Monday, December 31, 2018

In Memoriam: Remembering the Sitcom Stars We Lost in 2018

Today we remember the sitcom actors, actresses, producers, directors, writers, composers and other crew members who died in 2018. We lost stars from The Bob Newhart Show, Coach, Dave's World, Diff'rent Strokes, Evening Shade, F Troop, The Facts of Life, Frasier, Grace Under Fire, I Dream of Jeannie, Laverne & Shirley, M*A*S*H, Mad About You, Mama's Family, Mayberry R.F.D., Night Court, One Day at a Time, Soap, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Three's a Crowd and many more who are greatly missed. We thank them for the laughter and entertainment they brought us over the years.

Names are listed in alphabetical order by surname. Visit the IMDB and Wikipedia links for a full listing of their credits and other biographical information. View video interviews at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television links.


Harry Anderson

Harry Anderson (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor, comedian and magician Harry Anderson starred as Judge Harry T. Stone in Night Court. He died on April 16, 2018, in his sleep of a stroke due to influenza and heart disease at his home in Asheville, North Carolina. Mr. Anderson was 65.

Anderson's early television career included an appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live on October 17, 1981. He made a total of eight appearances as himself on the series through 1985. He appeared in the recurring role of the con man Harry "The Hat" Gittes in six episodes of NBC's Cheers from 1982 to 1993.

He was best known for his role as Judge Harry T. Stone in the 1984-1992 NBC sitcom Night Court. Harold T. "Harry" Stone was a young, blue-jeaned judge who presided over a Manhattan municipal court, Criminal Court Part 2. He was an amateur magician. Harry Stone was a fan of actress Jean Harlow and crooner Mel Tormé, who made many guest appearances in the series. The popular series ran for nine seasons and 193 episodes. The series also starred John Larroquette, Richard Moll, Selma Diamond (1984-1985), Florence Halop (1985-1986), Charles Robinson, Markie Post (1985-1992), Marsha Warfield and Ellen Foley (1984-1985). Anderson received three consecutive Emmy nominations Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 1985, 1986 and 1987. He also directed two episodes and worked as a writer on five episodes of the series. Anderson reunited with Post and Robinson in a 2008 episode of 30 Rock titled "The One with the Cast of Night Court".

Anderson next starred as Miami syndicated newspaper columnist Dave Barry in the 1993-1997 CBS sitcom Dave's World. The series was based on the writing of Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry. It starred DeLane Matthews, Meschach Taylor, Shadoe Stevens, J.C. Wendel, Zane Carney, Andrew Ducote, Patrick Warburton (1994-1997), Shannon Sharp (1993), Angell Conwell (1994-1995) and Tammy Lauren (1994-1995). Anderson also worked as a writer on five episodes. He made a cameo appearance as Dave Barry in a March 1994 crossover episode of Hearts Afire.

He played the role of the adult Richie Tozier in the 1990 ABC miniseries It. His film credits included 1982's The Escape Artist and 2014's A Matter of Faith. In 2006, he was interviewed for the documentary Hexing Hurricane, which was about the effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. Anderson lived in New Orleans from 2002 to 2006.

Some of his television guest appearances included Tales from the Darkside, Tanner '88, D.C. Follies, Tales from the Crypt, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Night Stand with Dick Dietrick, The John Larroquette Show, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Noddy and Son of the Beach. He appeared as himself in episodes of the comedy specials Comedy Bang! Bang! in 2013 and Gotham Comedy Live in 2014.

Anderson was also known for his work as a magician, which he toured as extensively. He did several magic/comedy shows for broadcast, including Harry Anderson's Sideshow in 1987 and Harry Anderson: The Tricks of His Trade in 1996. He appeared with Criss Angel in a TV special called The Science of Magic in 1997.


Stanley Anderson

Stanley Anderson (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Stanley Anderson appeared as Drew Carey's father in The Drew Carey Show. He died of brain cancer on June 24, 2018, in Santa Rosa, California. Mr. Anderson was 78.

Anderson played Drew Carey's father, George Carey, in ten episodes of The Drew Carey Show from 1995 to 2004. Some of his other sitcom guest appearances Seinfeld (as Judge Vandelay) and Just Shoot Me!.

He starred as Bud Bartkus in the 1996-1997 ABC drama Dangerous Minds.


Ethel Ayler

Ethel Ayler (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress Ethel Ayler appeared as Claire Huxtable's mother in The Cosby Show. She died on November 18, 2018, in Loma Linda, California. Ms. Ayler was 88.

Ayler appeared as Carrie Hanks, Claire Huxtable's (Phylicia Rashad) mother, in six episodes of The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.

Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included Day by Day, Family Ties, Martin, Sister, Sister, Friends, Girlfriends and Out of Practice.


Patricia Benoit

Patricia Benoit (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress Patricia Benoit starred as Nancy Remington in Mister Peepers. She died on August 6, 2018, in Port Chester, New York. Ms. Benoit was 91.

Benoit played Nancy Remington, the school nurse and Robinson Peepers' (Wally Cox) sweetheart and eventual wife, in the 1952-1955 NBC sitcom Mister Peepers.

Her other television guest appearances included Believe It or Not, Repertory Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, The Doctor, Studio One in Hollywood, Ponds Theater, Appointment with Adventure, Producers' Showcase, The Alcoa Hour, The United States Steel Hour, As the World Turns and The Doctors and the Nurses.


Ken Berry

Ken Berry (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Actor Ken Berry starred in F Troop, Mayberry R.F.D. and Mama's Family. He died on December 1, 2018, in Burbank, California. Mr. Berry was 85.

Berry's early television guest appearances included Talent Patrol, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, Playboy's Penthouse and Harrigan and Son. He had a recurring role as Woody, a bellhop at a New York hotel called the Bartley House, in the CBS sitcom The Ann Sothern Show from 1960 to 1961. He appeared in seven episodes of Ensign O'Toole as Calucci / Lt. Melton from 1962 to 1963. Some of his other 1960s sitcom guest appearances included The Jim Backus Show, Peter Loves Mary, Hennesey, The Gertrude Berg Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show (two episodes), Hazel, No Time for Sergeants (three episodes), The Lucy Show and The Andy Griffith Show (four episodes as Sam Jones).

His first sitcom starring role was as Captain Wilton Parmenter in the 1965-1967 ABC sitcom F Troop. He was the gallant although laughably clumsy military governor of the territory and commander of Fort Courage. The series, which ran for two seasons, also starred Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Melody Patterson, Frank de Kova, Don Diamond, James Hampton, Bob Steele and Joe Brooks.

He appeared in the last few episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as Sam Jones, a widowed farmer with a young son, in 1968. Berry continued to play the character in the spin-off series Mayberry R.F.D., which premiered on CBS on September 23, 1968. It ran for three seasons and 78 episodes until the rural purge of 1971. The series also starred Frances Bavier (1968-1970), George Lindsay, Jack Dodson, Paul Hartman, Arlene Golonka, Buddy Foster and Alice Ghostley.

Berry had a long working relationship with Carol Burnett. He made 19 guest appearances on The Carol Burnett Show from 1968 to 1978. They appeared together in the 1972 CBS color remake of Burnett's Broadway hit, Once Upon a Mattress. He played Phillip, Eunice's brother, in the 1982 CBS TV movie Eunice, which was based on The Carol Burnett Show sketch, The Family.

He starred as Vinton Harper in Mama's Family, which was a spin-off from The Carol Burnett Show. Vinton was the youngest of Thelma Harper's three children. He was married to Naomi Oates Harper. The series aired for two seasons on NBC from 1983 to 1984 and four seasons in first-run syndication from 1986 to 1990. It starred Vicki Lawrence, Rue McClanahan (1983-1984), Dorothy Lyman, Eric Brown (1983-1984), Karin Argoud (1983-1984), Betty White (1983-1984, 1986), Allan Kayser (1986-1990) and Beverly Archer (1986-1990).

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included Love, American Style, The Brady Bunch, The Love Boat, Gimme a Break!, Small Wonder, The Golden Girls and Maggie Winters.

He appeared in television dramas. He provided comic relief as Dr. John Kapish in 25 episodes of Dr. Kildare, which starred Richard Chamberlain, from 1961 to 1964. Some of his drama guest appearances included Michael Shayne, General Electric Theatre, Mr. Novak, Burke's Law, Combat!, The Rogues, Rawhide, 12 O'Clock High, Medical Center, Ellery Queen, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, Little House on the Prairie, CHiPs and Fantasy Island.

Some of his film credits included the 1969 musical comedy Hello Down There, Guardian of the Wilderness and Disney's Herbie Rides Again and The Cat from Outer Space.

Berry was also an accomplished dancer and singer. He appeared on Broadway in The Billy Barnes Revue and headlined as George M. Cohan in the musical George M!. Some of his other theater credits included The Music Man, I Do! I Do!, Sugar and 1993's From the Top with Carol Burnett. In 1970, he released an album called Ken Berry RFD. He appeared in two episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1964 as dance instructor Tony Daniels. He had his own short-lived summer musical variety series called The Ken Berry "Wow" Show on ABC in 1972. He worked as a choreographer on several episodes of Mama's Family.


John D. F. Black

John D. F. Black (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Screenwriter, producer and director John D. F. Black worked on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He died of natural causes on November 29, 2018, at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. Mr. Black was 85.

Black wrote episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bill Cosby Show and Room 222. Some of his drama writing credits included Lawman, The Untouchables, Mr. Novak, Laredo, The F.B.I., Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, Charlie's Angels, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Murder, She Wrote. He was the associate producer for ten episodes of Star Trek made during the program's first season.


Scotty Bloch

Scotty Bloch (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress Scotty Bloch appeared in Kate & Allie as Allie Lowell's mother. She died on September 15, 2018, in Niantic, Connecticut. Ms. Bloch was 93.

Bloch appeared in three episodes as Joan, Allie Lowell's (Jane Curtin) mother, from 1987 to 1988. The series also starred Susan Saint James, Ari Meyers, Frederick Koehler and Allison Smith.

Some of her other television guest appearances included The Doctors, American Playhouse, Kay O'Brien, Tribeca, Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.


Steven Bochco

Steven Bochco (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Television producer and writer Steven Bochco developed Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D. and NYPD Blue. He died peacefully in his sleep at his Pacific Palisades, California, home from leukemia on April 1, 2018. Mr. Bochco was 74.

Bochco's television career began with Universal Pictures as a writer and story editor. Some of his early credits included The Name of the Game, Griff, The Invisible Man, Delvecchio, McMillan & Wife, Ironside and Columbo. He received two Emmy nominations for his work on Columbo in 1972 and 1973.

In 1978, he created the short-lived NBC detective drama Richie Brockelman, Private Eye with Stephen J. Cannell. He created the short-lived 1979-1980 CBS police drama Paris. The series was notable as the first series on which James Earl Jones played a lead role. It also starred Lee Chamberlain, Hank Garrett, Cecilia Hart, Jake Mitchell, Mike Warren and Frank Ramirez.

Bochco and Michael Kozoll created the NBC police drama Hill Street Blues in 1981. He also worked as a writer and producer on the series. The series aired for 7 seasons until 1987. It starred Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Conrad (1981-1984), Michael Warren, Charles Haid, Veronica Hamel, Bruce Wietz, Kiel Martin, Taurean Blacque, James Sikking, Joe Spano, Betty Thomas, Barbara Bosson (1981-1986) and Ed Marinaro (1981-1986). The show received a total of 98 Emmy nominations during its run. Bochco won 6 Emmy Awards for his work on the series: Outstanding Drama Series in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984 and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series in 1981 and 1982.

He created the NBC legal drama L.A. Law with Terry Louise Fisher in 1986. The series ran for 8 seasons until 1994. It starred Richard Dysart, Alan Rachins, Harry Hamlin (1986-1991), Susan Dey (1986-1992), Jill Eikenberry, Corbin Bernsen, Michael Tucker, Jimmy Smits (1986-1991), Michele Greene (1986-1991), Susan Ruttan (1986-1993), Larry Drake (1987-1994) and Blair Underwood (1987-1994). The series won 15 Emmy Awards throughout its run. Bochco won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series in 1987 and 1989 and for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series in 1987.

Bochco and Fisher created the ABC dramedy Hooperman in 1987. The series ran for 2 seasons and 42 episodes. It starred John Ritter, Debrah Farentino, Barbara Bosson, Clarence Felder, Sydney Walsh, Joseph Gian, Felton Perry, Alix Elias, Paul Linke (1988-1989) and Rod Gist (1988-1989).

He created the ABC sitcom/medical drama Doogie Howser, M.D. with David E. Kelley in 1989. The series ran for 4 seasons and 97 episodes. It starred Neil Patrick Harris, Max Casella, Belinda Montgomery, Lawrence Pressman, Mitchell Anderson (1989-1991), Kathryn Layng, Lisa Dean Ryan (1989-1992), Lucy Boryer (1989-1992), Markus Redmond (1990-1993) and James B. Sikking.

Bochco and David Milch created the gritty police drama NYPD Blue for ABC in 1993. The critically acclaimed series ran for 12 seasons until 2005. It starred Dennis Franz, David Caruso (1993-1994), James McDaniel (1993-2001), Nicholas Turturro (1993-2000), Gordon Clapp (1994-2005), Jimmy Smits (1994-1998), Kim Delaney (1995-2001), Bill Brochtrup (1999-2005), Henry Simmons (2000-2005), Charlotte Ross (2001-2004), Esai Morales (2001-2004), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (2001-2005) and Jacqueline Obradors (2001-2005). The series received 84 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning 20 of them. Bochco won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1995.

Some of his other created or produced series included Bay City Blues (1983), Cop Rock (1990), Civil Wars (1991-1993), Capitol Critters (1992), The Byrds of Paradise (1994), Public Morals (1996), Murder One (1995-1997), Brooklyn South (1997-1998), City of Angels (2000), Philly (2001-2002), Blind Justice (2005), Over There (2005), Commander in Chief (2005-2006), Raising the Bar (2008-2009) and Murder in the First (2014-2016).


Frank Buxton

Frank Buxton (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor, writer and producer Frank Buxton worked for Paramount Television. He died on January 2, 2018, in Bainbridge Island, Washington, from heart-related issues. Mr. Buxton was 87.

He directed episodes of Love, American Style, The Odd Couple, Happy Days and Mork & Mindy. His sitcom writing credits included Love, American Style, The Bob Newhart Show, The Odd Couple, Happy Days and One Day at a Time. Some of his voice credits included Batfink, Garfield and Friends, the All-New Dennis the Menace and The Garfield Show.


Joseph Campanella

Joseph Campanella (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Character actor Joseph Campanella played Ann Romano's ex-husband, Ed Cooper, in One Day at a Time. He died on May 16, 2018, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, of complications from Parkinson's disease. Mr. Campanella was 93.

Campanella appeared as Ed Cooper, the ex-husband of Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin), in eight episodes of One Day at a Time from 1976 to 1982. While Ann resumed the use of her maiden name, Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) used their father's last name.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included Captain Nice, The Doris Day Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Brady Brides, The Love Boat, The Golden Girls and Mama's Family.

His work on television was primarily in dramas. He starred as Dr. Ted Steffen in the CBS medical drama The Doctors and the Nurses in 1964-1965. He appeared as attorney Brian Darrell in The Bold Ones: The Lawyers from 1969 to 1972. Campanella starred as Leo Wickersham, Joe Mannix's (Mike Connors) boss, in the first season of Mannix in 1967-1968. He received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama for the role in 1968. He played Hutch Corrigan, Constance Colby's (Barbara Stanwyck) love interest, in eight episodes of The Colbys in 1985-1986. In 2000-2001, he had a recurring role as Joe in 11 episodes of That's Life.

Campanella's best known roles were on soap operas. He had a recurring role as a criminal named Joe Turino on Guiding Light from 1959 to 1962. He appeared as Harper Deveraux on Days of Our Lives from 1987 to 1988, a role which he received an Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1989. He had a recurring role as Jonathan Young on The Bold and the Beautiful from 1996 to 2005.

Campanella was also known for his voice work. He voiced the character of Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard on Spider-Man: The Animated Series from 1994 to 1997. He was the narrator for the Discover science series on the Disney Channel from 1992 to 1994.


Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress Olivia Cole starred in the short-lived sitcoms Szysznyk and Return to Murphy. She died at her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on January 19, 2018, after a heart attack. Ms. Cole was 75.

Cole starred as Ms. Harrison in the short-lived 1977-1978 CBS sitcom Szysznyk. The series starred Ned Beatty, Susan Lanier, Leonard Barr, Jarrod Johnson, Barry Miller, Scott Colomby and Thomas Carter.

She starred as Blanche, a supervisor and parole officer, in the short-lived 1982 CBS sitcom Return to Murphy. The series starred Michael Keaton, Donna Ponterotto, Donnelly Rhodes, Margot Rose and Ken Foree. Cole starred as Miss Sophie in the 1990 ABC drama Brewster Place. She won an Emmy Award for her performance as Matilda Moore, Chicken George's wife, in the 1977 miniseries Roots. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role as Maggie Rogers in the 1979 miniseries Backstairs at the White House.


Bill Daily

Bill Daily (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Actor and comedian Bill Daily was best known for his roles as Roger Healey in I Dream of Jeannie and as Howard Borden in The Bob Newhart Show. He died on September 4, 2018, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mr. Daily was 91.

Daily's early work was as a stand-up comedian performing around the country. He made sitcom guest appearances in Bewitched, My Mother the Car and The Farmer's Daughter. Sitcom writer Sidney Sheldon liked his work and gave him a supporting role in I Dream of Jeannie.

He starred as Captain/Major Roger Healey in the 1965-1970 NBC sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. Roger Healey was Tony Nelson's (Larry Hagman) girl-crazy buddy and fellow astronaut. The series also starred Barbara Eden and Hayden Rorke. Daily wrote one episode of the series. He reprised his role in TV reunion movies I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later in 1985 and I Still Dream of Jeannie in 1991.

Daily next starred as Howard Borden in the 1972-1978 CBS sitcom The Bob Newhart Show. Howard Borden was a divorced commercial airline navigator and later a co-captain. He was the next-door neighbor of Bob Hartley (Bob Newhart) and his wife, Emily (Suzanne Pleshette). The series also starred Peter Bonerz and Marcia Wallace. Daily returned for The Bob Newhart Show: The 19th Anniversary Special in 1991.

He co-starred with Debbie Reynolds in the short-lived 1981 ABC sitcom Aloha Paradise. The series followed the lives of the staff and guests at The Paradise Village resort, located on the coast of Kona, Hawaii. Daily played Curtis Shea, the resort's assistant manager. It also starred Pat Klous, Mokihana and Stephen Shortridge.

Daily appeared as Dr. Hanratty in the short-lived 1983 CBS sitcom Small & Frye. Dr. Hanratty was the eccentric head of the Police Criminal Lab. The series also starred Darren McGavin, Jack Blessing, Debbie Zipp, Warren Berlinger, Victoria Carroll and Dick Wilson.

He starred as veterinarian Dr. James Shepherd in the 1988-1989 syndicated sitcom Starting from Scratch. The series also starred Connie Stevens, Heidi Helmer, Jason Marin and Nita Talbot.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included Love, American Style, Getting Together, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Love Boat, ALF, The Munsters Today, The Naked Truth and Caroline in the City. He reunited with Bob Newhart in Newhart, Bob and George and Leo. His other television guest appearances included Flying High, CHiPs, The Powers of Matthew Star and Trapper John, M.D..


Hugh Dane

Hugh Dane (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Hugh Dane was best known for his recurring role as Hank the security guard in The Office. He died from pancreatic cancer on May 16, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Dane was 75.

Dane appeared in 22 episodes as Hank Tate, the no-nonsense security guard, in The Office from 2005 to 2013. The NBC sitcom starred Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Ed Helms, Melora Hardin, David Denman, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nunez, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Zach Woods, Amy Ryan, Catherine Tate, Clark Duke and Jake Lacy.

He had a recurring role as Fred in nine episodes of the Fox sitcom Roc from 1991 to 1994. Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Where I Live, Boy Meets World, Friends, Buddies, Sister, Sister, Malcolm & Eddie, Becker, The Steve Harvey Show, Everybody Hates Chris, New Girl, Girl Meets World, The Carmichael Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Mayor.

His film credits included Restraining Order, Joy Ride, Reflections: A Story of Redemption, Ralph & Stanley, Beautiful Dreamer, For Heaven's Sake, StarStruck, Little Fockers and Bridesmaids.


Rob DesHotel

Rob DesHotel (IMDB)

Writer and producer Rob DesHotel worked on That '70s Show Gary Unmarried, Mike & Molly and Man with a Plan. He died of a suspected heart attack on December 10, 2018. Mr. DesHotel was 52.

DesHotel's sitcom writing credits included Hope & Gloria, That '70s Show, Gary Unmarried, Mad Love, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Mike & Molly and Man with a Plan. He worked as a producer on That '70s Show, Gary Unmarried, Mad Love, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Mike & Molly and Man with a Plan.


Herb Ellis

Herb Ellis (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Herb Ellis starred in Hennesey. He died on December 26, 2018, at his home in San Gabriel, California. Mr. Ellis was 97.

He starred as Dr. Dan Wagner in the CBS comedy/drama Hennesey from 1959 to 1961. The series starred Jackie Cooper, Abby Dalton, Roscoe Karns, Henry Kulky, James Komack and Arte Johnson.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Peter Loves Mary, The Andy Griffith Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gidget, My Mother the Car, The Patty Duke Show, My Favorite Martian, That Girl, Get Smart, Bewitched and My Three Sons.

Ellis and Jack Webb together devised the name and concept for Dragnet. He played the role of Officer Frank Smith in the series in 1952.


Nanette Fabray

Nanette Fabray (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Actress Nanette Fabray appeared as Grandma Katherine Romano in One Day at a Time. She died on February 22, 2018, at the Canterbury Nursing home in Palos Verdes, California. Ms. Fabray was 97.

Fabray's first television starring role was in the NBC sitcom/variety/sketch comedy series Caesar's Hour from 1954 to 1956. She appeared as Ann Victor, herself and in various roles. She won three Emmy Awards for Best Comedienne and Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1956 and for Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series in 1957.

She starred as Nanette "Nan" McGovern in the 1961 NBC sitcom Westinghouse Playhouse (also known as The Nanette Fabray Show, Westinghouse Playhouse Starring Nanette Fabray and Wendell Corey and as Yes, Yes Nanette in syndication). She played a successful Broadway star who marries Dan McGovern (Wendell Corey), a widower. The series also starred Bobby Diamond, Jacklyn O'Donnell and Doris Kemper.

Fabray appeared as Grandma Katherine Romano in 42 episodes of the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time from 1979 to 1984. She was the mother of Ann (Bonnie Franklin) and the grandmother of Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli). Fabray appeared as a guest and in a recurring role before becoming a regular cast member in the final season. The series also starred Pat Harrington, Jr., Michael Lembeck (1979-1980, 1981-1984), Glenn Scarpelli (1980-1983) and Boyd Gaines (1981-1984).

She played Dottie Richards, the mother of Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), in two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1972. She appeared as Mildred Armstrong, the mother of Christine Armstrong (Shelley Fabares), in three episodes of Coach from 1990 to 1994. Fabray was the real-life aunt of Shelley Fabares.

Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included Love, American Style, Maude, The Love Boat, The Munsters Today and The Golden Palace. Her television drama guest appearances included Burke's Law, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Hotel and Murder, She Wrote.

Fabray was also known for her stage work. She won a Tony Award in 1949 for her portrayal of Susan Cooper in Love Life. She received a Tony nomination for her role as Nell Henderson for Mr. President in 1963. Some of her other credits included Meet the People, Let's Face It!, By Jupiter, My Dear Public, Jackpot, Bloomer Girl, High Button Shoes, Arms and the Girl and Make a Wish.


Eddie Foy III

Eddie Foy III (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Casting director Eddie Foy III worked for 42 years with Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems, 20th Century Fox and the Disney Channel. Some of the shows he worked on included Gidget, The Donna Reed Show, I Dream of Jeannie, The Monkees, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, M*A*S*H, Barney Miller and Cheers. He died on November 3, 2018, after a fall in Denison, Iowa. Mr. Foy was 83.

He appeared as an actor in The Ford Television Theatre, Studio 57, Highway Patrol, West Point, Father Knows Best, The Blue Angels and Run, Joe, Run.


Norman Gimbel

Norman Gimbel (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Norman Gimbel wrote the theme song lyrics for Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. He died on December 19, 2018, in Montecito, California. Mr. Gimbel was 91.

Gimbel had a long working relationship with composer Charles Fox. He wrote the theme song lyrics for The Bugaloos, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Angie, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Wonder Woman and the Emmy-winning theme for The Paper Chase.


James Greene

James Greene (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Character actor James Greene had a recurring role as Councilman Fielding Milton in Parks and Recreation. He died on November 9, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Greene was 91.

Greene appeared as Councilman Fielding Milton, the oldest member of the fictional Pawnee city council, in 16 episodes of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation from 2012 to 2015.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included Good Times, All in the Family, The Tony Randall Show, Perfect Strangers, Newhart, The John Larroquette Show, Men Behaving Badly, Becker, Just Shoot Me! and Modern Family.

He starred as Davey McQuinn the elevator operator in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.


Stephen Hillenburg

Stephen Hillenburg (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Animator, cartoonist, and marine biology teacher was the creator of the Nickelodeon animated sitcom SpongeBob SquarePants. He died at his home San Marino, California, on November 26, 2018, from cardiopulmonary failure due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mr. Hillenburg was 57.

Hillenburg also directed, produced, and wrote episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. He won two Emmy Awards for his work on the series. He also worked on the Nickelodeon animated sitcom Rocko's Modern Life.


Tab Hunter

Tab Hunter (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor and singer Tab Hunter starred in The Tab Hunter Show and appeared in over 40 films. He died of a blood clot on July 8, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California. Mr. Hunter was 86.

Hunter starred as Paul Morgan in the 1960-1961 NBC sitcom The Tab Hunter Show. Paul Morgan was a 29-year-old cartoonist whose comic strip Bachelor at Large profiles his amorous adventures around Malibu Beach, California. The series also starred Richard Erdman, Jerome Cowan and Reta Shaw.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, The Love Boat and Benson.

His film credits included The Sea Chase, Battle Cry, Damn Yankees, The Pleasure of His Company, The Golden Arrow, Operation Bikini, Sweet Kill and Grease 2.


Diane Jergens

Diane Jergens (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress Diane Jergens appeared in The Bob Cummings Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She died on October 9, 2018, in Velley Springs, California. Ms. Jergens was 83.

Jergens played Francine Williams, the girlfriend of Chuck MacDonald (Dwayne Hickman), in 12 episodes of The Bob Cummings Show in the 1955-1956 season.

She appeared in various roles in 10 episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet from 1955 to 1961. Some of her other sitcom guest appearances The Life of Riley, Make Room for Daddy, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The People's Choice, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and The Addams Family.


Georgann Johnson

Georgann Johnson (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress Georgann Johnson starred as Marge Weskit in Mister Peepers. She died in Los Angeles, California, on June 4, 2018. Ms. Johnson was 91.

Johnson starred as Marge Weskit, the wife of Harvey Weskit (Tony Randall), in the NBC sitcom Mister Peepers from 1952 to 1955.

Some of her sitcom guest appearances included Three's Company, Archie Bunker's Place, Mama's Family, The Jeffersons, Silver Spoons, Too Close for Comfort, It's a Living and Seinfeld.

She starred as Dr. Waverly in the drama The Colbys from 1986 to 1987. She played Katherine McKay in the 1985-1986 ABC drama Our Family Honor. Johnson starred as Charlotte O'Neill, the mother of Rosie O'Neill (Sharon Gless), in the 1990-1992 CBS legal drama The Trials of Rosie O'Neil. She had a recurring role as Elizabeth Quinn in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman from 1993 to 1997.


Mickey Jones

Mickey Jones (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor and musician Mickey Jones starred as Chester in Flo and had a recurring role as Pete Bilker in Home Improvement. He died from complications of diabetes on February 7, 2018. Mr. Jones was 76.

Jones played Chester, a regular at Flo's Yellow Rose, in the Alice spin-off Flo, which aired on ABC from 1980-1981. The series starred Polly Holliday, Geoffrey Lewis, Jim B. Baker, Sudie Bond, Lucy Lee Flippin, Joyce Bulifant, Leo Burmester, Stephen Keep and Terry Willis.

He appeared in 13 episodes of Home Improvement as Pete Bilker from 1991 to 1999. Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included M*A*S*H, Madame's Place, AfterMASH, Gimme a Break!, Alice, ALF, Throb, Evening Shade, Step by Step, Hearts Afire, Married with Children, The Jamie Foxx Show, Boy Meets World, Lizzie McGuire, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Growing Up Fisher.

He played Chris Farber in the NBC miniseries V: The Final Battle and V: The Series. Some of his other drama guest appearances included Charlie's Angels, CHiPs, The Incredible Hulk, Hart to Hart, Simon & Simon, T.J. Hooker, The A-Team, In the Heat of the Night, Baywatch, JAG and Justified.


Rodney Kageyama

Rodney Kageyama (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Rodney Kageyama starred as Ito in the sitcom and film Gung Ho. He died on December 9, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Kageyama was 77.

Kageyama starred as Ito in the 1986 film Gung Ho. The ABC sitcom Gung Ho aired on ABC from 1986 to 1987. The series also starred Scott Bakula, Gedde Watanabe, Stephen Lee, Sab Shimono, Clint Howard, Heidi Banks, Patti Yasutake, Emily K. Kuroda and Scott Atari.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Jeffersons, Charles in Charge, Amen, 227, Designing Women, Newhart, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Married with Children, Family Matters, Empty Nest and Home Improvement.


James Karen

James Karen (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor James Karen had a recurring role in Ned and Stacey and made many sitcom guest appearances. He died on October 23, 2018, at his home in Los Angeles, California, from cardiorespiratory arrest. Mr. Karen was 94.

Karen appeared in eight episodes of Ned and Stacey in 1996-1997 as Patrick Kirkland, Ned's boss. The series starred Thomas Haden Church, Debra Messing, Greg Germann and Nadia Dajani.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Kallikaks, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, M*A*S*H, Family Ties, Three's a Crowd, Webster, 227, Who's the Boss?, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown, Charles in Charge, Designing Women, The Larry Sanders Show, Coach, Hearts Afire and Seinfeld.

Karen had a recurring role as Tom Bradford's boss, Eliot Randolph, in Eight Is Enough in 1978. He starred as Major Wymore in the 1983 NBC sci-fi series The Powers of Matthew Star. He played Justice Michael Bancroft in the 2002 CBS legal drama First Monday.

Some of his film credits included Poltergeist, The Return of the Living Dead, Invaders from Mars and The Pursuit of Happyness.


Kuma von Clifford

Kuma von Clifford (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Dog actor Kuma von Clifford starred in the Disney Channel sitcom Dog with a Blog. He died in late November 2018 from complications from a recent stroke. Kuma was 16.

Kuma was the original Stan the dog in Dog with a Blog. He was replaced after five episodes due to a dispute with Kuma's owner. Kuma also played Grandma in the Nick Jr. series Mutt & Stuff, which aired from 2015 to 2017.


David Landsberg

David Landsberg (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor, writer, producer and director David Landsberg starred in C.P.O. Sharkey. He died on August 5, 2018, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, from complications that arose from surgery for esophageal cancer. Mr. Landsberg was 73.

Landsberg played Skolnick in the 1976-1978 NBC sitcom C.P.O. Sharkey. The series also starred Don Rickles, Peter Isacksen, Jeff Hollis, Tom Ruben, Elizabeth Allen (1976-1977), Harrison Page, Barry Pearl (1976-1977), Philip Simms (1977-1978), Richard Beauchamp, Jonathan Daly, Beverly Sanders and Richard X. Slattery (1977-1978).

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included Rhoda, The Love Boat, Hello, Larry, The Stockard Channing Show, Bosom Buddies and The John Larroquette Show.

Some of his sitcom writing credits included Reggie, Lenny, Blossom, Herman's Head, Daddy's Girls, The John Larroquette Show, Cosby and Love Boat: The Next Wave.

He worked as a producer on Blossom, Herman's Head, The John Larroquette Show, Daddy's Girls, Cosby and Love Boat: The Next Wave.


John Mahoney

John Mahoney (IMDB/Wikipedia)

English-American actor John Mahoney was best known for his role as Martin Crane in Frasier. He died on February 4, 2018, in a Chicago hospice of complications from throat cancer. Mr. Mahoney was 77.

Mahoney's television career began with his role as Lt. Roselli in the 1982 NBC drama Chicago Story. The series followed the work and personal lives of several Chicago doctors, lawyers and police officers. It starred Maud Adams, Vincent Baggetta, Molly Cheek, Dennis Franz, Connie Foster, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Richard Lawson, Craig T. Nelson, Kristoffer Tabori and Jill Shellabrger.

He played Chief Patrick Meacham in the short-lived 1990 ABC adventure series H.E.L.P.. Battalion Chief Meacham led the Harlem Eastside Life-saving Program (H.E.L.P.) in New York City that co-located the resources of the Fire Department, Police Department and Emergency Medical Services. The series starred Wesley Snipes, Joe Urla, Lance Edwards, Kim Flowers, Tom Bresnahan, Marjorie Monaghan, Fionnula Flanagan and David Caruso.

Mahoney appeared as Dr. Alec McMurtry in the short-lived 1992 CBS medical drama The Human Factor. The series was about a physician at U.C.I., an inner-city teaching hospital. It starred Jan Lucas, Kurt Deutsch, Eriq La Salle, Melinda McGraw, Matthew Ryan, Robert McNeill and Allan Miller.

He starred as the blue-collar patriarch Martin Crane in the NBC sitcom Frasier, which aired for 11 seasons from 1993 through 2004. Martin Crane was an Army veteran and a retired Seattle Police Department detective. He was the father of Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) and Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce). It also starred Jane Leeves, Peri Gilpin and Dan Butler. The series won a total of 37 Primetime Emmy Awards during its 11-year run. Mahoney received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for the role in 1999 and 2003 and two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film in 1993 and 2000.

Mahoney had a recurring role as Roy, a waiter and a love interest for Elka (Betty White), in six episodes of Hot in Cleveland in 2011 and 2014. Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included Cheers, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Becker and $#*! My Dad Says. His drama guest appearances included ER, In Treatment and Burn Notice.

He was also known for his voice work. His television voice credits included Teacher's Pet, Gary the Rat and The Simpsons. Some of his film voice credits included Antz, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Atlantis: Milo's Return, The Iron Giant and Kronk's New Groove.

Some of his film credits included Tin Men, Moonstruck, Eight Men Out, Say Anything..., Barton Fink, In the Line of Fire, Reality Bites, The Hudsucker Proxy and The American President.

Mahoney was passionate about his stage work on Broadway and in Chicago theatre. He won Broadway's Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1986 for his performance in John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.


Robert Mandan

Robert Mandan (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Robert Mandan starred as Chester Tate in Soap and as James Bradford in Three's a Crowd. He died in Los Angeles, California, on April 29, 2018, following a long battle with cancer. Mr. Mandan was 86.

Mandan's early roles included the NBC soap operas From These Roots as David Allen from 1958 to 1961 and as Sam Reynolds in Search from Tomorrow from 1966 to 1970. He starred as Deputy Commissioner Ed Rawlings in the short-lived 1975 ABC police drama Caribe, which was set in Miami.

Some of his early sitcom guest appearances included a 1972 episode of Sanford and Son as an auctioneer, as attorney Mr. Morrison in a 1973 episode of All in the Family and as Maude's gay friend, Barry, in a 1974 episode of Maude. He appeared in two other episodes of Maude as different characters. Other early guest appearances included Barney Miller, One Day at a Time and Phyllis.

He starred as Chester Tate, the womanizing businessman husband of Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond), in Soap from 1977-1981. Tate was a wealthy stock broker with an affinity for extramarital affairs. Chester and Jessica separated in Season 3 and divorced in Season 4. The ABC sitcom also starred Diana Canova (1977-1980), Jennifer Salt, Jimmy Baio, Robert Guillaume (1977-1979), Arthur Peterson, Cathryn Damon, Richard Mulligan, Billy Crystal, Ted Wass, Robert Urich, Jay Johnson, Sal Viscuso (1978-1979), Dinah Manoff (1978-1979), Donnelly Rhodes (1978-1981) and Roscoe Lee Browne (1980-1981).

Mandan starred as Col. Lawrence Fielding in the second and third seasons of the 1981-1983 CBS sitcom Private Benjamin, which was based on the movie of the same name. Col. Lawrence Fielding was the pompous, well-meaning, but ineffectual, head of the camp. The series starred Lorna Patterson, Eileen Brennan, Hal Williams, Ann Ryerson (1981-1982), Joan Roberts (1981), Joyce Little (1981), Lisa Raggio, Lucy Webb (1981-1982), Francesca Roberts (1981), Damita Jo Freeman (1981-1983), Joel Brooks (1982) and Wendie Jo Sperber (1982-1983).

He appeared as James Bradford, the father of Vicky Bradford (Mary Cadorette), in the final episodes of Three's Company. He continued the role in the spin-off series Three's a Crowd, which aired for one season on ABC in 1984-1985. James Bradford owned the building that included Jack's Bistro and Jack's and Vicky's apartment. It also starred John Ritter as Jack Tripper and Alan Campbell as E.Z. Taylor. Jessica Walter had a recurring role as Claudia Bradford, Vicky's mother and James' ex-wife.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included Too Close for Comfort, The Facts of Life (as Bruce Gaines who marries Mrs. Garrett), The Love Boat, Mama's Family, The Golden Girls, My Two Dads, The New WKRP in Cincinnati, Delta, Married with Children and Weird Science. He reunited with Katherine Helmond as Reed Hamilton in two episodes of Who's the Boss? in 1991 and 1992.


Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Actress, director and producer Penny Marshall starred as Laverne DeFazio in Laverne & Shirley. She died in Los Angeles, California, from complications of diabetes on December 17, 2018. Ms. Marshall was 75.

Marshall's early sitcom guest appearances included That Girl, Love, American Style, Barefoot in the Park, Getting Together, The Super and The Bob Newhart Show. Her early drama guest appearances included My Friend Tony, Then Came Bronson, The Magical World of Disney and Banacek.

She appeared in the recurring role of Myrna Turner, Oscar Madison's secretary, in 27 episodes of The Odd Couple on ABC from 1972 to 1974. It was developed and executive produced by her brother, Garry Marshall. The cast included Tony Randall, Jack Klugman, Al Molinaro, Garry Walberg and Larry Gelman. She reprised the role in the 1993 CBS TV movie The Odd Couple: Together Again.

Marshall starred as Janice Dreyfuss in the short lived 1974-1975 CBS sitcom Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. Janice was Charlie's affection-starved wife who constantly mocked Robert for his romantic failures. The series also starred Paul Sand, Michael Pataki, Dick Wesson, Steve Landesberg, Craig Richard Nelson and Jack Gilford.

She first appeared as Laverne DeFazio in the November 11, 1975, episode of Happy Days titled A Date with Fonzie. Laverne and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) were a pair of wise-cracking brewery workers, who were dates for Fonzie (Henry Winkler) and Richie (Ron Howard). After the success of their appearance, Garry Marshall decided to create a spin-off series for them.

Marshall starred as Laverne DeFazio for 8 seasons and 178 episodes on ABC from 1976 to 1983. Laverne and Shirley were two friends and roommates who worked as bottle-cappers in the fictitious Shotz Brewery in late 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Laverne was a tough-talking tomboy who grew up in Brooklyn. Her favorite drink was milk and pepsi. She was known for the script letter "L" monogrammed on her shirts and sweaters. The series also starred Eddie Mekka, Phil Foster, David L. Lander, Michael McKean, Betty Garrett (1976-1981), Carole Ita White (1976-1977), Ed Marinaro (1980-1981) and Leslie Easterbrook (1980-1983).

She received three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for her role. Marshall appeared as Laverne in five other episodes of Happy Days, one episode of Blansky's Beauties and the pilot episode of Mork & Mindy. She voiced the character in the animated series Laverne & Shirley in the Army and the Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour.

Marshall directed four episodes of Laverne & Shirley. Some of her other sitcom directing credits included Working Stiffs, A League of Their Own, According to Jim and United States of Tara.

Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Chico and the Man, Good Heavens, Taxi, I'm with Her, Entourage, Campus Ladies, The Game, Sam & Cat (reunited with Cindy Williams), Mulaney and The Odd Couple (2016). She had voice credits for The Simpsons, Frasier and The Life & Times of Tim.

She appeared in many TV movies including The Feminist and the Fuzz, Evil Roy Slade, The Crooked Hearts, The Couple Takes a Wife, Let's Switch!, Wives, More Than Friends (with Rob Reiner), Love Thy Neighbor (with John Ritter), Challenge of a Lifetime, Jackie's Back! and Women Without Men. Some of her film credits included The Savage Seven, How Sweet It Is!, The Grasshopper, Movers & Shakers, Hocus Pocus, The Hard Way and Alice Upside Down.

Marshall also had much success as film director. She made her directorial debut in 1986 with Jumpin' Jack Flash. In 1988, Big became the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office. Her other film directing credits included Awakenings (1990, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), A League of Their Own (1995), Renaissance Man (1994), The Preacher's Wife (1996) and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). She worked as executive producer on Awakenings, A League of Their Own, Calendar Girl, Renaissance Man, Cinderella and Bewitched.


Chuck McCann

Chuck McCann (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Chuck McCann starred in Far Off Space Nuts and made guest appearances in many sitcoms. He died of congestive heart failure in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on April 8, 2018. Mr. McCann was 83.

McCann co-starred with Bob Denver in the CBS Saturday morning sitcom Far Out Space Nuts. The Sid and Marty Krofft children's television series aired from 1975 to 1976 for one season.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The New Temperatures Rising, The Paul Lynde Show, The Bob Newhart Show, All That Glitters, A New Kind of Family, One Day at a Time, The Love Boat, Down to Earth, The Facts of Life, 227, Empty Nest and Mad About You.

He had numerous voice credits for animated series such as Cool McCool, Pac-Man, Galtar and the Golden Lance, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, DuckTales, TaleSpin, Toxic Crusaders, Fantastic Four and Iron Man.


Jill Messick

Jill Messick (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Producer Jill Messick worked on Bad Judge and several films. She took her own life in Los Angeles, California, on February 7, 2018. Ms. Messick was 50.

Messick was one of the executive producers of the 2014-2015 NBC sitcom Bad Judge. The short-lived series starred Kate Walsh, Ryan Hansen, John Ducey, Tone Bell, Miguel Sandoval and Amy Rhodes.

Her film producing credits included She's All That, Boys and Girls, Get Over It, Frida, Mean Girls, Baby Mama and Masterminds.


John C. Mula

John C. Mula (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Art director and production designer worked on Barney Miller, Charles in Charge, Boy Meets World and Dinosaurs. He died on February 25, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, following a short illness. Mr. Mula was 75.

Mula won the Primetime Emmy Award for art director for his work on the ABC and Jim Henson Productions comedic television series Dinosaurs in 1991. Some of his other sitcom credits included Too Close for Comfort, My Two Dads, Small Wonder, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The New WKRP in Cincinnati.


Thad Mumford

Thad Mumford (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Producer and writer Thad Mumford worked on M*A*S*H, Good Times, Maude, The Cosby Show and A Different World. He died after a long illness on September 6, 2018, at his father’s home in Silver Spring, Maryland. Mr. Mumford was 67.

Mumford's sitcom writing credits included Good Times, That's My Mama, Maude, What's Happening!!, The Waverly Wonders, M*A*S*H, The Duck Factory, ALF, A Different World, Clarissa Explains It All and Home Improvement. He won an Emmy Award for his work on The Electric Company in 1973.

He worked as a producer on M*A*S*H, The Duck Factory, ALF and A Different World.


Kristin Nelson

Kristin Nelson (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress, painter and author Kristin Nelson had a recurring role in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She died on April 27, 2018, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of a heart attack. Ms. Nelson was 72.

She married Rick Nelson in 1963 and joined the cast of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She appeared in 30 episodes from 1963 to 1966. Her other television guest appearances included one episode of Green Acres and three episodes of Adam-12.


Roger Perry

Roger Perry (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Roger Perry appeared as Charles Parker in The Facts of Life. He died from prostate cancer at his home in Indian Wells, California, on July 12, 2018. Mr. Perry was 85.

Perry starred as James Harrington, Jr., in the 1960-1961 ABC sitcom Harrigan and Son. The series also starred Pat O'Brien, Georgine Darcy and Helen Kleeb.

He played Charles Parker, the headmaster of Eastland, in ten episodes of The Facts of Life from 1981 to 1983.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included The Andy Griffith Show, Nanny and the Professor, Love, American Style, The Paul Lynde Show and The Bob Newhart Show.

He starred as Det. Sgt. Dan Kirby in the 1963-1964 ABC crime drama Arrest and Trial. He appeared as John Costello in Falcon Crest from 1982 to 1985.


Charlotte Rae

Charlotte Rae (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Actress Charlotte Rae starred as Edna Garrett in Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. She died on August 5, 2018, at her home in Los Angeles, California. In 2017, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. Ms. Rae was 92.

Rae made her television debut in a 1954 episode of The United States Steel Hour. Some of her early television guest appearances included Armstrong Circle Theatre, NBC Television Opera Theatre, Appointment with Adventure, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, The DuPont Show of the Month, The Phil Silvers Show, Play of the Week, Way Out and From These Roots.

She played the recurring role of Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Officer Leo Schnauser (Al Lewis), in 10 episodes of Car 54, Where Are You? from 1961 to 1963. Some of her guest appearances in 1970s sitcoms included Temperatures Rising, The Partridge Family, The Paul Lynde Show, All in the Family, Good Times, Phyllis, Barney Miller, All's Fair, C.P.O. Sharkey and Szysznyk. She appeared as Molly the Mail Lady in the third season (1971-1972) of Sesame Street.

Rae received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama for her role as Helen in the 1975 CBS television movie Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.

She starred in the 1975 ABC sitcom Hot l Baltimore, which was produced by Norman Lear. She played Mrs. Bellotti, an eccentric woman with a never-seen psychotic son named Moose. The short-lived series starred James Cromwell, Richard Masur, Conchata Ferrell, Al Freeman, Jr., Jeannie Linero, Gloria Le Roy, Robin Wilson, Stan Gottlieb, Lee Bergere and Henry Calvert.

Rae next starred as Edna Garrett in Diff'rent Strokes, which premiered on NBC on November 3, 1978. Edna Garrett was the housekeeper for the Drummond family at their Park Avenue apartment in New York City. Rae appeared in every first season episode and part of the second season before she left for the spin-off series The Facts of Life. The first and second seasons of Diff'rent Strokes also starred Conrad Bain, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges and Dana Plato. Rae would return for the 1984 episode The Wedding.

The backdoor pilot episode on Diff'rent Strokes titled The Girls School on May 4, 1979, led to the spin-off series The Facts of Life. Rae starred as Mrs. Garrett (Mrs. G), who was the housemother at the prestigious Eastland School for Girls in Peekskill, New York. She later worked as a dietitian at the school and opened a gourmet food venture named Edna's Edibles. Rae starred in the first seven seasons before her sister Beverly Ann Stickle (Cloris Leachman) took over the shop and helped look after the girls. She performed some of the lyrics for the first season theme song. The Facts of Life main cast included Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn and Nancy McKeon (1980-1988).

Rae received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the role in 1982. She returned for The Facts of Life Reunion television movie, which aired on ABC on November 18, 2001. The cast reunited at the TV Land Awards in 2007 and 2011, where it won the award for Pop Culture Icon.

Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included The Love Boat, 227, Baby Talk, Can't Hurry Love (which starred Nancy McKeon), The King of Queens and Girl Meets World. Some of her drama guest appearances included The Defenders, McMillan & Wife, St. Elsewhere, Murder, She Wrote, Thunder in Paradise, Sisters, Diagnosis: Murder, Strong Medicine, ER, Life and Pretty Little Liars.

Rae was also known for her voice work. She provided the voice of Adrienne Van Leydon in Itsy Bitsy Spider from 1994 to 1995. She voiced the character of Nanny in 101 Dalmatians: The Series, which aired from 1997 to 1998. In 1993, she voiced the character Aunt Pristine Figg in Tom and Jerry: The Movie.

She also had a long career as a stage actress. She received Tony Award nominations for Pickwick in 1966 and Morning, Noon and Night in 1969. Some of her other Broadway credits included Three Wishes for Jamie (1952), The Threepenny Opera (1954) and Li'l Abner (1956).

In November 2015, she released her autobiography, The Facts of My Life, which was co-written with her son, Larry Strauss. The book was the first opportunity for Charlotte fans to explore the fascinating story of her extraordinary life: poignant and hilarious, a story of courage and triumph, one that speaks for a generation of women breaking barriers, taking on challenges, overcoming personal tragedy, and paving the way for others.


Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor, director and producer Burt Reynolds starred as Wood Newton in Evening Shade. He died from a heart attack at the Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida, on September 6, 2018. Mr. Reynolds was 82.

Reynolds' early television guest appearances included Flight, M Squad, Schlitz Playhouse, The Lawless Years and Pony Express. His first starring role was with Darren McGavin in the NBC adventure series Riverboat from 1959 to 1960. He appeared in 20 episodes as Ben Frazier, the colead and boat pilot for The Enterprise.

Some of his other early 1960s television guest appearances included Playhouse 90, Johnny Ringo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Lock Up, The Blue Angels, Michael Shayne, Zane Grey Theater, The Aquanauts, The Brothers Brannagan, Naked City, Ripcord, Everglades, Route 66, Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone.

His next starring role was in the CBS western Gunsmoke from 1962 to 1965. He appeared as Quint Asper, the town blacksmith, in 50 episodes of the series. He continued to make guest appearances on series such as Branded, Flipper and 12 O'Clock High.

He starred as Native American Detective Lt. John Hawk in the short-lived 1966 ABC police drama Hawk. The series also starred Wayne Grice, Bruce Glover and Leon Janney. Reynolds directed one episode of the series. Some of his other 1960s and 1970s guest appearances included The F.B.I., Premiere, Fade In and Love, American Style.

Reynolds starred as Detective Lt. Dan August in the 1970-1971 ABC police drama Dan August. Dan August investigated homicide cases in the fictional town of Santa Luisa, California. The series also starred Norman Fell, Ned Romero, Richard Anderson and Ena Hartmann.

He provided the voice of Troy Garland, Evie Garland's (Maureen Flanigan) father, in the 1987-1991 syndicated sitcom Out of This World. The series also starred Donna Pescow, Doug McClure, Joe Alaskey (1987-1990), Buzz Belmondo, Christina Nigra and Steve Burton.

Reynolds starred in the short-lived 1989-1990 ABC detective series B.L. Stryker. Buddy Lee Stryker, aka B.L., was a Vietnam war vet and retired New Orleans police officer who moved back home to the other side of the tracks in Palm Beach, Florida to work as a private investigator. The series starred Ossie Davis, Dana Kaminski, Michael O. Smith, Alfie Wise and Rita Moreno. Reynolds also served as an executive producer and directed three episodes of the series.

His longest running television role was in the 1990-1994 CBS sitcom Evening Shade. Reynolds starred as Wood Newton, an ex-professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who returns to rural Evening Shade, Arkansas, to coach a high-school football team with a long losing streak. The series also starred Marilu Henner, Hal Holbrook, Ossie Davis, Charles Durning, Elizabeth Ashley, Michael Jeter, Jay R. Ferguson, Ann Wedgeworth, Charlie Dell, Candace Hutson and Jacob Parker. Reynolds won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical for the role in 1992. He also directed 35 episodes and wrote 3 episodes of the series. He was one of the executive producers.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included The Golden Girls, The Larry Sanders Show, Hope & Gloria, Cybill, Emeril, The King of Queens, Freddie and My Name Is Earl. His voice credits included King of the Hill, Duckman, Robot Chicken, Duck Dodgers, American Dad! and Archer.

Reynolds was best known for his many film roles. His box office hits included Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, Semi-Tough, Hooper (also a producer), Smokey and the Bandit II, The Cannonball Run and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He directed and starred in Gator (the sequel to White Lightning), The End, Sharky's Machine, Stick and The Last Producer. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Jack Horner in Boogie Nights.


Donnelly Rhodes

Donnelly Rhodes (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Canadian actor Donnelly Rhodes starred as hapless escaped convict Dutch Leitner in Soap. He died on January 8, 2018, of cancer at the Baillie House Hospice in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Mr. Rhodes was 80.

Rhodes appeared as escaped convict Dutch Leitner in 38 episodes of the ABC sitcom Soap from 1978 to 1981. He helped Chester Tate (Robert Mandan) break out of prison. He marries Chester's daughter, Eunice (Jennifer Salt). The series starred Robert Mandan, Katherine Helmond, Diana Canova (1977-1980), Jennifer Salt, Jimmy Baio, Robert Guillaume (1977-1979), Arthur Peterson, Cathryn Damon, Richard Mulligan, Billy Crystal, Ted Wass, Robert Urich and Jay Johnson.

He played Charlie in the short-lived 1982 CBS sitcom Report to Murphy. The series was about about the everyday problems and frustrations of a young parole officer. It starred Michael Keaton, Olivia Cole, Donna Ponterotto, Margot Rose and Ken Foree.

He starred as Art Foster, the widowed father of Kate and Allison Foster, in the first season of the NBC sitcom Double Trouble in 1984. Art ran a gym and dance studio in Des Moines, Iowa. When the show returned for a second season, Kate and Allison moved to New York. His character was replaced by Aunt Margo. The series starred Jean Sagal, Liz Sagal, Patricia Richardson (Season 1), Jon Caliri (Season 1), Barbara Barrie (Season 2), Jonathan Schmock (Season 2), James Vallely (Season 2), Michael D. Roberts (Season 2) and Anne-Marie Johnson (Season 2).

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included Mister Ed, Hazel, It's a Living, The Facts of Life, Cheers, Taxi, Gimme a Break!, Amanda's, Alice, The Golden Girls, Empty Nest and Baby Talk.

Rhodes was well known to Canadian audiences for his roles as Sgt Nick Raitt in the CBC series Sidestreet (1975-1978) and as as Dr. Grant "Doc" Roberts in Danger Bay (1985-1990).

He appeared as Leo Shannon in 91 episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest from 1998 to 2005. He had a recurring role as Dr. Sherman Cottle, Chief Medical Officer of BS Galactica, in 36 episodes of Battlestar Galactica from 2004 to 2009.

Some of his drama guest appearances included Maverick, Cheyenne, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Dr. Kildare, The Virginian, Laredo, Mannix, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Police Story, Wonder Woman, Magnum, P.I., Hill Street Blues, The Heights, Street Legal, Murder, She Wrote, The X-Files, Smallville, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.


Neil Simon

Neil Simon (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Playwright, screenwriter and author Neil Simon worked on several sitcoms. He died on August 26, 2018, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, from complications of pneumonia. Mr. Simon was 91.

Simon's early television writing credits included The Gary Moore Show, Your Show of Shows, Caesar's Hour and Stanley. He worked on 20 episodes of The Phil Silvers Show from 1958 to 1959. He won an Emmy Award for his work in 1959.

He received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. The Odd Couple television series was based on his 1965 play, which won a Tony Award.


Jon Paul Steuer

Jon Paul Steuer (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor and musician Jon Paul Steuer was best known for his role as Quentin Kelly in Grace Under Fire. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on January 1, 2018, in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Steuer was 33.

Steuer starred as Quentin Kelly in the ABC sitcom Grace Under Fire for three seasons and 73 episodes from 1993 to 1996. Quentin Kelly was the oldest child of Grace Kelly (Brett Butler). Steuer was the second actor to portray Quentin Kelly, as Noah Segan played him in the pilot episode. He decided to leave the show and quit acting due to the extensive press attention given to Brett Butler. Sam Horrigan took over the role for seasons four and five.

He guest starred as Alexander Rozhenko in a 1990 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. His other television guest appearances included Day by Day, Homefront and The Wonder Years. His film credits included Late for Dinner, When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn (TV) and Little Giants.


Naomi Stevens

Naomi Stevens (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Character actress Naomi Stevens appeared in over 100 television and film roles. She died on January 13, 2018, in Reseda, California. Ms. Stevens was 92.

Stevens appeared as Juanita the housekeeper in the last 18 episodes of the first season of The Doris Day Show in 1968-1969.

She starred as Rose Montefusco in the short-lived 1975 NBC sitcom The Montefuscos. The series starred Joe Sirola, Ron Carey, John Apres, Phoebe Dorin, Linda Dano, Bill Cort, Sal Viscuso, Jeffrey Palladini, Robby Paris, Dominque Pinassi and Damon Raskin.

Some of her sitcom guest appearances included Make Room for Daddy, McHale's Navy, The Farmer's Daughter, Wendy and Me, The Joey Bishop Show, My Favorite Martian, The Donna Reed Show, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, That Girl, My Three Sons, The Flying Nun Nanny and the Professor, Love, American Style, Barney Miller, Taxi and Webster. She played Sgt. Bella Archer in the ABC detective drama Vega$ in 1978-1979.


David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor David Ogden Stiers was best known for his role as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III in M*A*S*H. He died on March 3, 2018, at his home in Newport, Oregon, from complications related to bladder cancer. Mr. Stiers was 75.

Stiers' first television starring role was as Stanley Moss in the second season of the 1975-1976 CBS sitcom Doc. He ran the Westside Clinic, which Dr. Joe "Doc" Bogert (Barnard Hughes) worked at. Season two of the series also starred Mary Wickes, Irwin Corey, Audra Lindley, Herbie Faye and Ray Vitte.

Stiers starred as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III in the CBS sitcom M*A*S*H. He joined the cast in season six, replacing Larry Linville (Major Frank Burns). Stiers appeared in 131 episodes over the final six seasons (1977-1983). Charles Emerson Winchester III was an aristocratic Bostonian who worked as a surgeon. Seasons 6-11 of the series also starred Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Jamier Farr (recurring Seasons 1-3, regular Seasons 4-11), William Christopher (recurring Seasons 1-4, regular Seasons 5-11), Gary Burghoff (Seasons 1-8), Mike Farrell (Seasons 4-11) and Harry Morgan (Seasons 4-11). Stiers received two Emmy nominations for the role for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series in 1981 and 1982. He also directed two episodes of the series in 1981 and 1982.

He starred as Nicholas Conklin in the short-lived 1999-2000 CBS sitcom Love & Money. Nicholas Conklin was the stuffy billionaire father of Allison Conklin (Paget Brewster) and the husband of the boozy Effie Conklin (Swoosie Kurtz). The series also starred Brian Van Holt, Judy Greer, John Livingston and Brian Doyle-Murray.

In 1998, he appeared in the recurring role of Mr. Bauer in the first season of the ABC sitcom Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. Mr. Bauer was a delusional old man who frequents the pizza place, pretending that experiences from films are his own. The first season of the series also starred Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo, Traylor Howard, Jennifer Westfeldt (1998) and Julius Carry (1998).

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included Phyllis, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Tony Randall Show, ALF, Wings, Married People, The Boys Are Back, Cybill, The Trouble with Normal and Frasier.

He appeared in the recurring role of Reverend Eugene 'Gene' Purdy in 40 episodes of the USA Network sci-fi drama The Dead Zone, which aired from 2002 to 2007. Reverend Gene Purdy was the head of the ultraconservative Faith Heritage Alliance. The series starred Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer, Chris Bruno, John L. Adams and Connor Price (Season 6).

Stiers was also known for his voice work. He provided the voice of Cogsworth in the 1991 Walt Disney film Beauty and the Beast. He was the voice of Dr. Jumba Jookiba in Disney's Lilo & Stitch and its sequels. Some of his other voice credits included Teacher's Pet, Disney's House of Mouse, Justice League and Regular Show. He was also one of the narrators for PBS' American Experience, Frontline and Nova.


Jerry Van Dyke

Jerry Van Dyke (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor and comedian Jerry Van Dyke was best known for his role as Luther Van Dam in Coach. He died on January 5, 2018, from heart failure at his ranch in Malvern, Arkansas. Mr. Van Dyke was 86.

Van Dyke's television career began in 1962 with guest appearances as Rob Petrie's brother, Stacey, in The Dick Van Show. The series starred his older brother, Dick Van Dyke. Van Dyke was also a 4-string banjo player who performed several times on the show.

He starred as Dave Crabtree in My Mother the Car, which aired for one season on NBC in 1965-1966. The series was about the misadventures of a man whose deceased mother Gladys (voiced by Ann Sothern) is reincarnated as a restored antique 1928 Porter. It also starred Maggie Pierce, Cindy Eilbacher, Randy Whipple and Avery Schreiber.

Van Dyke played widowed nightclub comedian Jerry Webster in Accidental Family. The 1967-1968 NBC sitcom starred Lois Nettleton, Teddy Quinn, Susan Benjamin, Ben Blue and Larry D. Mann.

He appeared as Steven Winters in the short-lived 1979 ABC sitcom 13 Queens Boulevard. The series was about the diverse residents of a Queens apartment complex. It starred Eileen Brennan, Marcia Rodd, Helen Page Camp, Susan Elliot, Louise Williams, Karen Rushmore and Frances Lee McCain.

Van Dyke's best known role was as Luther Van Dam in Coach, which aired for nine seasons from 1989 to 1997 on ABC. Luther Van Dam was the beloved, yet befuddled assistant coach/defensive coordinator at the fictional Minnesota State University. The series starred Craig T. Nelson, Shelley Fabares, Bill Fagerbakke, Clare Carey (1989-1994), Kris Kamm (1989-1991), Kenneth Kimmins, Georgia Engel (1991-1997) and Katherine Helmond (1995-1997). Van Dyke received four Emmy Award nominations (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994) for the role for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series".

He starred with Andy Griffith as Jerry Brownell in the short-lived 1970-1971 CBS drama The Headmaster. Jerry Brownell was the best friend of Andy Thompson (Andy Griffith). His character was a physical-education teacher and coach. The series also starred Parker Fennelly, Claudette Nevins and Lani O'Grady.

Van Dyke played the recurring role of Big Jimmy Hughes, the father of Jimmy Hughes (Mike O'Malley), in seven episodes of Yes, Dear. He made eight guest appearances as Tag Spence, the father of Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton), in The Middle from 2010-2015.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included The Cara Williams Show, The Andy Griffith Show, That Girl, Good Morning, World, Gomer Pyle, USMC, Love, American Style, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, House Calls, The Love Boat, Newhart, Coming of Age, Charles in Charge, The Drew Carey Show, Grace Under Fire, Teen Angel, You Wish, My Name Is Earl, Raising Hope and The Millers.


Will Vinton

Will Vinton (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Animator and filmmaker Will Vinton worked on the animated sitcoms The PJs and Gary & Mike. He died on October 4, 2018, in Portland, Oregon, from multiple myeloma.

Vinton was known for his pioneering work with claymation. He worked on the 1999-2001 FOX stop-motion animated sitcom The PJs. His studio also worked on the 2001 UPN and 2003 Comedy Central stop-motion sitcom Gary & Mike.

He won an Oscar in 1975 for the animated Best Short Film Closed Mondays. He was the creator of The California Raisins.


Elmarie Wendel

Elmarie Wendel (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actress and singer Elmarie Wendel starred as Mrs. Mamie Dubcek in 3rd Rock from the Sun. She died on July 21, 2018. Ms. Wendel was 89.

Wendel appeared in about 70 episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun as Mamie Dubcek from 1996 to 2001. She was the landlady who rents an attic apartment to the Solomon family for the duration of the series.

Some of her sitcom guest appearances included The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, Sugar and Spice, Major Dad, Seinfeld, Love & War, Empty Nest and Jenny. She had a recurring role as Gina, an assembly line worker at the aviation factory, in George Lopez.


Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Emmy-winning composer Patrick Williams worked on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and many other television series. He died of cancer in Santa Monica, California, on July 25, 2018. Mr. Williams was 79.

Williams' sitcom credits included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Good Heavens, The Bob Newhart Show, AfterMASH and The Slap Maxwell Story.

Some of his other television credits included The Magician, The Streets of San Francisco, Lou Grant and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. He won four Emmys for his television work.

His film credits included How Sweet It Is!, The One and Only, Cuba, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, Breaking Away, Hero at Large, Used Cars, Marvin and Tighe, Just Between Friends, Cry-Baby and The Cutting Edge.


Hugh Wilson

Hugh Wilson (IMDB/Wikipedia/The Interviews: An Oral History of Television)

Drector, writer and television showrunner Hugh Wilson was the creator of WKRP in Cincinnati and Frank's Place. He died on January 14, 2018, in Charlottesville, Virginia, from lung cancer and emphysema. Mr. Wilson was 74.

Wilson created WKRP in Cincinnati for CBS in 1978. The series was based upon his experiences working in advertising sales at Top 40 radio station WQXI in Atlanta. The popular sitcom ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1982. It starred Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Jan Smithers, Tim Reid and Howard Hesseman. The catchy theme song was written by Wilson and performed by Steve Carlisle. Wilson also wrote 14 episodes, provided the story for three episodes and directed two of the episodes.

He later created the sequel series, The New WKRP in Cincinnati, which aired for two seasons in first-run syndication from 1991 to 1993. The series starred Gordon Jump, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Mykelti Williamson, Tawny Kitaen and French Stewart. Howard Hesseman appeared in a recurring role.

In 1986, he created the short-lived NBC sitcom Easy Street. The series starred Loni Anderson, Jack Elam, Lee Weaver, Dana Ivey, James Cromwell and Arthur Malet.

Wilson worked with Tim Reid again in the critically acclaimed, but short-lived dramedy Frank's Place. The series aired on CBS for one season in 1987-1988. It also also starred Robert Harper, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Francesca P. Roberts, Frances W. Williams, Virginia Capers, Tony Burton, Charles Lampkin, Lincoln Kilpatrick, William Thomas Jr. and Don Yesso. Wilson also worked as writer s and directed seven episodes of the series. He won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series" in 1988.

He created the short-lived 1989-1990 CBS sitcom The Famous Teddy Z. The series starred Jon Cryer, Milton Selzer, Jane Sibbett, Alex Rocco, Tom La Grua, Erica Yohn and Josh Blake.

His other directing credits included The Tony Randall Show (also a producer), Easy Street and The Famous Teddy Z. He directed the films Police Academy, Burglar, Guarding Tess, The First Wives Club, Blast from the Past and Dudley Do-Right.

Some of his other sitcom writing credits included The Bob Newhart Show, The Tony Randall Show and The Famous Teddy Z.


Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Singer and actress Nancy Wilson starred in The Sinbad Show. She died on December 13, 2018, at her home in Pioneertown, California, after a long battle with kidney cancer. Ms. Wilson was 81.

Wilson starred as Louise Bryan, David Bryan's (Sinbad) mother, the 1993-1994 FOX sitcom The Sinbad Show. The series also starred T.K. Carter, Erin Davis, Willie Norwood, Hal Williams and Salma Hayek (1993).

Some of her sitcom guest appearances included Room 222, It's a Living, The Cosby Show, The Parent 'Hood and The Parkers.

Wilson recorded more than 70 albums and won three Grammy Awards for her work as a singer.


Paul Junger Witt

Paul Junger Witt (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Television and film producer Paul Junger Witt worked on The Golden Girls and more than 25 other sitcoms. He died of cancer on April 27, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Witt was 77.

Witt's early television credits as a producer included Occasional Wife, The Second Hundred Years, Here Come the Brides, The Partridge Family, and Getting Together. He also directed episodes of the series.

Witt teamed with Tony Thomas to form Witt/Thomas Productions in 1975. Their many sitcom producing credits included The Practice (1976-1977), It's a Living, Condo, Tough Cookies, One Big Family, Lenny, Blossom, Herman's Head, Walter & Emily, Woops!, The John Larroquette Show, Daddy's Girls, Muscle, The Office (1995), Brotherly Love, Minor Adjustments, Local Heroes, Common Law, Pearl and Everything's Relative. They also worked on the 1987-1990 CBS drama Beauty and the Beast and The CW's 2012-2016 revival series Beauty and the Beast.

He met Susan Harris in 1975. Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions produced the sitcoms Fay, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, Soap, Benson, I'm a Big Girl Now, It Takes Two, Hail to the Chief, Mama's Boy, Empty Nest, Nurses, Good & Evil and The Secret Lives of Men.

Their biggest hit was The Golden Girls. The popular NBC sitcom aired for 7 seasons and 180 episodes from 1985 to 1992. It starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty. The Golden Girls won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1986 and 1987. They also produced the spin-off series The Golden Palace.

Witt's theatrical film credits included Firstborn, Dead Poets Society (Oscar nominated for Best Picture), Final Analysis, Mixed Nuts, Three Kings, Insomnia and A Better Life. He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program - Drama or Comedy for the 1971 TV movie Brian's Song, which starred James Caan and Billy Dee Williams.


Louis Zorich

Louis Zorich (IMDB/Wikipedia)

Actor Louis Zorich was best known for his role as Paul Reiser's father, Burt Buchman, in Mad About You. He died on January 30, 2018, in Manhattan, New York. Mr. Zorich was 93.

Zorich starred as Jules Berger in the 1991-1993 CBS dramedy Brooklyn Bridge, which was set in the middle 1950s in Brooklyn. He was married to Sophie Berger (Marion Ross) and was the grandfather of Alan Silver (Danny Gerard). The Gary David Goldberg created series also starred Amy Aquino, Peter Friedman, Matthew Louis Siegel, Adam LaVorgna, Jenny Lewis, Jake Jundef, Aeryk Egan and David Wohl. It won a Golden Globe for Best Television Comedy or Musical and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1992.

He appeared in the recurring role as Burt Buchman in 70 episodes of the NBC sitcom Mad About You from 1993 to 1999. He was married to Sylvia (Cynthia Harris) and was the father of Paul (Paul Reiser). His signature line when he visited Paul and Jamie's (Helen Hunt) apartment was "It's me, Burt! Burt Buchman--your father!" The series also starred Anne Elizabeth Ramsay, Leila Kenzie (1992-1998), Richard Kind (1992-1993, occasional 1994-1999) and John Pankow.

Some of his television guest appearances included Encounter, Hudson's Bay, Cannonball, Naked City, Route 66, Kojak, Ryan's Hope, The Equalizer, Spenser: For Hire, Kate & Allie and Law & Order.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, August 25

Last Man Standing - "The Courtship of Vanessa's Mother" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Vanessa's mother comes to visit and hits it off with Ed; Mandy and Kyle tutor Boyd, but they may be the ones getting outsmarted.

Last Man Standing - "Dreams vs. Realty" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Mandy nearly gives up on her dream of becoming a fashion designer when she is faced with rejection; Vanessa looks back at her own career path, which stirs up regrets; Mike steps in to help the women in his family realize their dreams.

The Simpsons - "Crystal Blue-Haired Persuasion" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Homer's work cuts children's health care benefits, Marge turns to buying healing crystals as a cheaper solution for Bart's ADD; Bart begins to succeed in school, prompting Marge to open her own crystals empire and sell to mothers at school.

What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage - "Neighbor" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Fred struggles to discuss the mysterious cliffhanger from "The Flare" and speak with his guests because of a new noisy neighbor on the stage next door; Eric Stonestreet and Randall Park stop by.

Family Guy - "Trans-Fat" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Peter is mistakenly identified as transgender, which leads to an unexpected event and him learning an important lesson.

What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage - "Elevator" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Fred gets stuck in an elevator and is unable to host the show, Taylor must face her biggest fear: hosting the show alone; Ike Barinholz, Jillian Bell and Taran Killam stop by.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 19)

Sunday, August 25

  • Adam DeVine (Workaholics/Modern Family) - Catch Issa on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two The Good Place - The Complete Third Season Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six

06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
07/08 - Man with a Plan - Season Two
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/09 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season
07/09 - Speechless - The Complete Third Season
07/16 - Eight Is Enough - The Complete First Season
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
07/23 - Brockmire - The Complete First Season
07/23 - What I Like About You - The Complete First Season
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Fourth Season
08/13 - I Love Lucy - Colorized Collection
08/13 - Leave it to Beaver - Seasons One and Two
08/20 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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