One of his duties was to travel around the area serving communion to senior citizens or others who could not make the trip to church.
This was a solemn duty Resin took very seriously. But during a stop at one senior citizen home, Resin became part of local folklore when one woman refused to accept the host.
"I can't take communion from him," she said. "He's the Tidy Bowl Man."
When he was the first actor to play in the TV commercials advertising a toilet bowl cleaner, the longtime Secaucus resident became famous as the image of a miniature man in a sailor's hat, standing on the deck of a boat floating in a toilet bowl
During a career that started on the stage during the 1950s, Resin had developed a reputation for taking odd roles - a comic character actor who could deliver a message along with a laugh.
"Some years ago, I got a call from a reporter in Dallas, Texas who was doing a story on the Tidy Bowl Man," Resin said during an interview this month. "He told me that there was actually a fan club."
At 71, Resin has slowed down from the hectic pace he kept at the peak of his career during the 1970s and 1980s. While he still does voice-over commercials - such as the one he recently did for a new soft drink from Mountain Dew - his days on-camera have diminished. Part of this is age, but a large part is his struggle to keep himself healthy after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Getting his foot in the door
Resin, who has been a resident of Secaucus since 1959, said he always wanted to be an actor. But in the very practical world of South Bend, Ind. where he grew up, acting was not seen a career choice. Resin startled his family somewhat when he informed them he intended to pursue a career in theater.
"Two of my brothers were into athletics, and I did that for a while," he said. "But I wanted to sing in the glee club and perform in plays. So that's what I did with my extra time."
Through high school and college, he performed, and in college had two majors: speech and music.
The one person who seemed to believe in his dreams nearly as much as he did was his childhood sweetheart and later his wife, Maggie. They had met in seventh grade, and over the years - during those moments when Resin struggled to get parts in plays - Maggie supported him through her job as secretary.
After graduating from Indiana University in 1954, Resin got drafted and found himself serving in Fort Monmouth, N.J. Benefits he derived from his service allowed him to go to Columbia University in New York City after he was discharged, where one of his professors gave him his first break into the entertainment industry.
"This teacher was involved with Your Show of Shows," Resin said. "He invited me and another student to go to Brandywine, Pennsylvania for Summer Stock Theater. That was my foot in the door."
But he would not make a living in the theater for a while yet, working an assortment of jobs from singer to Master of Ceremonies at the Roxy Theater and later, Radio City Music Hall. For a long time, he performed wherever he could, whether or not he got paid. He often played at various veterans' hospitals for free.
"It was nine years before I could make a living wage," he said.
A struggling actor
During the early years of their marriage, he and his wife lived in Weehawken and Union City until they could afford to buy a house in Secaucus in 1959.
Resin, who says he is of "Polish extraction," was persistent in his pursuit of his dream. He pounded the streets looking for work, seeking out teachers who would provide him with the skills he needed. He auditioned for parts, and eventually got steady work on the stage.
Resin's early hero was Alfred Drake, among the best voices on stage, and little by little, he built a successful off-Broadway and Broadway career, playing historic roles such as Freddie Eynsford-Hill in the original Broadway cast of My Fair Lady in 1956, in which Resin sang On the Street Where You Live.
Resin's parents divorced when he was three years old, so he had had little contact with his real father. But his father did come to see him during My Fair Lady.
"He asked me when I was going to get a real job," Resin said. "I can laugh about it now, but what he first said it, I was upset. I worked hard to get where I was, and to hear that when I'm at the peak of success really hurt."
Resin was in also the original off-Broadway production of "Once Upon a Mattress," and moved onto Broadway when the production moved up from downtown
His Broadway stage productions include Don't Drink the Water, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Fade Out-Fade In, and Young Abe Lincoln.
Resin's movie career is equally impressive with significant roles in Caddyshack, Wise Guys, Sunshine Boys, Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover, The Happy Hooker and other films. Resin even played the role of a young Richard Nixon in a parody film called Richard.
His television career included a CBS show, On Our Own; the soap opera Edge of Night; Lovers and Friends; David Frost Review; and an NBC show, Go USA. He made appearances on the kids show Captain Kangaroo, and was featured in the 1978 syndicated comedy Madhouse Brigade.
A commercial success
Yet for all of his work in movies, Resin seems best remembered by the public for his roles in TV commercials, where he specialized in strange, humorous characters and situations such as the Tidy Bowl Man.
Resin recalled the 1960s and the 1970s as the golden age of commercials, that era when people experimented with the medium and created memorable commercial such as "I can't believe I ate the whole thing," which was from an Alka Seltzer advertisement.
"Those were wonderful days, and I'm glad to have been a part of that time," he said.
Another role for which Resin is known was for a cream cheese, in which he played an elegant diner in posh restaurant. "When the waiter lifted the lid off the service dish, he said to me: 'This is your bagel.' I said: 'what's a bagel?'" Resin said. "While this was funny in New York, back in Indiana where I grew up, many people didn't know what a bagel was."
Resin made a living through commercials, and at the peak of his career in the 1970s and 1980s he was doing as many as two and three commercials a week. In fact, he had two commercials back to back during one of the Super Bowls, a feat he believes is unequaled. The Super Bowl is considered the most prestigious advertising market.
Resin's most recent on-camera commercials were done in the last New York governor's campaign. The series won recognition from theNew York Times for their approach, character-based plots that used humor and satire to make their point
But commercial work was not all fun and games.
Sometimes, Resin worked 18 hours on a single spot and went out weary, not even remembering the product. He remembered one commercial when Pringles potato chips first came out, and he had to eat them.
"You had a bucket to spit them out between takes," he said. "But some always got down into my throat. I kept thinking I was going to throw up and hoped that I didn't do it on camera."
In another commercial, he was filmed on top of the Empire State Building with a number of pigeons.
"I remember the animal trainer telling me before the session: 'They always go for the eyes. So be careful.'"
In another commercial, Resin had to stand on the top of a 727 airplane for a now-defunct airline that traveled to Florida. He said he was supposed to walk from the front to the back, indicating which was first class and which was coach.
But there was only about three or four feet of flat space before the body of the plane started to slope. He wore sneakers because they had a better grip. He had them painted black so they looked like shoes.
Even when he wasn't filming commercials, he was auditioning for them, sometimes doing as many as 10 auditions a day. He doesn't know the total number of commercials he's done in his life, but certainly several hundred.
"People used to say I had a different face for each one," Resin said
Finding out some bad news
One day in 1996, he was visiting family members, when one of his sisters commented that he didn't look exactly right. A friend of the family who happened to be a doctor apparently recognized the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and suggested he visit a neurologist.
Parkinson's is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects over one million Americans, with more than 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The primary symptoms are rigidity, slowness of movement, poor balance, and tremors, and over time, it progresses, stealing away from people their ability to walk, speak, swallow and even breathe.
He indeed had been struck by the disease, and although he still does commercials and cooks, he spends a significant amount of time exercising - one of the things he can do to help slow does the disease and maintain his quality of life.
He also raises money through the Parkinson's Unity Walk and other fund-raisers. On April 14, he will join thousands of others - including TV and movie actor Michael J. Fox - in a walk through Central Park.
Resin encouraged people to contribute to the program that seeks to find a cure for the disease by calling (866) 789-9255, and he said even the smaller fundraisers help. A recent bake sale at Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus raised $200 towards the cause.
"If we all pull together," he said. "We can lick this thing."