Classic TV Birthdays: February 21

Christine Ebersole is first on today’s birthday list. The 61 year old actress-singer appeared on daytime soaps One Life To Live and Ryan’s Hope. She was a regular on Saturday Night Live in the early 80s and is currently in the cast of the TBS sitcom Sullivan & Son.

Also celebrating a birthday: Tyne Daly is 68. She guested on many classic TV series including Hawaii Five-0, Ironside, Medical Center, Quincy and The Virginian. She also appeared on The Rookies with ex-husband Georg Stanford Brown. Daly went on to star in the long-running 1980s crime drama Cagney and Lacey. She’s also the sister of actor Tim Daly (Wings).

Gary Lockwood turns 77 today. He starred in the 1963 drama The Lieutenant and guested on many classic shows of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. His resume includes 12 O’Clock High, Barnaby Jones, Medical Center and Perry Mason.

February 21 is also the birthday of some classic TV favorites no longer with us. Humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a long-running newspaper column and appeared on Good Morning America. B-movie actress Arline Judge guested on Mr. & Mrs. North and Perry Mason. Austrian-American actress Celia Lovsky appeared on many classic shows of the 1950s to the 70s, including Dragnet (both 1950s and late 1960s versions), The Flying Nun, Marcus Welby M.D., Playhouse 90 and The Waltons. Lovsky was once married to movie actor Peter Lorre.

Also born this day: Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls, Mama’s Family, Maude), film director-screenwriter Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs, The Wild Bunch…also worked on TV, mostly westerns like Broken Arrow, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman and The Westerner) and Ann Sheridan. Sheridan, pictured above, starred in such movies as Angels with Dirty Faces and appeared on daytime soap Another World, Lux Video Theatre and Wagon Train. Her last role was as star of the 1966 sitcom Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats.

Actor Ben Chapman died on February 21. He made a couple of early TV appearances (Adventures in Paradise, The Colgate Comedy Hour) but is best known for playing the Gill Man in Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Classic TV Birthdays: February 20

Today’s birthday list kicks off with Peter Strauss. The 67 year old guested on Hawaii Five-0, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Streets of San Francisco. He also starred in the 1970s miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man.

Sandy Duncan is 68 today. She had guest roles on Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man and was a frequent panelist on The Hollywood Squares. Duncan starred in an early 1970s sitcom Funny Face (reformatted as The Sandy Duncan Show) and later replaced Valerie Harper on the 1980s sitcom The Hogan Family. She is also known for her stage work (Peter Pan) and as a commercial spokeswoman for Wheat Thins crackers.

Also on the birthday list: Richard Beymer (guested on Dr. Kildare, Make Room for Daddy, Sky King…later appeared on Murder She Wrote and Twin Peaks) is 75, Marj Dusay (guested on Barnaby Jones, Mannix, The Odd Couple, The Wild Wild West…played Blair’s mom on The Facts of Life…regular on daytime dramas All My Children, Guiding Light and Santa Barbara) turns 78 and socialite-heiress Gloria Vanderbilt is 90. Vanderbilt had several acting roles in the 1950s and early 60s (Playhouse 90, The Shirley Temple Storybook, Studio One) and is the mother of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

Classic TV friends born February 20 but since passed include film and TV actor Edward Albert (guested on Kung Fu, The Love Boat, Police Story…later had recurring roles on primetime soaps Falcon Crest and the Yellow Rose…son of actor Eddie Albert), movie director Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, also worked on TV shows like Bonanza, Combat! and Whirlybirds) and Malcolm Atterbury. He guested on many classic TV shows from the 1950s on, including The Fugitive, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. Atterbury was a regular on the 1974 family drama Apple’s Way.

Also born this day: Amanda Blake (Gunsmoke), Whitney Blake (Hazel, co-creator of One Day At A Time), Pierre Boulle (author of Planet of the Apes), Gale Gordon (Dennis The Menace, Here’s Lucy, Our Miss Brooks, The Lucy Show), Larry Hovis (Hogan’s Heroes), Brion James (guested on Chico and the Man, The Rockford Files, The Waltons), author-screenwriter Richard Matheson (wrote over a dozen episodes of The Twilight Zone, including Nightmare at 20,000 Feet that starred William Shatner) and actor-voice artist Henry Polic II (When Things Were Rotten, later on Webster).

A number of classic TV favorites passed away February 20, including Rosemary DeCamp (a regular on The Bob Cummings Show, The Life of Riley and That Girl…played Shirley Jones’ mom on The Partridge Family), Sandra Dee (starred in films Gidget, A Summer Place…guested on Fantasy Island and Love American Style), sportscaster Curt Gowdy (longtime voice of the Boston Red Sox, later announced baseball and football for ABC and NBC Sports, hosted The American Sportsman) and voice actor Clarence Nash (Donald Duck).

Others passing this day: actor-singer John Raitt (guested on 1950s series including Death Valley Days, Shirley Temple’s Storybook…father of singer Bonnie Raitt), film critic Gene Siskel and newspaper-radio commentator Walter Winchell (narrator of The Untouchables).

Dick York also died on February 20, He co-starred with Gene Kelly in the 1962 TV comedy Going My Way and guested on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Playhouse 90 and Wagon Train. He is best known as the first Darrin Stephens on the long-running sitcom Bewitched.

Three’s Company Coming To Antenna

Tribune’s classic TV diginet Antenna TV will be adding Three’s Company and Too Close for Comfort to their lineup beginning April 7.

Ted Knight starred in the 1980s sitcom Too Close for Comfort, which will air weekdays from 9-10AM and 1-2AM Eastern. The long-running sitcom Three’s Company starred John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt. It will air weekdays from 10-11AM and 12-1AM Eastern. Three’s Company will also air Saturday evenings and Sunday late nights.

The sitcoms will replace the 9-11AM movie currently airing on Antenna TV. To find an affiliate near you, visit

Cozi Adds Avengers, Make Room for Daddy


National classic TV diginet Cozi TV is changing up their weekday afternoon lineup.

Starting Monday February 24, the 1960s British espionage series The Avengers takes over the 1PM time slot. It will be followed at 2PM by Magnum P.I., which will continue to air in primetime Thursdays from 8PM-Midnight.

Cozi’s rotating Mystery Wheel (Banacek, McCloud, McMillan & Wife and The Name of the Game) will air from 3-4:30PM, followed by a new entry: the Danny Thomas sitcom Make Room for Daddy. It looks like the only show leaving the schedule is The Bold Ones.

Coming to Cozi this summer: Hart to Hart, Knight Rider and Starsky & Hutch. Stay tuned for details!

Find out more about the new Cozi lineup by visiting their website.

Classic TV Birthdays: February 19

Happy birthday to actor Michael Nader. The 69-year-old appeared on a number of 1960s beach movies and guested on the Gidget TV series. He was later a regular on primetime soap Dynasty and daytime sudser All My Children.

Lee Marvin (pictured) was born on this day. Marvin starred in late 1950s cop drama M Squad, then later guested on Bonanza, Route 66, The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables. He is also well-known for his many film roles, including The Dirty Dozen and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Also born February 19 was Dave Niehaus. He was a longtime baseball announcer for the California Angels and Seattle Mariners.

Classic TV friends passing away this day include Janet Blair, who was born here in my hometown of Altoona, PA. Altoona is located in Blair County, which is where she got her stage name. Blair was a film and TV actress who appeared on Burke’s Law, Marcus Welby M.D. and The Outer Limits. She also co-starred in the 1971 Henry Fonda comedy-drama series The Smith Family.

Others passing on February 19: Madge Blake (guested on many classic shows of the 1950s and 60s, best known for her roles as Aunt Harriet on Batman and Larry Mondello’s mom on Leave It To Beaver), singer-banjo player Grandpa Jones (Hee Haw) and veteran Looney Tunes animator and voice actor Tedd Pierce.

DVD Deal of The Week

Here’s your chance to own the complete series of classic 1970s soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman on DVD.

Louise Lasser and Greg Mullavey starred in this cult classic series from Norman Lear. It aired in late-night syndication from 1976-77. The massive 38-disc box set contains all 325 episodes plus bonus features.

The sale ends Saturday February 22 so order yours today.

Obit: Mary Grace Canfield

Veteran character actress Mary Grace Canfield has died at age 89.

Canfield appeared on such classic TV shows as Adam-12, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched and Thriller. She is best known for her supporting role as inept carpenter Ralph (Howdie doodie!) Monroe on the long-running sitcom Green Acres.

Canfield passed away last Saturday in California.

Classic TV Birthdays: February 18

Hard to believe, but actor John Travolta turns 60 today. As most of us classic TV fans know, the veteran film star (Carrie, Grease, Look Who’s Talking, Pulp Fiction, Urban Cowboy) got his start on 1970s television. He first appeared on Emergency!, then later guested on Medical Center and The Rookies.

Travolta starred in the made-for-TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, but he’s best known as one of the Sweathogs on the classroom comedy Welcome Back Kotter. Side note: I actually met Travolta once on a movie set. My roommate at the time was in a movie with him called Perfect (unfortunately the movie didn’t live up to its name at the box office!).

Also celebrating a birthday: George Kennedy. The 89 year old is well-known for his roles in the Airport and Naked Gun movie franchises, but he also has an impressive classic TV resume. Kennedy guested on a number of shows, including Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel. He was in the cast of Dallas and starred in two shows of his own: 1971 drama Sarge (he played a priest) and 1975 crime drama The Blue Knight.

A number of classic TV friends were born on February 18 but have since passed. Bill Cullen was a legendary game show host (including The $25,000 Pyramid, Blankety Blanks, Break The Bank, The Price Is Right) who also appeared often as a panelist. Character and voice actor Allan Melvin had roles on All in the Family, The Brady Bunch, Gomer Pyle USMC, McHale’s Navy, The Phil Silvers Show and many more classic shows of the 1960s and 70s. He was also the voice of Magilla Gorilla.

Other classic TV contributors passing this day include screenwriter Sam Rolfe (created The Delphi Bureau, Delvecchio, Have Gun Will Travel) and Jack Palance. The boxer-turned-actor guested on shows like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Playhouse 90. He starred in the 1963 series The Greatest Show on Earth and 1975 crime drama Bronk. Personally, I always enjoyed his hosting work on the 1980s version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Palance later won an Academy Award for his supporting role in the movie City Slickers.

February 18 also marks the day we lost some TV favorites. Actor Richard Bright was best known for his role in the Godfather films, but he also guested on classic TV series The Defenders and Studio One. Baseball broadcaster Harry Caray was the longtime voice of the Chicago Cubs, and also called games for the Athletics, Cardinals and White Sox. Andy Devine, the raspy-voiced cowboy sidekick in the movies, co-starred in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok and guested on Flipper, The Twilight Zone and The Virginian.

Also leaving us this day were actress-model Maggie McNamara (guested on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Ben Casey, starred in the “Ring-a-Ding Girl” episode of The Twilight Zone) and actor-director Noam Pitlik. He acted on many shows in the 1960s and 70s, including Ben Casey, The Bob Newhart Show, The Fugitive, Hogan’s Heroes and Sanford & Son. Pitlik went on to direct such shows as Barney Miller, One Day at a Time and Taxi.

Classic TV Birthdays: February 17

Actor turned director Don Scardino turns 65 today. Scardino guested on classic sitcoms The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and The Patty Duke Show, later appearing on daytime soaps As the World Turns and Guiding Light. He is currently a director on the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls.

Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley is 75. Mobley guested on many classic TV shows of the 1960s and 70s, including Burke’s Law, Diff’rent Strokes, Fantasy Island and Perry Mason. She was also a panelist on Match Game and other 70s daytime game shows. Mobley is the widow of actor-TV host Gary Collins.

Also celebrating February 17 birthdays: Christina Pickles (Another World, Guiding Light, Lou Grant, The White Shadow) is 79, UK actress Patricia Routledge (guested on CBS Children’s Film Festival, best known for 1990s Britcom Keeping Up Appearances) turns 85 and Hal Holbrook is 89. Holbrook appeared on The Bold Ones and The FBI, along with such movies as the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force. He is also well-known for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in several miniseries (Lincoln, North and South). Holbrook was married to the late actress Dixie Carter.

Today was also the birthday of some classic TV favorites, including Red Barber (longtime baseball and football announcer), silent film star Ruth Clifford (later appeared on Hazel, Highway Patrol, Police Story), Arthur Hunnicutt (guested on Bonanza, My Three Sons, The Virginian) and Arthur Kennedy (guested on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, co-star of the 1974 crime drama Nakia).

Character actress Kathleen Freeman was also born on this day. Her familiar face appeared on many classic TV shows from the 1950s on, including 77 Sunset Strip, The Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan’s Heroes, Kojak and Wagon Train. She played a hotel maid in a memorable episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (“Never Bathe on Saturday”), and later co-starred with Dom DeLuise on the 1973 sitcom Lotsa Luck. Freeman was also the voice of Al Bundy’s mother-in-law on Married with Children.

February 17 was also the day we lost some old classic TV friends. Radio, TV and voice actor Joseph Kearns guested on shows like Gunsmoke, The Jack Benny Program and Our Miss Brooks. He’s best known for his final role: neighbor Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace. Character actor Sunshine Parker had guest shots on BJ and the Bear, Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie.

Also passing this day: Dan O’Herlihy. The veteran Irish actor guested on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Untouchables. He co-starred with Kurt Russell in the 1960s western The Travels of Jamie McPheeters, then the short-lived 1979 drama A Man Called Sloane (with Robert Conrad). O’Herlihy later appeared in the quirky 1990s series Twin Peaks.

Classic TV Birthdays: February 16

Today’s birthday list begins with Lisa Loring (56). As a child, she portrayed Wednesday on the classic 1960s comedy The Addams Family. Loring was later a regular on the daytime soap As The World Turns.

Also celebrating birthdays: LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is 57 and William Katt is 63. Katt, son of Perry Mason co-star Barbara Hale, guested on Emergency!, Ironside and M*A*S*H. He also starred in the early 1980s comedy-drama series The Greatest American Hero.

February 16 was also the birthday of some classic TV favorites since passed, including Edgar Bergen (longtime radio star, played Grandpa in the Waltons movie pilot, father of actress Candice Bergen), Sonny Bono (The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, later had a career in politics), Chester Morris (played Boston Blackie in the movies, on radio and the first season of the TV series) and Gretchen Wyler (guested on Charlie’s Angels and Naked City, co-starred in 1978 sitcom On Our Own).

Today was also the birthday of Hugh Beaumont. The film, radio and TV actor was the narrator of the early 1950s series Racket Squad. He later guested on classics like Mannix, Petticoat Junction and The Virginian. We all remember him as the kind and wise father Ward Cleaver on the long-running sitcom Leave it to Beaver.

Today was also the day we lost some classic TV friends. Roger Bowen was a co-founder of The Second City comedy troupe and played Lt. Colonel Henry Blake in the M*A*S*H movie. He was a regular on The Brian Keith Show and guested on such shows as All in the Family, House Calls and I Spy. Smiley Burnette was a singer-actor who played the same memorable role on two 1960s sitcoms. He was railroad engineer Charley Pratt on Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.

Len Lesser also passed away on February 16. The veteran character actor appeared on TV shows across six decades, from the 1950s to the 2000s. Among the shows on Lesser’s resume: The Bob Newhart Show, Bonanza, Get Smart, Kojak, The Munsters and Switch. He had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond, but we all know him best as Uncle Leo on Seinfeld (Jerry! Hello!)