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Classic film actors that nixed television


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Recently, there was a thread that mentioned how *Joan Crawford* viewed herself as a motion picture star and did not really venture much into television (except for rare guest appearances).

 

This caused me to think about other big-name movie actors who really did not work much on television. I am sure there are many reasons why this occurred.

 

One that comes to mind is *Edward G. Robinson*. His film career never really stopped. He still has lead billing in SOYLENT GREEN, his last film in 1972. He made over 100 pictures. If he had lived to 100, he probably would have kept making movies. There wasn't a need for him to go to television.

 

*Clark Gable* didn't have a need to do television, either.

 

Any others that immediately come to mind?

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Many actors and actresses avoided TV in the 1950's, they believed it was a step down to appear in this medium. The same way that stage actors in the early days of film believed it was beneath them to appear in film. Many movie stars believed that TV was too personal and appearing in someones living room, they might lose the magic of being a movie star in a darkened theater.

Ava Gardner was a major holdout. She did not work in TV until 1980 when she finally appeared in a TV movie. Jimmy Stewart was another star who didn't make many appearances. He did three episodes of G.E. Theater in the 1950's and a few guest appearances on Jack Benny's show in the late 50's and early 60's. along with a guest shot on a show like "My Three Sons" as a favor to a friend. When he decided to make the leap he did "THe Jimmy Stewart Show" in 1971, that was cancelled after 21 episodes , two years later he tried again with "Hawkins" a country lawyer, that was axed after 7 shows.Many others were also leery of TV and it took a long time for them to make a move.

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You're right about Clark Gable, other then appearing on Ed Sullivan to promote a movie or Awards shows he never did TV, the same can be said for Gary Cooper. Appearing as himself in a special on the West and award shows he never did anything on TV. William Holden was another. Guesting and promoting films, didn't do a TV movie until 1973 with "The Blue Knight" and 3 years later in"21 Hours at Munich"....

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Aug 25, 2010 2:58 PM

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Aug 25, 2010 3:47 PM

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Aug 25, 2010 3:51 PM

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I'm surprised Jimmy's sitcom did not make it. That's a shame. Betty Hutton also did one season of a sitcom, and so did Jean Arthur with her own self-titled sitcom in the mid-60s. But these did not draw viewers. Peter Lawford had a little more luck, doing a TV version of The Thin Man.

 

Ava Gardner did a great multi-episode arc on CBS' primetime sudser Knots Landing in the 80s. It was probably her last major role on screen.

 

Lauren Bacall is another actress who nixed regular work on television. She has done several high-profile TV movies and miniseries but I don't think she has ever guest-starred on a weekly series. I don't even recall her doing The Tonight Show, though I am sure she must've at some point.

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Lauren Bacall was on the Tonight Show a few times, with Johnny Carson for sure. I remember him calling her "Betty" a couple of times. And Lauren has done quite a few interview shows over the years.

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Aug 25, 2010 3:13 PM

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Richard Widmark had a "thing" about television. Other than his memorable spot on "I Love Lucy" and his one year "Madigan" movie series in the 70's, I don't think he did any other TV. He was a mystery guest on Whats My Line in the 50's.

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I remember reading a few newspaper articles about this in the late ?50s, and the general feeling was that the most famous movie actors thought it was a career-ender to perform on a TV show. Also, the pay was supposed to be much less than making a movie.

 

However, some major actors got paid a lot to turn up on certain programs, and those programs were highly promoted. This was especially true for 1-1/2 hour drama shows, such as ?Westinghouse Playhouse?.

 

In 1955, Fox was airing a show called ?The 20th Century Fox Hour?, and they made short versions of their famous movies, usually about 48 minutes long, such as ?Laura?, with Dana Wynter, George Sanders (as Waldo), and Robert Stack as the police detective. I saw this once on the Fox Channel a few years ago, and it was very good.

 

Here is a list of those episodes:

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047702/episodes

 

Cast of Playhouse 90 show:

William Lundigan, Jane Greer, Chico Marx, Sylvia Sidney, Charles Bronson, Jay C. Flippen, Reginald Gardiner, Buster Keaton, Regis Toomey. Originally shown Feb. 13, 1958:

 

 

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Cary Grant never appeared on any TV program. I read he would have did a TV special if it was something he liked, especially if it was something for kids (for his daughter) but he just never found that one thing.

 

I was a bit disappointed he never appeared on "What's My Line" at the very least. :)

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Garbo never did television, spencer tracey, robert taylor, i do not think so, bergman, olivier, these people, i think, viewed television as a sub par media to film,,,,i could be wrong, but they did not see themselves as TV actors. I agree, totally.

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Edward G. Robinson did do some TV work. He guested on Robert Taylor's series THE DETECTIVES, made a TV movie with Martin Balsam titled THE OLD MAN WHO CRIED WOLF and he was in an episode of NIGHT GALLERY.

 

Plus he also did a commercial for Maxwell House coffee which ended with him saying "Now do it my way, see."

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James Cagney only did a few . A Robert Montgomery Presents in 1956 "Soldier from War Returning"

"Ballad of Smokey the Bear" as narrator in 1968

His last appearance on film was "Terrible Joe Moran" in 1984

 

Spencer Tracy never appeared to my knowledge

 

Humphrey Bogart appeared on "Person to Person"in 1954 and a few guest appearances on Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason.

The only drama he starred in was a Producers Showcase production of "The Petrified Forest" in 1955 with Lauren Bacall and Henry Fonda.....

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I think that by not doing television, some of them did preserve their status as film stars a bit more. (I just wonder if any of them nixed radio, too.)

 

After many years in television, someone like Lucille Ball had a hard time being remembered for her film work (and she certainly made some good movies for RKO and MGM).

 

What's great about a Garbo or a Norma Shearer never doing television is that it requires us to know these people intimately only through cinema...and usually in larger-than-life roles like Queen Christina or Marie Antoinette.

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Edward G Robinson also did a Batman Window Cameo in the Green Hornet crossover episode

A Piece Of The Action / Batman's Satisfaction. He has a brief conversation about art before they face Colnel Gumm, The Green Hornet, And Kato. Alex Rocco and Seymour Cassell were henchman in this episode.

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I think you are right but I believe it depends on when in their career they make a move to TV.

 

Ball did it around mid-career and since she was a major star on TV she is mainly know for her TV work today. But if star's movie career starts to dry up as they age (especially for women back in the day), and they move to TV later than the impact isn't as much. For example, Stanwyck is still very well known and respected for her movies as well as The Big Valley.

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Well, television is still the place that women in Hollywood turn to when their film career hits the skids. Today's examples are Sally Field in Brothers & Sisters and Glenn Close in Damages.

 

I think Stanwyck had done so many varied roles in movies, certainly in a lot of different genres, that her impact was much more extraordinary than other ladies that ventured into television.

 

Try having a conversation with people about Lucille Ball, and most of them cannot get past a six year sitcom from the 50s. Many of them have not seen a lot of her movies, if any, and they are unable to tell you much about the other two hit TV series she did that ran as long as the first one.

 

If you ask Lucie Arnaz, she will probably tell you that her mother was most proud of her star on the walk of fame for film. She considered herself a movie actress. And the goal was to thread some of the sitcom episodes together to make stand-alone movies (that was just recently realized with an I LOVE LUCY MOVIE). When the first sitcom ended, they expanded into doing 60- and 75-minute comedies that aired on television, but were basically movies with other big-name actors like Maurice Chevalier, Fred MacMurray, Tallulah Bankhead and Betty Grable.

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