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Actor Kevin Dobson (1943-2020)


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The actor Kevin Dobson, who starred in the television series "Kojak" and "Knots Landing," has died at the age of 77. He reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack on Sunday at a  Stockton, California hospital. He had been battling an autoimmune deficiency.

The former U.S. Army serviceman's death was confirmed on Facebook by The United Veterans Council of San Joaquin County, for which he served as chairman.

Kevin Dobson

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Dobson  became a TV fixture opposite Telly Savalas in the CBS police drama "Kojak," which ran from 1973 to 1978. 

Savalas starred as Theo Kojak, the lollipop-loving NYPD detective who had been introduced in the 1973 CBS made-for-TV movie "The Marcus-Nelson Murders."  For his efforts, he won the 1974 Primetime Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Dobson co-starred as Lt. Bobby Crocker, a plainclothes detective who frequently worked cases with Kojak.

The cast members reunited in 1990 for the  ABC TV-movie "Kojak: It's Always Something." In that production, viewers discovered that Crocker had become an assistant district attorney. 

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In 1982, Dobson began a long run on the CBS drama "Knots Landing," a spinoff of the network's monster hit show "Dallas." Making its debut in December 1979, "Knots" was set at a Southern California cul-de-sac which became the new home of transplanted Texans Gary and Valene Ewing  (played by Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark, pictured below left). Dobson joined the series during Season 4 as attorney Mack MacKenzie, who became the husband of the widowed Karen Fairgate (Michele Lee, pictured below right with Dobson). The actor won five Soap Opera Digest Awards for the role, including Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role: Prime Time.

The series ended in 1993, but Dobson reprised the role of Mack for the 1997 CBS miniseries "Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac" and returned for the 2005 CBS special "Knots Landing Reunion: Together Again."

Knots Landing (1979-1993)

Dobson's athleticism made him a popular choice to represent CBS in several "Battle of the Network Stars" competitions. He competed in 1976, 1977 (twice), 1978 and 1982. He served as the CBS  team captain his final year and was interviewed by co-host Debbie Allen (pictured below). Unfortunately, his teams never won the competition.

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Among his movie appearances was a role in the 1981 romantic comedy "All Night Long," which starred Gene Hackman as a onetime executive who took on the job of late-night manager at a 24-hour convenience store. Dobson's character was the firefighter husband of a housewife (Barbra Streisand) who became involved with the store manager.  Also starring in the production were Diane Ladd and Dennis Quaid, who played Hackman's wife and son, respectively. The film was directed by the Belgian filmmaker Jean-Claude Tramont, who was married to the superagent Sue Mengers at the time. Streisand was a top Mengers client.

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From 1996 to 1997,  Dobson was a regular in the syndicated, Canadian-produced television drama  "F/X: The Series," inspired by the  popular "F/X" theatrical films (released in 1986 and 1991) starring Bryan Brown as a special effects wizard  and Brian Dennehy as a Manhattan police detective. Dobson played Dennehy's character during Season 1 of the two-year series. 

In 2006 and 2007, Dobson appeared as Judge Devin Owens in 13 episodes of the CBS daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful." In 2008, he appeared as Mickey Horton in 15 episodes of NBC’s "Days of Our Lives."

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Before his death, he had filmed one episode of "12 to Midnight," a half-hour sci-fi television series scheduled to air in 2021.

He is survived by his wife Susan, whom he married in 1968, their children Mariah, Patrick and Sean and five grandchildren.

 

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#RIP Kevin Dobson, 77; confident, curly-haired actor went from the projects in Jackson Heights and a job as a conductor for the Long Island Rail Road to stardom on 'Kojak' and 'Knots Landing.' https://bit.ly/3h5xyYX

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I am very sad. Kevin Dobson passed away yesterday. We worked together years ago and he was an amazing man. I wish I had been given time to say goodbye. Godspeed Kevin.
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So sorry to hear of Kevin Dobson's passing! I did a Kojak with him back in '76 and he was always so lovely whenever I ran into him in LA. Hate that we are losing so many in 2020. #RIPKevinDobson 
 
Oh man this makes me so sad! We had been in an acting class together in the early 70s &we saw him over the years at industry events. Just a great guy and wonderful actor... I loved him in Knots Landing. My deepest condolences to Susan &his children.

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You just know somewhere on Seaview Circle, Val is arriving at Karen's with a casserole. Abby will bring something store bought. RIP, Kevin Dobson.
 
 

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Come on, man. Not Mack. On Knots Landing, Michele Lee (Karen) and he had one of the best marriages on TV. Like, you believed they were a real couple. And you had no doubt Karen was always well-protected with Mack around. RIP to Kevin Dobson 
 
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Praying for his family tonight.

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  • jakeem changed the title to Actor Kevin Dobson (1943-2020)

I'm very disappointed that the obituary spent so much time talking about Telly Savalas. What is the relevance of Savalas winning an Emmy to Kevin Dobson's death? Surely a guy ought to get top billing in his own obituary? Kevin Dobson spent many years on Knots Landing, where he was the leading man and where he regularly gave outstanding performances. That is how most people will remember him.

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3 minutes ago, kingrat said:

I'm very disappointed that the obituary spent so much time talking about Telly Savalas. What is the relevance of Savalas winning an Emmy to Kevin Dobson's death? Surely a guy ought to get top billing in his own obituary? Kevin Dobson spent many years on Knots Landing, where he was the leading man and where he regularly gave outstanding performances. That is how most people will remember him.

Maybe kingrat, and your point about getting top billing within one's own obit is well taken.

However, because I never got into any of those old '80s nighttime soaps, I'll always remember Kevin Dobson as Crocker on Kojak.

(...and especially how Savalas with his New York accent always called him "Crockah")

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Sorry if I sounded too testy. Dobson was one of those rare actors who could make nice guys seem interesting and complex. Since the same could be said about Michele Lee playing a nice woman, they were a great match onscreen.

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8 minutes ago, kingrat said:

Sorry if I sounded too testy. Dobson was one of those rare actors who could make nice guys seem interesting and complex. Since the same could be said about Michele Lee playing a nice woman, they were a great match onscreen.

You didn't sound "testy" at all, and because once again your point up there was well taken.

And I'll have to take your word for how well Dobson and Lee acted in Knots Landing, as once again, again, I never got into any of those old nighttime soaps back in the day.

(...all I know is I always liked watching Kevin Dobson on the Kojak series, and hope that he rests in peace)

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3 hours ago, kingrat said:

Sorry if I sounded too testy. Dobson was one of those rare actors who could make nice guys seem interesting and complex. Since the same could be said about Michele Lee playing a nice woman, they were a great match onscreen.

No problem. But...

(1) Savalas had evolved into a TV icon as Theo Kojak. Dobson wasn't co-starring with your everyday leading actor.  Check out the TV Guide cover I posted for the correct perspective.

(2) The series had a prestigious pedigree, which  made "Kojak" a  better-than-average cop show.

Also, if you'll look at the tweets below the obit, many others certainly share your appreciation of Dobson.

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10 hours ago, Dargo said:

Maybe kingrat, and your point about getting top billing within one's own obit is well taken.

They do this every time one of Cary Grant's wives passes away. The obit is all about the woman's marriage to Grant and then it's additional paragraphs about working with Grant and divorcing Grant, like nothing else matters or nothing else important happened in the person's life. All the obits for Betsy Drake a few years ago exemplify this. And when Dyan Cannon dies, it won't be about her accomplishments, it will be about her short-lived marriage to Cary Grant.

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10 hours ago, kingrat said:

Sorry if I sounded too testy. Dobson was one of those rare actors who could make nice guys seem interesting and complex. Since the same could be said about Michele Lee playing a nice woman, they were a great match onscreen.

See the comment I just made to Dargo. I agree that the focus should not be on Savalas or Kojak.

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Speaking of Knots Landing one of my favorite episodes is from season 10. It's called "Birds Do It, Bees Do It" and the main plot involves Mack & Karen, the characters played by Kevin Dobson and Michele Lee.

They'd been arguing a lot in prior episodes. Karen thinks they need to spice up their love life. She shows up at Mack's office with nothing but a teddy on under a long coat. They are interrupted by his clients (Mack is a lawyer). Later in the episode they are arguing some more. He goes off to some mountain retreat to rescue her niece who's in trouble. 

At the retreat there is a sexy woman (played by Melinda Culea) who puts the moves on Mack. And since he's been arguing a lot with Karen lately and not getting sex, he's very tempted. The last act builds towards Mack and this woman, and it looks like for the first time in the history of their relationship, Mack will cheat on Karen.

There's a very clever cut where he is about to kiss the sexy woman at the lodge, to a flash forward where he's kissing Karen in bed at home. Apparently the woman at the lodge got him so worked up, and he decided he couldn't cheat, he raced home in record time to make up with Karen.

The best thing about Mack & Karen's relationship on Knots Landing was it felt like a real marriage. They would have big quarrels but they never cheated on each other, and they always patched up their differences. Kevin Dobson & Michele Lee were fantastic together.

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How sad. I liked Kevin Dobson very much on Kojak and especially Knots Landing.  Knots was a very favorite show for me, it was on for 14 years and I've seen every episode. Kevin and Michelle were a great couple and their relationship turned into the anchor for the show. Thanks for all those years of great tv watching Kevin.

RIP Kevin Dobson

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4 hours ago, TopBilled said:

They do this every time one of Cary Grant's wives passes away. The obit is all about the woman's marriage to Grant and then it's additional paragraphs about working with Grant and divorcing Grant, like nothing else matters or nothing else important happened in the person's life. All the obits for Betsy Drake a few years ago exemplify this. And when Dyan Cannon dies, it won't be about her accomplishments, it will be about her short-lived marriage to Cary Grant.

I have a feeling that when Dyan Cannon dies, it also will be reported that she received Academy Award nominations as an actress and filmmaker -- and that she was a diehard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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12 minutes ago, jakeem said:

I have a feeling that when Dyan Cannon dies, it also will be reported that she received Academy Award nominations as an actress and filmmaker -- and that she was a diehard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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I agree with you;   Cannon's bio will be about much more than being an Ex of Cary Grant.     The reasons are two fold (as you note);  one is that Cannon was very active in the modern era (e.g. being a Lakers fan),    as well as being the most accomplished talent of Grant's Ex wives. 

E.g.  with Betsy Drake:   she didn't have much of a career as an actress.

 

 

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50 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I agree with you;   Cannon's bio will be about much more than being an Ex of Cary Grant.     The reasons are two fold (as you note);  one is that Cannon was very active in the modern era (e.g. being a Lakers fan),    as well as being the most accomplished talent of Grant's Ex wives. 

E.g.  with Betsy Drake:   she didn't have much of a career as an actress.

But the fact remains that she was once married to the biggest movie star in the world. She even wrote a book about it.

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49 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I agree with you;   Cannon's bio will be about much more than being an Ex of Cary Grant.     The reasons are two fold (as you note);  one is that Cannon was very active in the modern era (e.g. being a Lakers fan),    as well as being the most accomplished talent of Grant's Ex wives. 

E.g.  with Betsy Drake:   she didn't have much of a career as an actress.

 

NOR indeed WAS much of an actress.

(...her voice, with its monotone and unnatural sounding cadence, always grated on me)

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3 hours ago, jakeem said:

I have a feeling that when Dyan Cannon dies, it also will be reported that she received Academy Award nominations as an actress and filmmaker -- and that she was a diehard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Plus she also had a memorable recurring guest part on the TV series Ally McBeal in the 90s. She really enlivens any film she's in.

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