Classic TV Birthdays: March 14

Longtime radio deejay Rick Dees leads off today’s birthday list. The 64 year old Dees appeared on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and created the 1970s novelty song Disco Duck.

Also celebrating birthdays: film and TV actor Billy Crystal (Saturday Night Live, Soap) is 66, Steve Kanaly (Dallas) turns 68 and producer-composer Quincy Jones is 81. Jones composed the themes for a number of classic TV shows, including The Bill Cosby Show, Ironside and Sanford & Son.

March 14 was also the birthday of some classic TV friends who are no longer with us. Cartoonist Hank Ketchum created the character Dennis the Menace. Writer Max Shulman came up with another character, Dobie Gillis. Both Dennis and Dobie turned into long-running TV sitcoms, each airing on CBS from 1959 to 1963.

Another guy named Dennis was born this day. Veteran character actor Dennis Patrick was a regular on Dark Shadows and later Dallas, but most classic TV fans probably remember him best from his many guest appearances on classic TV shows. The silver-haired Patrick had a 4-decade career including roles on Barnaby Jones, The Big Valley, Eight Is Enough, Emergency!, Laramie and Perry Mason.

Today was also the day we lost some classic TV favorites. Kirk Alyn guested on Battlestar Galactica, The Donna Reed Show and Naked City. He was also the first actor to play Superman (1948 movie serial). Altovise Davis appeared on Charlie’s Angels and CHiPs. She was the widow of legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. Cartoonist Chic Young created the classic character Blondie.

Peter Graves also died on March 14. He starred in such classic TV series as Fury and Mission: Impossible. He showed his comedic side as Captain Clarence Oveur in the slapstick movie Airplane! (Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?) Graves later served as the narrator of the cable series Biography. He was the brother of another classic TV favorite: James Arness (Gunsmoke).