Classic TV Birthdays: January 23

Several classic TV stars are marking birthdays today. Gil Gerard, star of the 70s sci-fi series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, is 71. Character actress and cartoon voiceover artist Arlene Golonka is 78. She guested on a number of classic shows (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Naked City, later King of Queens) but is perhaps best known as Millie on The Andy Griffith Show and its successor: Mayberry R.F.D.

Also born this day: Chita Rivera. She was a cast member of The New Dick Van Dyke Show.

Classic TV stars born January 23 but no longer with us: Frances Bay, a Canadian character actress who appeared on such shows as The Dukes of Hazzard and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. One of her more memorable roles was on Seinfeld…she was the woman Jerry robbed of her marbled rye bread.

Others born this day: Myron Cope (legendary Pittsburgh Steelers commentator and one-time local TV sports anchor), Dan Duryea (star of China Smith in the 1950s, later guested on Bonanza, Naked City, Twilight Zone) and Ernie Kovacs. The actor-comedian was an early TV star and influenced numerous future comedy programs and hosts including Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.

One more January 23 birthday: Larri Thomas. She was best known as Henrietta Hippo on the 1970s children’s series The New Zoo Revue.

A number of classic TV icons passed away on this day, including late night legend Johnny Carson, Bob Keeshan (Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody, later Captain Kangaroo) and fitness guru Jack LaLanne.

Other January 23 deaths: Freddie Bartholomew, a child film star in the 1930s (David Copperfield) who went on to work as a producer/director on several TV daytime dramas, Nell Carter (Gimme A Break, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, Ryan’s Hope) and Jack Oakie. He was a film actor who guested on classic TV shows Daniel Boone and The Real McCoys.