Classic TV Birthdays: February 28

Happy 65th birthday to Ilene Graff! In the 1970s, she guested on Barnaby Jones and NBC’s answer to The Love Boat, Supertrain. Graff’s biggest role came in the 1980s, when she played Bob Uecker’s wife on the sitcom Mr. Belvedere.

Others on the birthday list: actress-singer Bernadette Peters (guested on Love American Style, Maude, McCloud…starred in 1976 comedy All’s Fair) is 66, Frank Bonner (WKRP in Cincinnati) is 72, Canadian actor Don Francks (guested on Ben Casey, Mission: Impossible) turns 82 and Gavin MacLeod is 83. MacLeod guested on many classic TV shows, including The Big Valley, The Munsters, Perry Mason and The Untouchables. He co-starred in McHale’s Navy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, then took the helm of The Love Boat.

Today was also the birthday of several classic TV favorites since departed. Character actress Billie Bird was a familiar face, guesting on shows like Adam-12, Eight is Enough, Gunsmoke and The Waltons. She was later a regular on sitcoms Benson, Dear John and It Takes Two. Bird also some memorable movie roles, including Grandma Baker in Sixteen Candles.

Also born this day was Charles Durning. The veteran actor appeared in movies like The Sting and Tootsie. He guested on Cannon, Hawaii Five-0 and N.Y.P.D. Durning starred in a short-lived 1975 sitcom (The Cop and the Kid) and later had regular/recurring roles on Evening Shade, Everybody Loves Raymond and Rescue Me.

February 28 was also the day we lost some classic TV friends. Philip Ahn guested on many classic shows from the 1950s to the 70s, including Bonanza, Hawaiian Eye, Hawaii Five-0 and M*A*S*H. He later appeared as Master Kan on the adventure-western Kung Fu. Eddie Anderson was best known as Rochester Van Jones on Jack Benny’s radio and TV programs. Zara Cully was Mother Jefferson on The Jeffersons. Mary Stuart was a longtime star on the daytime drama Search for Tomorrow.

Paul Harvey also passed on this day. The veteran radio personality’s news and commentary features aired from the 1950s until his death in 2009. He also had a syndicated TV editorial segment that aired during local newscasts from the 1960s to the 80s. And now you know, the rest of the story…

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