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Classic Guest Appearances on Episodic Television


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I have been wanting to start this thread for a long time. I really don't know how to organize it except maybe pick a TV series that was known for hiring lots of old-time movie stars. Shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Love American Style, Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote immediately come to mind.

 

Or perhaps a better way to do this is to just spotlight an artist whose career shifted from movies to television. It could be someone like Bette Davis who never had a hit television series of her own but made notable guest turns on popular weekly television programs.

 

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Lately, as I posted in the Greer Garson SOTM thread, I have been catching up on episodes of Universal's The Men from Shiloh. It is a continuation of the Virginian western series, and like its predecessor, it boasts a bevy of big-name guest stars. The Shiloh series seems to have had an even greater budget; maybe this is because the main cast was trimmed down considerably when the show was retooled. Each episode is a treasure trove of old-time movie stars. We're talking two major guest stars, two special guest stars, and then after the episode finishes, there is usually a list of costars-- very recognizable performers that were willing to settle for minor roles.

 

Yesterday after the episode with Greer Garson and James Whitmore, I watched one called 'Experiment at New Life' which featured Vera Miles, Ralph Meeker, Lyle Bettger and Sue Lyon. It was excellent.

 

Another one entitled 'The Angus Killer' had a personal favorite of mine, Ruth Roman. She played the invalid wife of Van Johnson. He was in love with Dina Merrill. Stephen McNally was seen causing trouble and so was Chill Wills as a drunken ranch hand. And if that wasn't enough, Slim Pickens played the sheriff. Highly entertaining!

 

As in the case with Greer Garson, it is especially interesting to watch Van Johnson as a guest star. First, he wasn't exactly known, like Greer, for doing many westerns, and also, this is a slightly different type of entertainment. One thing about the Virginian and Shiloh series is that each episode is about 72 minutes in length, so it is almost like a B-film with very good production values.

 

Anyway, it is interesting to see people like Garson, Johnson, Miles and Roman at these later stages of their Hollywood careers. While they were under contract to studios like MGM or Warners, or even Universal, they had learned a craft, and they competently ply the tools of their trade in these weekly programs.

 

As for The Men from Shiloh, like I indicated, this is a show I have been reviewing over the past few days. There are only 24 episodes. Stewart Granger is the star, and he brings something to the role of ranch owner that I think Lee J. Cobb, Charles Bickford and John McIntire lacked: a sort of glamour and leading man quality that works well and makes the show, in addition to all the great guest stars, something extra special.

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>the first that comes to mind is Joan Crawford, who appeared in the first episode of Night Gallery, directed by Steven Spielberg.

 

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Yes. She plays a blind woman in the segment called 'Eyes.' Her character blackmails a surgeon to help her see for the first time.

 

Incidentally, Joan did an episode of The Virginian the following year.

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> {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}TopBilled, the first that comes to mind is Joan Crawford, who appeared in the first episode of Night Gallery, directed by Steven Spielberg.

>

> The Ellery Queen tv series and the Burke's Law also had a lot of old time film stars. And let's not forget Batman.

Crawford also did an episode of Route 66, as did Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, Chester Morris, Glenda Farrell, James Dunn, Luther Adler, Dan Duryea, Lew Ayres, Betty Field and probably scores more I'm forgetting about.

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One of my favorite guest appearances on a classic sitcom is the one-time appearance by *Betty Garde* on The Honeymooners. Ms. Garde may not have been a household name, but she was in some memorable films. It was she, in the pivotal role of Kitty Stark, who stabbed Hope Emerson with the fork in Caged; it was she, as Wanda Skutnik, who wouldn't spill the beans to James Stewart in Call Northside 777. On Broadway, she created the role of Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!, singing "The Farmer and the Cowman."

 

But as Thelma the Maid on that episode of The Honeymooners ("A Woman's Work Is Never Done"), she has some of the best lines ever heard on the series, including: "Some guest and some employer. The simp and the blimp;" and "I don't clean up after any midnight snacks. And this boy looks like he has plenty of midnight snacks!"

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Some really good ones are mentioned here . . .

 

 

May I add "Combat!" to the list?

 

 

I'm currently watching Season 4 (out of 5) and am amazed at how many guest stars are featured -- both newbies and stage/film veterans. That show is a real treasure (to say nothing of how talented and sexy Vic Morrow was!)

 

 

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I love Combat too! So many terrific guest stars (Lee Marvin, Sal Mineo, Bill Bixby, James Whitmore, Claude Akins, Fritz Weaver, Dean Stockwell, Tab Hunter, Eddie Albert, Gary Merrill, James Caan, Beau Bridges, Neville Brand, Tom Skerritt, Richard Basehart, Richard Anderson, Jack Lord, Carol Lawrence, Frankie Avalon, Tommy Sands, Frank Gorshin, Simon Oakland, Roddy McDowell, Leonard Nimoy....just to name a few).

 

Dpompper - I watched all the seasons of Combat - one of the best shows I ever saw. The cast was terrific, but Vic Morrow made that show - he was phenomenal...and I agree with you - very talented and SEXY!!!!!!

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I love that Honeymooners episode, Swithin. Garde was terrific playing off Jackie Gleason.

 

One of my favorite exchanges happens when Norton asks Ralph if Thelma is like the actress (playing a maid) who helped Lily St. Cyr into the bathtub (in film) and Ralph responds, "She looks more like the one who installed the bathtub."

 

Garde was also in an episode of The Twilight Zone ("The Midnight Sun").

 

 

Edited by: EugeniaH on Dec 10, 2012 4:55 PM

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The original Perry Mason had lots of well-known movie actors in it, in most eps. Lots of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater people were in it, at one time or another. One, Ray Collins, had a recurring role as Lt. Tragg. There were also five eps made while Raymond Burr was ill, where big name actors filled in for him, including Bette Davis.

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}AS a big fan of "LA Law", which had many guest appearances by movie actors, the most memorable was an elderly Lew Ayres as a doddering attorney..........AS a big fan of "Seinfeld", the most memorable was Lawrence Tierney as Elaine's father.

Remember when Lew Ayres played Murray Slaughter's father on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and she became romantically interested in him?

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I recently came across a series of videos on Youtube that shows the mystery celebrity clip segments on "What's My Line". I found this while looking for whatever clips were available for Linda Darnell. Hers is a good one, done in march 1956, talking in a good Italian accent, and looking glamorous and beautiful. of course in the comment segment I obviously didn't know Youtube etiquette, and being me, posted 1500 characters, when most had brief comments.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cef-S3oXSuA

 

There are many more movie star clips you can access, most are quite entertaining.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 10, 2012 11:59 PM

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>Major highlight: Beulah Bondi as Aunt Martha Corinne Walton on two episodes of The Waltons. I think the most moving moment on any award show, EVER, was when Beulah Bondi won an Emmy for her appearance on The Waltons.

 

We discussed this when I featured Beulah on the character actors thread. She certainly gave a grand performance on The Waltons, especially the second episode called 'The Pony Cart.' Anyone who says there are no good roles for older actresses has not studied Miss Bondi's work.

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You're right about Hotel. Many of Aaron's Spelling's series in the 1970s and 1980s followed a formula of using old-time movie stars to boost ratings. Fantasy Island was another one. And for a short-lived season in the mid-80s, Spelling offered up a show called Glitter which featured a guest turn by Ginger Rogers. Ginger also did Love Boat and Hotel.

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Jeez, you've all mentioned anything I could come up with. Occaisionally, some old timer would find new life on soap operas, as did Philip Carey.

 

 

But NOT as guests, but as cast members, there was AGNES MOOREHEAD (Bewitched) and TOM EWELL(Barretta). Oh, and LLOYD NOLAN in "Julia", I think it was called. PLEASE correct me if wrong!

 

 

I also seem to recall CYD CHARRISE(sic) make a guest appearance on Chad Everret's "Medical Center".

 

 

ESTELLE PARSONS showing up as "Roseanne's" Mother, and SHELLY WINTERS appearing occaisionally as her Grandmother.

 

 

"Kung Fu" had David Carradine's father JOHN show up, as well as EDDIE ARNOLD, GARY MERRILL and JACK ELAM.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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One show I remember using many, many Hollywood stars in guest roles is The Big Valley. Here are just a few of the stars that were used: Julie London, Carol Lynley, Lew Ayres, Julie Adams, Jill St. John, Bradford Dillman, Karen Black, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, and Julie Harris. That's quite a list, isn't it?

 

 

 

 

 

Terrence.

 

 

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