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April 16, 2014

Obituaries

Bonanza star Pernell Roberts dies at 81

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 26th 2010 9:00AM
pernell_roberts_bonanza_trapper_john_mdDepending on your age, Pernell Roberts was either western hero Adam Cartwright or grumpy surgeon Trapper John to you. Pernell Roberts starred in two long-running television series, Bonanza and Trapper John, M.D. But despite his success as a TV star and personality, he was never happy being a celebrity and had a reputation for being difficult and demanding. Pernell Roberts passed away on Sunday, January 24, succumbing to pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Roberts was probably most famous as Adam, the eldest son of Ben Cartwright, brother of Hoss and Little Joe on NBC's mega-hit Bonanza. For six years, beginning in 1959, Roberts was Ben's smartest and most accomplished son. Roberts got the most serious story lines and carried a lot of the show. But Roberts chaffed under the formulaic structure of the western hit. He was frustrated that the quality of the writing wasn't better. He questioned why three grown men continued asking their father's permission to do anything.

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All My Children's James Mitchell passes away

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 23rd 2010 10:09AM
james_mitchell_all_my_childrenOne of the most famous stars of daytime, All My Children's James Mitchell, died Friday, January 22 in Los Angeles. He was 89 and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, complicated by pneumonia. He hadn't been on the show much of the past couple of years, but he did make it back for the AMC 40th anniversary episode on January 5, and that turned out to be his last professional appearance.

James Mitchell was a man with two great careers. To soap fans, he was the indomitable Palmer Cortlandt, a brilliant tycoon and businessman, but also a man obsessed with his family and not above manipulation to get his way.

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Robert B. Parker, author of the Spenser novels, dead at 77

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 19th 2010 2:00PM
Robert B. ParkerJust last week I posted one of my favorite episodes of the 80s ABC series Spenser: For Hire, and now comes word that the author of the novels, Robert B. Parker, has died at the age of 77.

No details yet, but Parker died at his desk in his Cambridge, MA home. When you're a writer that's probably the way to go.

If you only know Spenser from the TV series that starred Robert Urich (which was great), you should pick up the novels, too. He's been writing them since the 70s and they're quite good, very engaging first person mystery stories set in Boston. He started a new series of book based around the Jesse Stone character (who happens to live my neck of the woods), and while I've never read those novels I have seen the TV movies featuring Tom Selleck as Stone and they are very good. There's a new Jesse Stone novel coming out in May. Not sure if Parker had finished a new Spenser novel or not (his latest is The Professional).

I think it's time for a Spenser: For Hire marathon.

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Pioneering Sports Machine host George Michael dies at 70

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 25th 2009 9:05AM
One of television's biggest sports names long before people cared about the people who talked about sports on television has died.

George Michael, the sportscaster and longtime host of the nationally syndicated George Michael's Sports Machine, succumbed to a long battle with cancer on Thursday.

To call him ahead of his time would be an understatement. He basically invented the hyper clip style format of shows like ESPN's SportsCenter, brought a great deal of personality to TV sports reporting and sportscasting and even inspired and mentored the likes of Pardon the Interruption's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

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Top TV Stories of 2009: TV coverage of Michael Jackson's death

by Isabelle Carreau, posted Dec 24th 2009 3:18PM
Michael JacksonAs a fan of music from the 80's and the early 90's, I didn't believe it at first when one of my friends told me that Michael Jackson died. Since TVs were rare where I was at the time, my first instinct was to check CNN.com. As soon as I got confirmation, I found a TV and was glued to one of the news-only channels to get all the latest updates on the death of one of my music idols.

TV coverage of Michael Jackson's death was worldwide and every source of media. The news of his death, the coroner's investigation, the rumors that his death may have been faked (see the video after the jump), the news of where he would be buried, the details of the various tributes, as well as coverage of the special funeral ceremony, etc., made Michael Jackson's death one of the 2009 events that got the most air time around the world. Even as huge an MJ fan I am -- I do have about 30 of his hits on my MP3 -- I can admit that this event got too much air time.

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Arnold Stang, voice of Top Cat, dead at 91

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 23rd 2009 7:01PM
Arnold StangWhen I was a kid, I loved the cartoon Top Cat. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the cool music or the fact it was set in New York City. I also really loved Top Cat's voice.

Arnold Stang, the voice of the clever feline, died earlier this week at the age of 91. Stang was in 75 gazillion TV shows and movies over the years (you'd know the face and/or the voice even if you couldn't place the name), including The Jonathan Winters Show, Broadside, Batman, Bonanza, The Red Skelton Show, December Bride, The Steve Allen Show, The Milton Berle Show, Emergency, and Mathnet.

He was also in several movies, including Hercules in New York, Dennis The Menace, and It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He was also the original voice of Buzz Bee in Honey-Nut Cheerios commercials.

After the jump, an episode of Top Cat.

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Alaina Reed Hall of Sesame Street and 227 dies at 63

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 21st 2009 8:40AM
Alaina Reed, Sesame StreetAnother celebrity death has hit the world of the small screen.

Actress Alaina Reed Hall, probably best remembered for playing Rose on the sitcom 227 and Olivia on Sesame Street from the late 70s to the late 80s, passed away last week after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 63

Of course, her career stretches far beyond those two shows with parts on just about every major show in the last few decades including Friends, ER and Ally McBeal, but she was always Olivia to me. She was on the show and even the big screen spinoff Follow That Bird during my formative years, so her sweet and endearing demeanor performance as Olivia pretty much stuck her with the role.

I'm sure if I met her in person, I would accidentally call her Olivia at least four times and something tells me she would not have minded a bit.

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Remembering Brittany Murphy as King of the Hill's Luanne

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 20th 2009 5:11PM
You may have heard that Brittany Murphy died suddenly today at the young age of 32. Some of you may not know how connected she was to TV, considering most of her best-known work was on the big screen. She had a few roles in some short-lived TV series, but she's probably best known to TV fans for her work as Luanne on King of the Hill.

The role always seemed to be a perfect fit for her and it seems in the wake of her tragic passing that to her, the role was more than just a job.

She once told USA Today that the character was a mix of "Juliette Lewis in Kalifornia and Jessica Lange in Blue Skies." She also said that despite Luanne's ditziness and naive ways, she served as a great source of inspiration for her.

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Remember the great Edward Woodward with Callan

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 14th 2009 1:02PM
Edward Woodard kicked backside as Callan before he was The Equalizer.Most American TV viewers know Edward Woodward from his run as Robert McCall as The Equalizer. But, British TV aficionados know he trained in backside-kicking on the dark, gritty British spy series, Callan.

Written by James Mitchell, the show featured David Callan -- a spy working for an ultra-secret arm of the British Intelligence service specializing in assassinations. Unfortunately, the former soldier and convict was cursed with a conscience that led him to hate his job, his superiors and himself.

Woodward was perfect in the role -- blending haunted humor with genuine menace to create an intelligent, tortured man who you believed could kill anyone without having to look like Rambo while he did it.

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Top TV Stories of 2009: People we lost

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 13th 2009 4:03PM
So we come to that time of year when we list all of the TV celebrities that have died over the past year. We hear about these people passing away at various points of the year (sometimes a few the same week), but it's really odd to see them all listed together at once like you'll see after the jump.

It's like 40% of pop culture dies every year.

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TV star Gene Barry passes away at 90

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 11th 2009 2:29PM
bat_masterson_gene_barry"It's Burke's Law." That was the opening tag for one of three successful TV series that starred Gene Barry, one of the classiest actors to appear on screen. On Wednesday, TV star Gene Barry died at at 90 of undetermined causes. He was living in an L.A. rest home, but I will remember Gene Barry as the man who made Burke's Law, Bat Masterson and The Name of the Game memorable TV entertainment.

Barry was also well-known as the original star of the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds, and when Steven Spielberg remade the film in 2005 with Tom Cruise, he gave Gene a quick cameo. In addition to being a versatile leading man -- capable of playing a bad guy, a bon vivant, cops, spies, gentlemen, gunslingers, and magazine publishers -- Gene Barry also was a song and dance man. In 1984, he was one of the toasts of Broadway in La Cage aux Folles. Currently Kelsey Grammer is about to play Gene's role in a 2010 spring revival.

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Colin Quinn remembers Ken Ober in his special way

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 17th 2009 2:28PM
The sudden and shocking of passing of TV writer, producer and host Ken Ober turned a lot of heads. Here's one of Ober's head (ahem) getting turned, for a change.

Collin Quinn, Ober's longtime friend and Remote Control co-host, posted a hilarious picture on his Twitter page of himself, Ober and the uber-cute Kari Wuhrer on the set of their equally hilarious game show.

I'm tempted to let Bob use this for our weekly Subtle Subtitles post, but am worried the funniest of the comments will get us banned from every library in the country assuming, of course, that reading is still going on in America's libraries.

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Remote Control host Ken Ober dead at 52

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 16th 2009 5:27PM
Ken OberWow, it's one thing to write about the death of someone like Edward Woodward, someone who was older and not in good health, but it's another thing to write about the death of someone only 52. Ken Ober, who hosted the classic (well, in my mind it's a classic) MTV game show Remote Control in the late 80s, died yesterday of unknown causes.

If you've never seen Remote Control, it was a wacky pop culture trivia game show that supposedly was filmed in Ober's basement. Besides being a really fun game show (especially for someone raised on television), it costarred a lot of people who later became household names, such as Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, and Colin Quinn.

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Secret Diary of a Call Girl not so secret anymore

by Brad Trechak, posted Nov 16th 2009 1:30PM
Secret Diary of a Call GirlThe anonymous blogger "Belle Du Jour" whose career as a call girl spawned the British and Showtime TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl has outed herself. Apparently she wanted to do it because an ex-boyfriend threatened to do it for her. Her real name is Brooke Magnanti and she's a child health researcher at the University of Bristol. She worked as a escort for over a year while pursuing her Ph.D.

Thankfully, her university has said her past was not relevant to her current job. I wonder if an American university would be as supportive of such a decision, given the taboo of sex work and sex in general in the U.S.

On the other hand, now she can start publishing more books under her real name. If she makes enough (or possibly gets another TV deal), she wouldn't need to worry about who would hire her or not.

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The Equalizer's Edward Woodward dead at 79

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 16th 2009 1:07PM
Edward WoodwardEdward Woodward, probably best known to U.S. audiences as crime-fighting ex-agent Robert McCall on the cool 80s series The Equalizer, has died at the age of 79.

Of course, before taking that role, Woodward had a long, distinguished film career, starring in such classic films as Breaker Morant and The Wicker Man. Long before The Equalizer he did a British series where he played a spy in the series Callan, which ran from 1967 to 1972.. He appeared in several other TV shows over the years, including The Defenders, The Saint, La Femme Nikita, CI5, Over My Dead Body, Nice Work, 1990, The Edward Woodward Hour, and many others.

This year he guest starred in several episodes of the classic British show EastEnders. He was also an accomplished stage actor and singer.

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