Classic TV Birthdays: February 26

Happy Birthday Marta Kristen! The 69 year old actress and I have something in common: we were both born in Oslo, Norway. Kristen guested on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Leave It To Beaver and My Three Sons but we know her best as eldest daughter Judy Robinson on the Irwin Allen classic sci-fi series Lost In Space.

Also on today’s birthday list: actor-director Bill Duke (appeared on Charlie’s Angels, Kojak, Starsky & Hutch) is 71, UK actress Josephine Tewson (Keeping Up Appearances, The Two Ronnies) turns 75 and game show host Tom Kennedy is 87. Kennedy hosted Name That Tune, Split Second and You Don’t Say…his brother was game show host Jack Narz (Beat The Clock, Concentration).

We have a lengthy list of classic TV friends born February 26 but no longer with us. Let’s start with classic radio actor Mason Adams, who went on to co-star in Lou Grant and was the longtime spokesman for Smucker’s jams and preserves. Tex Avery was a legendary animator who created the characters Daffy Duck and Droopy Dog…he’s also credited with coining Bugs Bunny’s signature phrase “What’s Up Doc?” Robert Alda guested on Here’s Lucy, Naked City, Quicy M.E. and his son Alan’s show, M*A*S*H.

Next up is The Man in Black: singer-actor Johnny Cash, who guested on Columbo, Little House on the Prairie and Wagon Train. He also hosted The Johnny Cash Show from 1969-71. Character actor Dane Clark worked on TV from the 1940s to the 80s, appearing on such shows as Bold Venture, Ironside, Mannix and Police Woman. William Frawley had memorable roles on two classic sitcoms: he was Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy and “Bub” O’Casey on My Three Sons.

The list continues with The Great One, comedian-actor-musician Jackie Gleason. We know him best for The Honeymooners, but he also starred in the original TV version of The Life of Riley. Gleason went on to star in such films as The Hustler and Smokey and the Bandit. Stage and film star Betty Hutton guested on Baretta, Burke’s Law and Gunsmoke, also starring in The Betty Hutton Show. Cliff Osmond appeared on such classic shows as Chips, Movin’ On and The Twilight Zone.

Also born this day: Tony Randall (Mr. Peepers, The Odd Couple, The Tony Randall Show) and western actor Dub Taylor. He guested on shows including Dennis The Menace, Hazel, Little House on the Prairie and The Roy Rogers Show. Taylor also appeared on Gunsmoke, where his son Buck was a regular (he played Newly).

We also lost some classic TV favorites on February 26. David Doyle guested on Car 54 Where Are You? and Naked City, but we know him best from his role on Charlie’s Angels. Constance Ford appeared on Another World, Perry Mason and Studio One. UK actress Wendy Richard was a regular on long-running Britcom Are You Being Served? Lawrence Tierney guested on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Naked City and Peter Gunn. He also had a memorable guest appearance on Seinfeld, playing the father of Elaine Benes.

Dale Robertson also died on this day. He starred in several classic westerns (Iron Horse, Tales of Wells Fargo) and hosted western athology Death Valley Days. Robertson later appeared on primetime soaps Dallas and Dynasty.