Classic TV Birthdays: January 27

Actor-comedian John Witherspoon leads off today’s birthday list. Witherspoon guested on 1970s classics Good Times, The Incredible Hulk and What’s Happening!!

Also celebrating a birthday: James Cromwell. The veteran film and TV actor played Stretch Cunningham on All in the Family and had regular roles in 2 short-lived 1970s sitcoms: Hot L Baltimore and The Nancy Walker Show. Cromwell has appeared in many movies (including Babe) and guested on dozens of TV shows since the 70s. He’s currently a regular on the ABC drama series Betrayal.

Classic TV stars born this day but no longer with us include Troy Donahue (Hawaiian Eye, Surfside 6), Jerry Haynes (portrayed Mr. Peppermint, longtime children’s TV host in Dallas), Skitch Henderson (the original bandleader on The Tonight Show), Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show) and Donna Reed. The lovely film and TV star appeared in the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life and later had her own long-running TV series: The Donna Reed Show. Reed also took over the role of Miss Ellie on Dallas for the 1984 season.

A number of classic TV favorites passed away on January 27. The list includes Claude Akins (B.J. and The Bear, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, Movin’ On), Tige Andrews (The Detectives, Mod Squad), Jack Paar (2nd host of The Tonight Show) and Sally Starr (early Philadelphia children’s host, died 2 days after her 90th birthday).

One more January 27 death was Don Stansauk (shown above), also known as pro wrestler Hard Boiled (H.B.) Haggerty. Stansauk had quite a career, playing pro football for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. He followed that with professional wrestling, then acting. Haggerty guested on classic TV series including Adam-12, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Happy Days.

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