outreach Committee of the ACLU.

Toy has also been deeply involved in civic duty in Santa Monica, which he has been proud to call home for the last 42 years.

“I really love that Santa Monica is a community of involved citizens and I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere where as many people took the initiative to become involved in what goes on in their hometown,” said Toy. “And that makes for some real fractious disagreements, but nevertheless this is the sign of a really good active democracy where people are fully engaged in making the community better… and I think that’s just unbelievably awesome.”

Toy served on numerous City Commissions and Committees for almost two decades, including the Social Services Commission, the Recreation and Parks Commission, and two terms as an elected member of the Rent Control Board.

He helped oversee the creation of two accessible playgrounds and chaired the effort to review how Santa Monica could be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Though Toy is proud of his accessibility related work in Santa Monica, he considers his time on the Rent Control Board as his most important contribution to the community.

“I think my eight years on the Rent Board will probably be the most significant because we were able to help keep this diversity and keep people, older people, people with kids, people of color and people who do service jobs, for the most part, able to live in Santa Monica,” said Toy.

Toy and his wife Theresa Karanik have lived in the same rent controlled apartment for 42 years, which is where they raised their son John Henry Toy. As Toy’s 90402 zip code is now the 8th most expensive in the US with a median house sale price of $4.05 million, he is extremely grateful to rent control for his family’s housing stability and the opportunity to send his son to Santa Monica public schools.

While Toy’s civic involvement and his career in policy work have been the major focus of his life for the last 20 years, he is excited to be diving back into acting and thrilled to be part of the upcoming production of Annie Live!

The holiday spectacular rendition of the seven time Tony Award winning musical is set to air on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Clara@smdp.com