Classic TV Birthdays: February 25

We start off today’s birthday list with Karen Grassle. The 72 year old appeared on Gunsmoke and daytime drama Love of Life, but we best know her as Caroline Ingalls on the long-running family western drama Little House on the Prairie.

Others celebrating a birthday: college basketball analyst Billy Packer is 74, actress Diane Baker (guested on Bonanza, The Fugitive, Kojak) turns 76, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer (Face The Nation) is 77 and actor Dick Jones is 87. Jones starred in an early TV western (Buffalo Bill Jr.) and co-starred in another (The Range Rider).He also guested on such shows as Annie Oakley, The Gene Autry Show and Wagon Train. He may be best known as the voice of Disney’s Pinocchio.

February 25 was also the birthday of some old classic TV friends who have since passed on. Jim Backus (pictured above) had a TV career that stretched from the 1940s to the 1980s. He starred in Blondie (short-lived 1968 version), Gilligan’s Island, I Married Joan and The Jim Backus Show. He guested on shows including The Brady Bunch, Burke’s Law, Fantasy Island, Love American Style, The Love Boat and Police Story. Many of us classic TV fans also remember Backus of the voice of nearsighted cartoon character Mr. Magoo.

Others born this day include actor Christopher George (The Rat Patrol, husband of actress Lynda Day George), sax player Tommy Newsom (The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson), former Chicago Cubs player-broadcaster Ron Santo and country singer Faron Young (Country Style USA, Hee Haw, The Porter Wagoner Show).

We also lost some classic TV favorites this day. James Coco guested on Alice, The Love Boat, N.Y.P.D. and The Patty Duke Show. He also starred in a pair of short-lived sitcoms: Calucci’s Apartment (1973) and The Dumplings (1976). Darren McGavin (pictured above) worked from the 1940s to the 2000s, starring in Crime Photographer, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Mike Hammer (late 1950s version), The Outsider and Riverboat. McGavin guested on numerous classic TV shows as well, later appearing as the father of TV character Murphy Brown. New generations know him best as the lovably gruff father on the classic holiday film A Christmas Story.