Though born in Burlington, VT, Jude spent his formative years in Albany, NY. Being the son of area sports legend Dick Ciccolella, Jude would eventually, in adolescence, embrace the arena, having scholastic athletic careers in football, basketball, and baseball. Early on, however, his right brain’s dominance was manifested in talent for drawing (a rendering of Abe Lincoln), continuous singing (he recalls, at the age of three, accompanying his mother and the Weavers to “Goodnight, Irene” coming off the radio), and the creation of various voices, characters, and scenarios for his beloved stuffed animals, which were his first theatrical troupe.
Cowboys and Indians, Knights of the Round Table, and Prince Valiant were all part of his magical world when he was five years old. Jude was lucky to have been exposed to the Great American Songbook and fledgling Rock and Roll as a postwar baby, both on the car radio and the new television, with Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and all the greats (including Elvis) right there on the screen in the living room. In the end, the magical wonderland of the movie theater may have been the determining effect on Jude’s career choice.
He fondly remembers going to the Palace, the Strand, and the Madison with his father on Sunday afternoons after his Aunt Josephine’s famous Italian feast and seeing The Robe, Shane, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, On the Waterfront, and all the great films of the 1950s. Jude attended Saint Catherine of Siena Grammar School, which was run by the Holy Name nuns. Despite having had no professional training, he recalls the peacefulness of the choir on Christmas and other Holy Days vividly, always being carried by these sacred hymns.
As the teen years approached, there was much impersonation of the great rockers of the time (Elvis, Fats, Ricky, and so on), as well as some germinal thespic experimentation in Halloween costume contests, where he appeared as the monster, the pharaoh, and the knight—all costumes ingeniously designed by his mother.
But it was the Little League that gave him his first genuine experience of the stage, the footlights, and the applause. Jude recalls that it was more essential that you swung the bat precisely like your hero (Hank Aaron), that you stood at the plate exactly like him, than that you ever hit the ball. The growing proclivity towards mimicking! The transformation of the fantasy of plush animals, Prince Valiant, and Sunday afternoons at the Ritz! The beginning of the actor’s narcissism! Jude’s early accomplishments included hitting three home runs in an all-star game to lead the Whitehall squad to the city title. He also had the most home runs in the league. Jude also topped the Babe Ruth league in home runs, where he once pitched a ten-inning no-hitter with twenty strikeouts.
Jude enrolled at the Christian Brothers Academy in 1961. There was still no formal interest in theater or music; he never performed in plays or sang in choirs. But the imitative crooning persisted; now it was Bill Medley, The Beatles, and Elvis. Of course, the movies remained important: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, James Bond, and so on.
Jude was named all-city and all-league in football and basketball (captaining the team), and he is especially delighted to have been chosen the most valuable player by his football colleagues. For many years, he held school records in football and basketball. He finished his baseball career in the American Legion, where he was an all-star every year. During all-star play, he pitched fifteen consecutive no-hitter innings. He is a member of the CBA Hall of Fame, along with his father and brother Tom.
During his junior year, Jude felt he had a writer’s calling when his short novel, “A Tale of Zacco,” was read to the class. It was a horror story heavily influenced by the passionate consumption of Famous Monsters of Filmland.
At Brown University, though, he would take a different path. Jude enrolled in the Ivy League school in 1965, where he studied Philosophy and played football. He had an epiphany during his sophomore year and chose to try something he had always loved—acting—because he had not found a sense of genuine direction or a gratifying professional decision. At the very least, he knew he had always enjoyed watching movies. To be Gary Cooper in High Noon! To be John Wayne in the Searchers! To be Paul Newman in anything!
After taking an extension course, he enrolled in Jim Barnhill’s class and discovered his calling. Jude found his home musically as the lead vocalist for the school band Cool Clear Walter. He was welcomed by the theater crowd, where a jock was a welcome rarity. They were known for their huge voices, melodies, and harmony.
Jude worked at the Albany County Department of Social Services for two years after graduating from Brown. In 1971, he enrolled at Temple University to pursue an MFA in acting, where he studied with Joel Friedman and Arthur Wagner. During his time in Philadelphia, Jude began writing songs and performing around town with his guitar, joined by his buddy Wayne See. He started out at the Head House Tavern, and he also performed in several plays in local theaters around town, never obtaining a permanent job in fear of jeopardizing his chances of playing on a larger stage. He favored transient, flexible jobs, particularly physical labor in a blue-collar male environment.
He has worked as a substitute teacher, a dockworker, a post office worker, a cashier, a social worker, a dishwasher, and many other jobs over the years. He is especially thankful for the stagehand employment in Philadelphia, where he made lasting friends and learned valuable lessons, and for the furniture moving work in New York, which was provided by his brother Tom and allowed him to pursue an acting career in the Big Apple.
Jude is a member of Curt Dempster’s ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATER. He is also a member of the ACTORS STUDIO, where he has done scene work with Estelle Parsons, Arthur Penn, Frank Corsaro, and Lou Antonio. Jude recorded his debut CD in New York in 1996, with the wonderful aid of Carver Blanchard and Tom Burnett. In 2001, Judd Hirsch incorporated music from “HAUNTED” in his production of “ART” at the Papermill Playhouse.
Jude continued to collaborate with intriguing artists on stage and screen after moving to Los Angeles in 2002, including Jonathan Demme, Oliver Stone, Meryl Streep, Nick Cage, Sandra Bullock, Tilda Swinton, Kiefer Sutherland, and many more. Consistent study at the ACTORS STUDIO in Lou Antonio’s sessions was an invaluable resource for delving further into the discipline of acting.
Jude was also warmly welcomed into the Los Angeles music scene. His band, which covers rock, folk, and pop from the previous 50 years and includes Candy Chase, Craig Stull, Doug Livingston, and band captain Bill Severance, has been active in the Burbank area for 8 years. They’re regulars at Cody Bryant’s Viva Cantina. Jude has recorded two CDs of original music in Los Angeles, both of which have been mastered by Rick Cunha. Working with the performer Stan Corliss in the Jim Roberts Western Roundup at the legendary Sportsman’s Lodge was a tremendous delight for a number of years. In 2007, he had the honor of returning to his hometown and opening for Jim Gaudet at the iconic Café Lena in Saratoga, NY.
Jude moved back to Providence, RI, and returned to his alma mater, Brown University, in 2012 to deliver the Don Wilmeth Lecture. On that day, he was joined on guitar by his dear friend, Carver Blanchard, for a brief performance of his original songs.
In 2014, Jude appeared with the LA Premier Orchestra, headed by Norman Mamey, during the XMAS MUSICAL SPECTACULAR. On stage, Jude is most proud of the theater project he and Bill Bolender founded, named The Eumenides Group, which mounted “Drift,” “The Speed Of Darkness,” and “The Pursuit Of Happiness,” all of which were well received and performed to packed houses. These are among a number of plays he acted in for the LA theater community, and one included the highly praised PRT production of Pinter’s “The Homecoming” under Guillermo Cienfuegos.
Finally, Jude received best actor prizes at several film festivals for his portrayal in Laura Censabella’s “Last Call,” directed by Bob Bailey. He is also married to the talented actress and author Sylva Kelegian.