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Favorite Movie Actor Performances on Television


speedracer5
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Sorry the title is so clunky, I am trying to figure out a way to word it accurately.

 

Starting in the mid-1990s to the early 00s (about late elementary school through high school) when Nick-at-Nite was in its heyday (and before DVDs), I was a total classic television junkie.  I made sure to have all my homework done by 8pm so that I could watch my favorite shows-- I Love Lucy was always on first and that show was my favorite.  Summer was even a bigger coup, it was "Block Party Summer" where I could watch 3 hour blocks of Lucy, Mary, Jeannie, etc.

 

Anyway, from watching so much Nick-at-Nite (especially I Love Lucy), I got a lot of exposure to many of Classic Hollywood's greatest stars and character actors.  The first time I saw an Astaire/Rogers movie for example, there was Edward Everett Horton.  "It's Mr. Ritter from I Love Lucy!" I would say.  Many of Hollywood's greatest character actors pop up in I Love Lucy as a result of Lucille Ball's great love of character actors.  She said many times that when she was starting out in Hollywood, many of the character actors took the time to show her the ropes and help her out.  When she got her own show, she repaid many of these wonderful men and women by giving them roles on her show.  These performers also found work on other classic television shows as well.

 

In addition to the character actors, many big Hollywood stars took one-shot cameo type roles, 1 episode story arcs, appearing as themselves, etc. I Love Lucy attracted many of these stars as did other shows like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island

 

What are some of your favorite Hollywood movie actors' performances on television?

 

I'll start:

 

In my beloved I Love Lucy, the aforementioned Edward Everett Horton appears as Mr. Ritter, the grocer at the market.  Miss Lewis (played by the wonderful Bea Benederett), an elderly neighbor of the Ricardos and Mertzes.  Miss Lewis has a crush on Mr. Ritter and wants to invite him to dinner, but she's too shy to ask him.  Lucy offers to help Miss Lewis out.  She tries to teach Miss Lewis how to flirt with men, but Miss Lewis is reluctant to follow Lucy's advice.  She finally gives Lucy an invitation to give to Mr. Ritter.  Lucy gives Mr. Ritter the invitation, but unfortunately, Miss Lewis says something to the effect that "[his] secret admirer is inviting him to dinner" and Mr. Ritter incorrectly assumes that it is Lucy who wants to invite him.  Lucy, hoping to dissuade Mr. Ritter, dresses like a slob, messes up her house, somehow borrows a ton of children and makes a gross dinner-- encompassing all of Mr. Ritter's pet peeves.  Mr. Ritter of course, despite hating all these things, overlooks it because he likes Lucy so much.  By the end of the episode, everything is straightened out and Mr. Ritter and Miss Lewis leave, arm in arm. 

 

Horton and Benederet are hilarious in this episode.  Horton's reactions to Lucy's wackiness are funny and he is also funny when faced with Lucy's gross food.  Benederet is excellent playing an elderly woman.  Her funniest scene is when she tries to flirt with Ricky using the flirting skills she learned from Lucy.

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Hm...  Do I post to highlight my favorite actor, or my favorite television show?

 

I vote for Gig Young in the "Walking Distance" episode of The Twilight Zone (my favorite television program, and my favorite episode which happens to star a classic film actor - he was terrific.)

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Hm...  Do I post to highlight my favorite actor, or my favorite television show?

 

I vote for Gig Young in the "Walking Distance" episode of The Twilight Zone (my favorite television program, and my favorite episode which happens to star a classic film actor - he was terrific.)

Favorite actor performance in a TV show.  I was thinking more of the actor from the classic era in a classic television show, but as always with my threads, there's room for everything.  It doesn't specifically have to be your favorite actor or your favorite television show, just a fun appearance or episode you remember.

 

I was thinking specifically more of one-shot (or maybe multiple episodes if someone had a Batman villain story arc, for example) appearance on a TV show.  Not something like Barbara Stanwyck starring in her TV Show, Big Valley

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Hm...  Do I post to highlight my favorite actor, or my favorite television show?

 

I vote for Gig Young in the "Walking Distance" episode of The Twilight Zone (my favorite television program, and my favorite episode which happens to star a classic film actor - he was terrific.)

That sounds interesting.  I've only seen Gig Young in a couple movies and found him dull, but Twilight Zone episodes are usually interesting.  I haven't seen many Twilight Zone episodes, but would like to.  It's on Netflix.

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So many come to mind here Speedy, but for some reason the first one I thought of and when it comes to classic sitcoms was a turn by veteran character actress Kathleen Freeman who played the voice teacher here in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN...

Kathleen+Freeman+and+Jean+Hagen+in+Singi

 

...and who in an episode of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW played a nasty hotel maid who begins to get suspicious of Rob after Laura's big toe gets caught inside a bathtub faucet and with the bathroom door locked from inside.

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I agree Dargo, Kathleen Freeman is fantastic. She was all over the place in the 60's, and like Rita Shaw were the female Thomas Mitchells of charactor actors.

 

When I read the title William Holden in I LOVE LUCY was a standout for me. I had no idea who William Holden was when I first saw that episode as a kid and the cameo always comes to mind when seeing Holden in a movie. I just rewatched that episode and boy was he adorable!

I LOVE LUCY using movie stars in cameos was a stroke of brilliance. Funny so many stars avoided the small screen, as if they'd be marked a traitor.

 

That episode WALKING DISTANCE was based on Rod Serling's childhood in Binghamton NY and the gazebo in Recreation Park (across the street from his childhood home) has a commemorative plate mentioning it. Serling made sure the episode actually looked like the Park, carousel and all.

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That sounds interesting.  I've only seen Gig Young in a couple movies and found him dull

 

He's absolutely dull in movies, but he was great in this episode.  Actually, I'd first heard of Gig Young through TZ, and then later when I saw him in movies I was surprised / disappointed how limited his range really was (imo).

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That sounds interesting.  I've only seen Gig Young in a couple movies and found him dull, but Twilight Zone episodes are usually interesting.  I haven't seen many Twilight Zone episodes, but would like to.  It's on Netflix.

Burgess Meredith and Mickey Rooney were also outstanding in TZ episodes.

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My favorite movie actor role on television was Beulah Bondi, who appeared in two episodes of The Waltons. She won an Emmy Award for one of those performances: "Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series." I remember that award show well -- the distinguished actress of so many movies, then well into her 80s, received a much deserved ovation. It was the most moving moment on any award show, ever.

 

51-Martha_Corinne_on_Mountain.jpg

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I agree Dargo, Kathleen Freeman is fantastic. She was all over the place in the 60's, and like Rita Shaw were the female Thomas Mitchells of charactor actors.

 

When I read the title William Holden in I LOVE LUCY was a standout for me. I had no idea who William Holden was when I first saw that episode as a kid and the cameo always comes to mind when seeing Holden in a movie. I just rewatched that episode and boy was he adorable!

I LOVE LUCY using movie stars in cameos was a stroke of brilliance. Funny so many stars avoided the small screen, as if they'd be marked a traitor.

 

That episode WALKING DISTANCE was based on Rod Serling's childhood in Binghamton NY and the gazebo in Recreation Park (across the street from his childhood home) has a commemorative plate mentioning it. Serling made sure the episode actually looked like the Park, carousel and all.

I had seen William Holden's episode of I Love Lucy so many times before I even saw a William Holden movie.  I had no idea who he was only that Lucy loved him.  I figured he was one of those "stars who were big in their time."  I think the first Holden film I saw was Sabrina and that was because it starred two people I knew I liked: Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.  While I enjoyed Hepburn and Bogart's roles in the film, I was especially impressed with Holden, even though I wasn't a fan of the lighter hair he sported in the film.  From this, I found out that Holden was in a film with Lucille Ball, Mrs. Grant Takes Richmond, and really enjoyed their collaboration.  Since then, I've seen many of Holden's films: Picnic, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, The Moon is Blue, Network, Golden Boy, Sunset Blvd, Born Yesteday, Executive Suite and Paris When it Sizzles.  Even if I wasn't impressed by the film as a whole, I always found that I liked Holden's role in it.  After seeing so many of his films, especially Sunset Blvd and Picnic, I can see why Holden was a star and why Lucy liked him so much.  Now, after having seen so many of Holden's films and knowing more about his career and life, it makes his appearance on I Love Lucy even more impressive.  Like what you, TikiSoo, noted, when I Love Lucy was being produced, television was still in its infancy and many big stars were hesitant to appear on the medium, thinking that it would damage their careers.  I've read that with I Love Lucy, they were able to start booking bigger stars on the show (and on The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour) on the strength of the appearances of other stars.

 

Other stars that I Love Lucy booked aside from Holden: Eve Arden, John Wayne, Harpo Marx, Van Johnson, Rock Hudson, Cornel Wilde, Bob Hope, Orson Welles, Claude Akins, Elsa Lanchester, Hedda Hopper, Richard Widmark, Charles Boyer...

 

While the degrees of star quality varied, I Love Lucy was able to attract big names.  I think of the list I made above, only Elsa Lanchester appeared as an actual character and not as herself.

 

...Which brings me to another favorite appearance, Elsa Lanchester as "Mrs. Grundy" in the season 6 I Love Lucy episode, "Off to Florida."

 

Lucy has bungled it again.  She misplaces hers and Ethel's train tickets to Miami.  The ladies are supposed to meet Ricky, Fred and Little Ricky in Florida where Ricky is appearing with his band.  The boys decided to go a few days earlier to get some fishing in.  Not having enough money to replace the tickets, Lucy suggests that she and Ethel answer one of those "share a ride" ads in the classifieds.  They end up sharing a ride with Mrs. Grundy, hilariously portrayed by Elsa Lanchester.  Enroute from New York City to Miami, Lucy and Ethel are continually turned off by Mrs. Grundy's peculiarities and offbeat traveling schedule.  Mrs. Grundy prefers to travel for long stretches at night, won't stop for food on the way and likes to take back roads.  While Mrs. Grundy is napping, Lucy and Ethel hear a radio bulletin stating that a grey haired hatchet murderess is on the loose.  Of course, the description of the suspect's car and physical appearance matches that of Grundy, so Lucy and Ethel immediately jump to the conclusion that they're traveling with a murderess.  Later, while Mrs. Grundy is driving and Lucy and Ethel are napping, she hears the same bulletin except for this time, the suspect's physical appearance has been amended to say that the suspect dyed her hair red and is traveling with a blonde companion... uh oh.  Now both parties are afraid that the other is a murderess. 

 

The hilarious parts of this episode involve the two groups acting all fidgety with each other and Ethel discovering a hatchet in the trunk.  Mrs. Grundy ends up ditching Lucy and Ethel at some cafe in Northern Florida.  Lanchester plays crazy so well.  Her episode is a highlight in the series, imo.

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Of course if we're talking about I Love Lucy, we should mention that the great character actress Elizabeth Patterson appeared in the regular role of Mrs. Trumbell.

 

220px-Elizabeth_Patterson.jpgElizabeth+Patterson+in+I+Love+Lucy+s2e22

Yes! I'm always surprised when I see Elizabeth Patterson in a movie.  To me, she's always Miss Trumbull.  She's also one of those actors whom no matter how old the movie is, Patterson never looks younger, she always looks like the elderly Miss Trumbull. I liked her in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and the 1949 Little Women (despite how much I loathed that version). 

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Hello Speedracer5 and fellow I Love Lucy fan.  I also found that some of Lucy's guest stars were actually very famous movie stars many years after the episodes aired.  Another Lucy/Ricky episode (but not from I Love Lucy) co-stared Ida Lupino and her real life actor husband.  I didn't know who they were but it was obvious by the storyline that they were "somebody".

 

Most recently I discovered Lucy's mother, Mrs. McGillacuddy, in the movie Born To Kill.  Even though her part was small and she didn't play a ditz, (oh Mickey!) I recognized her straight away. And I never dreamed that Mrs (or was it Miss) Trumble was played by an actress who did any other acting - I get such a kick out of these discoveries.  Lastly, the William Holden episode is my favorite - it's perfect from beginning to end.

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I think I first saw Charles, or Charlie Ruggles in his recurring role in The Beverly Hillbillies.  I think he played Drysdale's father-in-law.

It was years later that I saw Ruggles in many roles in the 1930's such as If I Had a Million, Madame Butterfly and Ruggles of Red Gap.  And He didn't play Ruggles in Red Gap.

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Hello Speedracer5 and fellow I Love Lucy fan.  I also found that some of Lucy's guest stars were actually very famous movie stars many years after the episodes aired.  Another Lucy/Ricky episode (but not from I Love Lucy) co-stared Ida Lupino and her real life actor husband.  I didn't know who they were but it was obvious by the storyline that they were "somebody".

 

Most recently I discovered Lucy's mother, Mrs. McGillacuddy, in the movie Born To Kill.  Even though her part was small and she didn't play a ditz, (oh Mickey!) I recognized her straight away. And I never dreamed that Mrs (or was it Miss) Trumble was played by an actress who did any other acting - I get such a kick out of these discoveries.  Lastly, the William Holden episode is my favorite - it's perfect from beginning to end.

Yay.  Yes, the Ida Lupino/Howard Duff episode was in The Lucy Desi Comedy HourThe Lucy Desi Comedy Hours have their moments, but they're not nearly as funny as I Love Lucy.  To me, they're a bit too contrived, as each episode featured a celebrity guest star and the events always unfolded in the same manner.  The best episode of this series is the episode with Tallulah Bankhead--that episode plays out more like an I Love Lucy episode.  It's like once Lucille Ball ditched Lucy Ricardo's bun and started wearing the more matronly looking wig, the show wasn't quite the same.  

 

I did enjoy the Lupino episode because of her scenes with Lucy.  They were the funniest parts of the episode.  Like when they drill holes in the boat to keep Ricky and Howard from fishing and then the boys surprise them with a romantic boat ride in the moonlight.  The girls have to keep trying to plug the holes with gum, their fingers, their bodies, everything until of course, the boat eventually sinks. 

 

Like you though, I had no idea who Ida Lupino and Howard Duff were outside of their appearance in this episode.  Since then, I've seen more of Lupino's work and really like her and admire her for being one of the few female directors working in a very male dominated occupation.  I don't think I have ever seen Howard Duff in a film.  I know two things about him: 1) He was married to Ida Lupino and 2) He was hot and heavy with Ava Gardner prior to his being married to Lupino. 

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And I never dreamed that Mrs (or was it Miss) Trumble was played by an actress who did any other acting.

 

Hercule - when I saw Elizabeth Patterson in Remember the Night, playing a spinster, I thought to myself, practically pointing at the TV, "That's Mrs. Trumbull!", lol.  

 

Speedy, you had said in one of your posts, that Patterson always looks elderly in her roles, no matter how old the movie is.  Agreed.  I also feel that way about Burt Mustin.  He was an old man in shows in the 1970s, and even in the 1960s he always looked old, or always played an old man.

 

Also, is it true that Lucy donned a wig for "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour"?  I thought she only got it cut to that artichoke style?

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And I never dreamed that Mrs (or was it Miss) Trumble was played by an actress who did any other acting.

 

Hercule - when I saw Elizabeth Patterson in Remember the Night, playing a spinster, I thought to myself, practically pointing at the TV, "That's Mrs. Trumbull!", lol.  

 

Speedy, you had said in one of your posts, that Patterson always looks elderly in her roles, no matter how old the movie is.  Agreed.  I also feel that way about Burt Mustin.  He was an old man in shows in the 1970s, and even in the 1960s he always looked old, or always played an old man.

 

Also, is it true that Lucy donned a wig for "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour"?  I thought she only got it cut to that artichoke style?

Oh Burt Mustin.  Yes.  He always looks old.  My favorite Burt Mustin TV appearance is in the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Poor Mary's apartment has been robbed twice.  She gets a call from the police department that the perpetrators have been caught and that Mary's possessions have been located.  She goes down to the station to identify her things, and there is Burt Mustin in the waiting area.  He is there to identify the man who mugged him in a police lineup.  Poor Mustin has been mugged 13 times and is an old pro at the whole identifying the criminal in the lineup routine.  He tells Mary that he gets robbed at the same park over and over and wonders why the mugger doesn't visit a park in a better neighborhood--"they'd probably get more money" he says. 

 

Yes.  Lucy started wearing a wig in the third episode of The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour, the episode with Fred MacMurray.  This is when she started wearing the tape apparatus that pulled her skin taut, the wig hid this.  I'm sure she was becoming self conscious about aging, but this was also when her marriage to Desi was really starting to fall apart and I think the stress of this is evident in both Lucy and Desi's appearances.  Desi especially looks much older in these episodes than in I Love Lucy.  Lucy was 6 years older than Desi, which I think is somewhat apparent in the first two-three seasons of I Love Lucy, but by the hour long shows, Desi looked older than Lucy!

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Love Charles Ruggles.  I guess my first introduction to him was as a character, or narrator on Bullwinkle and he was charming as the grandfather, 'smelling of tabaco and peppermint' in The Parent Trap.  I just checked IMDB - his mother was murdered by an intruder and his stepfather was killed having been run over by a car - some serious tragedies for one person.

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Love Charles Ruggles.  I guess my first introduction to him was as a character, or narrator on Bullwinkle and he was charming as the grandfather, 'smelling of tabaco and peppermint' in The Parent Trap.  I just checked IMDB - his mother was murdered by an intruder and his stepfather was killed having been run over by a car - some serious tragedies for one person.

Speaking of Rocky and Bullwinkle, that was my intro to Edward Everett Horton.  Fractured Fairy Tales.

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Oh Burt Mustin.  Yes.  He always looks old.  My favorite Burt Mustin TV appearance is in the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Poor Mary's apartment has been robbed twice.  She gets a call from the police department that the perpetrators have been caught and that Mary's possessions have been located.  She goes down to the station to identify her things, and there is Burt Mustin in the waiting area.  He is there to identify the man who mugged him in a police lineup.  Poor Mustin has been mugged 13 times and is an old pro at the whole identifying the criminal in the lineup routine.  He tells Mary that he gets robbed at the same park over and over and wonders why the mugger doesn't visit a park in a better neighborhood--"they'd probably get more money" he says. 

 

Yes.  Lucy started wearing a wig in the third episode of The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour, the episode with Fred MacMurray.  This is when she started wearing the tape apparatus that pulled her skin taut, the wig hid this.  I'm sure she was becoming self conscious about aging, but this was also when her marriage to Desi was really starting to fall apart and I think the stress of this is evident in both Lucy and Desi's appearances.  Desi especially looks much older in these episodes than in I Love Lucy.  Lucy was 6 years older than Desi, which I think is somewhat apparent in the first two-three seasons of I Love Lucy, but by the hour long shows, Desi looked older than Lucy!

 

Interesting stuff about Lucy.

 

I remember seeing Burt Mustin in Leave It To Beaver and Andy Griffith episodes.  Wikipedia says he starred as "Gus the Fireman" in no less than 15 Leave It To Beaver episodes!  That is a "regular" on some shows.

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The Burgess Meredith episode of The Twilight Zone called "Time Enough..At Last, where everyone else on Earth has been killed, & he has all the time he wants to read.

 

While I always got the irony of that episode, considering that Serling's series almost always also included a little "object lesson" and usually ended with the subject getting their "just desserts", I always felt extremely sorry for poor Mr. Bemis, as I never felt he deserved the fate he received.

 

(...really was such a nice old guy)

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Speaking of movie stars on The Twilight Zone, Neville Brand played a racist WWII vet on the rarely seen episode "The Encounter".  It wasn't included in the original syndication package because of the controversial subject matter and racist insults, but it's a powerful episode, imo.  Brand was great as the angry, conflicted vet and George Takei (of Star Trek) was good, too.  I'm not in sympathy with the vet's views but for a half-hour episode Brand was able to create a complex character...  This episode is available on DVD, if it isn't shown in TV reruns.

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