Howard Hesseman is first on today’s classic TV birthday list. The 74 year old actor guested on such classic shows as The Andy Griffith Show, Dragnet, Mannix and One Day At A Time. We know him best as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati. Hesseman later starred in the classroom sitcom Head of the Class.
Also celebrating a birthday: Barbara Babcock (appeared on Hogan’s Heroes, Mannix, Star Trek…later a regular on Hill Street Blues) is 77, Van Williams (Bourbon Street Beat, The Green Hornet, Surfside 6) turns 80 and Joanne Woodward is 84. Woodward guested on The Carol Burnett Show, Playhouse 90 and Studio One, but is best known for her movie roles (including The Three Faces of Eve). She is the widow of legendary film star Paul Newman.
February 27 was also the birthday of some classic TV favorites since passed. Singer-actor Carl Anderson guested on The Rockford Files and Starsky & Hutch but is best known for his stage/film role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Joan Bennett was a regular on the gothic daytime drama Dark Shadows. B-movie actress Lynn Cartwright appeared on Adam-12, Highway Patrol and Little House on the Prairie. She is perhaps best remembered for her role in the movie A League of Their Own.
Also born this day: Mary Frann (guested on Bonanza, Hawaii Five-0, That Girl…later played Bob Newhart’s wife on the long-running sitcom Newhart), silent film star Ian Keith (later appeared on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and Dragnet) and Franchot Tone. The character actor guested on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Ben Casey, Studio One and The Twilight Zone. He is also well-known as a co-star of the classic 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty.
William Demarest (pictured) was also born February 27. He appeared in such movies as The Jolson Story and later starred in a short-lived 1959 sitcom Love and Marriage. Demarest guested on Bonanza, Ellery Queen, Make Room for Daddy and McMillan & Wife, but we know him best as Uncle Charley on the classic sitcom My Three Sons.
Today also marked the day we lost some classic TV friends. Western actor Pat Brady was a regular on The Roy Rogers Show. Conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. hosted the PBS series The Firing Line. Myron Cope was a Pittsburgh TV and radio sports reporter, best known as a Pittsburgh Steelers commentator and inventor of The Terrible Towel.
Others passing this day: The First Lady of American Cinema Lillian Gish (early film star, later appeared on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Defenders), George Tobias (neighbor Abner Kravitz on Bewitched) and children’s host Fred Rogers (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood).