Burt Reynolds leads off today’s birthday list. The 78-year-old actor was a regular on the vintage Darren McGavin western Riverboat, then played Quint on the classic western Gunsmoke. Reynolds also guested on a number of classic TV series, including Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone. He later starred in B.L. Stryker, Dan August, Evening Shade and Hawk.
One of the last two surviving cast members of Gilligan’s Island is celebrating her 80th birthday this day. Tina Louise (Ginger) also had guest appearances on Cannon, Love American Style and Route 66. She and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) are the last of the castaways, following the death of Russell Johnson (The Professor) last month.
A number of classic TV favorites were born February 11 but are no longer with us. Boxer-turned-actor Max Baer Sr. guested on Make Room for Daddy and Playhouse 90. His son, Max Baer Jr., played Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies. Eva Gabor is best remembered as Lisa Douglas on Green Acres.
Billy Hallop was one of The Dead End Kids in the movies, as an adult he guested on Adam-12, Gomer Pyle USMC, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. He also played Bert Munson on All in the Family. Stage and film actress Kim Stanley appeared on Ben Casey, Night Gallery and Quincy M.E. She was also the uncredited narrator on the classic movie To Kill A Mockingbird.
Recognize the face in the above photo? It’s veteran Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen, who was also born this day. The photo is from one his “serious” roles in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. Nielsen guested on many classic TV series, often playing a heavy. He had roles on Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu, Naked City and Studio One. He starred in several 1960s series including The New Breed and The Bold Ones: The Protectors.
Nielsen’s career changed in a big way after his appearance on the satirical 1980 comedy film Airplane! He starred in the cult classic TV series Police Squad!, which led to the hugely-popular Naked Gun movie series. Nielsen’s acting career spanned 6 decades, ending with his passing in 2010.
February 11 is also a day we lost some classic TV friends, including Sorrell Booke (The Dukes of Hazzard), William Conrad (starred on Cannon, Jake & The Fatman, Nero Wolfe…narrated The Fugitive and The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show), Lee J. Cobb (The Virginian) and Don Porter (The Ann Sothern Show, Gidget, Private Secretary).
George O’Hanlon also died on this day. O’Hanlon (Sr. actually, his son is also an actor) appeared in shows like The Life of Riley, Maverick, Mister Ed and Sanford and Son. He even had a role in the classic 1976 movie Rocky. We best know O’Hanlon for his voice: he was George Jetson.