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.

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.

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).

Classic TV Birthdays: March 13

Former child actress Kathy Hilton turns 55 today. Hilton guested on Family Affair, Happy Days and The Rockford Files. She’s also the mom of reality star Paris Hilton and the half-sister of actresses Kim and Kyle Richards.

Also on the birthday list: Dana Delany (appeared on daytime drama Love of Life, later starred on China Beach and Desperate Housewives) is 58, Robin Duke (SCTV, Saturday Night Live) turns 60, Robert S. Woods (recurring role on The Waltons, regular on One Life to Live from 1979-2013) is 66 and Neil Sedaka is 75. The singer-songwriter guested on numerous classic variety and talk shows, including The Carol Burnett Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

Others celebrating a March 13 birthday: Lesley Parrish (79) and Joseph Mascolo (85). Parrish appeared on many classic shows of the 1960s and 70s, among them Adam-12, Batman, Love American Style, Mannix, Perry Mason and Star Trek. Mascolo guested on All in the Family, Baretta and Kojak. He was also a regular on the 1975 Jack Palance series Bronk and has been in the cast of daytime soap Days of Our Lives since 1982.

Today was also the birthday of several since-passed classic TV faces. Peter Breck was a regular on The Big Valley and Maverick. Big band leader Sammy Kaye guested on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Merv Griffin Show.

Several classic TV favorites passed away March 13. Peter Tomarken appeared on Medical Center and The Rockford Files. He is best known as the host of the 1980s game show Press Your Luck. Maureen Stapleton (no relation to Jean) guested on such classic shows as Car 54 Where Are You?, Naked City and Studio One. She later appeared in a number of films, including Airport, Cocoon and The Money Pit.

Veteran character actor Malachi Throne also died this day. He co-starred in the Robert Wagner series It Takes A Thief and guested on a long list of classic TV shows. That list includes Batman (he was villain False Face), Ben Casey, The Big Valley, Hawaii Five-0, Kojak, Lost in Space, Mr. Novak, The Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek and The Untouchables.


Classic TV Birthdays: March 12

Lassie says woof woof! That means Happy Birthday, Jon Provost! He played young Timmy Martin for seven seasons of the classic family adventure drama series Lassie. Provost turns 64 today.

Others celebrating birthdays include Frank Welker (68). The legendary voice artist/actor has over 700 credits on his resume, most notably as Fred Jones on the long-running cartoon franchise Scooby Doo. He’s been doing that voice since the character’s launch in 1969. He’s also appeared in such 1970s classics as Love American Style and The Partridge Family.

Also born on March 12: actress-singer Liza Minelli (actress Judy Garland’s daughter, appeared on many 1960s and 70s era variety and talk shows) is 68, longtime NBC newsman Lloyd Dobyns (Weekend) turns 78 and Barbara Feldon (Get Smart) is 81.

Today was also the birthday of several classic TV friends no longer with us. Georgia Ellis guested on the 1950’s version of Dragnet and another cop drama, The Lineup. She is best known for playing Miss Kitty in the radio version of Gunsmoke. Stage and film star Gordon MacRae (Oklahoma!) had his own TV show and guested on The Ed Sullivan Show, McCloud and What’s My Line? He was the ex-husband of actress Sheila MacRae, who passed away just last week.

Several favorites passed away on March 12. Juanin Clay was a regular on the daytime drama The Edge of Night and appeared on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Maurice Evans was best known as The Puzzler on Batman and Samantha’s father on Bewitched. He also had a memorable role as Dr. Zaius in the classic 1968 film Planet of the Apes.

Classic TV Birthdays: March 11

A very Happy 62nd Birthday to Susan Richardson, best known as Susan Bradford on the 1970s family drama Eight Is Enough. Richardson also guested on Happy Days, Nakia and The Streets of San Francisco.

Also on the birthday list: Mark Metcalf (appeared on Barnaby Jones and Karen, best known for his roles in National Lampoon’s Animal House and Twisted Sister videos) is 68, Tricia O’Neil (Ellery Queen, Hawaii Five-0, Serpico) turns 69, longtime ABC newsman Sam Donaldson is 80 and Fox Broadcasting founder/former TV Guide publisher Rupert Murdoch turns 83.

Some since departed classic TV favorites were also born March 11. Timothy Carey guested on Baretta, Charlie’s Angels, Gunsmoke and Rawhide. Film actress Dorothy Gish (sister of actress Lillian Gish) appeared on Robert Montgomery Presents and The United States Steel Hour. David Horsley was a co-founder of Universal Studios. Shemp Howard was one of The Three Stooges. Anissa Jones played Buffy on Family Affair.

Character actor Albert Salmi was also born this day. Salmi costarred in the 1974-76 series Delvecchio and guested on classics including Bonanza, Daniel Boone, The F.B.I., Kung Fu and 3 episodes of The Twilight Zone. He also played Danny Noonan’s father in the 1980 comedy film Caddyshack.

We said goodbye to some friends of classic TV on March 11. Vince Edwards played the title role in the 1960s medical drama Ben Casey. Author Earle Stanley Gardner created the character of Perry Mason. UK actor Joe Gladwin was a regular on the long-running Britcom Last of the Summer Wine. Film actress Betty Hutton guested on Burke’s Law and Gunsmoke, plus starred in the self-titled Betty Hutton Show.

Today was also the day inventor Philo Farnsworth died. Without his work, we might not have this blog today. Farnsworth is credited with inventing the electonic television and the video camera tube!

Classic TV Birthdays: March 10

A pair of classic TV birthdays today: Katharine Houghton is 69 and Ralph Emery is 81. Houghton guested on Hawk and Judd For The Defense, but is best known for her role in the movie Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Emery is a country music veteran, hosting the 1970s syndicated series Pop! Goes The Country and the long-running Nashville Now on the now defunct Nashville Network.

March 10 was also the birthday of some classic TV friends now passed. Warner Anderson starred in the 1950s cop drama The Lineup, then was an actor-narrator on primetime soap Peyton Place. Baldwin Cooke acted in a number of Laurel & Hardy and Our Gang movie shorts, which were later staples on television. UK actor Richard Haydn guested on such classics as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Twilight Zone, and also had some memorable film roles (including The Sound of Music). Sam Jaffe co-starred in classic medical drama Ben Casey and appeared on shows like Alias Smith & Jones, Harry O, Naked City and Tarzan.

Irish actor Barry Fitzgerald was also born this day. His extensive film work included Going My Way and The Naked City (John McIntire took over the role in the TV series). Fitzgerald also had several classic TV roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Lux Video Theatre.

Today was also the day we lost some old favorites. Irish comedian Dave Allen hosted Dave Allen at Large, which was also syndicated here in the U.S. Lloyd Bridges starred in the classic adventure series Sea Hunt. He guested on a number of shows, including Battlestar Galactica and Here’s Lucy. Bridges (father of actors Beau and Jeff) also had a memorable guest role as Izzy Mandelbaum (you think you’re better than me?) on Seinfeld.

Also passing this day: June Marlowe (Our Gang comedies) and Welsh actor Ray Milland. Milland starred a 1959 crime drama series called Markham, and later appeared on Columbo, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and The Love Boat. He is best known for his movie work, most notably Dial M for Murder and The Lost Weekend. He also starred alongside (literally!) Rosey Grier in the 1972 movie The Thing with Two Heads…a true classic LOL!

Classic TV Birthdays: March 9

Daytime soap veteran Jaime Lyn Bauer turns 65 today. The longtime cast member of Days of Our Lives and The Young & The Restless also guested on Baretta, CHiPs and The Rookies.

Other classic TV stars celebrating birthdays: Trish Van Devere (71) was in the cast of daytime dramas One Life To Live and Search for Tomorrow. She is the widow of actor George C. Scott. Actor-voice artist Marty Ingels co-starred in the 1965 sitcom I’m Dickens He’s Fenster, and also guested on Adam-12, The Addams Family, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Family. Ingels is married to actress Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family).

Joyce Van Patten (sister of Dick Van Patten) turns 80 today. She was a sketch actress on The Danny Kaye Show (1963-67) and co-starred in a late 1960s sitcom The Good Guys with Bob Denver. Van Patten has guested on numerous classic TV shows, including Hawaii Five-0, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Mannix, The Odd Couple and The Twilight Zone. She started acting in the 1950s and remains active to this day.

A number of classic TV favorites were born March 9 but are no longer with us. Carl Betz starred on The Donna Reed Show and Judd for the Defense. Del Close was an actor and acting teacher who guested on 1960s sitcoms Get Smart and My Mother The Car. Will Geer is best remembered as Grandpa Walton (The Waltons). Raul Julia was a regular on the soap Love of Life and PBS kids classic Sesame Street. He also had guest roles on The Bob Newhart Show and McCloud. Many remember him as Gomez in the big screen adaption of The Addams Family.

Today was also the day some old friends said goodbye. Journalist David Broder was a columnist for The Washington Post and a longtime panelist on Meet The Press. Bing’s brother Bob Crosby had his own daytime TV show in the 1950s and guested on such classics as The Jack Benny Program and What’s My Line? Film actress Faye Emerson hosted a number of early TV talk shows and guested on others. She was also a frequent panelist on such game show classics as I’ve Got A Secret, To Tell The Truth and What’s My Line?

A comedy legend also died on March 9. George Burns starred with his wife Gracie Allen in the long-running radio and TV series Burns and Allen. He later fronted a 1964 sitcom called Wendy and Me, co-starring Connie Stevens. Burns guested on a number of classics (Alice, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, Here’s Lucy) and produced some classics too (Love That Bob, Mister Ed). He made a comeback in the 1970s, starring in big screen classics Oh God! and The Sunshine Boys.