NEW YORK (AP) _ You might not know actor Laurence Conroy by name, but he bets you knew his dimples until a plastic surgeon smoothed one away and, so he says, killed his livelihood.

In a lawsuit made known Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Conroy said his earnings as an actor in commercials dropped more than two-thirds after a 1983 facelift erased his left dimple.

''The secret of his success was his dimples, his Irish-American dimply smile,'' said Robert Harley, Conroy's lawyer.

In court papers Conroy, 59, said: ''I have a specific look which is all- American, perky ... a genuine trustable person who sells.''

The Daily News reported Conroy sued for $5 million; the New York Post said $10 million.

Conroy said that before consenting to surgery, he told Dr. James Smith how important his dimples were to his appearances in ads for Irish Spring soap, Bob's Big Boy restaurants, Hathaway shirts, the Belmont Racetrack and Dellwood Milk, among others. He said Smith assured him the operation would leave his dimples intact.

However, Smith said Conroy was told before the operation that there was no guarantee how the tightening of his jowls would affect his dimples.

According to the suit, Conroy won one job for about every six auditions he made before he was operated on Oct. 20, 1983. After the operation, he said he won only one job for every 50 auditions.

In 1982 Conroy said he made as much as $56,000; two years later his earnings plunged to $16,731.

Conroy sued in 1984, but the case came to light Tuesday when Justice Stanley Sklar ruled the actor could add breach of contract to his suit.