THE GREEN MILE star Gary Sinise has given stacks of toilet paper back to a landmark Chicago, Illinois, theatre - 20 years after stealing it all for his own use.

Before setting up his STEPPENWOLF THEATRE COMPANY, the actor worked as a gardener - or 'landscape artist' - at the city's RAVINIA FESTIVAL - and he chose to make the most of his daytime profession by stealing hordes of stock.

During an interview on American TV show LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY - which took place at the Ravinia Festival yesterday (13OCT03) - he recalled, "I started Steppenwolf Theatre in the '70s. We would do the theatre at night and everybody had day jobs. My day job, for a while, was landscape artist at Ravinia.

"In the early days of theatre we didn't have much money to do anything, so we needed certain supplies for the theatre. So at Ravinia I noticed they had a lot of supplies; various supplies that we needed - just basic things - like toilet paper and paper towels for the bathrooms... brooms and dustpans... the essential things that you would need for a theatre.

"One day I was working and I went to the store room and I took a box of toilet paper and box of paper towels and I put them under my little cart that I had and I drove over to the fence. I hurled this stuff over the fence and then after work that day I got in my car, pulled up by the fence, put the stuff in the car and took it to the theatre.

"We 'borrowed' this stuff for 30 years. I've always felt really bad about this."

To show his remorse, Sinise wheeled out a cart filled with dozens on Steppenwolf-embossed toilet paper to give back to Ravinia, but the interview ended with his mock arrest.

14/10/2003 09:17