Classic TV Birthdays: February 24

Edward James Olmos leads off today’s birthday list. The 67 year old guested on such 1970s classics Cannon, Kojak and Police Story. He went on to co-star in Miami Vice and the 1990s revival of Battlestar Galactica.

Also celebrating birthdays: Barry Bostwick (guested on Charlie’s Angels, Hawaii Five-0, later co-starred on Spin City) is 69, singer-actress Joanie Sommers (appeared on 77 Sunset Strip, Burke’s Law, The Wild Wild West) turns 73, Dominic Chianese (guested on Kojak, a regular on Ryan’s Hope and later The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire) is 83, Steven Hill (Mission: Impossible, Law & Order) turns 92 and Abe Vigoda is still alive at 93 🙂 Vigoda, who turned his reported death turned into a running joke, appeared in The Godfather movie but is best known as Detective Fish on Barney Miller and it’s spinoff sitcom, Fish.

February 24 was also the birthday of some classic TV stars no longer with us, including Pete Duel (Alias Smith & Jones, Gidget, Love on a Rooftop), James Farentino (The Bold Ones), Barbara Lawrence (guested on Bat Masterson, Perry Mason), Marjorie Main (guested on Wagon Train, best known as Ma Kettle in a series of Ma and Pa Kettle movies), Zachary Scott (appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Rogues), John Vernon (frequent classic TV guest star, best remembered for his movie role as Dean Wormer in Animal House) and Douglas Watson (Another World, Search for Tomorrow, Studio One, Suspense).

Today was also the day we lost a long list of classic TV friends. Bruce Bennett was an Olympic shot putter who later played Tarzan on the big screen and guested on small screen classics Lassie and Perry Mason. Actress-singer Virginia Bruce appeared on Lux Video Theatre and Studio 57. George Gobel was an actor, comedian and producer who starred in 1950s sitcom The George Gobel Show. His company, Gomalco, produced the first 4 seasons of Leave It To Beaver. Gobel was a frequent panelist on The Hollywood Squares and later co-starred in the Barbara Eden sitcom Harper Valley PTA.

Also passing this day: Don Knotts (The Andy Griffith Show, Three’s Company), Conrad Nagel (guested on The Defenders, Route 66), John Randolph (appeared on The Bob Newhart Show, The Bold Ones, Mannix…later played Clark Griswold’s father in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), Dennis Weaver (Gentle Ben, Gunsmoke, McCloud) and comedian-violinist Henny Youngman (frequent guest on The Tonight Show and other talk/variety shows).

Dinah Shore also died on February 24. The singer-actress starred in the primetime Dinah Shore Show and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show back in the 1950s, later hosting the daytime series Dinah’s Place and Dinah! in the 1970s. She appeared as herself on such TV classics as Alice, Make Room for Daddy and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Shore was also an avid golfer and helped launch the Colgate Dinah Shore golf tournament, now known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship.