When Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley) left Cabot Cove, there were some big law enforcement shoes to fill. Enter Ron Masak as Sheriff Mort Metzger.
Arguably the role he’s most recognized for, Ron Masak brought life to the New York City cop learning the ins and outs of a small town with a high murder rate on Murder, She Wrote. His interactions with the citizens of Cabot Cove while he tries to help Jessica Fletcher solve murders add a touch of humor to the rampant killings. And maybe it should be no surprise that he ended up fitting in so well. He had guest starred as two different law enforcement characters earlier in the series.
In addition to the role of Charlie Wilson on the short-lived series Love Thy Neighbor and a small recurring role of Woody on Webster, quite a few of Ron Masak’s 122 credits are on the small screen.
Mr. Masak has several memorable appearances on TV shows, sometimes in only a scene or two. One of my favorites is on Barney Miller. In the episode “Horse Thief”, a handsome cab owner has his horse stolen. In order not to lose any business, he steals a police horse. Mr. Masak plays the officer with the missing horse. The character is funny, odd, and maybe a little overzealous. In the end, he and the horse thief end up on the same side because as it turns out, the handsome cab owner took a different horse…which means another officer took his horse…and he uses spurs.
One of my other favorite guest spots is a second season episode of The Monkees called “Monstrous Monkee Mash” in which he plays The Count. Are the Monkees getting into shenanigans with horror characters like a Count Dracula-ish vampire, his niece, a mummy, and a wolfman? Absolutely. It’s a funny episode, bits of which have firmly implanted themselves into my brain. It’s also noteworthy to mention that the Monkees were a little more out of control during the second season, which could frustrate guest actors. However, Ron Masak kept up, kept his cool, and pulled off a fun and funny vampire. He would have made a fitting mentor for Vampire Davy Jones if he hadn’t been vanquished.
I will admit that his appearance blew my young mind when I realized it was him because until that moment, he’d always been Sheriff Metzger to me. Him appearing on a ’60s show didn’t seem possible to my young self.
Some other ’60s shows Ron Masak appeared on include The Flying Nun, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, and The Good Guys.
He spied on Mission: Impossible, took a trip to the Twilight Zone, and visited the Land of the Lost; privately investigated on The Rockford Files, Magnum PI, Longstreet, Barnaby Jones, Mannix, Remington Steele, and The Law and Harry McGraw (a Murder, She Wrote spin-off in which he played yet another cop character); checked in on Marcus Welby MD, Medical Center, and E/R; visited Mayberry RFD and rode the Supertrain; tangled with the law on Police Story, Police Woman, Ironside, The Feather and Father Gang, She’s the Sheriff, McMillan & Wife, and Columbo; lent his voice to The Real Ghostbusters; hung out with some names on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Quincy ME, and Alice; he had Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes; leapt into action on Emergency! and Wonder Woman; enjoyed some Love, American Style; and got unexpectedly soapy on The Yellow Rose, Falcon Crest, and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Ron Masak made an impression on every show he guested on, be it a recurring role or only one scene. He had a way of taking a character, making it memorable, and adding a bright spot to every episode he was in.
And we’re lucky to indulge in his shining light.