Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Remembering Tom Lester of Green Acres, Sitcom Producers Saul Turteltaub and Thomas L. Miller, and Others We've Recently Lost

Tom Lester

Actor Tom Lester, who was best known for his role as Eb Dawson in Green Acres, has died. He died of complications from Parkinson's disease on April 20 in the Nashville, Tennessee home of his fiancée and long-term caregiver, Jackie Peters. Mr. Lester was 81.

Green Acres

Lester starred as Eb Dawson in the 1965-1971 CBS sitcom Green Acres. Eb Dawson was the naive, wide-eyed, yet smart-mouthed young farmhand to Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor). He habitually addressed the Douglases as "Dad" and "Mom", much to Oliver's consternation. Lester won the role over 400 other actors after a screen test. He got the role because he was the only one who could milk a cow in real life since he grew up on a farm in Mississippi. He appeared in 150 of the 170 episodes. He missed the first half of the 1967–1968 season when he suffered mononucleosis. The cast also included Pat Buttram, Alvy Moore, Frank Patterson, Barbara Pepper (1965-1969), Frank Cady, Sid Melton (1966-1969) and Mary Grace Canfield (1966-1971).

He appeared as Eb Dawson in six episodes of Petticoat Junction in 1966-1967 and three episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies in 1968. In 1990, he reunited with Albert, Gabor and the other surviving cast members in the CBS TV movie Return to Green Acres.

Some of his other TV guest appearances included Love, American Style, Marcus Welby, M.D., Little House on the Prairie, Knight Rider and Santa Barbara.

Lester appeared as Riley in the 1974 film Benji. He played the adult Pete Maravich in the 1991 film The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend. He appeared as Cousin Jake in the 1995 film Gordy, which was about a talking pig. His final role was in the 2014 film Campin' Buddies. He also served as a writer and producer of the film.

He was a farmer and for many years had been a Christian speaker who traveled the nation, preaching a message of faith and obedience.

Survivors include his brother, Michael; great-nieces Haleigh and McKenzie; great-great-niece Scarlett; and great-great-nephew Wes.

Mr. Lester was very funny and likable as Eb Dawson in Green Acres. He seemed like a very nice man off the screen just like his character. He will be greatly missed.

Share your memories on our Green Acres message board. View photos in our galleries.

Roger Beatty

Emmy-winning writer Roger Beatty worked on The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family. He died on April 6 at his home in Palm Desert, California, of prostate cancer. Mr. Beatty was 87.

He won five Emmy Awards (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1978) for his work on The Carol Burnett Show. He created his first sketch for Carol Burnett in 1969.

Beatty directed three episodes and wrote an episode of the variety series The Tim Conway Show in 1980 and 1981. He co-wrote the feature film The Billion Dollar Hobo (1977), which starred Tim Conway. He directed 35 episodes and wrote an episode of Mama's Family in 1983 and 1984.

Saul Turteltaub

Television writer and producer Saul Turteltaub worked on 23 sitcoms, including That Girl, Sanford and Son and What's Happening!!. He died on April 9 at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Mr. Turteltaub was 87.

Turteltaub worked as a producer on That Girl from 1969 to 1971. He also directed 6 episodes and wrote 26 episodes of the series. The series starred Marlo Thomas, Ted Bessell, Lew Parker, Bernie Kopell and Rosemary DeCamp.

His sitcom producing credits included The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Love, American Style, Sanford and Son, Sanford Arms, What's Happening!!, E/R (1984-1985), You Again?, Throb and Baby Talk.

Some of his sitcom writing credits included Hey, Landlord, Accidental Family, A Touch of Grace, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Love, American Style, Lotsa Luck!, Grady, Sanford and Son (23 episodes), Sanford Arms, What's Happening!!, Carter Country, 13 Queens of Boulevard, One in a Million, One of the Boys, Double Trouble, E/R (1984-1985), Foley Square, You Again?, Kate & Allie, Chicken Soup, Baby Talk and Cosby.

He received three Emmy nominations as part of the writing team for That Was the Week that Was in 1964 and 1965 and for The Carol Burnett Show in 1968.

He was interviewed for The Television Academy Foundation: The Interviews on May 12, 2016.

Thomas L. Miller

Television producer and writer Thomas L. Miller worked on Perfect Strangers, Full House and Family Matters. He died on April 5 from complications from heart disease in Salisbury, Connecticut. Mr. Miller was 79.

Miller and Edward K. Milkis formed Miller-Milkis Productions in 1969. They worked as producers on Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Blansky's Beauties, Angie, Makin' It and Out of the Blue. Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions sitcoms included Goodtime Girls, Bosom Buddies and Joanie Loves Chachi.

Robert L. Boyett joined the company in 1978. They became Miller-Boyett Productions. Miller-Boyett was responsible for family-oriented hit sitcoms such as Valerie/The Hogan Family, Perfect Strangers, Full House, Family Matters and Step by Step. Some of their other sitcoms included Going Places, The Family Man, Getting By, On Our Own, Meego, Two of a Kind and Fuller House.

Some of his sitcom writing credits included Nanny and the Professor, Me and the Chimp, Out of the Blue, Goodtime Girls, Bosom Buddies, Going Places, Getting By, Meego, Step by Step, Family Matters and Two of a Kind.

He is survived by Bob Boyett, his real-life and professional partner of 40 years.

Brian Dennehy

Actor Brian Dennehy starred in the short-lived sitcoms Star of the Family and The Fighting Fitzgeralds. He died on April 15 of cardiac arrest due to sepsis at his home in New Haven, Connecticut. Mr. Dennehy was 81.

Star of the Family

Dennehy starred as Buddy Krebs in the short-lived 1982 ABC sitcom Star of the Family. Buddy Krebs was a fire captain and the father of a 16-year-old singing daughter named Jennie Lee. The series also starred Kathy Maisnik, Michael Dudikoff, Todd Susman, George Deloy, Danny Mora and Judy Pioli.

The Fighting Fitzgeralds

He starred as "Fitz" Fitzgerald in the short-lived 2001 NBC sitcom The Fighting Fitzgeralds. Fitz was a widower and retired fire captain who wants to enjoy his retirement but shares his home with three grown sons, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. The series also starred Justin Louis, Connie Britton, Christopher Moynihan, Abigail Mavity, Jon Patrick Walker and Constance Zimmer.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included M*A*S*H, The Tony Randall Show, Just Shoot Me, 30 Rock and Rules of Engagement. His TV drama credits included Kojak, Police Woman, Dynasty, Cagney & Lacey, Hunter, Miami Vice, Birdland, The West Wing, The Good Wife, Public Morals, The Blacklist and Hap and Leonard. He was nominated for Emmy Awards six times for his television movies.

He was best known for his film work. Some of his credits included First Blood (1982), Gorky Park (1983), Silverado (1985), Cocoon (1985), F/X (1986), Presumed Innocent (1990), Tommy Boy (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Knight of Cups (2015). He won Tony Awards in 1999 for Death of a Salesman and in 2003 for Long Day Journey's Into Night.

Danny Goldman

Actor Danny Goldman starred in The Good Life and Busting Loose. He died in his home in Los Angeles on April 12 from complications of two strokes. Mr. Goldman was 80.

Goldman starred as Nick Dutton, the teenage son of Charles Dutton (David Wayne) and Grace Dutton (Hermione Baddeley), in the 1971-1972 NBC sitcom The Good Life. The series starred Larry Hagman and Donna Mills as Albert and Jane Miller, a middle-class American couple who tire of their mundane existence and decide to seek new employment as the live-in butler and cook of a millionaire industrialist, Charles Dutton.

He starred as Lester Bellman, a childhood friend of Lenny Markowitz (Adam Arkin), in the short-lived 1977 CBS sitcom Busting Loose. The series also starred Barbara Rhodes, Jack Kruschen, Pat Carroll, Steve Nathan, Greg Antonacci, Paul Sylvan, Paul B. Price, Ralph Wilcox and Louise Williams.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included That Girl, Room 222, The Partridge Family, Love, American Style, Happy Days, Chico and the Man, At Ease!, Soap, Alice, It's a Living, The Love Boat, Webster, The Golden Girls, The Famous Teddy Z, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and The King of Queens.

Goldman was most widely recognized as the voice of Brainy Smurf in Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs from 1981 to 1989. He played Ozzie the Answer in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer from 1984 to 1987. He appeared as the inquisitive medical student in the opening scene of the 1974 film Young Frankenstein.

Timothy Brown

Actor, singer and professional football player (Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts) Timothy Brown starred as Spearchucker Jones in the first season of M*A*S*H. He died of complications of dementia on April 4 in Palm Springs, California. Mr. Brown was 82.

Brown appeared as Dr. Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones in the first six episodes of M*A*S*H in 1972. The character was dropped from the show reportedly because the producers learned there were no African American surgeons serving in Korea during the Korean War. He played Cpl. Judson in the 1970 film M*A*S*H. Gary Burghoff, G. (George) Wood, and Corey Fischer were the only other actors to appear in both the film and TV series.

He guest starred in The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970, Benson in 1984 and Gimme a Break! in 1985. Some of his other TV guest appearances included The Wild Wild West, The Young Lawyers, Cade's County, Adam-12, Mission: Impossible, S.W.A.T, Cannon, The Rookies, T.J. Hooker and The Colbys.

David Schramm

Actor David Schramm was best known for playing the role of Roy Biggins in Wings. He died from a heart attack on March 28 in New York City. Mr. Schramm was 73.

Wings

Schramm starred as Roy Biggins, the blustery, cantankerous rival airline owner of Aeromass, in the 1990-1997 NBC sitcom Wings. He appeared in all 172 episodes of the series. The series also starred Timothy Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, Rebecca Schull, Thomas Haden Church (1990-1995), Tony Shalhoub (1991-1997), Farrah Forke (1992-1994) and Amy Yasbeck (1994-1997).

He played Joe McGill, the father of Tess McGill (Sandra Bullock), in the short-lived 1990 NBC sitcom Working Girl, which was based on the 1988 film of the same name. The series also starred Nana Visitor, Judy Prescott, George Newbern, Edye Byrde, Tom O'Rourke, Anthony Tyler Quinn and B.J. Ward.

Some of his TV guest appearances included Another World, Spenser: For Hire, The Equalizer, Wiseguy, Jake and the Fatman, Max Monroe and Space Cases. His film credits included Let It Ride (1989), Johnny Handsome (1989) and A Shock to the System (1990).

We thank them all for the laughs and entertainment they brought us during their careers. They will be greatly missed.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, April 20

black-ish - "My Dinner with Andre Junior" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Junior and Olivia invite an excited Bow and Dre over for dinner in their new apartment, but upon arrival, they immediately become concerned with the young couple’s living conditions. Meanwhile, Diane bonds with Pops as she asks for his advice on dating.

mixed-ish - "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Rainbow’s best friend, Tamika, asks her to plan her 14th birthday party, so Bow goes out of her way to make sure it’s the coolest birthday party ever. Meanwhile, Paul and Alicia battle it out for who is the “coolest,” and Harrison takes Santi and Johan on a trip to Mexico for some quality time.

Young Rock - "A Lady Named Star Search" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Hawaii, 1982: While Ata prepares for her "Star Search" audition, Rocky takes an unorthodox approach to helping Dewey deal with some bullies; Lia's conflict with rival wrestling promoter Greg Yao has her on edge.

Kenan - "Teacher's Strike" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When the teachers go on strike, everyone has to pitch in to keep the kids occupied; Rick sets up a unique schoolroom in the morning show conference room.

Chad - "Ikrimah Breakup" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
When his mom breaks up with her boyfriend and Chad's left without a father figure, Chad does everything in his power to win him back.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 19)

Tuesday, April 20

  • Ellen DeGeneres (The Ellen Show/Ellen/Open House) - Catch Ellen on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Jane appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Bradley Whitford (Perfect Harmony/Happyish/Trophy Wife) - Bradley is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Hank Azaria (The Simpsons/Brockmire/Free Agents/Imagine That/Herman's Head) - Hank will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kevin James (The Crew/Kevin Can Wait/The King of Queens) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!/The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World) - Thomas is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Ed Helms (Rutherford Falls/The Office) - Ed will be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men/Jenny - Jenny appears on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January-April)

Corporate - Season 2 Fam - The Complete Series Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series Happy Together - The Complete Series Til Death - The Complete Series

01/22 - Corporate - Season 2
01/22 - Corporate - Season 3
02/02 - Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - The Complete Series (2021 Retail Release)
02/16 - Fam - The Complete Series
02/23 - Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series
03/02 - Blue Mountain State - The Complete Series
03/02 - Happy Together - The Complete Series
03/02 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-4 (DVD) (Blu-ray)
04/20 - 'Til Death - The Complete Series

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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