Classic TV Birthdays: March 18

Happy 55th Birthday to Irena Cara! The singer-actress appeared on such 1970s staples as The Electric Company, Kojak and Love of Life but is best known for her starring role in the movie Fame. She also sang that film’s memorable theme song.

Also celebrating a birthday today: Kevin Dobson (71) and Carl Gottlieb (76). Dobson was a regular on Kojak and starred in a short-lived 1981 series Shannon. He was later in the cast of primetime soap Knots Landing. Gottlieb has been an actor (Chico & The Man, I Spy, Laverne & Shirley) and a writer (The Bob Newhart Show, The Odd Couple, The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour). He may be best known for his movie work, including the Jaws series and The Jerk.

March 18 was also the birthday of some familiar faces no longer with us. Smiley Burnette was a western movie sidekick who played Cannonball engineer Charley Pratt on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. Art Gilmore was an announcer (Highway Patrol) and an actor (Adam-12, Dragnet, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Waltons). Peter Graves starred in Fury and Mission:Impossible, later appearing in the cult classic movie Airplane!

Character actor Edward Everett Horton was also born this day. You may not recognize the name, but I’m sure you remember the face and voice. Horton appeared in movies (Arsenic and Old Lace, Top Hat) and on television (Batman, F Troop, I Love Lucy, Love American Style). Many of us remember his distinctive voice as the narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales on Rocky & Bullwinkle:

Some classic TV contributors passed away on March 18. Barbara Bates is best known for her role in the film All About Eve, but she was also a regular on a 1950s sitcom called It’s A Great Life. Bill Beutel was a longtime New York City newsman who co-hosted AM America, ABC’s predecessor to Good Morning America. Fess Parker is remembered for his roles as Western legends Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Peggy Wood starred in the 1950s comedy-drama Mama and later was a regular on daytime soap One Life to Live.