Classic TV Birthdays: March 20

Actor William Hurt is first up on today’s birthday list. The 64 year old guested on Kojak and went on to star in such feature films as Altered States, Body Heat and Broadcast News.

Others on the birthday list: John de Lancie (guested on Emergency! and McMillan & Wife, later had recurring roles on several Star Trek series) is 66, producer Paul Junger Witt (Benson, Golden Girls, Here Come The Brides, It’s A Living, Soap) turns 71, Hal Linden (Barney Miller) is 83 and comedy legend Carl Reiner is 92. Reiner was a regular on the groundbreaking 1950s variety series Your Show of Shows. He went on to create and co-star in The Dick Van Dyke Show. Carl’s son Rob is an actor-producer, best known for his role as Mike “Meathead” Stivic on All in the Family.

There’s a long list of classic TV favorites born March 20 but no longer with us. Jack Barry was a game show producer and host involved in the infamous Twenty One quiz show scandal back in the 1950s. He resurrected his career in the 1970s as host of Break the Bank and The Joker’s Wild. Ted Bessell is remembered for his role as Marlo Thomas’ boyfriend Donald on That Girl. Edgar Buchanan gave up a career as a dentist to be come an actor…we know him best as slow-movin’ Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction, Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies.

More familiar faces born today include Wendell Corey (starred in 1957’s Harbor Command, guested on Perry Mason, The Untouchables and The Wild Wild West), Ray Goulding (half of the comedy team of Bob and Ray), veteran character actor Jack Kruschen (worked from the 1950s to 90s, including appearances on Barney Miller, Dragnet, Emergency!, The Rifleman), bandleader-actor Ozzie Nelson (The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet), country singer-actor Jerry Reed (appeared on Alice, Hee Haw, The Tonight Show) and Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers Neighborhood).

We said goodbye to some classic TV friends on March 20. Longtime NBC newsman Chet Huntley was co-anchor of The Huntley-Brinkley Report (now known as NBC Nightly News). Film actress Marilyn Maxwell (Champion, The Lemon Drop Kid) guested on 77 Sunset Strip, Burke’s Law and Here’s Lucy. English actor Brian Wilde is known for his role on long-running Britcom Last of the Summer Wine.

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back!

Up your nose, with a rubber hose! The Sweathogs are coming to MeTV!

The classic 1970’s classroom comedy Welcome Back, Kotter is returning to the airwaves this spring, airing Mon-Thu at 9:30PM Eastern on classic TV diginet MeTV.

Welcome Back, Kotter originally aired on ABC from 1975 to 1979. It stars comedian Gabe Kaplan as Gabe Kotter, a teacher who returns to his alma mater to try and teach a group of remedial students known as The Sweathogs. Their leader: Vinnie Barbarino, played by future big-screen star John Travolta.

Kotter will be replacing F Troop on MeTV’s primetime schedule.

Classic TV Birthdays: March 19

Canadian born actor-writer-producer Burt Metcalfe starts off today’s birthday list. The 79 year old was co-star of a 1961 sitcom Father of the Bride. He later guested on 12 O’Clock High, Perry Mason and Twilight Zone, but is best known as a writer and producer of classic sitcom M*A*S*H.

Others celebrating a birthday today: Nance Malone (a regular on Guiding Light and Naked City, later an executive at 20th Century Fox) is 79, actress-singer Phyllis Newman (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Quincy M.E., Wild Wild West) turns 81 and Renee Taylor also turns 81. Taylor guested on The Defenders, The Love Boat and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman. Her biggest role came later, as the mother of Fran Drescher’s character The Nanny.

We have long list of classic TV friends born March 19 but since passed on. Child actress Peggy Ahern appeared in the Our Gang shorts. Tige Andrews starred in The Detectives and Mod Squad. Pamela Britton starred in a 1957 series version of Blondie, then played the nosy landlady on My Favorite Martian. British actor Eric Christmas guested on Bonanza, The F.B.I., Harry O, McCloud and The Virginian. He later portrayed Principal Carter in the Porkys movies.

Also born this day: Fred Clark, Gail Kobe and Jackie “Moms” Mabley. Character actor Clark appeared on The Addams Family, The Beverly Hillbillies, Burke’s Law and I Dream of Jeannie. Kobe was an actress (Gunsmoke, Mannix, Perry Mason, Peyton Place, Twilight Zone) and producer (The Edge of Night, Guiding Light). Standup comedienne Mabley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour.

March 19 was also the day we said goodbye to several classic TV contributors. Italian-American actor Cesare Danova was a regular on Garrison’s Gorillas (1967) and guested on shows from the late 1950s to early 90s (Daniel Boone, The Doris Day Show, The Lucy Show, The Rifleman). Edward Platt was The Chief on Get Smart. Author Edgar Rice Burroughs created the legendary character Tarzan.

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.

Antenna TV Unveils Spring Lineup

National classic TV diginet Antenna TV is freshening up their schedule for spring.

Beginning Monday April 7, sitcoms Too Close for Comfort and Three’s Company will be joining the Antenna TV lineup. Leaving the weekday schedule are the 9AM (ET) movie, Diff’rent Strokes and Maude.

New additions on weekends include a 5AM movie, Bachelor Father, Burns and Allen, Diff’rent Strokes, Good Times, Green Acres, The Jack Benny Program, Maude and Three’s Company. Departing the weekend lineup: Circus Boy, McHale’s Navy, The Patty Duke Show, Suspense Theatre and The Three Stooges.

New Antenna TV Weekday Lineup (effective 4.7.14)

Time Period (ET) Program (all shows air 2 episodes back-to-back)
5AM The Jack Benny Program
6AM Hazel
9AM Too Close for Comfort
10AM Three's Company
11AM Bewitched
12N I Dream of Jeannie
1PM McHale's Navy
2PM The Patty Duke Show
3PM Father Knows Best
4PM Dennis the Menace
5PM Mister Ed
6PM Green Acres
7PM I Dream of Jeannie
8PM Bewitched
9PM All in the Family
10PM Sanford & Son
11PM Good Times
12M Three's Company
1AM Too Close for Comfort
2AM Alfred Hitchcock Presents
3AM Burns and Allen
4AM Bachelor Father

For more info on Antenna TV and to find an affiliate near you, please visit their website.

Classic TV Birthdays: March 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Leading off today’s list o’ birthdays is English actress Lesley-Anne Down. The 60 year old rose to fame in the 1970’s UK series Upstairs Downstairs, aired here in the US on PBS. She was later in the cast of daytime soaps The Bold & The Beautiful and Sunset Beach.

Also celebrating a birthday is Kurt Russell (63). He starred in the 1960s western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters and a bunch of Disney movies. Russell also guested on such TV classics as Daniel Boone, Dennis the Menace, Gilligan’s Island and Lost In Space.

Others on the March 17 birthday list: Patrick Duffy (Dallas, The Man from Atlantis) is 65, singer-songwriter John Sebastian (theme from Welcome Back Kotter) turns 70, Patty Maloney (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Far Out Space Nuts, Rhoda) is 78 and singer-actor Adam Wade turns 79. Wade guested on Adam-12, Good Times, Kojak and Tarzan. He also hosted a short-lived 1975 game show called Musical Chairs:

Today was also the birthday of since departed singer Nat King Cole and actor Don Mitchell. Cole hosted his own variety show in the 1950s and was the father of another singer, his daughter Natalie. Mitchell is best remembered for his role as Mark Sanger on Ironside.

We also lost some classic TV friends on March 17. British character actor Michael Gough guested on UK series The Avengers, Doctor Who and The Saint. He also played Alfred the butler in the 1989 movie version of Batman. Longtime radio deejay J.J. Jackson was one of the original MTV veejays. Rosetta LeNoire appeared on Ryan’s Hope and Studio One, but achieved her greatest success much later as Mother Winslow on Family Matters.

Others passing this day include Grace Stafford and Sylvester ‘Pat’ Weaver. Stafford was the wife of cartoonist Walter Lantz, the creator of Woody Woodpecker. She provided the bird’s memorable voice. Weaver created NBC’s franchise Today and Tonight Shows and was the father of actress Sigourney Weaver.

March 17 was also the day we said goodbye to The First Lady of The American Theatre. Stage actress Helen Hayes also worked in TV, starring in the 1970s mystery series The Snoop Sisters. She guested on numerous classic TV shows from the 1950s to the 80s, including Here’s Lucy, The Love Boat and Tarzan. Hayes also appeared alongside her real-life adopted son James MacArthur on his series, Hawaii Five-0.

Obit: David Brenner

Comedian David Brenner has passed away at age 78.

Brenner was a frequent guest (with over 150 appearances) on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, guest hosting the show a reported 75 times in the 1970s and early 80s. Brenner later hosted a short-lived syndicated talk show in the mid 80s. He also has the rare distinction of starring in a primetime sitcom that was cancelled before it ever aired a single episode: Snip (1976).

David Brenner was married three times, most recently to former figure skater Tai Babilonia. He also leaves behind three sons.

You can learn more about David Brenner by visiting his official website, complete with a little dark humor on his passing. He died Saturday in New York City.

Classic TV Birthdays: March 16

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.

Classic TV Birthdays: March 15

Jimmy Baio leads off today’s classic TV birthday list. The 52 year old was a regular on Soap and also happens to be the cousin of actor Scott Baio (Happy Days).

Also celebrating a birthday: Craig Wasson (guested on The Bob Newhart Show, Hart to Hart, Lou Grant, Phyllis) is 60, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart turns 79 and Judd Hirsch (Delvecchio, Taxi) is 79.

March 15 was also the birthday of a number of since departed classic TV favorites. Macdonald Carey guested on Burke’s Law, Police Story and Thriller. He was a longtime cast member of the daytime soap Days of Our Lives and his voice is still heard in the show’s opening: like sands through the hourglass… Frank Coghlan Jr. was a child film actor who later appeared on The Beverly Hillbillies and Shazam! Joe E. Ross (ooh! ooh!) is remembered for his roles on Car 54 Where Are You?, Hong Kong Phooey and The Phil Silvers Show.

Other born this day: Nick Stewart (Amos and Andy) and Lawrence Tierney. Tierney appeared in a number of movies (Dillinger, Reservoir Dogs) and classic TV shows (Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Naked City, Peter Gunn). He also had a memorable role on an early episode of Seinfeld, playing Elaine’s father.

This was also the day we said farewell to some classic TV friends. Gail Davis starred in the early western series Annie Oakley. Ron Silver guested on McMillan & Wife and The Rockford Files. He was a regular on Rhoda and later The West Wing. Ann Sothern starred in The Ann Sothern Show and Private Secretary. She also provided the voice of My Mother The Car, a cult classic sitcom about a woman who is reincarnated as her son(Jerry Van Dyke)’s vehicle!

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).