Happy 65th Birthday, Ponch! Actor Erik Estrada played Officer Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello on CHiPs from 1977-83.
Also on today’s birthday list: Chuck Woolery is 73 and Jerry Lewis turns 88. Woolery appeared on Love American Style and the syndicated children’s series New Zoo Revue. He was the original host of the NBC daytime version of Wheel of Fortune and later hosted 1980s dating game Love Connection (we’ll be back in 2 and 2!).
Jerry Lewis was the comedic partner of Dean Martin and appeared in a number of movies (The Bellboy, The Nutty Professor). He guested on Batman and Ben Casey, plus starred in several short-lived variety shows in the 1960s. Lewis was also well-known as the host of the MDA Labor Day Telethon from 1966-2010.
March 16 was also the birthday of several since departed classic TV friends. Mercedes McCambridge guested on Bonanza, Lost In Space and Rawhide. Aussie actor Leo McKern appeared in a number of British series, appearing on The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Prisoner. He also starred in the long-running UK crime drama Rumpole of the Bailey.
Others born today include silent film star Conrad Nagel, who later guested on several classic TV shows, among them The Defenders, Perry Mason and Route 66. Violinist-comedian Henny Youngman (take my wife, please!) appeared on many variety and talk shows, including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Tonight Show.
We said goodbye to some classic TV favorites on March 16, including actor-director Ivan Dixon (Hogan’s Heroes), Anthony George (Checkmate, Dark Shadows, One Life to Live) and UK actor Frank Thornton (Are You Being Served?, Last of the Summer Wine).
Arthur Godfrey also died on this day. He hosted a number of early television shows such as Arthur Godfrey & His Friends, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and Arthur Godfrey Time. The Talent Scouts show also aired on network radio. Godfrey co-hosted the 1960 version of Candid Camera and appeared on classic shows like Ellery Queen, The Hollywood Squares and The Love Boat.