Wednesday, February 14, 2007

There yesterday, gone today

The last time I ran a mailbag question that depended on my allegedly encyclopedic knowledge of this business we call television, you lot immediately filled the comments section of that morning's blog entry with examples I had completely forgotten. In that case, the topic was stars who played wildly different roles in two series. For the next mailbag, I'm going in the opposite direction:
Dear Alan: Just saw a commercial for a law firm featuring a much aged Daniel L. Travanti. Got me thinking about all the popular stars who had one long running series and then vanished. Sherman Hemsley and Bonnie Franklin also come to mind. You can probably come up with dozens more.
So rather than be chided after the fact for forgetting really obvious ones, I figured I'd open the floor in advance. Fire away, fellow geeks.

28 comments:

Joel said...

I was thinking about Bonnie Franklin the other day, I think when I saw her birthday listed in the Ledger's "Dish" column. The interesting thing about her is that she's not that old... I think she just turned 61. That means she was about 30 when she started "One Day at a Time." A 30-year-old with two teenage kids... did she have them in middle school? Seriously, she was probably playing someone older. Not many actresses would agree to do something like that. She completely disappeared, didn't she?

As far as Hemsley is concerned, he was on "Amen" for five years or so, so it's not like he disappeared. And he's been popping up on Old Navy ads and things like "The Surreal Life" for a while now.

An interesting guy who "disappeared" is Wayne Rogers. He's a big business/financier type now; the only time you see him on TV is when he talks investing on some Saturday morning program on the Fox News Channel.

the2scoops said...

Just off the top of my head, I think the majority of the cast of MASH either went behind the camera or dinner theater. Alan Alda had his run on West Wing, but Mike Farrell, Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit, etc. never returned to regular series television.

Anonymous said...

Are we only talking about the main star of the show? Because there are plenty of supporting players who stay on long running shows because they know their careers are over once the show ends. Television Without Pity even wrote an entire chapter in their book about it...and dedicated it to Ian Ziering.

bebe said...

What are we considering long-running, and what are we considering disappearing?

My first thought was Gabe Kaplan, but it's not like Kotter had a long run, per se.

bebe said...

ha! Like Mr. Belding, anon?

Joel said...

Mike Farrell was on "Providence," which ran for 3 years, I think. So he didn't completely disappear. Gabe Kaplan is in the Wayne Rogers category... he just decided to do something else. Now he's a big-time professional poker player.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Are we only talking about the main star of the show?

Yes. Otherwise, it would be a list of thousands.

Ted F. said...

It's not clear to me that Kaplan "chose" to become a professional poker player (there was a long run of failed movies and semi-successful one-man shows in there), and among poker players he's more famous for being the former Mr. Kotter.

Eric said...

Gabe Kaplan is now hosting High Stakes Poker on GSN, I believe.

And Lorretta Switt has a line of jewelry- she travels to jewelry shows and does personal appearances.

Fred App said...

Sally Struthers wound up doing infomercials for starving African kids after "All in the Family." Florence Henderson was hawking Wesson Oil when "The Brady Bunch" ended. Bea Arthur got another series after "Maude," but Bill Macy (as opposed to William H. Macy) kinda disappeared, and Adrienne Barbeau went back to B-movies.

Then there's pretty much the whole casts of "Diff'rent Strokes" and "What's Happening."

And the guy who played Andy on "WKRP." At one point, he was supposed to be the focal point of the show, before he got upstaged by all the supporting characters like Johnyy Fever and Les Nessman. So in a way, he disappeared even while he was on the long-running series. Does that count?

Matt said...

There's a frightening photo of Daniel J. Travanti in this week's "Time Out New York." Actors of this sort get so infrained and known for particular roles that they can't transcend it. That's part of what has made Matthew Perry's performance this year so impressive--say what you will about Matt Albie, but he ain't Chandler.

Dan Coyle said...

One thing I know about someone who disappears: they usually show up on Family Guy or Robot Chicken sooner than later.

Anonymous said...

Is it too early to add Kramer to this list? God knows he's never gonna do anything again.

You can add to the list the entire cast of the Brady bunch. (what does it say about this whole endeavor that I have difficulty thinking of the actors, and instead revert to characters.)

And, then there's the one that breaks my heart the most, as he was my favorite back in the 80's. Dan Ackroyd. Man, he was in Ghostbusters, blues brothers, (yeah, movies, but he started in TV, and for 5 years he was one of, if not THE star of the show.) Now? The rest is silence.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Aykroyd's not a great example. We're looking for people who starred in one show and then essentially vanished from the face of the earth. (Travanti's worked off and on ever since Hill Street Blues went off the air, but in such minor stuff as to be unemployment.)

Devin McCullen said...

I'm not sure you'd count him because he did some stuff before DS9, but has anybody seen Avery Brooks since then? Or, keeping with the Trek theme, Kate Mulgrew?

Candice Bergen shouldn't count, but most of the rest of the Murphy Brown cast did one heck of a disappearing act.

Michael Moriarty really dropped off the face of the earth after he left Law & Order.

I don't remember seeing Susan Saint James since Kate & Allie went away, although it's not like her husband can't support her.

Speaking of SNL, from the original cast Laraine Newman never really did much, and to be brutally honest, neither did Gilda Radner.

Matt said...

Michael Moriarty was fired from L & O for having gone batshit crazy. It's that preventing him from working, more than anything else.

And the rest of the Murphy Brown cast has worked pretty regularly, though Joe Regalbuto is primarily a director now, and Charles Kimbrough has been doing stage stuff.

Louis said...

How about Hal Linden, of the great Barney Miller?

Am I the only person here who's old enough to remember that show?

Daniel L. said...

How about the whole "Barney Miller" cast? The only time I see Abe Vigoda is when Comedy Central runs one of the Friars' roasts, and even then, it's just to give everyone a chance to say, "Abe Vigoda is still alive?"

On Murphy Brown, I'm pretty that Grant Shaud got another sitcom not too long afterward, although I can't remember what it was, which probably means it didn't run terribly long.

dez said...

Isn't Hal Linden on a soap or other show now?

Michael Moriarty pops up in small roles now and again. He was on an ep of "Masters of Horror" last season (or was it this season? They all sort of blend together in their suckiness).

Doing the cast of "Different Strokes" wouldn't work since some are dead and the others show up on stuff like "The Surreal Life" (or in Gary Coleman's case, phone-sex lines).

Adam said...

Joyce DeWitt? Donnie Most? Is it too soon to put Noah Wylie or Eriq LaSalle on the list?

rukrusher said...

I was going to say Harry Anderson dropped out after Night Court but I then looked again and could not believe Dave's World ran for four seasons. Thankfully it was when I was a younger man and spent more nights out wiht friends then watching CBS sitcoms. Four years, just incredible.

rukrusher said...

Crystal Bernard of Wings went back to the theater, only small guest roles on TV since wings ended. She was the main female lead on that show.

porter said...

Has Anthony Edwards done anything post-ER?

Bret LaGree said...

fred app,

I saw Gary Sandy star in The Music Man when I was a kid in Kansas City. Don't know what he's been up to for the last 20 years or so, though.

It may have been that same summer (certainly the same venue) that I saw Lisa Whelchel play Peter Pan.

R.A. Porter said...

A little late for this, but what about Dirk Benedict? If Richard Hatch can get some of the Ron Moore love, I don't know why they can't find a little place for Face.

Also, some of the people being lamented as "gone" aren't. Ron Glass found a home in Joss' world long after Barney Miller, and once you're a FoJ (Friend of Joss) you can pretty much be guaranteed future work. Plus Sally Struthers (when not chasing the kids from South Park to Marklar) is a semi-regular on GG.

Jennifer Jaroch said...

About Laraine Newman, I know she still guest stars on TV shows (7th Heaven; Brothers and Sisters) and does numerous voice over work. The guest star role that sticks out most for me though is on a Friends episode as Mrs. Buffay, Frank Jr.s mother. This is where Phoebe is in the old taxi with Rachel and Joey and accidentally runs over the woman's dog.

R.A. Porter said...

I remembered another sorta lost actor: Joe Penny (though his IMDB entry has a bunch of entries for what appear to be a series of movies named Jane Doe). Five years of Jake and the Fatman and (only!!!) 14 episodes of Riptide. My hazy, happy memories of Riptide made it seem like it was on much longer.

ooda said...

Sadly, it looks like Shelley Long is probably worth a mention.