Classic TV Birthdays: March 1

Happy 60th Birthday Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham! Actually, its the actor who played those two classic TV roles that is celebrating a birthday today. Ron Howard followed up his acting career with a successful transition to directing, including such films as Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and Splash.

Today’s lengthy classic TV birthday list continues: Catherine Bach (The Dukes of Hazzard) is 60, Lana Wood (sister of Natalie, starred on Peyton Place) turns 68, Dirk Benedict (The A Team, Battlestar Galactica) is 69 and Jed Allan (Celebrity Bowling, Days of Our Lives, Lassie) is 77.

Others with March 1st birthdays: Robert Conrad (Baa Baa Black Sheep/Black Sheep Squadron, Hawaiian Eye, The Wild Wild West) is 79, singer-actor Harry Belafonte (guested on The Muppet Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Tonight Show) turns 87 and Robert Clary is 88. Clary is the only surviving male cast member of the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes.

Also celebrating a birthday is Alan Thicke. The Canadian born actor-composer turns 67 today and boasts a lengthy resume in television, including composing the theme music for classic game shows like Celebrity Sweepstakes and The Joker’s Wild. He also composed the theme songs to sitcoms Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Thicke hosted a talk show in his native Canada, then moved to the U.S. to host the syndicated Thicke of the Night. His most high-profile role was as star of the long-running sitcom Growing Pains.

Today was also the birthday of some since-departed classic TV favorites. Harry Caray was a legendary baseball announcer for several MLB teams, most notably the Chicago Cubs. Paul Hartman played handyman Emmett Clark on The Andy Griffith Show and spinoff Mayberry R.F.D. Joan Hackett had a recurring role on The Defenders and guested on Ben Casey, Taxi and The Twilight Zone.

Also born this day: David Niven (co-starred in 1964 TV series The Rogues, best known for his role in The Pink Panther movies) and Pete Rozelle (longtime commissioner of the National Football League).

March 1 was also the day we said goodbye to some old friends. Joe Besser appeared on The Abbott & Costello Show and The Joey Bishop Show. Jerome Courtland was an actor (The Rifleman, The Virginian) and director (Fantasy Island, The Flying Nun, The Love Boat). Bonnie Franklin starred in 1970s sitcom One Day At At Time, which was created by actress Whitney Blake (Hazel).

Jackie Coogan also died on this day. The former child star went on to guest on such TV classics as The Brady Bunch, Gunsmoke, McMillan & Wife and Perry Mason. We know him best as kooky Uncle Fester on The Addams Family.