Sunday, December 28, 2008
Richard Baer - Emmy-nommed writer Richard Baer wrote for TV shows including Leave it to Beaver, Bewitched, The Munsters, Barney Miller and M*A*S*H. He died February 22, 2008 in Santa Monica, Calif. after suffering a heart attack in January. He began his TV career on The Life of Riley, starting as an assistant and then writing several episodes. In 1960, he started working on the series Hennessey starring Jackie Cooper, earning an Emmy nomination and writing 38 episodes. Over the next 25 years, he wrote for more than 56 shows, including F-Troop, That Girl, The Doris Day Show, Love on a Rooftop, Petticoat Junction, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Archie Bunker's Place, Who's the Boss?, and The Andy Griffith Show. Mr. Baer was 79.
Henry Beckman - Character actor Henry Beckman died June 17, 2008 in Barcelona, Spain. Beckman appeared in hundreds of TV shows, films and commercials in the U.S. and Canada, often playing heavies or roles requiring accents or foreign languages. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he served in the Canadian military during WWII and survived the Normandy invasion. He guest starred in just about every show during the 1960s including Dennis the Menace, Hennesey, Dr. Kildare, Father of the Bride, My Favorite Martian, My Living Doll, The Jack Benny Program, The Munsters, Perry Mason, Adam-12, The Flying Nun, The Andy Griffith Show, The Monkees, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Twilight Zone. He had larger roles as George Anderson on Peyton Place and Colonel Harridan in McHale's Navy. He was also known for his recurring role as Captain Clancy in Here Come the Brides. Beckman later appeared in shows including The Rockford Files, Bonanza, Here's Lucy, Mannix, Gunsmoke, Marcus Welby, Ironside, Barney Miller, Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, Fantasy Island, Quincy ME, Check It Out, MacGyver, The Commish, Columbo, and MANY more. More recently, he played Detective Briggs on The X-Files and on the syndicated series Cold Squad. Mr. Beckman was 86.
Paul Benedict - Paul Benedict, the actor who played the wacky English neighbor Harry Bentley on the sitcom The Jeffersons, was found dead on December 1, 2008 at his home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. His brother, Charles, said authorities were still investigating the cause of death. Benedict began his acting career in the 1960s in the Theatre Company of Boston, alongside such future stars as Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino. Benedict went on to appear in a number of movies, including a role as the oddball director in The Goodbye Girl with Richard Dreyfuss. But he was known primarily for his role as the crazy neighbor to George Jefferson on The Jeffersons from 1975-1985. The accented speech that he used even offstage led many to assume that Benedict was British, but in fact he was born Sept. 17, 1938, in Silver City, N.M. His other TV credits include guest roles on All in the Family (the backdoor pilot episode for The Jeffersons), Maude, Harry O, Kojak, Murder She Wrote, A Different World, Tales from the Crypt, Morton & Hayes, Seinfeld, Guiding Light, The Drew Carey Show, and a recurring role on Sesame Street as "The Mad Painter" in the early 1970s. His other movie roles include After the Sunset, The Man with Two Brains, The Addams Family Movie, Cocktail, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, The Freshman, This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. On Broadway he played opposite Al Pacino in the 2-man Broadway play Hughie (by Eugene O'Neill) in mid '90s and in 2000 he played Mayor Shinn in The Music Man. Mr. Benedict was 70.
Bernie Brillstein - Bernie Brillstein, pioneering manager and producer whose keen eye for talent led him to steer the careers of such stars as John Belushi and Jim Henson, died on August 7, 2008. Brillstein had been suffering from complications stemming from double-bypass heart surgery in February. In the 1980s, the Brillstein Co. was among the first contempo talent rep shingles to branch out into TV production in a significant way with shows packaged around clients, a list that included ALF, It's Garry Shandling's Show, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and The Slap Maxwell Story. In late 1991, when Brillstein partnered with Brad Grey, who had joined Brillstein Co. in the mid-1980s as a manager, the company further expanded the scope of its film and TV operations. Brillstein-Grey Television fielded such noteworthy skeins as The Sopranos, Just Shoot Me, NewsRadio, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and The Larry Sanders Show. Brillstein-Grey Entertainment features included Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore, Jim Carrey's The Cable Guy and The Replacement Killers. Early in his career he produced popular movies such as The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, and Dragnet. He also produced the critically acclaimed series Buffalo Bill early in his career. Mr. Brillstein was 77.
George Carlin - Comedian George Carlin, a counter-culture hero famed for his routines about drugs and dirty words, died of heart failure at a Los Angeles-area hospital on June 22, 2008. Known for his edgy, provocative material, Carlin achieved status as an anti-Establishment icon in the 1970s with stand-up bits full of drug references and a routine about seven dirty words you could not say on television. A regulatory battle over a radio broadcast of his "Filthy Words" routine ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. He was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the three-decade Johnny Carson era, and was also the first person to host Saturday Night Live back in 1975...he hosted an episode again in 1984.
George Carlin got his own sitcom in 1994 on Fox called The George Carlin Show. The show only lasted 27 episodes and was about George playing New York City cab driver named George O'Grady. His other sitcom credits include guest shots on Welcome Back Kotter, That Girl and The Simpsons. Children best know him for his work on Shining Time Station as the conductor, which he spoofed in 2000 on an episode of MADtv. He was also the narrator for many years on the children's series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. His film credits include Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (which he also appeared on the animated TV series), Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Americathon, Prince of Tides, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl, Scary Movie 3 and Cars. Stand-up comedy was of course what he was best known for. He hosted about 14 HBO comedy specials and is known as one of the best stand-up comics of all-time. He died a week after being named the 2008 recipient of the Twain Prize. Mr. Carlin was 71.
Lilyan Chauvin - French-born American Actress Lilyan Chauvin passed away at her Studio City home on June 26, 2008 after a 40-year battle with breast cancer complicated by recent onset of congestive heart disease. She was not just an actress, she was also a host, DGA director, WGA writer, former VP of Women in Film, author, teacher and private coach. Nominated for the Emmy Award in The Young and the Restless her dedication to the arts won her recognition to for Excellence in moral quality media. She was also a series regular on Days of Our Lives. She held recurring roles on Mission Impossible, General Hospital and Falcon Crest. She guest starred on many series as well such as Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, One Day at a Time, Magnum P.I., Baywatch, Hart to Hart, Fantasy Island, The Bob Newhart Show, Dragnet, Adventures of Superman, Perry Mason, Friends, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, ER, Malcolm in the Middle, Alias, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The X-Files, Murder She Wrote, Frasier, USA High, The Pretender, Shashta McNasty, and recently on Ugly Betty. On the big screen, she is known for her roles in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can, the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There, Stephan Hopkins' Predator 2 and she is also widely recognized for her role as Mrs. Tremont in Private Benjamin. Ms. Chauvin was 82.
Ruth Cohen - She is notable for appearing in more episodes of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld than any other actor, with the exception of the four main stars, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Cohen played the role of the cashier in Monk's Cafe in almost every episode, mainly as an extra. The character was eventually named "Ruthie Cohen" after her. She died on August 23, 2008 of a heart attack at the age of 78, in Panorama City, California.
Bill Dial - He died of a heart attack on June 2, 2008 in South Carolina, where he moved to after retiring from the business in 2001. Bill was most known as a writer, producer, and actor on the hit sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. He wrote five episodes for this series during its first season (1978-79), the most famous of which was his first, entitled "Turkeys Away." He guest starred on the series even for a few episodes playing the station's beer-drinking engineer, Bucky Dornster. After WKRP, he wrote and/or produced series such as Harper Valley P.T.A., Legmen, Simon & Simon, E.A.R.T.H. Force, Evening Shade, and some TV movies. In 1991, Dial returned to his claim to fame as an executive producer and writer on The New WKRP in Cincinnati, a follow-up series to the 1970s sitcom. The New WKRP aired in first-run syndication for two seasons. His later credits included writing and producing Time Trax, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Team Knight Rider, Sliders, Legend, and Spike TV's 18 Wheels of Justice. Mr. Dial was 66.
Ivan Dixon - Ivan Dixon was an actor, director and producer best known for his role as Sgt. "Kinch" Kinchloe on the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes. Dixon died March 16, 2008 at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC after a hemorrhage and of complications from kidney failure. He was best known for the role of U.S. Staff Sgt. James "Kinch" Kinchloe on Hogan's Heroes, a satire set in a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Kinchloe, in charge of electronic communications, could mimic German officers on the radio or phone. He earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the 1967 CBS Playhouse special The Final War of Olly Winter. He was primarily an actor in the '60s with guest spots on many hit dramas such as Dr. Kildare, Love American Style, The Fugitive, It Takes a Thief, Ironside, Perry Mason, I Spy, and more. He didn't act much after the start of the '70s. His last acting role was in 1991 on an episode of Father Dowling Mysteries. After acting on television, he moved on to directing and directed hundreds of episodes of series, including The Waltons, The Bill Cosby Show, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, The Rockford Files, Magnum, P.I. and In the Heat of the Night. Mr. Dixon was 76.
Nina Foch - Nina Foch, the Dutch-born actress who often played cool, calculating women in films, theater and television and was a respected coach of aspiring actors and directors has died. Foch died on December 5, 2008 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center of complications from the blood disorder myelodysplasia. She became ill the week before while teaching at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. Foch had taught at USC for 40 years. What many people know about Nina is that she was the acting teacher for the late John Ritter when he attended USC from 1966-71. She taught John well and was one of her favorite students of all-time. She even worked with John on the big screen movie Blake Edwards' Skin Deep in 1989, in which John was the star. John had a supporting role in the movie Shadow of Doubt in 1998 and Nina also worked with John then. And you John Ritter fans know that Nina was interviewed in many John Ritter documentaries such as John Ritter's Biography episode. Foch's career goes back all the way to the 40s. Her lengthy television credits include Prescription: Murder in 1968, which launched the popular Columbo detective series starring Peter Falk, the miniseries War and Remembrance in 1989 and episodes of Studio One, Rawhide, Route 66, I Spy, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Mod Squad, That Girl, Hawaii Five-0, Trapper John MD, Hunter, LA Law, Murder She Wrote, Just Shoot Me, Bull, Dharma & Greg, NCIS and most recently on The Closer. She earned an Emmy nomination for best supporting actress in a drama series in 1980 for her work on an episode of Lou Grant. She was known for her film work as she earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in Executive Suite in 1954. But her dedication as an acting teacher at USC was her legacy and many actors and actresses have respect for Nina Foch. "Believe it or not, teaching is the most rewarding thing I do," Foch told United Press International in 1994. "It has been the most successful thing I've done in my life." Ms. Foch was 84 and never retired.
Beverly Garland - Beverly Garland, the actress who starred in 1950s movie cult hits like Swamp Women and Not of This Earth and who went on to play Fred MacMurray's TV wife on the family sitcom My Three Sons, died on December 5, 2008. She passed away at her Hollywood Hills home after a lengthy illness. She had a 50-year career that included 40 movies and dozens of television shows. She starred in the crime series Decoy in the late '50s as police woman Casey Jones. Garland showed her comedic chops as Bing Crosby's wife in the short-lived sitcom The Bing Crosby Show in the mid-'60s, which led her to be cast as the second wife of MacMurray's widower Steve Douglas during the last three seasons of the popular sitcom My Three Sons that aired from 1960 to 1972. Her television credits also include playing her fair share of mothers in TV series. She was Stephanie Zimbalist's mom in the 80s series Remington Steele, Kate Jackson's mom in the 80's series Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and Teri Hatcher's in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the '90s. She also had MANY other TV credits to her name such as appearing on episodes of Hawaiian Eye, The Millionaire, Perry Mason, Rawhide, The Fugitive, Here's Lucy, Gunsmoke, Mannix, Love American Style, Ironside, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Marcus Welby MD, Charlie's Angels, Trapper John MD, Hart to Hart, Magnum P.I., Hotel, Friends, Ellen, Diagnosis Murder, Teen Angel, and The Simple Life. She recurred on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as Cookie LaRue, on the ABC soap Port Charles as Estelle Reese, and as Ginger Jackson on 7th Heaven, with her last episode in 2004, as her last role. Ms. Garland was 82.
Estelle Getty - Actress Estelle Getty is best known for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the sitcom The Golden Girls. She died July 22, 2008 in Los Angeles. Estelle had been suffering from Dementia with Lewy bodies for the last 8 years or so. Estelle had been nominated for an Emmy seven times for her role on The Golden Girls, winning in 1988. She was also nominated three times for a Golden Globe, winning in 1986. Before The Golden Girls, her acting career started in 1978. She got her start in the Yiddish theater, and her most important early role was playing Harvey Fierstein's mother on Broadway in the play Torch Song Trilogy. She then moved on to films, with her most famous ones such as Tootsie (1982) and Mask (1985). She also guest starred on some series such Cagney & Lacey, Hotel, One of the Boys, and Newhart before getting The Golden Girls in 1985. During the run of The Golden Girls, she played Sophia Petrillo on other series as well. She guest starred a few times on the spin-off series Empty Nest. She also guest starred as Sophia on the sitcom Blossom in 1991, an NBC series at the time of The Golden Girls. After The Golden Girls ended in 1992 on NBC, CBS did a follow-up series called The Golden Palace, where the girls work at a hotel. Everyone came back except Bea Arthur (she did guest star a few times though). The sitcom lasted one season and also starred Don Cheadle and Cheech Marin. She once again played the role of Sophia on an episode of the Empty Nest spin-off series Nurses in 1993. She guest starred on many series not playing Sophia as well. She played herself on episodes of sitcoms such as The John Larroquette Show, The Nanny, and It's Like You Know. Other guest appearances included City, The Fanelli Boys, Touched by an Angel, Hollywood Squares, Brotherly Love, Mad About You, and Ladies Man. She continued on film as well with movies such as Stuart Little and The Million Dollar Kid. Ms. Getty was 84.
Dody Goodman - Actress Dody Goodman died June 22, 2008 at Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center. She had been ill for some time and had lived in the Actors Fund Home in Englewood since October 2007. Goodman gained a measure of newspaper column space for her dancing solos in such '40s Broadway musicals as High Button Shoes and Wonderful Town. In 1955, she stopped the show in Off Broadway's Shoestring Revue with the novelty song "Someone's Been Sending Me Flowers." She came to the attention of nighttime talkshow host Jack Paar, who after becoming enchanted by Goodman's ditzy persona and seemingly spontaneous malaprops, invited the lady to become a semi-regular on The Tonight Show. As Goodman's fame grew, she became difficult to handle on the show, and Paar was not happy with her upstaging habits. So she left show and appeared on other talk shows such as The Merv Griffin Show. She returned to Broadway in 1974 to appear in Lorelei with Carol Channing. Then in 1975 she played Louise Lasser's mother on the comedy-soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Her high-pitched voice could be also heard announcing the show's title at the beginning of each episode. She appeared on the spin-off Forever Fernwood as well. She was also famous in the '80s for her recurring role as Aunt Sophia on the '80s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. Goodman also provided the voice of Miss Miller on the animated series Alvin & the Chipmunks and various specials and movies such as The Chipmunk Adventure. She also had a role in the '80s daytime soap Texas. Her other TV credits include her first role as a waitress on The Phil Silvers Show, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Mary Tyler Moore Hour, CHiPs, Just Our Luck, St. Elsewhere, Punky Brewster, One Life to Live, Crazy Like a Fox, Bustin' Loose, Murder She Wrote, Here and Now, and Boston Common. She also appeared in the TV movie I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later. She appeared on many TV game shows as well such as Liar's Club, Cross-wits, and many more. She appeared in such popular films as Grease, Grease 2, playing Blanche (the principal's assistant), and in the movie Splash and Splash, Too. Both movie franchises are very memorable and she was a big part of them. Ms. Goodman was 93.
David Groh - David Groh best known for his role on the 1970's TV sitcom Rhoda as Rhoda's husband, died of kidney cancer on February 12, 2008 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Groh became an instant celebrity in 1974 when he starred as the easygoing Joe Gerard opposite Valerie Harper's neurotic Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off. But by the third season of Rhoda the couple divorced and he was off the show. He has also guest starred on other series (mainly dramas) such as Police Story, Fantasy Island, Trapper John MD, Buck Rogers, Hotel, Simon & Simon, Kate & Allie, Hunter, LA Law, Spenser: Fore Hire, Room for Two, Sisters, Jake and the Fatman, Melrose Place, Baywatch, Law & Order, VIP, Walker Texas Ranger, and was a regular on Black Scorpion. On daytime TV he played D.L. Brock on General Hospital in the 80s. Groh appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon's Chapter Two and in Twilight of the Golds in 1993. He also had film roles in Two-Minute Warning (1976) and A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich (1978), among others. One of his last roles was a guest appearance on the sitcom Girlfriends. Mr. Groh was only 68.
Claudio Guzman - Claudio Guzman, director and producer of the '60s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie passed away July 12, 2008 of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long illness. He was the main director of the Barba Eden-Larry Hagman sitcom I Dream of Jeannie and also served as producer for that NBC series. He helped create Villa Alegre, a half-hour show in the tradition of Sesame Street. In a career that spanned four decades, Guzman directed almost 30 TV shows, including several episodes of The Patty Duke Show in the mid-1960s and Harper Valley P.T.A. in 1981, reuniting him with Barbara Eden. His other directorial work included an episode or two of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Partridge Family, The Fugitive, Love on a Rooftop, The Flying Nun, The Good Life, California Fever and Here's Boomer. He was also an art director for many series such as The Lucy Show, Date with the Angels, The Real McCoys, Where's Raymond, December Bride, and Make Room for Daddy. He was nominated twice for a Daytime Emmy for Villa Alegre and once for a Primetime Emmy for art direction on Where's Raymond? Mr. Guzman was 80.
Earle Hagen - Earle H. Hagen, the Emmy Award-winning television composer who wrote the memorable theme music for The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy and other classic TV programs, died on May 26, 2008. He passed away at his home in Rancho Mirage, CA with wife, Laura at his side. He had been ill for several months. Mr. Hagen had been writing TV themes since 1953. He was a fixture of TV hits in the '60s writing TV themes for many popular series. In addition to the ones he was really famous for, he wrote the themes for Make Room for Daddy, Dobie Gillis, That Girl, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Mayberry RFD, The Mod Squad, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, The New Perry Mason, Eight is Enough and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. He won an Emmy in 1968 for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Compositionfor I Spy. But it was The Andy Griffith Show theme song that people most remember him for. In fact, the famous whistling is done by Mr. Hagen himself! So you can hear him in each episodes before it starts. Mr. Hagen was 88.
Isaac Hayes - Isaac Hayes, the baldheaded, baritone-voiced soul crooner who laid the groundwork for disco and whose "Theme From Shaft" won both Academy and Grammy awards, died August 10, 2008 in Memphis after he collapsed near a treadmill. Hayes was pronounced dead at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis an hour after he was found by a family member. The cause of death was not immediately known, though the area medical examiners later listed a recurrance of stroke as the cause of death. Hayes was about to begin work on a new album for Stax, the soul record label he helped build to legendary status. And he had recently finished work on a movie called Soul Men in which he played himself, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac, who died on August 9. While he was primarily a player in the music industry, Isaac had many TV roles. His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show South Park. Isaac also did voice-over work for Nick at Nite's sitcom lineup in 2001 and 2002. Isaac guest starred on series such as The A-Team, The Rockford Files, Hunter, Miami Vice, Tales from the Crypt, Sliders, Stargate: SG-1, Fastlane, Education of Max Bickford, and sitcoms such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Hugleys, Veronica's Closet, Girlfriends, The Bernie Mac Show, and That '70s Show. He was in several movies, including It Could Happen to You with Nicolas Cage, Ninth Street with Martin Sheen, Reindeer Games starring Ben Affleck and the blaxploitation parody I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka. Mr. Hayes was 65.
Neal Hefti - Neal Hefti, a TV composer who composed the memorable themes for the movie The Odd Couple and the campy hit TV series Batman, passed away on October 11, 2008. Hefti died Saturday (October 11) at his home in Toluca Lake, said his son, Paul. He did not know the cause of death, but said his father had been in good health. While known primarily as a film composer, his two TV themes are his most famous work. Among his credits as a film composer are Sex and the Single Girl, Harlow (one of his most famous tunes, "Girl Talk," came out of the score), How to Murder Your Wife, Boeing Boeing, Duel at Diablo, Barefoot in the Park, A New Leaf, Last of the Red Hot Lovers and The Odd Couple, whose theme he reprised for the 1970s ABC TV series. Hefti also gained wide notice for composing the energetic title theme for Batman, the over-the-top 1966-68 ABC superhero series that became an overnight sensation. Hefti's Batman theme became a Top 40 hit and won a 1966 Grammy Award for best instrumental theme. Hefti retired in 1976. Mr. Hefti was 85.
Bill Idelson - Bill Idelson was an actor, television writer and producer who as a teenager played the son on the classic radio show Vic and Sade and later played the recurring role of Rose Marie's mother-dominated boyfriend on TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show, died on December 31, 2007. He had been hospitalized since June 2007 after breaking his hip, died of complications from the injury at a Los Angeles hospital. Idelson appeared in episodes of dozens of television series, including Dragnet, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Will & Grace, My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, and most recently on The War at Home. He has written for a lot of TV shows too, such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, M*A*S*H, Happy Days, Punky Brewster, Bewitched, The Flintstones and many more. He was also a television producer. Among his credits are The Bob Newhart Show, Anna and the King, The McLean Stevenson Show, Love American Style and others. Mr. Idelson was 88.
Herbert Kenwith - Herbert Kenwith died January 30, 2008 in Los Angeles of complications of prostate cancer. Working for Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear's Tandem Productions, he worked as producer and director on series including Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Good Times, Sanford & Son, All That Glitters, One Day at a Time and Joe's World. He was mainly known for his directing and producing on Diff'rent Strokes and Good Times, but he also directed many other series such as Love American Style, Star Trek, Here's Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Doctors, Temperatures Rising, Too Close for Comfort, Bosom Buddies, The Brady Brides, 9 to 5, Private Benjamin, Gimme a Break!, It's Your Move and Amen. He directed the first episode of the soap opera The Young And The Restless. He did start his career as an actor on Broadway, but directing television shows was where he would end up. Mr. Kenwith had been retired from the business for quite some time. Mr. Kenwith was 90.
Harvey Korman - Harvey Korman, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to the sketch comedy The Carol Burnett Show from 1967-1978 and played a conniving politician to hilarious effect in the 1974 movie Blazing Saddles, died on May 29, 2008. Korman died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago, his family said. He had undergone several major operations. Before The Carol Burnett Show, Korman had guest appearances on various series such as Hennesey, The Danny Kaye Show, The Red Skelton Show, Surfside 6, Perry Mason, Dennis the Menace, Hazel, Gidget, The Lucy Show, The Jack Benny Show,F Troop, and The Munsters. In 1965 he landed the role as the voice of The Great Gazoo on the last season or two of The Flintstones. He appeared in the 1966 big screen movie The Man Called Flintstone as well, voicing various characters. Then in 1967 he signed on with CBS for The Carol Burnett Show. Korman's claim to fame was playing the perfect straight man to the outrageous slapstick comedy of the other actors in the cast, but mainly Burnett and fellow cast member Tim Conway. They, and the fourth member of the variety show's core ensemble, Vicki Lawrence, spoofed a number of iconic films and television series throughout the show's run. During the show, in 1976 Harvey appeared on the very first Love Boat movie in 1976. Guest stars included Florence Henderson, Tom Boslet, Don Adams, Hal Linden, Gabe Kaplan, Dick Van Patten and Cloris Leachman. After Carol Burnett ended, he had his own show called The Harvey Korman Show in 1978 on ABC opposite Christine Lahti. It didn't last long. He joined his former Carol Burnett star Tim Conway on his show The Tim Conway Show in 1980. That show was also short-lived. In 1982 he played Ed in the CBS TV movie Eunice opposite Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence, both from Carol Burnett Show. Eunice was the film which led to the series Mama's Family in 1983. Vicki Lawrence starred in the series and Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman made a handful of guest appearances as Eunice and Ed. His other guest appearances include The Love Boat (4 times from 1982-85), The Golden Palace, Garfield & Friends, Burke's Law, Ellen, Suddenly Susan, ER, and Diagnosis Murder. In 1986 he returned to series television in the short-lived CBS comedy Leo & Liz in Beverly Hills. His big screen work includes Blazing Saddles, Huckleberry Finn, Americathon, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, The Flintstones, Jingle All the Way, and Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. Mr. Korman was 81.
Ron Leavitt - Ron Leavitt was a TV writer and producer who co-created the successful Fox sitcom Married With Children. He died February 10, 2008 of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He and Michael G. Moye co-created the hit sitcom. Michael also served as the show's executive producer and helped write nearly 150 episodes. He even appeared in some episodes as a one-liner, usually the character of Jack Dallas. He was a major player in sitcoms behind the scenes. He wrote for series such as Busting Loose, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and The Bad News Bears. He wrote the pilot episode for the hit '80s sitcom Silver Spoons. He was also a producer of sitcoms such as Unhappily Ever After, Laverne & Shirley, The Jeffersons and It's Your Move. Ron also was the creator of two short-lived Married with Children spin-offs, Top of the Heap and Vinnie & Bobby, both of which starred a pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc. Ron was last seen on the short lived 2004 WB sitcom The Help as a writer and director. Mr. Leavitt was only 60.
Bob LeMond - He was the classic voice of shows like Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie & Harriet. Every week he introduced "America's Favorite Family, the Nelsons" on television. He died at his home in Bonsall, CA on January 6, 2008 of complications from dementia. In addition to those two classic sitcoms, he was the voice of Our Miss Brooks, My Friend Irma, Life With Luigi, The Red Skelton Show and Bat Masterson. He even guest starred as an announcer on two episodes of The Addams Family. From 1948 to 1951, Mr. LeMond was the announcer on Lucille Ball's radio sitcom My Favorite Husband. In 1951, he announced the pilot episode of the television show that would become I Love Lucy. Mr. LeMond retired from show business in 1971, and in 1972 he moved to Bonsall, where he became involved in real estate. I love when he says "Leave it to Beaver" then reads the cast names. Mr. LeMond was 94.
Bernie Mac - Bernie Mac, the actor and comedian who teamed up in the casino heist caper Ocean's Eleven and gained a prestigious Peabody Award for his sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, died August 9, 2008 age 50. He passed away from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital. Mac's film career started with a small role as a club doorman in the Damon Wayans comedy Mo' Money in 1992. His other film credits include Get on the Bus, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Ocean's Eleven and its two sequels, Guess Who, Bad Santa, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Transformers. His professional career began in Chicago as a stand-up comedian in 1977, at the age of 19. He was a featured comedian in the 2000 documentary, The Original Kings of Comedy, with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer. Starting in 2001, Mac was the star of The Bernie Mac Show on the Fox network, which earned two Emmy Award nominations before the show was cancelled in 2006. In addition, the show won the prestigious Peabody award in 2002, the Humanitas Prize, and three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. The sitcom was somewhat based on is life and stand-up comedy acts and ran for 5 seasons and 104 episodes. His character was ranked #47 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time." His other sitcom credits include an appearance on The Wayans Bros. and multiple episodes of Moesha as Uncle Bernie. Bernie Mac is survived by his wife Rhonda McCullough, daughter Je'Niece and granddaughter Jasmine. Mr. Mac was only 50.
Dick Martin - Dick Martin, the zany half of the comedy team whose Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In took television by storm in the 1960s, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and creating such national catch-phrases as "Sock it to me!" died on May 24, 2008. Mr. Martin died of respiratory complications at a hospital in Santa Monica. Laugh-In became an instant hit for NBC in 1968 with its anarchic energy, vaudevillian schtick and eccentric performances. Laugh-In forever changed the variety show format and heavily influenced later programs such as Saturday Night Live. The show lasted through 1973. After Laugh-In, he went on to become one of television's busiest directors after splitting with Dan Rowan in the late 1970s. He still acted on series before and after Laugh-In though...he guest starred on series such as The Lucy Show, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Coach, Blossom, Baywatch, Diagnosis Murder and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. But directing was his big trademark after Laugh-In. He directed episodes of various series including The Bob Newhart Show, Archie Bunker's Place, Flo, Family Ties, Mama's Family, Newhart, The Bradys, Bob, and In The Heat of Night. So, he directed Bob Newhart in all of his series. He was also a staple of game shows such as Password Plus, Super Password, Tattletales, Celebrity Sweepstakes, and Match Game. Mr. Martin was 86.
Allan Melvin - Veteran actor Allan Melvin died in his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, on January 17, 2008 from cancer. He appeared on many sitcoms over the years but two characters stand out--he played Sam the butcher, the boyfriend of Alice the housekeeper, on The Brady Bunch and he also played the character Barney, Archie's friend, on both All in the Family and the continuation series Archie Bunker's Place. Melvin broke into the acting business on the '50s sitcom The Phil Silvers Show as the character Cpl. Henshaw, the right-hand man to Sgt. Ernie Bilko. Among his sitcom guest shots include Green Acres, Love American Style, Mayberry RFD, The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Favorite Martian, Gomer Pyle USMC, Make Room for Daddy, McHale's Navy, and The Andy Griffith Show. Melvin also did A LOT of work in cartoons. He was the voice of Magilla Gorilla in the Hannah-Barbera series. Additionally, he played the voice of Bluto on the cartoon series Popeye. Among the other many voice-overs he did over the years were on such animated series such as TaleSpin, DuckTales, The Flintstones, Smurfs, and many more. The fine folks at Retro Television Network ran a nice tribute spot for Allan and they shared it with us for you all to see. Click here to view the tribute spot. Mr. Melvin was 85.
Mitch Mullany - He was a comic, actor and screenwriter. He died May 25, 2008 in Los Angeles from a diabetic-related stroke. Mullany started his standup career in the Bay Area in California and then appeared as a recurring character on The Wayans Bros. as White Mike. He starred in his own sitcom Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher, from 1996-98 on The WB. His only other sitcom credit was a guest appearance in 1995 on Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. In 1999 he wrote and starred in the feature film The Breaks, released by Artisan Ent. He also appeared in the feature film The Sweetest Thing starring Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair and then he hosted the short-lived ABC reality series All American Girl in 2003. Mr. Mullany was only 39.
Lois Nettleton - Two-time Emmy winning actress Lois Nettleton died on January 18, 2008 in Woodland Hills, CA, after a long bout with lung cancer. A veteran of the Broadway stage, films and television, Nettleton received Emmys for the daytime special The American Woman: Profiles in Courage in 1977 and for A Gun for Mandy in 1983 an episode of the syndicated religious anthology Insight. She received an additional three nominations as guest star in Last Bride of Salem and The Golden Girls and supporting actress in the drama In the Heat of the Night. She has guest starred on many TV series such as Crossing Jordan, Coach, Seinfeld, Murder She Wrote, Full House, Mr. Belvedere, The Facts of Life, Hotel, Cagney & Lacey, Trapper John MD, The Love Boat, The Streets of San Francisco, Petroceli, Medical Center, Hawaii Five-0, Kung Fu, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and so many more. She was also a familiar face to the game show community, appearing on many game shows such as $10,000 Pyramid and Cross-wits. Ms. Nettleton was 80.
Suzanne Pleshette - She was best known for her role as Bob Newhart's wife on television's long-running The Bob Newhart Show in which she earned two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She died on January 19, 2008, just days before she was to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television on January 31, 2008. Pleshette underwent chemotherapy for lung cancer in 2006 and she died of respiratory failure at her Los Angeles home. The beautiful, husky-voiced actress had a prolific TV career in such series in guest roles such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ben Casey, The Fugitive, Love, American Style, Gunsmoke, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Bonanza, 8 Simple Rules, Good Morning Miami and Will & Grace. She earned an Emmy nomination for her guest role on Dr. Kildare in 1962. She reunited with Bob Newhart on his '80s series in the series finale of Newhart in 1990. The series finale of Newhart was among the best of all-time with a shocking plot. She also appeared on Broadway and in films, such as the popular Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds. She was also nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her role in the CBS TV movie Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean which won its timeslot in the ratings. She married Tom Poston of Newhart in 2001 after knowing him for over 30 years. Unfortunately Tom passed away in 2007 just months after she started chemotherapy. Ms. Pleshette was just 70 years old and just days away from her 71st birthday (Jan. 31).
Dave Powers - Dave Powers passed away on July 3, 2008, in Rancho Mirage, CA, after a hard fought battle with skin cancer. He began his career in television in 1951, when he was employed by CBS as an usher at KNXT, working on the Dinah Shore Show. In 1956, while working in the cue card department on The Bob Crosby Show at CBS Television City, he was promoted to Stage Manager and joined the Director's Guild of America, where he would be a Guild member for the next fifty-seven years. Dave got his biggest break when he became the director of The Carol Burnett Show in 1968. During that time, he was nominated eleven times by the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and won four primetime Emmy Awards for "Best Director" in 1974, 1975, 1977 and 1978. In addition to directing The Carol Burnett Show for ten years he was also the director on Three's Company for six seasons starting in 1978 and Mama's Family for four years, reuniting himself with Vicki Lawrence (and Carol Burnett a few times).
We got word on July 9 of Dave's passing from my friend and author of Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company (and now of Retroality.TV) Chris Mann, that Dave had passed away on July 3. It wasn't officially released until July 16. Chris heard from Joyce DeWitt (Janet on Three's Company) who heard from Priscilla Barnes (Terri on Three's Company). Chris had some very nice things to say about Dave that I must share with you all, "He was a good man, very beloved and enormously talented. Not only is he responsible for so much of Three's Company's under-appreciated signature slapstick style, he was rightly hailed in the industry for his work with Carol Burnett and company. He was always a gentleman during his Three's Company book and DVD interviews, and he clearly loved the Three's Company "kids" -- John Ritter especially -- as much as they loved him." Chris also said, "In his home office he displayed autographed photos of Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence and Suzanne Somers in a classic Chrissy pose. "Those are my three ladies," he told me proudly. Also, John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Richard Kline, Don Knotts, Norman Fell, Audra Lindley et al always sang his praises. He will be deeply missed."
Dave also directed many episodes of both of the Three's Company spin-off shows, The Ropers and Three's a Crowd. After Mama's Family and a Carol Burnett Reunion Show, Dave retired from the business in the late '80s/early '90s. After retirement Dave and his wife Georgette made a fun and rewarding hobby of owning and restoring antique and classic wooden boats which they housed and used at their Big Bear Lake home. Mr. Powers was 75.
Mark Tuttle - Mark Tuttle passed away near his greater Los Angeles-area home on June 2, 2008. Mark's active and successful career as a screenwriter, producer and actor spanned more than 50 years after his start at Filmways in 1957. He wrote and co-produced during six years with The Beverly Hillbillies, and also was on the staff for shows such as the Three's Company, The Facts of Life, Private Benjamin, and Three's a Crowd. Tuttle also wrote an episode or two of series such as 227, What's Happening Now!!, The Practice (NBC), Oh Madeline, What a Country, The Harvey Korman Show, Petticoat Junction and The Tim Conway Show. He wrote over 200 episodes of series television. A tribute website was created by his family, check it out at marktuttle.info. Mr. Tuttle was 73.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (August)
08/04 - The Comeback - The Complete Series
08/04 - I Love Lucy - Ultimate Season 2 (Blu-ray)
08/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - Season Three
08/11 - The Jeffersons - Season Eight
08/11 - Maude - The Complete Second Season
08/11 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fourth Season
08/11 - The Jeff Foxworthy Show - The COmplete Series (Mill Creek)
08/18 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Fifth Season
08/18 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Final (Fourth) Season
08/25 - King of the Hill - The Complete 11th Season
08/25 - The Mindy Project - Season Three
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Saturday, August 29
Monday, August 31
- Victoria Justice (Victorious/Zoey 101) - Watch Victoria on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Roseanne Barr (Roseanne) - Roseanne stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi is a panelist and musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Melora Hardin (Transparent/Wedding Band/The Office) - Melora is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Amy Landecker (Transparent) - Amy will be on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Abby Elliott (Odd Mom Out) - Abby appears on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Tim Conway (McHale's Navy/Rango) - Tim is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) and Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Cedric and Niecy are guests on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) and David Walton (About a Boy/Bent/Perfect Couples) - Jeremy and David talk about their new film Break Point on NBC's Today in the 9am hour, on the AOL Build Show, on SI Now and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.