It's been a little while since we opened up the doors of classic television and let in some special guests. Today, we're going to take a look at some notable folks, some of them Underworld favorites, who popped up on the small screen before or after they'd made an impression in the movies! In some cases, I'll be quizzing you as to the identity of the star before revealing his or her name.
First we find Fabian (aka Fabian Forte) in 1963 episode of The Virginian. The teen pop idol had made his film debut in 1959 with Hound Dog Man and was still active in an array of light films during this period.
In this episode, he plays a young man of questionable courage who has to prove himself to his blowhard father Charles McGraw. The story culminates with him attempting to kill a particularly ferocious bear.
Fabian proceeded to appear twice more on The Virginian. His film career began to peter out (not to mention include far more cheaply made films) by the early-1970s and before long he was relegated to things like the requisite appearance on The Love Boat and minor parts in obscure movies.
Do you happen to recognize this man? He's a guest star on a 1969 episode of Daniel Boone, but later became more notable as a director of sexually-charged movies.
This is Zalman King, the director of Two Moon Junction (1988), Wild Orchid (1989) and the multitudinous Red Shoe Diaries TV-movies. (He also produced Nine ½ Weeks, 1986.)
During the mid-1960s and early-'70s, King was a regular presence on television, even costarring on a series of his own called The Young Lawyers (1969-1971) before seguing away from the camera to more behind-the-scenes work.
I recently stumbled upon an anthology series I had never even heard of previously but which happened to hit the airwaves at a time when most TV shows were still black & white. Kraft Suspense Theatre, however, was on NBC which was promoting color programming and so we have the rare treat of seeing a parade of stars doing color episodes of television in 1963. By 1965, when the series ended, most other shows had finally made the jump as well.
First up is James Caan in an early role as a surf bum who is traveling cross-country when his vehicle breaks down in a small town. Unfor-tunately for him, he happens to be in a town run by a duplicitous sheriff (played by Mickey Rooney) who makes a habit, even a hobby, of allowing prisoners to escape from his jail only to be hunted down by bloodhounds and killed!
Handsome Caan had only begun acting on screen in 1961 and this episode was aired in 1963. In 1964, he won a flashy role opposite Olivia de Havilland in Lady in a Cage and proceeded to star or costar in movies until 1972 when The Godfather made him a household name.
He really gets a workout in this installment, running feverishly across all sorts of terrain (including scaling a waterfall!) as the dogs close in. He then has to race down the road in the hopes of climbing onto a moving truck. He looks to have done most, if not all, of his own stunt work.
Next we come to a “two-fer.” Singer and Broadway star Robert Goulet (who'd been doing occasional television since the mid-1950s) stars as a WWII G.I. who speaks fluent German who falls in with a small group of other soldiers, one of who is a traitorous double agent. We just don't know who and since Goulet speaks the language, he falls under suspicion!
This was a fictional adaptation of a real German operation in which German soldiers were rigorously trained to sound American in order to infiltrate U.S. troops from the inside out, causing chaos and havoc any way possible.
Things come to a head at a farmhouse which is inhabited by Claudine Longet, a French singer who was, at the time, red hot both from her recordings, but also due to her high profile marriage to singer and TV personality Andy Williams.
Goulet went from this to his own brief, but highly acclaimed, WWII series Blue Light (1966) in which he played an American news corres-pondent who appears to have joined the enemy, but is, in fact, still working as an agent for the U.S.
Longet's marriage (and acting career) ended in 1975, but her notoriety was actually just beginning. In 1976, she shot and killed her lover in what she claimed was an accident, but which was tried as murder! Convicted of criminal negligence, she served a 30-day prison term, then married her defense attorney and has lived a comparatively quiet life ever since.
Look who else turns up on a 1964 episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre... our own favorite hunk of all time, Mr. Clint Walker!
In it, he portrays a tall, reserved, quiet type who has moved to a mountain retreat to mine near a town who doesn't want him there (with the possible and completely understandable exception of Mala Powers.) Naturally, all sorts of conflict ensues.
As is often the case, the strapping Walker practically dwarfs the scenery as well as some of his fellow actors.
As is also often the case, his strong face and beautiful blue eyes captivate the viewer.
One of our favorite 1960s lovelies is Miss Diane McBain, seen here in a 1964 episode. She plays a young lady who accused a man of raping her ten years prior, but who may have been merely in love with the underaged McBain and forced to pay a high price for not agreeing to marry her. Things get worse when the man comes back to town proclaiming his innocence. He winds up being framed for a second rape, which would put him away for far longer than the first!
McBain has a little tribute to her here. At this stage, her best film roles (such as in Ice Palace, 1960, Parrish, 1961, and Claudelle Inglish, 1961) were already in the can. Though she would continue to work through the 1970s and '80s, it was usually in less prestigious fare. Nevertheless, we're always happy to see the pretty and sophisticated blonde pop up on our screen.
Another “two-fer” comes along with Jeffrey Hunter (who we adore!) and Miss Tippi Hedren (ditto!) We love seeing these two together. Hunter plays a geologist who wants to pitch a mining idea to an old college roommate of his, but the guy – a multimillionaire – is as reclusive as Howard Hughes. Hunter believes that the man's pretty private secretary Hedren may help him to gain access.
We can never get enough of Hunter's blue eyes (annoyingly obscured by horned-rim glasses for a great part of this episode) or his handsome face.
We also love Hedren's whirl-a-whip up-do!
This was one of only two scant appearances of any kind that she made between 1964's Marnie and 1967's A Countess from Hong Kong because she was still under contract to a perturbed Alfred Hitchcock who'd undergone a massive falling out with her during Marnie and was bent on halting her career.
As for Hunter, he was fielding offers to star in another TV series following Temple Houston (1963 - 1964) including The Brady Bunch (“He's too good looking to be an architect!”) and Star Trek (which his wife insisted he turn down.) His career sputtered along with good and bad roles until his premature death in 1969 from a stroke and resultant fall.
Moving on now, we come to the glamorous Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone in a two-part 1961 episode of Route 66.
As the ex-wife of a troubled crop duster (Michael Rennie), she is still very much in love with him while pursuing her own vastly-different career as a nightclub singer. Meanwhile costar of the series George Maharis has become infatuated with her in his own right.
Malone is shown in a variety of ways including more simply here...
...and more glitzed up for the lounge singing scenes. In 1964, Malone would headline the phenomenally popular nighttime soap Peyton Place until 1968.
Do you recognize this young lady?
Take a nice look at the troubled frown she displays here with Maharis. It's much like the one she exhibited as a child star when things didn't go her way...
This is Patty McCormack, who played the title character in 1956's The Bad Seed. Now sixteen, she plays a wealthy runaway in this 1961 episode.
In a (ludicrous!) attempt to remain incognito at an all-boys hotel (she is staying with Maharis and Martin Milner while on the run), she dons make drag including a suit, tie and hat! Right... Recently, Ms. McCormack, who has acted to some degree all along, is back on TV with surprising regularity. It's possible that you've even seen her but didn't recognize her.
That last photo of McCormack is uncomfortably similar to this one! Do you know this man in the dark suit and hat?
Why, it's Grandma Munster himself, Al Lewis, in a 1961 episode of Route 66. At this time, Lewis was costarring on Car 54, Where Are You? (1961-1963), but in 1964 would proceed to The Munsters (1964-1966), which would offer him an iconic role for the ages.
Turning now to The Six Million Dollar Man, we find Carol Lawrence as a nuclear scientist (!) in a 1974 episode.
She is kidnapped by some bad guys because she knows how to properly arm an atom bomb that they've put together from several stolen parts around the world.
Naturally, it's up to series star Lee Majors to rescue her and prevent the bomb from being used.
Do you know this lady, portraying the Prime Minister of a fictional Middle Eastern country?
Here's a closer look. This 1974 episode represents one of only a small handful of primetime TV appearances that this accomplished actress made (though she had done several brief stints on daytime soaps during tha late-'60s and the '70s.)
This is Anne Revere, an Oscar nominee for The Song of Bernadette (1943) and Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and a winner for National Velvet (1944.) (She lost to, respectively, Katina Paxinou in For Whom the Bell Tolls and her Agreement costar Celeste Holm.) In this show, she's traveling cross-country in a Winnebago with Lee Majors in an attempt to escape hired assassins.
Miss Revere's sterling career as a supporting actress in the movies was ground to a halt by the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s. Following A Place in the Sun (1951), she wasn't seen in a film again until Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), which starred Liza Minnelli.
Arguably more famous than Anne Revere, though hardly an actress of the same caliber, was Farrah Fawcett, at the time Farrah Fawcett-Majors, who showed up four times on her husband's series before skyrocketing to sensational fame as one of Charlie's Angels (1976-1977.) In this ep, she played a TV reporter who discovers that Majors is imbued with fantastic powers of strength and speed.
The famed lion's mane of hair shown here is almost, but not quite set in the style that would soon take a nation by storm. It wouldn't be curled quite as tightly on Angels.
Here, she's shown in a variety of outfits and looks, the shot of her in the upper-right corner demon-strating a pose that would become well-known to fans; her hair tossed back with her neck extended.
Naturally, the storyline called for Lee and Farrah to become attracted to one another (despite the headband she was saddled with in this scene.)
Fawcett-Majors wasn't unknown at this time. She'd done a couple of movies (including the notorious Myra Breck-inridge in 1970) and a variety of TV appearances and would soon win a recurring part on David Janssen's Harry-O (1975-1976), but her dazzling smile is already in place.
By the way, her news producer-coworker in the episode is played by this man, Christopher Nelson. If he looks at all familiar, maybe it's because of his role in 1979's Roller Boogie!
Another famous blond, this time male, guest-starred on The Six Million Dollar Man, too, in 1975. Onetime teen heartthrob Tab Hunter played a hired gun, out to kidnap a female equestrian who also happens to be a government scientist with a top secret formula locked in her brain.
Poor Tab can hardly get a good moment on film as he's either in the dark or wearing a hat of some kind that makes it hard to see him in his glory. The episode commits a cardinal sin when it repeatedly costumes him in clingy riding pants but never lets us get a good look at his body in them!
But who played the female scientist with the much sought-after knowledge? Duh... Donna Mills of course! Ha!
Ms. Mills is given some interesting headgear of her own in the ep, whether it be her tall-in-the-saddle riding helmet or a turban (!) during a meeting with the O.S.I.
Her locks certainly are versatile, as shown here. She seems to be heading towards a shorter version of Ms. Fawcett's 'do.
As hard and stiff as it is, one wonders how it all gets up into the helmet (and it might actually be just as protective for her noggin as the plastic helmet in its own right!)
Our next guest star was part of a minor exercise in stunt casting. The 1982-1983 series Square Pegs focused on the trials and tribulations of a pair of nerdy high school girls. One of them was played by Sarah Jessica Parker, then near the start of her career. To play her father in a two-part Christmas episode, they turned to an actor who'd once been a television mainstay himself as a young man.
Yes, this is Tony Dow of Leave It to Beaver (1957 - 1963.) He played Wally, the older brother of Beaver Cleaver. By this time, Dow's acting career was a bit sporadic, though in 1983 he took part in the TV reunion movie Still the Beaver, which led to The New Leave It to Beaver, a show that ran from 1983-1989!
Another familiar face from Square Pegs, especially to fans of daytime soaps, is the one shown here in the middle, behind the nameplate “Reed Kendall.”
The young man, only a couple of jobs into his TV career, is Jon Lindstrom. In 1985, he would join the cast of Santa Barbara and proceed to a lengthy stay on General Hospital (as well as Port Charles and a stint on As the World Turns.) Lindstrom still works today, including several appearances on the anthology show True Detective.
Moving on, we come to the series Vega$ (1978 - 1981.) The pilot episode of this detective show included two parents in search of their wayward daughter. The concerned couple is enacted by Maverick's (1957-1962) Jack Kelly and former MGM star June Allyson.
Kelly was a decade younger than Allyson, making her the older woman in their on screen partnership, something that is actually referred to in the episode, though he isn't really any dewier than she is with regards to wrinkles and so on!
I wish I knew why anyone thought that this was a good hairstyle for Allyson, though she kept a variation of it for a pretty long time! As you can see, she found a furrowed expression for this gig and clung to it for most of the screen time she enjoyed.
This formidable confla-gration of long, blonde tresses, bubble gum pink lipstick and false eyelashes is none other than the afore-mentioned Dorothy Malone, who also appeared on a first season episode of Vega$ as a worried parent.
She isn't looking for her lost daughter, but is instead trying to ascertain who has killed the poor girl and also how it was that the young lady became involved in pornographic films. She hires the series' star Robert Urich to look into it.
This is definitely a case in which shorter hair would have helped ease the transition from blonde beauty to older woman. Something about all that length just drags her down.
Now a blonde who was definitely on her way up, not down! Recognize the profile?
This 1978 episode featured young Kim Basinger in a showy role. She played the elegant go-between for a sheik and the hotel run by Tony Curtis who also happens to be part of a diamond theft racket.
Urich falls hard for her, unaware that he's being manipulated by her, sleeping with him in his convertable to keep his eyes away from the fortune back at the hotel. Basinger has a variety of looks going in her scenes.
Though not a total newcomer at this time (she'd done some TV such as The Six Million Dollar Man and Charlie's Angels and even starred in short-lived 1977 show called Dog and Cat), she was still a fer piece from her career as a movie leading lady (not to mention an Oscar-winner!)
In this shot from another 1978 ep, we see The Brady Bunch's (1969 - 1974) Maureen McCormick just prior to being sexually assaulted and beaten by Michael Swan (who some of you might recall from his stint on As the World Turns as Duncan McKechnie or later on The Bold and the Beautiful.)
Following the attack, McCormick is unable to relay much information to Urich, who's been hired by her father to track down the man who did this to his little girl. But who's playing the father??
How about Robert Reed!! In a bizarre bit of stunt casting, McCormick's Brady Bunch father Reed is also playing her father here, giving the story a sticky “Marcia Gets Raped” vibe. This was only one year after the two of them worked on the infamous The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976-1977) so it's not like anyone had time to forget their everlasting connection.
In the same episode, another reunion of sorts takes place. Urich questions a beauty shop owner who may have witnessed McCormick's attack and the owner (who is rocking some hilariously fun big hair) is played by Dolly Martin. Martin was a 1966 Playboy centerfold whose maiden name was Dolly Read. As Read, she'd starred in the hooty 1970 camp classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
In that same film, Vega$ costar Phyllis Elizabeth Davis played Read's aunt. (The role, by the way, had initially been intended to be the character of Anne Welles from the original movie, but at the last minute was switched to Susan Lake.) So in the final moments of the episode, these two are put together one last time. Martin's husband, by the way, was Dick Martin of Rowan & Martin's Laugh In (1967-1973) and they were married from 1971 until his death in 2008, but with a divorce from each other during 1974-1978! Thus they joined the list of celebs who married, divorced, then remarried.
This next photo is a hoot. Despite guest-star billing, this pair of shots basically gives you the entire arc of Alex Trebek's role on a 1978 episode. It's a completely wordless role as the fretful husband of an unconscious Linda Thompson (the woman who is perhaps best known as the lover of Elvis Presley and ex-wife of both Caitlyn Jenner and David Foster!) But where else on Earth are you going to see a picture that boasts Thompson, Trebek and Troy Donahue all together in it?!
Yes, that fluffy blond was Troy Donahue and, as the husband of Tiffany Bolling, he fares only slightly better than Trebek with a brief line or two and no close-up. This is quite a tumble from the days a Warner Brothers in which entire productions were built around the blue-eyed heartthrob.
I always try to save something a bit special for the end of my posts when I can. In this case, I've opted to end with a little beefcake. This is a 1967 installment of Daniel Boone which featured actor William Smith as an Indian warrior.
He's given an enjoyably scanty costume to wear, which showed off the muscular actor's physique. (Smith, by the way, was indelible as the threatening Falconetti in both the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, 1976, and its sequel Book II, 1976-1977.)
At this time, Smith was costarring on Laredo (1965 - 1967), but this gave him a chance to be an Indian instead of a cowboy (though his dark, slightly menacing looks, put him in a wide variety of ethnic roles throughout his career.)
At one point during a fight with Boone (Fess Parker), he winds up in the water, which only adds to the appeal of this look on him.
Smith is still alive at eighty-two and worked in a couple of low-budget films last year. Having started acting as a child in 1942, he has had a positively staggering (and underrated) seventy-two year career in front of the camera! That's a wrap on this topic until next time!