Classic TV Birthdays: February 8

Christina Ferrare leads off today’s birthday list. The 64-year-old former model had an early appearance on Batman, later guesting on The Love Boat and Vega$. The ex-wife of automaker John DeLorean is currently the co-host of The Home and Family Show on The Hallmark Channel.

Brooke Adams is 65 today. She was in the cast of O.K. Crackerby! (a short-lived 1965 sitcom starring Burl Ives), and guested on The Bob Newhart Show, Family and Kojak. Comedian Robert Klein (Love American Style, Saturday Night Live) is 72, film actor Nick Nolte (guested on Cannon, Emergency!, Medical Center) turns 73, longtime ABC newsman Ted Koppel (Nightline) is 74 and Jack Larson (The Adventures of Superman) turns 86.

Also celebrating a February 8 birthday: composer John Williams. The 82-year-old Williams is well known for composing the Star Wars theme, but he also has extensive television experience. Among his works, the themes for three classic Irwin Allen series: Land of the Giants, Lost in Space and Time Tunnel. Williams also composed the original calypso theme song for the Gilligan’s Island pilot episode (see below). His more recent work includes the NBC Nightly News and NBC Sunday Night Football.

Classic TV contributors born this day but since passed away include Gary Coleman (Diff’rent Strokes), legendary film star James Dean (Danger, Lux Video Theatre, Studio One), comic book writer Bill Finger (helped develop Batman), TV and film star Jack Lemmon (Alcoa Theatre, Kraft Theatre, Studio One), Audrey Meadows (The Honeymooners) and film legend Lana Turner (starred in 1969 series The Survivors, later guested on Falcon Crest and The Love Boat).

Veteran character actor Charles Ruggles was also born February 8. He guested on classic TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Bonanza, Burke’s Law and Father Knows Best. Ruggles was also the narrator of the Aesop’s Fables segment on The Bullwinkle Show.

Another popular character actor was born this day. Although Burt Mustin didn’t start his professional acting career until he turned 67, he wound up working until age 92. Mustin’s resume includes appearances on such shows as Adam-12, All in the Family, The Andy Griffith Show, The Brady Bunch and Dragnet. One of his best known roles: Gus the Fireman on Leave It To Beaver.

Several classic TV favorites died this day. George Dolenz guested on Bonanza, Cimarron City and The Rebel. His son Micky was one of The Monkees. Character actress Harriet E. MacGibbon appeared on Bewitched, Hazel and Thriller, but is best remembered as Mrs. Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies. Charles Ruggles (mentioned above) played her character’s father on The Hillbillies.

Also passing this day: Robert Ridgely. He starred in a 1962 series called The Gallant Man, and guested on such shows as The Bob Newhart Show, Bonanza, Maverick and Surfside 6. Ridgely also did a lot of voice work, including the 1970s cartoon Tarzan and the 1980s Thundarr the Barbarian.