Who ruined Jan-Michael Vincent's career? Was it the pole: the one that the 53-year-old actor ran his 1988 Mazda into last August? Was it the broken neck: the one that Vincent suffered when he met said pole? Or was it maybe perhaps (wild guess here) Mr. Vincent: the one who police say was legally drunk at the time of the crash?

None of the above. According to Vincent, a team of life-saving paramedics done it.

The bad-boy actor with the baby blues is suing the Orange County, California, Fire Authority, for an unspecified dollar amount, claiming its paramedics botched up his voice when they stuck a tube down his throat following the August 26, 1996, crash in Mission Viejo.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday--the one-year anniversary of the accident--the former Airwolf star says he has not been able to speak above a whisper since the emergency procedure, which caused him to vomit in the ambulance, thereby (albeit, allegedly) damaging his vocal cords.

While raspy tones have done wonders for the likes of Demi Moore, Vincent, whose recent low-budget movie credits include Ice Cream Man and Jurassic Women, says, in the suit, that he has "lost a number of acting roles."

The onetime Hollywood golden boy, whose sun-tanned, surfer-dude image served him well in a few minor 1970s classics, including White Line Fever and The Mechanic, pleaded guilty last March to misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and driving with a suspended license--two charges that stemmed from the Mission Viejo crack-up. Police say Vincent's blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was 0.18 percent--more than twice California's legal limit.

Run-ins with the law are nothing new to Vincent. In 1983, he was put on probation after being busted on his first drunken-driving charge. In 1984, he was arrested three times for assault and disturbing the peace. In the mid-1990s, his former live-in girlfriend won a $400,000 judgment against him for her claim that he kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant, inducing a miscarriage.

On the upside, Vincent suffered no paralysis from last year's broken neck and last spring, was said to be recovered from his injuries. The voice thing, apparently, notwithstanding.

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