The Five: Five interviews with five cool dead guys
When I'm bored, which is often, I like to poke around Google Video's selection of lengthy interviews from the Archive of American Television. The other day I found there's a lot of interviews of some really great television personalities who have since passed on to that great cathode ray tube in the sky. Here are five I think are worth checking out:
Fred Rogers: Several years ago, despite the fact that he hadn't really done anything besides what he had done most of his life, host a children's program, Esquire magazine named Fred Rogers their Man of the Year. It was one of the best profiles the mag had ever done, and it's because nobody on television was as kind and genuine as Fred.
Don Knotts: TV Land once did a special of the top ten best television neighbors, and Mr. Furley was not on the list. Clearly, somebody screwed up. Knotts transcended at least two television generations: some remembered him as the nervous but tenacious Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show, while those who were born later knew him as Mr. Furley, the stern but malleable landlord of Jack and his sexy female roomies. Knotts was a gifted comedian, and like many gifted comedians, he made it look far easier than it really is.
Dennis Weaver: Since I'm just a young whippersnapper, only two of Weaver's roles stick out in my mind: his role as movie legend "Buck McCoy" on an episode of The Simpsons, and his portrayal of a salesman tormented by a maniacal truck driver in Steven Spielberg's TV movie Duel. He had a long and prolific career before that, however, appearing in several movies before moving to television with a role on Gunsmoke and starring in his own series, McCloud. And that only begins to scratch the service of a long and storied career.
Tony Randall: I defy any of you to try and get the theme to The Odd Couple out of your head. Damn, that was catchy. The show ended about a year before I was born, but I did watch reruns in syndication, quite unaware at the time that the show wasn't actually in production anymore. Later I would know him as the voice of the Brain Gremlin in Gremlins 2, which isn't a bad movie once you understand it's meant to be a satire of the first, but I digress. And does anyone remember the series Love, Sidney? I only have vague recollections.
Carroll O'Connor: I suppose if playing one of, if not the most recognizable character isn't enough reason to hear Carroll O'Connor talk about his life, there's also his role as Chief Bill Gillespie on In the Heat of the Night, not to mention appearances on Mad About You and Party of Five. O'Connor embodied the role of Archie Bunker so well one had trouble reminding themselves that O'Connor wasn't, you know, a dim-witted bigot.