Saying Goodbye to More Old Friends

We’ve lost a lot of familiar classic TV faces this year. Recently we bade farewell to…

  • Screenwriter-author William Bast, who wrote episodes of classic series like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ben Casey, Combat!, Outer Limits and Perry Mason. Bast also penned two biographies about big screen legend James Dean
  • Joanne Carson, the second wife of late night icon Johnny Carson. She also hosted her own syndicated health-focused talk show
  • Actor-comedian Jack Carter, who guested on numerous classics including CHiPs, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, Love American Style, Mannix and The Wild Wild West. He also appeared as himself on many popular game and talk shows of the 60s, 70s and 80s
  • Actor John Colenback, who portrayed Dan Stewart on the long-running CBS daytime soap As The World Turns
  • Actor John Compton, who appeared on many early TV shows like The Cisco Kid, The D.A.’s Man, Fury, The Real McCoys and Surfside 6
  • Television news executive Ed Fouhy, who worked at all three networks in the 70s and 80s
  • TV syndicator Michael King who, alongside his brother Roger, inherited King World Productions. Their father started the company in the 60s by repackaging The Our Gang comedies as The Little Rascals. The King brothers went on to syndicate such modern classics as Jeopardy!, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Wheel of Fortune. They sold the company to CBS in 2000
  • Veteran British actor Christopher Lee, well known for his big screen roles as Dracula, James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga and the wizard Saruman in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Lee also appeared on the small screen, including roles on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, How the West Was Won, One Step Beyond and Space: 1999
  • Singer-actress Monica Lewis, the voice of Miss Chiquita Banana in a long-running series of TV commercials (never put bananas in the refrigerator!)
  • English-American actor Patrick Macnee, who played secret agent John Steed in the classic 1960s British spy-fi series The Avengers
  • Actress-comedienne Anne Meara, wife of comedy partner Jerry Stiller and mother of actor Ben Stiller. Anne starred in her own short lived 1975 mystery series Kate McShane. She was later a regular on Archie Bunker’s Place and had recurring roles on ALF and The King of Queens
  • British actor Ron Moody (Fagin in Oliver!), who guested on such American shows as Gunsmoke, Hart to Hart and Starsky & Hutch
  • Actress Betsy Palmer, who appeared on many early television series including Climax!, Goodyear Playhouse and The United States Steel Hour. She was also a panelist on the long-running quiz show I’ve Got A Secret. Palmer is perhaps best known to modern audiences for her role as Mrs. Voorhees, Jason’s mother on the classic 1980 horror film Friday the 13th.
  • Marty Paseta, longtime director of The Academy Awards
  • Producer Harry R. Sherman, who worked on late 1960s sitcoms Get Smart, The Good Guys and The Governor and J.J.
  • Actor John Stephenson, best known as the voice of Fred’s boss Mr. Slate on the classic stone age cartoon The Flintstones. He also guested on such shows as The Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle USMC, I Love Lucy, The Lone Ranger and Perry Mason
  • Writer-producer Chris Thompson, who got his start writing an episode of the short-lived Nancy Walker sitcom Blansky’s Beauties (1977). He went on to work on 70s-80s sitcoms Bosom Buddies and Laverne & Shirley. He most recently was creator of a Disney Channel sitcom called Shake It Up!
  • Actor Dick Van Patten, best known for his role as patriarch Tom Bradford on the family series Eight Is Enough (1977-81). His first big television role was on the 1949-67 comedy series Mama, later guesting on numerous classic shows of the 60s and 70s.

RIP, Classic TV Friends

Over the past few months, we’ve lost many friends who have brought us countless classic TV memories. Your work in front of and behind the camera will never be forgotten…

  • Bill Arhos, founder of the long-running PBS music performance series Austin City Limits
  • Director-producer Richard Bare, best known for his work on the 1965-71 Eddie Albert sitcom Green Acres. He also directed the classic Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” Bare lived to the ripe old age of 101
  • Television and film producer Harve Bennett, who worked on such classics as The Bionic Woman, The Mod Squad and The Six Million Dollar Man
  • Veteran character actor James Best, who guested on numerous classic TV shows including The Andy Griffith Show, Perry Mason, Rawhide and The Twilight Zone. His most memorable role was as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Actress Lynn Borden, best known for her role as Barbara Baxter on the final season of the 1960s Shirley Booth sitcom Hazel
  • News reporter Stan Chambers, who worked for KTLA-TV 5 Los Angeles for an incredible 63 years (1947-2010). He is credited with the first live coverage of a breaking news story, a child trapped in an abandoned well back in 1949
  • Former child actress Suzanne Crough, who played the youngest member (Tracy) of the early 1970s sitcom brood The Partridge Family
  • Radio, television and advertising legend Stan Freberg. He got his start as a voice actor on classic Warner Bros. cartoons, then later hosted his own satirical radio series. His advertising work included memorable campaigns for Contadina Tomato Paste, Jeno’s Pizza Rolls and Sunsweet Pitted Prunes
  • Singer-actress Lesley Gore. She guested as one of Catwoman’s minions in the 1960s Batman series
  • Stage, film and television director Walter Grauman, known for his multi-decade work on classics like The Fugitive, Murder She Wrote, Route 66, The Streets of San Francisco and The Twilight Zone
  • Actor Geoffrey Lewis, perhaps best known for his roles in numerous Clint Eastwood movies. He also guested on classic TV shows like Bonanza, Cannon and Mannix. Lewis was a regular on the Alice spinoff series Flo (1980). His daughter is film actress Juliette Lewis
  • Screenwriter Don Mankiewicz, who penned episodes of classic series like Ironside, McMillan and Wife, One Step Beyond and Star Trek
  • Writer-producer Jenna McMahon, writer for The Carol Burnett Show and co-creator of such sitcoms as The Facts of Life, It’s a Living and Mama’s Family
  • Actress and game show panelist Jayne Meadows (I’ve Got A Secret, What’s My Line?) She was also the older sister of the late actress Audrey Meadows (The Honeymooners) and the widow of comedian Steve Allen, the original host of The Tonight Show
  • Actor Leonard Nimoy, forever known as the iconic character Mr. Spock on Star Trek. He was also in the cast of Mission: Impossible and later hosted the syndicated documentary series In Search Of…
  • Disc jockey and voice artist Gary Owens, best known for his work on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. He also voiced cartoon character Space Ghost and most recently served as the voice of classic TV diginet Antenna TV
  • Eugene Patton, one-time NBC stagehand who gained fame as Gene Gene The Dancing Machine on the 1970’s talent search game show The Gong Show
  • Advertising executive Rudolph Perz, creator of the Pillsbury Doughboy character
  • Actor Ben Powers, best known as Keith Anderson, Thelma’s husband on the 1970s sitcom Good Times
  • Veteran CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, who covered such historic events as the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War
  • Producer-director Sam Simon, co-creator of the modern animated classic The Simpsons. He got his start working as a storyboard artist and writer on several 1970s Saturday morning cartoons (The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids)
  • Actress-socialite Betsy von Furstenberg, who guested on such classic series as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Have Gun-Will Travel. She later appeared on daytime dramas Another World and As The World Turns
  • Actress Grace Lee Whitney, Yeoman Janice Rand on the original Star Trek TV series and several subsequent films

Farewell, Classic TV Friends

We’ve lost nearly two dozen classic TV contributors over the past few months. Let’s take a moment to remember…

  • Director Larry Auerbach, best known for his work on CBS daytime drama Love of Life
  • Radio, film and TV producer Howard G. Barnes worked on such classic CBS shows as Route 66, Rawhide and Twilight Zone
  • Actor Booth Colman guested on TV shows from the 1950s to the 2000s. He appeared on such classics as Bonanza, Mannix, Perry Mason and The Untouchables. Colman played Zaius on the short-lived 1974 TV series Planet of the Apes
  • Actress and singer Donna Douglas, forever remembered as Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies
  • New York television personality Joe Franklin, who hosted a long-running talk show on WOR-TV
  • Actor Edward Herrmann, who played President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in several 1970s made-for-TV movies and guested on M*A*S*H. His best known role was as Richard Gilmore on the 2000-2007 series Gilmore Girls
  • Las Vegas producer Stan Irwin, who managed such celebrities as Pearl Bailey, Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles and late night legend Johnny Carson
  • Wes Kenney, long-time producer-director of daytime soaps Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless
  • Film and TV production designer Robert Kinoshita, the man who brought us Robot on Irwin Allen’s sci-fi classic Lost in Space
  • Producer-writer Glen A. Larson, the creator of such 1970s and 80s classics as Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I. and Quincy, M.E.
  • 1959 Miss America-turned-actress Mary Ann Mobley, who guested on Burke’s Law, Love American Style and Perry Mason. She was the widow of actor Gary Collins
  • Another Miss America Bess Myerson (1945), who was a panelist on classic game show I’ve Got A Secret and later launched a career in New York City politics
  • Producer-director Arthur Rankin Jr., who teamed up with Jules Bass to create such perennial animated holiday classics as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
  • Film director Joseph Sargent (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, White Lightning), a one-time actor who directed such TV classics as The Invaders, Lassie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek
  • Actor Richard Schaal, who made numerous guest appearance on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was once married to actress Valerie Harper (Rhoda). His daughter Wendy was a regular on early 1980s sitcom It’s A Living and currently does voice work on American Dad
  • Film noir actress Lizabeth Scott, who later guested on Burke’s Law and Studio 57
  • Long-time ABC executive Brandon Stoddard, best-known for developing the miniseries Rich Man Poor Man and Roots
  • Aussie film and TV actor Rod Taylor (The Birds, The Time Machine), who starred in short-lived TV series Bearcats!, Hong Kong and The Oregon Trail
  • Sport producer Tony Verna, the man credited with creating the instant replay back in 1963
  • Former child actor Ken Weatherwax. He played Pugsley, the son of Morticia and Gomez on the classic 1960s comedy The Addams Family

Obit: Marcia Strassman

Actress Marcia Strassman has passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.

Strassman guested on a number of classic TV shows including Ironside, The Love Boat, Marcus Welby M.D. and The Patty Duke Show. She had a recurring role as Nurse Margie Cutler on M*A*S*H, but is best known for playing Gabe Kaplan’s wife Julie on the 1975-79 sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

Strassman died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, California. She was 66 years old.

Tuned In: Catching Up

It’s been awhile since my last post, so let’s get caught up on some classic TV news:

  • Weigel Broadcasting has launched a spinoff of its popular diginet MeTV Network. H&I (Heroes and Icons) showcases action, police and western programming, including Batman, Kung Fu, The Untouchables and The Wild Wild West. It is currently available on the digital subchannels of Weigel stations in Chicago, Milwaukee and South Bend IN.
  • Speaking of digital broadcast networks, Grit TV will soon increase its coverage to nearly 75% of United States TV households. Sinclair Broadcast Group is adding the male-focused diginet to 47 stations across the country, including stations in Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Nashville. Grit airs mostly action and adventure movies from such studios as Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros.
  • Classic TV diginet MeTV is adding 5 new affiliates to its network. They include WHIO Dayton OH, WJRT Flint MI, KEZI Eugene OR, KERO Bakersfield CA and WKTV Utica NY. The total number of MeTV affiliates is now 166, reaching 92% of the U.S.
  • CBS is now offering a subscription streaming service that includes most current programs and a number of classics from the CBS library. CBS All Access claims to offer over 6,500 episodes, including such classic shows as The Andy Griffith Show, The Brady Bunch, Hawaii Five-O, I Love Lucy, Mission: Impossible, Perry Mason, Star Trek, Taxi and The Twilight Zone. The service costs $5.99 a month.
  • We said goodbye to several classic TV friends within the past month. Actress Polly Bergen guested on such classic shows as Dr. Kildare, The Love Boat and Wagon Train. She was a panelist on the original version of To Tell The Truth and most recently had a recurring role on the ABC drama Desperate Housewives. Bergen is perhaps best known for her role as Gregory Peck’s wife in the 1962 film Cape Fear. Also passing away recently: writer Sam Hall (he wrote for ABC daytime dramas Dark Shadows and One Life to Live) and actor-director Geoffrey Holder. Holder guested on It Takes A Thief and Tarzan (starring Ron Ely), but many remember him for his role in a series of commercials for the soft drink 7UP.

Tuned In: Movies! Expands Reach

  • Classic movie diginet Movies! is coming to nine more cities, bringing its coverage to over 50% of the U.S. The new affiliates include KQCA Sacramento, WBGN Pittsburgh, KCWE Kansas City, WYFF Greenville SC, WBKI Louisville KY, WUWB Flint MI, WPME Portland ME, KOLO Reno NV and WURO Traverse City MI. Several of the stations have already launched Movies! with the rest scheduled to go live by January. Movies! is a joint venture of Weigel Communications (MeTV) and Fox Television Stations.
  • We lost several more classic TV contributors recently. Longtime TV writer-director Theodore J. Flicker worked on such series as The Andy Griffith Show, I Dream of Jeannie and Night Gallery. He was also creator of the 1970s cop comedy Barney Miller. Writer Lee Maddux got his start on the 1970s Sid & Marty Krofft series Wonderbug. He later penned episodes of Benson, In The Heat of the Night, Night Court and Scarecrow & Mrs. King.

Obits: Richard Kiel, Denny Miller

Two classic TV actors passed away in recent days.

Richard Kiel appeared on such classic shows as Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Land of the Lost, The Rifleman, The Twilight Zone and The Wild Wild West. He was also a regular on the short-lived 1975 William Shatner comedy-western series Barbary Coast.

Kiel was perhaps best-known for his role as Jaws in several James Bond movies back in the 1970s. He died Wednesday in Fresno, California at age 74.

Denny Miller played the first blond Tarzan in the 1959 movie Tarzan the Ape Man and was later in the cast of the long-running western series Wagon Train. Miller made numerous guest appearances on TV classics including The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-0, The Rifleman, The Rockford Files and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Miller also played Juliet Prowse’s husband in the 1965 sitcom Mona McCluskey. He passed away Tuesday in Las Vegas at age 80.

Obit: Joan Rivers

Comedienne Joan Rivers has died.

Rivers first rose to fame in a 1965 guest appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, later going on to be a guest host of the NBC franchise. She guested on such 1970s classics as The Carol Burnett Show and The Hollywood Squares (see a 1970 appearance below). In 1986, she hosted a short-lived late night competitor (The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers) on the fledgling Fox network.

Joan Rivers passed away today in New York. She was 81 years old.

Obit: Don Pardo

Legendary NBC voice Don Pardo has passed away.

Pardo was best-known as the announcer for Saturday Night Live from its 1975 launch until 2014, except for the 1981-82 season. Prior to SNL, Pardo was the announcer for a number of game shows, including Jackpot, The Price Is Right, Three on a Match, Winning Streak and, most famously, the Art Fleming hosted version of Jeopardy!

Pardo died Monday in Tucson, Arizona. He was 96 years old.

Obit: Robin Williams

Actor Robin Williams has been found dead in California.

The 63 year old stand-up comic and film actor appeared in such movies as Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Hook, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Night At The Museum and Popeye. Classic TV fans know him best as alien Mork from Ork on the 1970s ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy.

Williams most recently starred in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones.