Friday, March 28, 2014

Be Our Guest: Volume Five

Put out the welcome mat and wipe off the good china because we've got guests coming today! Yes, The Underworld has been home to a lot more viewing of vintage TV and it's time once more to shine a little light on some guest stars that caught our attention for one reason or another. We've been down this road before here, here, here and here, but as you can imagine, the source of material is inexhaustible.

Let's begin with our cover girl for today's post, Miss Myrna Loy. We always love to see the stalwarts of the silver screen doing a latter day stint on the small screen. These pictures are from her 1967 role on an episode of The Virginian, playing Charles Bickford's lady friend, who may become the widower's next wife. Unfortunately, her overly strict and refined ways don't sit well with his grandchildren, putting a cog in the wheels of her plan.

Aged sixty-two at the time of this show, Ms. Loy had been absent from view since the 1960 film MidnightLace with this, and a guest spot on Family Affair, marking her return to screen acting. Several more movies and TV projects were to follow until her retirement in 1982.

Next up is blond teen William Katt (later to become famous for The Greatest American Hero, 1981-1986, among other things.) This 1972 appearance on Emergency! was the first TV series credit of his though he'd popped up in two movies and one telefilm beforehand.

As the son of a man who collapsed while they were jogging together, he feels partly responsible for his father's condition. Check out those crazy shorts, man! Interesting the way our attire for physical activity has changed so much over the years.

Also on Emergency!, we come upon Jeanette Nolan as a wildly cantankerous old lady in a blue fright wig! She's aggravated because the injury is keeping her from her own birthday party.

Nolan (of Avalanche, 1978) was a very familiar face on TV for decades and was capable of being very,very good yet also sometimes very, very over the top! You cannot beat these (in this case, deliberately) loony 1970s clothes, though.

This distraught mother is none other than the acclaimed Miss Cicely Tyson. Her young son is taken to the E/R following a sports injury, leaving her worried sick.

Already a longtime TV and movie veteran by this point, it is hard to believe that she did this brief, inconsequential role in a television episode the very same year that she starred in Sounder (1972), which netted her an Oscar nomination as Best Actress (Liza Minnelli won for Cabaret.) Anyway, she's acting herself up such a little storm that her wig becomes slightly askew during the scene. Two years later, Ms. Tyson took home an Emmy for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a landmark TV-movie. (Of course, she's renowned in The Underworld for having suffered through The Concorde: Airport '79!)

Speaking of inconsequential, we take a peek at Don Matheson during a guest spot on Emergency! Matheson had costarred on Land of the Giants from 1968-1970, but this 1972 walk-on role was the only thing he'd done since! So small a bit part is it that it's hard to even take note of the fact that it is he (playing a man whose house is being robbed.) Fortunately, he was able to continue finding TV roles to play through the late 1990s, though few of any consequence.

Now, I thought this next one was exciting. It's not listed on (nor is the actor credited on the episode.) Recognize the guy in the bell bottom jeans? I know it's not a clear shot. Maybe if they were yanked down it would give you a better idea of who this is...

As the college-aged friend of a nerd who's locked himself in a freezer as part of a cryogenic experiment, we see Roger Herren, costar of the infamous 1970 howler Myra Breckinridge, in which he was sexually assaulted by Raquel Welch. He has lines in this episode, though his page lists only Breckinridge and his uncredited appearance in Paint Your Wagon (1969.)

We're changing the face of television history here, folks, by digging up rare work done by cult camp icons! (Okay, perhaps I overstate.... We found a bit part that few people knew existed, done by a mysteriously MIA hunk...)

Anyway, fans of Breckinridge will surely find it fun to see this extra glimpse of the guy who played “Rusty Godowski!”

Speaking of uncredited bit parts, I was watching season two of Ironside and during one scene in a grocery store, the episode's guest criminal (Clu Gulagar) was trying to cash a check with the clerk and she called the manager over to verify the transaction. The manager (whose voice I instantly recognized) was played by Bob Braun. Braun is a Cincinnati, Ohio icon who hosted his own long-running talk show and who sang and acted for many years.

This one would mean more to folks familiar with Ruth Lyons (whose show he worked on regularly) or those who recall his hit song “Til Death Do Us Part” in 1962 or perhaps his brief movie bits as a newscaster or talk show host. His son Rob has been a longstanding Cincinnati news anchor. This role is also absent from

Even more startling, though, was watching Raymond Burr wheel himself into a crime scene and see amongst the spectators someone who would later figure into one of the crimes of the century, a twenty year-old O.J. Simpson!

Unbilled in this non-speaking appearance, Simpson was already a star football player for UCLA, having won The Heisman Trophy that year. He'd been dabbling in TV work with similar unbilled appearances on Dragnet 1967 and It Takes a Thief, but would soon become a much-heralded NFL star with the Buffalo Bills and a final season with The 49ers (1978-1979.) His acting career took on new life in 1974 with The Klansman and TheTowering Inferno and would continue to flourish right up to that day in 1994 when his ex-wife and her friend were savagely murdered. Acquitted of that crime, he later was arrested for kidnapping and armed robbery and has been serving jail time for that, with an expected release in 2017 (now that he's been paroled on some of the charges.)

Essaying a far more integral part of another Ironside episode was Miss Diane Ladd, playing the fretful wife of a man whose business was destroyed in a race riot.
She has more to be worried about than just that, however, when it looks as if her husband may also have been responsible for a murder and even may be planning to leave her for one of their female friends! Maybe it was the glasses?

By the way, at this time, Ladd was married to Bruce Dern (they are the parents of actress Laura Dern), though they divorced in 1969. Here, we see the recent Oscar nominee for Nebraska (2013) way back in 1964 when he guest-starred on an episode of The Fugitive.

We next went on board The Love Boat for more celebrity-laden adventures. One 1978 episode had cruise director Lauren Tewes' parents coming for a visit. They were portrayed by Three's Company's Norman Fell and Laverne & Shirley's Betty Garrett.

The at-that-time often simply-dressed Garrett (using what appeared to be her own long hair with maybe a little help at times) was unusually glitzy, with jewels dripping and an array of smart '70s outfits (along with the requisite head kerchief in one scene.)

This guest shot must have been a nice departure from the more everyday,neighborly sorts of roles she'd been essaying on All in the Family (1973-1975) and Laverne & Shirley (1976-1981.)

Another episode had master of the macabre Vincent Price playing an illusionist with a faithful, lovelorn assistant portrayed by Joan Blondell.

Blondell (without benefit of a wig?) was looking good and sported some flattering makeup.
Price was besieged by three fanatical hangers on during the cruise, much to Blondell's dismay. Do you recognize any or all of these ladies?
One thing I adore about The Love Boat is its usage of actors and actresses who might not have been seen very much in their waning years. I like to call myself a classic film buff, but I actually didn't even know these women! Only their names seemed vaguely familiar, but it was nice to see them in action, doing their thing.
This was the second-to-last thing that Iris Adrian ever did (the last thing being one more episode of Boat in 1986.) The scene-stealing scamp had been in movies since the late-1920s, some of them including Roxie Hart (1942), The Paleface (1948), Blue Hawaii (1961) and That Darn Cat! (1965.) She passed away in 1994 from ailments initiated by the Northridge earthquake at age eighty-two. Singer-actress Jane Kean was active on television from the late-1940s on, with The Phil Silvers Show (1956-1959) and, notably, The Jackie Gleason Show (1966-1970), as the second “Trixie Norton,” among her credits. Her final role came in 2013, the same year she died at age ninety of a stroke. Bibi Osterwald had also been active on TV since the late-1940s, guest-starring countless times and having a regular role on Bridget Loves Bernie (1972-1973.) She worked, often using her voice talent, up until 2001, passing away in 2002 at age eighty-three of lung disease.

We recently paid tribute to Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley (with the inclusion of her husband Gary Collins) and here we see the two of them in their prime.
Mr. C. even gave us a little beefcake in a scene by the pool (a chief side effect of these moments typically being an assortment of decent-looking men cavorting around in the background!)
As he went to sit up, we see him trying to keep his trunks from riding up too high (and can already see from the difference in his tan level that they are shorter than his usual attire.) There's even a brief peek at the white lining as he lies back down.
One episode featured a kissing bandit (played by Billy Crystal) who would go around smooching unsuspecting female passengers, two of whom were putting up a fuss despite actually wanting desperately to be accosted! They were played by stalwart character actresses Pat Carroll and Nancy Kulp (of The Beverly Hillbillies, 1962-1971.)

Neither lady is filmed with any sort of affection or attention (they don't ever get even one single close-up apiece!) as they play out their tale and one gets the feeling that Nolan Miller wasn't doing bell kicks over having to dress them based on some of the items that ended up on their backs.

Still, it's campy, corny fun to see them complaining about the kiss-stealer while praying that they will be his next victims. Ms. Kulp only made a handful of acting appearances after this, choosing to enter the political arena and later teaching acting. She passed away in 1991 of cancer at age sixty-nine. Ms. Carroll (fondly remembered as the ravenous voice of Ursula in The Little Mermaid, 1989) is still going strong at eighty-six and even had a bit part Bridesmaids (2011) and is costarring in a film this year (BFFs, 2014.)

Before we dock from The Love Boat, I also have to point out this guest appearance. This is the final on screen acting gig in the limited career of Maureen Reagan (daughter of Ronald and his one-time wife Jane Wyman.) Her career lasted from 1963 to 1978 before segueing into politics and yet somehow in this final stint before the cameras she manages to commit a cardinal sin by staring right into the camera for several moments during her first scene! (And I think you can really see the Jane Wyman in her there, too.)

You might recall our hefty tribute to Matt Houston and the plethora of celebrities who guest-starred on that series the first year. Well, I held back a few of the stars for use in this post, starting with child/teen model Lori Loughlin. Loughlin had done a couple of teeny, uncredited bits and was appearing on the daytime soap The Edge of Night, but this 1982 featured role was the start of her prime-time acting career. She would later proceed to a lengthy stint from 1988-1995 on Full House (a show I am proud to say I have never once seen a full episode of!) Still busy today, she appeared in the redux of 90210 (2008-2012) and now works on the Hallmark series When Calls the Heart.

Another young lady near the start of her career was Lynn Herring, who popped up as a football cheerleader. Having only been in the business a couple of years at this point, she would go on to considerable success on daytime TV as Lucy Coe on General Hospital and Port Charles (1987-2014 between the two.)

We're still looking at fledglings at this point and this next example is the first screen credit for Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who would later soar to stardom with all the other cast members of The Cosby Show (1984-1992.) He plays the son of a gardener who is critically wounded during a murder attempt.

While Warner may have later developed a talent for dialogue, expression and interaction during his years with Bill Cosby, he is downright bad in this installment of Houston, mugging without cause and treating his emotional breakdown scene as if he was given an unseasoned lima bean to swallow and felt the need to tearlessly spit it out into his hand.

Of course, I don't know know if young Warner was any worse in his performance than the arguably more experienced Mr. Blackwell (he of the annual “Ten Worst Dressed Women” list) who was cast as a persnickety clothing designer named “Valentine St. Clair.”

Get a load of this outfit! He's in the middle of telling off Britt Ekland in this shot. (He may have been a clothing designer in real life, but he did get his start as an actor - Richard Selzer was his name - though you'd hardly know it from this!)

The security guard standing next to David Cassidy here is former child actor Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966.) By 1982, he was reduced to playing walk-ons as policemen and such in eight episodes of this show (between 1982-1985) and others with few viewers probably realizing that he'd once been a popular teen performer.

Do you recognize the star behind the sunglasses below (alongside William Smith)?
In this Sunset Boulevard-ish episode, a former screen legend is returning to her old studio for the first time in years to film a Biblical epic, but is scared about making the comeback.
The actress playing this part is Miss Janet Leigh. For scenes at the character's home, portraits of the real Leigh were strewn about.
Her daughter in the episode was played by a rather unlikely Jill Whelan (of the aforementioned The Love Boat, 1978-1987.)
This last shot if of Miss Leigh in her get-up as “Delilah” (as a counterpart to Norman Desmond's comeback role of “Salome”) and a rare chance at seeing her as a brunette.
Finally, from Matt Houston, we have the divine Miss Stella Stevens. Take a look at this series of pictures of her a full decade after The Poseidon Adventure (1972.)
She still looks pretty amazing in a similarly styled dress and hairdo.
I want to hate her because she got to plant a big kiss on Lee Horsley's lips, but I can't! She's terrific.
A skim through the old HBO series The Hitchhiker (remember it? 1983-1991) brings forth some early work from Michael Madsen. He got his start in movies in 1982 and proceeded to mix them with TV work. In this 1985 episode, he's the jealous boyfriend of a girl who's cheating on him.

In true Hitchhiker fashion (the cable show often had more violence, skin and adult language that its network competition), there's a “steamy” love scene between him and the actress (Penelope Milford) playing his gal pal.

He incorrectly believes that Milford is cheating on him with Edward Albert, but in actuality she's been dating Belinda Montgomery!
Fans of his might appreciate this look at him in his early days.
Likewise, fans of Sixteen Candles (1984), Vision Quest (1985), Longtime Companion (1989) and Mermaids (1990) might like seeing mid-'80s heartthrob Michael Schoeffling in a shot from this 1986 episode. He played the mysterious younger lover of loony Susan Anspach.

Schoeffling was a wrestler-turned-model who made an impression in Hollywood for a time before completely exiting stage right with his wife and two children in 1991. They moved to Pennsylvania where he began running a successful furniture-making business that they still maintain today. (After all those years of giving many of his gay fans “wood,” he's still serving it in a different way for those who still want some! Bah-dum-bump!)

This shot of Greg Evigan and Lucy Gutteridge has the unmistakable face of Susan Tyrell between them.
As a rich-bitch client at a resort, she delights in having tennis pro Evigan administer to her needs.
Only Tyrell can manage to make about thirty facial expressions in one brief shot, only a few of which are depicted in this collage!
Now what is this fluffy-haired, chiffon-draped personage flouncing across the screen in another 1986 episode?
Oh, look! It's Madeleine Sherwood (of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958, and The Flying Nun, 1967-1970, fame!) She plays a busy body interloper who threatens to spoil the plans of Barry Bostwick and Dayle Haddon in doing away with Haddon's husband Willem Dafoe (these old shows offer up a fun collection of performers!)

And look at this handsome devil. That's David James Elliott (billed then as simply “David Elliott”) in a 1989 installment.
He plays an appealing guy who becomes embroiled in the convoluted issues of prostitute Melody Anderson. Elliott was a steadily-employed actor at this point, but still a couple of years away from the fame of JAG, which ran from 1995-2005.

He was/is a good-looking man. I enjoyed him so much as “Ripp Cockburn” in the wrongly-maligned and swiftly-cancelled show GCB (2012.)
Do we recognize this heavily made-up face?
It must be said that the ultra-heavy make-up was part of the plot line of this 1987 edition of The Hitchhiker, so it's not merely bad taste in personal styling. Here we see the actress in question with fewer cosmetics on, though even this, along with the jewelry, is more than we're accustomed to seeing on her.

Yes, this is Helen Hunt, playing a rich, troubled party girl who is made over by a gay playmate who is wearing almost as much as she is. At this stage, Hunt was fresh off Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and about to do Project X (1987), but still a few years away from the sitcom Mad About You (1992-1999) that really brought her to the public's attention (resulting in the 1997 hit As Good as It Gets, which earned her an Academy Award. Somehow, she trumped Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Christie, Judi Dench and Kate Winslet to take it home!)

Lastly, we take a peek at some recent shows that have unearthed performers that have been around for a while. Modern Family has been a nice source of these types of appearances (before my burglary last year, I had planned on featuring Maxwell Caulfield and a few others in a post, but the photos are now gone.) This 2013 episode gave us '80s/'90s character actress Ann Magnuson in a hilarious turn as an overly eager and rules-oriented retirement village security agent who keeps breathing down Ty Burrell's neck.
Another wonderful character actress, Mary Jo Catlett, who was a TV fixture from the 1970s on, including Diff'rent Strokes (1982-1986), showed up as one of Eric Stonestreet's card-playing cohorts. Now in her mid-seventies, Ms. Catlett continues to provide amusing turns in various programs including voice-acting on SpongeBob SquarePants.
Though she doesn't read as old as Ms. Catlett, fellow guest star Anita Gillette is actually two years her senior. Stage actress and frequent TV performer Gillette has the unusual distinction of having played both Jack Klugman's wives on Quincy, M.E. She portrayed his deceased first wife in a flashback in 1979, then came on the show in 1982 as his girlfriend (a whole other character) who he eventually married!!! I guess he had very consistent taste in women.
A familiar face from the 1990s is Amy Yasbeck, costar of Wings (1994-1997) and of films such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), The Mask (1994) and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995.) Yasbeck hails from a Cincinnati suburb about five miles from my house.

She played one of Ty Burrell's real estate clients who comes to depend on him for far more than just finding her a house. She, along with a few other ladies, soon wants him to pitch in with attending her son's school events and everything including grocery shopping!

She is also known as the wife of John Ritter, who died suddenly of a heart defect in 2003, leaving her to raise their five year-old daughter without him. Like most everyone else in this post, it's fun to see her pop up out of the blue on a current show.

I can count on one hand how many current (scripted) television series that I watch. When TNT decided to resurrect the prime-time soap opera warhorse Dallas (which ran on CBS from 1978-1991), I was skeptical to say the least (especially after every conceivable type of rumor had floated around previously, such as a movie version being done with John Travolta and Jennifer Lopez! Seriously!) I won't go so far as to say that the show is flawless, but it is remarkably, surprisingly decent! Even better is the fact that they have occasionally brought back some of the original stars of the show (this apart from the ones who came back full-time or semi-regularly such as the late Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Ken Kercheval.)

It's hyper-annoying that almost every time Steve Kanaly (“Ray”) and Charlene Tilton (“Lucy”) have appeared, it's been with them glued-together at the hip, standing outside in the wind, but at least they've been invited on. Kanaly is in his mid-sixties now and Tilton her mid-fifties. Their characters are uncle and niece to each other, with Kanaly presumably married to Jenna, but they are always presented as a duo except for the few times Tilton broke away for a line or two with someone else.
The episode in which J.R. Ewing's funeral was held (due to Hagman's passing in real life) was a true treat for fans of the old show since Ted Shackelford (“Gary”), Cathy Podewell (“Cally”) and Deborah Shelton (“Mandy”) also showed up. Joan Van Ark (“Valene”) came back in another episode as well.
I feel like I have to mention that even though Linda Gray doesn't look too terribly great in these selections (something odd is going on with her facial structure and jawline?), on the show itself, she is dressed terrifically well, has amazing hair and often looks really great.  Angles are everything, especially as we age (and Ms. Gray is seventy-three!)
Another blast from the past was Audrey Landers (“Afton”), who has been on twice and looks, in my opinion, quite amazing. She's pushing sixty! Her character's daughter is one of the leads of the new rendition of the show.
She's surely had some things worked on, but has avoided that severe, over-stretched, freakish quality that so many show business women of a certain age demonstrate. I wish she were on the show more often (and I was no big fan of hers back in the day!)

It was neat that the first season of the new Dallas kept the same (if truncated slightly) theme song as the original, especially in an era where opening credits seem to be taboo, but it was so disappointing when they failed to incorporate the iconic three-fold photos of the cast members as their names appeared.

When the show returned this year, that oversight had been corrected and now the credits are very similar to the way they were back in the original show's heyday! (Sorry about the ad at the link!) For a nostalgic old coot like me, this was tremendously gratifying and more than welcome. The new aspect ratio for televisions even lends itself to this type of look more now than it did before! (Little things make me happy...) By the way, if you are not watching this show, you are missing some very charismatic and seductive work by Mitch Peleggi as the show's new villain and the stalwart Judith Light as his dastardly mother!