Chuckie Dreyfus never reached international stardom like Billy Crawford, nor did he stay long in the limelight like a Janno Gibbs or a Keempee de Leon. But start any conversation about the iconic '80s variety show, That's Entertainment, and his name will surely come up with zest and nostalgia.
"Oo nga eh," Chuckie beamed amusingly to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) while marooned comfortably inside his home-recording studio located in Mandaluyong.
"Actually nakakatuwa isipin na naaalala ka pa din, although ‘yon nga lang, parang they still see you as this child actor na nakikita nila sa That's [Entertainment] dati," he added with a grin.
STARTING YOUNG. Chuckie, who is Charles Dreyfus in real life, started out doing commercials when he was about eight years old.
"Then nung 1984, nagkaroon ng search para sa sidekick ni Rudy Fernandez for the movie, Idol. Fortunately ako ang napili, 'tapos tuluy-tuloy na," he recalled.
Chuckie joined Regal Films and became a full-fledged Regal Baby paired with fellow young newbie, Isabel Granada.
He did a couple of movies in 1985 and 1986: Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang, The Crazy Professor, Once Upon A Time, Horsey-Horsey, Tigidig-Tigidig and When I Fall In Love.
It was in 1987 that German Moreno asked Chuckie to join GMA-7's, That's Entertainment, where he would eventually be identified throughout his career.
"Pumili daw ako ng araw," he remembered being asked by Kuya Germs (German Moreno's nickname in the industry). "Pinili ko Wednesday. So I've been part of the Wednesday group until the end," he added.
The now 33-year-old former child star has fond memories of his carefree stint with the now defunct variety show, which served as the breeding ground for most the established actors of today.
"Masaya. Para lang talaga kaming naglalaro. Excited ka laging mag-report sa That's kasi andun 'yong barkada mo, 'yong crush mo. Almost all of us were there because of the fun and friendship. Hindi rin pera kasi we're all young back then to worry about money. Honestly, magkano lang naman din ang nakukuha namin sa show dahil nga ang dami namin, so hindi s'ya malaki. So friendship talaga ang reason why we loved doing that show."
Chuckie juggled his time between doing movies, TV sitcoms and That's Entertainment. He bagged a role in the following movies: Family Tree, Tiyanak, Isang Araw Walang Diyos, Huwag Kang Hahalik sa Diablo, Papa's Girl, Tora-Tora, Bang-Bang, Lessons In Love and Pangako Sa Iyo.
PURSUING MUSIC. During his That's Entertainment days, Chuckie frequently hung out at the backstage, where meticulous and tedious production work was carried out.
That fondness stayed with him and eventually paved the way for him to follow his dream of becoming a composer.
"Dati kasi sa That's nasanay akong nakiki-usyoso sa recording. I first started out arranging music. Talagang pangarap ko magkaroon ng recording studio. So, ang ginawa ko nag-invest ako ng mga gamit, tapos pinag-aralan ko," he said.
From a simple hobby, it became a job—the mestizo actor painstakingly earned his due as an arranger, record producer and composer.
"I started out doing campaign jingles, then hanggang sa naging commercial jingles, medley, radio, TV 'tapos nag-aareglo ako para sa mga kaibigan kong may out-of-town shows. Naging musical arranger pa ko ng GMA Supershow before. So after that, parang naging seryoso na ko dahil nung una laro-laro lang."
In a way, he never really left the entertainment industry as he continues to work for networks, film outfits and record companies on music-related projects.
His previous work for television includes composing songs for The Quiz Bee Dream and Game Show Mo ‘To. He also produced the theme song of ABS-CBN's SCQ Reload performed by Sarah Geronimo. Chuckie served as musical director for SCQpids, Pinoy Big Brother, Blind Item and Your Song among others. He also tried his hand in movies as musical director for Masikip Sa Dibdib, D' Anothers, Binibining K and Agent X44, where he also wrote the film's main theme.
But Chuckie's greatest pride of course was writing songs for groups and singers. Some of the notable names he worked with include Retrospect, Rachelle Ann Go, and Sarah Geronimo.
Unknown to many, it was Chuckie who wrote Rachelle Ann's 2006 hit "Bakit," which was used as the theme song of ABS-CBN's telenovela, Mirada de Mujer. Recently, he wrote two songs, "Miss" and "Kahit Na," for Sarah's latest album, Taking Flight.
"Ever since I was a kid, I remember, sinabi ko gusto ko talaga ‘pag laki ko maging magaling na songwriter more than nangarap akong maging artista. Gusto ko talaga maging magaling na songwriter, hindi ko alam kung bakit. 'Tapos nakikinig ako ng Gary V and Apo Hiking Society. Very simple songs, very commercial."
SETTING UP A COMEBACK. Chuckie has been married for six years with longtime non-showbiz girlfriend, Marie Aileen Regina L. Bayani.
The two first met on a blind date set up by a friend of Chuckie's. After a few years being an on-and-off couple, Chuckie and Aileen tied the knot on March 24, 2001, at the Santuario de San Jose Church in Greenhills, San Juan.
The union is blessed with two beautiful children, Ralph Austin Henry, 9, and Isabella Louise, 5.
"My wife works now. She wants it for her personal growth, so okay naman. She works in a hotel. Ako naman, when she's gone for work, I can still watch over the kids kasi nandito ang trabaho sa home studio ko."
Despite his dedication to music and anything related to it, Chuckie is preparing to act once again, this time under the guidance of feisty talent manager Lolit Solis.
"I want to be repackaged. But with regards[sic] to concrete plans, hindi ko pa alam kung anong mga upcoming. But I'm pretty sure...more mature roles now," said Chuckie.
But at 33, and despite taking a sabbatical away from the limelight, Chuckie's well-etched image would surely be a concern. And he's fully aware of it.
"Hirap na hirap kasi akong tanggalin sa isip ng tao na child actor ako. Secondly, I really don't look thirty-three daw. So kahit mag-mature roles ako, baka meron pa ding mga roles na hindi babagay sa akin."
He's not one to complain though. As they say, it's better to be remembered than to be completely forgotten.
"Oo naman!" he gushed.
"Nakakatuwa, kasi 'yong mga bata hindi na ako kilala, pero 'yong mga matatanda ‘pag nakikita ako, naalala pa din ako. Nakakatuwa pa din when people approach me to ask for picture or what. Although nakakapanibago na din pero okay naman. I appreciate and still feel very much flattered with the attention," he said with his trademark boyish grin.