First up on today’s classic TV star birthday list: Carol Channing. The stage film and screen star turns 93. Best known for her role in the Broadway musical Hello Dolly!, she also guested on such classic TV series as The Flip Wilson Show, The Love Boat, The Muppet Show and What’s My Line?
Other January 31 birthdays: character actor Jonathan Banks (guested on Barnaby Jones, Lou Grant) is 67, Glynn Turnan (Centennial, Peyton Place, currently on the Showtime series House of Lies) turns 68, British actress Connie Booth (Fawlty Towers) hits the big 7-0, Jessica Walter (Amy Prentiss, For The People, Trapper John M.D., recently Arrested Development) is 73, Stuart Margolin (The Rockford Files) is 74 and Lynn Carlin turns 76. Carlin appeared on such 1970s staples as Emergency!, Insight and The Waltons, but her best-known role was as the mom on the coming-of-age drama James at 15/16.
There’s a long list of celebrities born this day but no longer with us. It starts with John Agar, an actor who appeared in several John Wayne movies but later wound up starring in a series of sci-fi and western B movies (The Mole People, anyone?). He later guested on Charlie’s Angels, Family Affair, Police Story and Rawhide. Agar’s other claim to fame? He was the first husband of former child star Shirley Temple.
Also on the list: stage, screen and radio star Tallulah Bankhead. She also appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Tonight Show (Jack Paar and Johnny Carson versions) and was special guest villainess The Black Widow on Batman. Singer-comedian-actor Eddie Cantor guested on The Jack Benny Show and Playhouse 90. He lives on as a featured character on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Others born this day: actor-stuntman Carey Loftin (BJ & The Bear, Movin’ On, The Rockford Files), TV host Garry Moore (I’ve Got A Secret, To Tell The Truth), Suzanne Pleshette (The Bob Newhart Show), Filmation Studios co-founder Norm Prescott (The Archies, Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids) and British actress Jean Simmons (guested on Hawaii Five-O, The Odd Couple).
Wrapping up the list of classic TV stars born January 31 is James Franciscus (pictured above). According to our research, he starred in 6 series in the 60s and 70s, including Doc Elliot, Hunter, The Investigators, Longstreet, Mr. Novak and Naked City (the first season half-hour version). Hunter was a short-lived 1976 espionage series co-starring Linda Evans, no connection to the 1980s crime drama Hunter.
A classic TV star also passed away on this day. Lee Bergere appeared in shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mannix, Perry Mason and Wagon Train. He was also a regular on Hot L Baltimore and later, Dynasty.