Classic TV Birthdays: March 25

Hey, Hey, Hey! Happy 54th birthday to actor Haywood Nelson, best known for his role as Dwayne on the 1970s sitcom What’s Happening!! and the 1980s sequel What’s Happening Now!!

More familiar faces celebrating a birthday today: Bonnie Bedelia (a regular on classic soap Love of Life and 1974 drama The New Land, played Bruce Willis character’s wife in the Die Hard movies) is 66, Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky & Hutch) turns 71, screenwriter D.C. Fontana (Star Trek, The Streets of San Francisco, The Tall Man, The Waltons) is 75 and longtime Today show film critic Gene Shalit is 82.

March 25 was also the birthday of a long list of classic TV favorites no longer with us. Singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton guested on Bonanza, I Dream of Jeannie, McCloud and WKRP in Cincinnati. Film actor Ed Begley Sr. also appeared on TV, including Burke’s Law, Gunsmoke, My Three Sons and The Name of the Game. His son, Ed Jr., was a regular on long-running medical drama St. Elsewhere. Character actor Roberts Blossom appeared in movies (Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Home Alone) and television (The Defenders, Naked City).

Also born this day: legendary ABC sports personality Howard Cosell (best known for his work on boxing and Monday Night Football), Scottish-American actor Andy Clyde (Lassie, The Real McCoys), film and TV actress Nancy Kelly (guested on Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Medical Center, Thriller) and British actor Patrick Troughton. He was the second actor to play Doctor Who.

This was also the last day for some classic TV friends. Producer Paul Henning created The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. Screenwriter-producer Abby Mann created 1970s cop drama Kojak. Singer-songwriter Buck Owens was the co-host of Hee Haw. Helen Martin appeared on Good Times and That’s My Mama, later landing her biggest role on the Marla Gibbs sitcom 227.

Nancy Walker also died on March 25. She had roles on Family Affair, The Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda, later starring in a pair of short-lived sitcoms of her own: The Nancy Walker Show (1976) and Blansky’s Beauties (1977). Walker also served as Rosie, the longtime spokeswoman for Bounty paper towels.

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