Rerun Junkie Guest Star–Peggy Pope

When I was writing about Don Calfa and Oliver Clark on Barney Miller, I made the note that I needed to write about Peggy Pope. She was another frequent guest star on the show (she did six episodes) and one of my favorites. Though Ms. Pope doesn’t have the robust guest star resume like some of the other actors I’ve profiled, she more than makes up for it with quality.

Given her talent, it’s unfortunate that her only regular roles were on short-lived series. She was Alice Fisher on Billy with Steve Guttenberg and Elain Fusco on Calucci’s Department with James Coco and fellow Barney Miller frequent flyer Candy Azzara. She also had a short five episode stint on Soap.

As I said, I know her best from Barney Miller and though I usually pick one appearance on a show when I do guest star posts like this, I can’t pick just one for Peggy Pope. She played a variety of wonderfully idiosyncratic characters in her six episodes.

She played a woman who fell victim to a romeo who then robbed her. But this didn’t deter her or her lovelorn ways and when the thief was apprehended, she still pursued a love connection. She then played a cat burglar’s widow who took up the family business after her husband’s demise. She followed that up by playing a woman who reported crimes that were occurring on soap operas. In her penultimate appearance, she held the 12th precinct hostage with a bomb she made in a pressure cooker, demanding a hospital’s nuclear medical department that she felt was responsible for her husband’s intimacy issues be brought to justice. And in her final appearance, she played a woman looking for her husband who’d run out on her and ended up finding a different one with the same name who’d been mistakenly reported as dead. It turns out she liked the reportedly dead one much more than the her actual husband.

Her sweet voice and sweeter face allowed Ms. Pope to play characters that were unsuspectingly devious.

The one guest spot I’m thinking of came on The Golden Girls. She played Gladys Barton, wife to Leonard (played by Gordon Jump) who decided to be an ass about his tree falling into the girls’ yard, leading to Sophia putting an evil eye curse on him. Ms. Pope is only in the episode briefly, but our first encounter with her leads us to believe that she’s helpless in the face of her loud, bullying husband. However, when Leonard returns after suffering a string of bad luck, including flat tires, missing golf clubs, and a boil on his butt, it’s revealed that Sophia’s curse had a lot of help from Gladys, something you wouldn’t suspect from such a meek lady. Well, except for the boil, of course. That was just her good luck.

Ms. Pope also appeared on The Golden Girls spin-off Empty Nest and the Empty Nest spin-off Nurses; got soapy on Knot’s Landing and Santa Barbara; tangled with the law on The Trials of O’Brien, Hill Street Blues, Tough Cookies, and Night Court; found religion on Highway to Heaven and Have Faith; privately investigated on The Outsider, Barnaby Jones, and Hart to Hart; checked in on St. Elsewhere and ER; made a name for herself on Rhoda, Hope and Faith, Amanda’s, and Kate & Allie; found family on Eight is Enough, Too Close for Comfort, and Sisters; went into the office on Nine to Five and Anything But Love; got a little unreal on Bewitched, Mork and Mindy, and the ’80s Twilight Zone; and ran the L&O gamut on Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Whenever Peggy Pope pops up in one of my reruns, I immediately think of an angel. An angel that’s a little off-beat and sometimes a little devious, but still an angel. She’s a delight and we’re all blessed by her work.


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