Rerun Junkie Guest Star–George Murdock

I mentioned George Murdock when I wrote about Don Calfa and Oliver Clark on Barney Miller. He is one of those faces that I love to see show up in my reruns because given the kind of reruns I watch, I’m pretty sure I know who he’s going to be in the context of the episode. Mr. Murdock has a knack for playing insufferable, arrogant men of authority. Obviously, he didn’t always play these sorts of characters (and it throws me off when I he doesn’t), but I’d be lying if I said that this isn’t when I like him best.

For all of his 200+ credits on IMDB, he only had a few regular or minor recurring roles on TV. He was Captain Krupnik on No Time for Sergeants; Frank Devon on It Takes a Thief; Cavanaugh on Banacek; Dr. Salik on Battlestar Galactica; Laslo Gaboy on What a Country; The 2nd Elder on The X-Files; Judge Andrew Walker on 14 episodes of Days of Our Lives (a mere blink in soap time, but I think it’s still worth a mention); and he was Lt. Ben Scanlon on Barney Miller.

Scanlon is a great example of the kind of character that Mr. Murdock had a gift for playing. Scanlon worked for internal affairs. He was a cop, so he was technically a good guy, but he spent his time trying to get Barney and the men of the 12th in trouble, so he wasn’t THAT good. He was an insufferable, gruff, irritant and you love to see him get his comeuppance.

The curious thing is that his guest spot as Master Sgt. Reville in the “Group Home” episode which also guest starred Don Calfa came after he’d already played Scanlon in one episode in the previous season. He then proceeded to play Scanlon in every subsequent appearance, including the series finale.

Though Scanlon was a pretty unlikable character in his own way, George Murdock had a challenge in playing Sgt. Reville in “Group Home”. He comes in to report a bombing threat on the recruiting station and finds himself working with Nick. Reville, a WWII vet, isn’t shy about his prejudiced dislike towards the Japanese detective. This character has the potential to be deeply unpleasant, but Mr. Murdock is able to show Reville for the joke that he is. Reville asking why anyone would want to blow up an American military instillation and Nick replying with, “Nostalgia,” is one of my favorite jokes. This might be the first time Nick has dealt with Reville, but not the first time he’s encountered an anti-Japanese bigot.

As I mentioned in the Don Calfa and Oliver Clark post, most of Mr. Murdock’s time is spent building up to the entrance of Don Calfa’s character, particularly his rather disgusting cough. He lays the groundwork for the punchline of Calfa’s character and he does so well.

When Reville leaves, Nick informs him that he also served in the army as part of the Nisei Division, which was made up almost entirely of Japanese-American men who’d been put into interment camps by the US government. There’s no great Coming-to-God moment for Reville -this is a cop comedy after all- but the joke he makes about Nick not caring who won the war has much more friendly tones for the character to leave on than what he entered with. George Murdock runs that gamut beautifully.

One of his other memorable guest spots is in a Season 3 episode of Hawaii Five-O called “The Gunrunners”. Okay, full disclosure, it’s probably only memorable to me because he’s a bit gruff, but he’s not acting like a pompous ass. He’s actually the voice of reason! I went into the episode fully expecting him to be behind the shenanigans in some capacity and…he wasn’t. He wasn’t exactly what you might call a completely good guy -he and his partner (who was behind the shenanigans) were legal arms dealers- but he was pretty good in comparison.

It seems that George Murdock frequently played law enforcement characters, graduating to judges in later years, and therefore showed up on a lot of cop shows including Mod Squad, Adam-12 and The New Adam-12, Ironside (once a season except for the last, playing different characters each time), The FBI, Police Woman, Police Story, Lanigan’s Rabbi, The Streets of San Francisco, Hill Street Blues, T.J. Hooker, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, CHiPs, McCloud, Dragnet ’89, Law & Order, and CSI.

He also showed up in plenty of legal shows including The New Perry Mason, Night Court, Judging Amy, and Eli Stone.

He privately investigated on Banyon, Longstreet, Hec Ramsey, Mannix, 77 Sunset Strip, Harry O, The Rockford Files, The New Mike Hammer and Mike Hammer Private Eye, The Law and Harry McGraw, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King; got soapy on Dynasty and General Hospital; saddled up on Rawhide, Death Valley Days, The Wild Wild West, Cimarron Strip, The Virginian, and Gunsmoke; went to war on Combat! and went wild on Tarzan; got bold on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors and The Bold Ones: The Lawyers; checked in on Ben Casey, Trapper John MD, Chicago Hope, and ER; entertained talking cars on Knight Rider and Team Knight Rider; spied on I Spy and Search; tangled with extraordinary fellas on The Invisible Man and The Six Million Dollar Man; got laughs on Bosom Buddies, Seinfeld, Dave’s World, The Nanny, Malcolm & Eddie, The Gregory Hines Show, and Just Shoot Me!; got a little ESP on The Sixth Sense and The Dead Zone; tangled with wolves on Lucan, magic on The Magician, meddling kids on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, robots on Small Wonder, the Duke Boys on The Dukes of Hazzard, and Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote; went out of this world on The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Smallville, and Torchwood; spun off on spin-offs Fish, Benson, and Lou Grant; and he even got animated on Batman: The Animated Series.

George Murdock had a knack for playing a variety of characters, but that gruff voice and demeanor lent itself so well to playing a tough, arrogant irritant that it’s hard to imagine him playing anything else, and yet he does so well.

And we’re all better for it.

Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–Don Calfa and Oliver Clark on Barney Miller

I could (and probably should) write guest star posts about both Don Calfa and Oliver Clark, and maybe one day I will, but since it’s their work on Barney Miller that thrills me so, I figure that deserves its own post.

Don Calfa appeared on the show seven times; Oliver Clark appeared six times. Funnily enough, their paths only crossed on the show once, but it was a glorious meeting.

Don Calfa’s first appearance in Season 4 sort of set the tone for all of his appearances. He tended to play guys who were operating on their own level and as a result ended up in the 12th precinct. In “Group Home”, Mr. Calfa portrays a man who blames the military conducting experiments in the subway for his various illnesses, so he threatens to blow up a recruiting station. He’s only in the end of the episode for a few memorable moments, but considering George Murdock (who I should also write about) has spent most of the episode building up to his appearance, he makes the most of it. As explained to the police sketch artist, James Cromwell (talk about an all-star guest cast), the most memorable thing about him is his cough. And while his cough was spectacularly disgusting, truly the most memorable thing about him was his obsession with those old military experiments, including blaming them for him getting VD six times.

Another memorable arrest involves Mr. Calfa playing a formerly brilliant thief reduced to a bumbling amateur thanks to a lobotomy. While there are plenty of laughs, there’s an underlying sadness to his situation. He was made so “harmless” that he can barely function. As funny as Mr. Calfa is -and he is because his timing and delivery are impeccable- he never loses that particular thread.

A criminal inspired by the TV Guide…a robber in witness protection up to his old tricks…a displaced resident…an inventor who believes a company is stealing his inventions…Don Calfa portrayed a wide-range of oddities.

Oliver Clark’s appearances were a little more varied. He played a man swindled out of a ticket on a space shuttle (arrested for causing a disturbance when they wouldn’t honor his ticket) and a pharmaceutical employee who isn’t thrilled that the company he works for won’t market his cure for a disease because not many people are affected by it, holding the distinction of being one of the last people to be arrested by the detectives of the 12th in the series finale.

He also played a couple of sex pests, including a groping dentist and a flasher. The latter is one of my favorites of his guest spots. Mr. Clark’s character is a member of a flasher support group and he falls off the indecent exposure wagon with newest 12th precinct addition, Detective Batista (June Gable). His lawyer ends up being a fellow flasher played by Ron Feinberg, reprising his role as Mr. Farber, the flasher who attempted to kill himself via men’s room electrocution in “Snow Day”. He goes from being embarrassed about his lack of willpower to increasingly excited as the episode progresses, even going for a ride on the cell door when Battista opens it to allow him to use the men’s room. He ends up declaring that he’s going to come out of the bathroom nude, but ultimately emerges fully clothed –well as clothed as an overcoat dressed flasher can be– much to everyone’s relief and his own satisfaction. After all, wasn’t it exciting just talking about it? He’s the only one who thinks so. But it’s fun watching his almost Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde progression during the episode.

His first appearance on the show in the Season 2 episode “The Layoff” is very different from his other appearances. Mr. Clark tends to bring an almost nervous quality to most of the characters he plays on the show, however his turn as a fur thief shows him as one cool customer with an answer for everything. He’s so confident that he even makes a love connection with a fellow 12th precinct detainee played by Candy Azzara.

The one episode in which Don Calfa and Oliver Clark cross paths brings in the oddity of Mr. Calfa’s characters and the nervousness of most of Mr. Clark’s characters.

In the Season 4 episode “Hostage”, Don Calfa plays Leo Bedell, an armed robber looking at life for being a habitual criminal. He makes his one phone call to his brother Vern, played by Oliver Clark, who chooses to throw away his own life away in order to help Leo break out of the 12th precinct. Vern enters the squad room under the pretense of being Leo’s lawyer and when Leo gives the word, Vern shakily pulls a gun out of his bag. The two brothers then proceed to take everyone in the squad room, including Barney, the detectives, Levitt, Inspector Luger, a ventriloquist and his dummy, and the woman the dummy insulted, hostage, eventually locking them all in the cell.

The Bedell brothers then spend the episode trying to figure out how to escape the mess they’ve made as there are 137 uniforms downstairs. Both men are jumpy as hell, but where Leo is committed to the plan, Vern’s dedication wanes (“If you’re going to lose your enthusiasm, give me the gun.”). Ultimately, Vern decides that it’s hopeless and gives the gun to Barney (“Wrong person!”). Oliver Clark and Don Calfa don’t look very much alike, but with their interactions and their chemistry, you totally buy that they are two brothers of the non-criminal mastermind variety. They play off of each other beautifully, working that chemistry to the very end. It’s really a shame that the two men weren’t in more episodes together.

But the combined twelve episodes Don Calfa and Oliver Clark appeared in on Barney Miller are pretty good compensation.

Rerun Junkie Guest Star: Vito Scotti

When it comes to talking about guest stars, you can’t have that conversation without talking about Vito Scotti. Honestly, it’s a crime that it’s taken me this long to write about him. There was a period of time in which it felt like he popped up in everything. And given how many of his 253 IMDB credits are TV guest spots, he kind of did.

For all of his TV work, he didn’t have many regular or recurring roles. He was Geppetto on the short-lived Geppetto’s Workshop and Luigi Basco on Life with Luigi in six episodes of the short-lived series, having replaced J. Carroll Naish. He also had recurring roles as Gino Mancini on To Rome with Love; Mr. Velasquez on Barefoot in the Park; and he was Captain Dominic Lopez on the first season of The Flying Nun and Captain Gaspar Formento on the second.

Being of Italian descent and working at a time when racist casting was all the rage, Mr. Scotti found himself often playing “ethnic” roles. Italians, of course, but also Latinos, Russians, Middle Easterners, Native Americans, and yes, even Asians, the most glaring example being that of the Japanese soldier who thought World War II was still raging in not one, but two episodes of Gilligan’s Island (the Rashomon episode brought him back for everyone’s versions of what happened the first time he was there). Not only is Mr. Scotti in yellow face for the role, but the character is so embarrassingly stereotypical that it’s really kind of cringe-worthy.

Thankfully, Mr. Scotti appeared in two more Gilligan’s Island episodes as a different, less offensive, more fun character better suited for his talents. Dr. Boris Balenkoff popped up in Season 2 in “The Friendly Physician” and then returned in the Season 3 episode “Ring Around Gilligan”. In the first episode, Dr. Balenkoff seems like the castaways’ savior. He transports them to his own private island, apparently rescuing them. However, Dr. Balenkoff has other plans. It seems he’s what one might consider a mad scientist and the island is his lair and he’s keen on swapping around the minds of the castaways (for example, the Skipper ends up in Mrs. Howell’s body and vice versa). The castaways are able to get away thanks to Ginger and Igor swapping selves and the Professor (in Mary Ann’s body) getting everybody back to where they belong. When the castaways leave the island, Dr. Balenkoff and Igor have been swapped into the bodies of a cat and dog.

Dr. Balenkoff obviously recovers because he’s very much himself the next time he visits the castaways. In this episode, he uses his latest machine to turn the castaways into robots in order to train them to rob a bank. Of course, since Gilligan is involved, this does not go as well as Dr. Balenkoff hopes.

One of my other favorite Vito Scotti guest spots has him playing a doctor yet again, this time of the medical variety, but still with questionable intentions. In The Monkees episode “Case of the Missing Monkee”, Peter stumbles upon a plot to kidnap a scientist, which causes Peter himself to be kidnapped. Naturally, the other three Monkees going looking for their friend at the hospital where he’s being held by Dr. Markovich and Bruno. Dr. Markovich wipes Peter’s memory so he can’t reveal the plot (I guess you can’t take the mad scientist entirely out of the man), but the remaining Monkees rescue Peter, restore his memory, and thwart Dr. Markovich’s evil scheme. It’s an all around fun and funny episode. Vito Scotti would later have a small role in The Monkees movie Head.

Mr. Scotti did manage to play other roles besides mad scientists and doctors. He appeared in Westerns like Sugarfoot, Laramie, Cheyenne, Bonanza, Rawhide, The Rifleman, Laredo, The Virginian, Daniel Boone, and Gunsmoke; got family friendly on Bachelor Father, The Real McCoys, Lassie, My Favorite Martian, Bewitched, Happy Days, Who’s the Boss, and Charles in Charge; stopped by Miami to visit The Golden Girls and its spin-off Empty Nest; hit up the big names on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, The Donna Reed Show, and The Andy Griffith Show; laughed it up on The Odd Couple and Mad About You; enlisted with Hogan’s Heroes and CPO Sharkey; privately investigated on Mike Hammer, Peter Gunn, Surfside 6, Shaft, Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, and Hart to Hart; popped up on Make Room for Daddy and Make Room for Granddaddy; checked in on Dr. Kildare and Trapper John, MD (okay so he couldn’t entirely escape doctors); found adventure with The Bionic Woman and BJ and the Bear; tangled with the law on CHiPs, Police Woman, Adam-12, Get Christie Love, and Baretta; traveled to Fantasy Island and got some Northern Exposure; hung out with Jack Lord on Stoney Burke and Hawaii Five-O, Raymond Burr on Perry Mason and Ironside, and Ross Martin on Mr. Lucky and The Wild Wild West; spied on Get Smart, The Man from UNCLE, and The Girl from UNCLE; met icons Zorro and Batman; got creepy on Thriller and The Twilight Zone; got kooky on The Addam’s Family and The Munsters; pestered Columbo six times; and his final role was on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries that I’ve probably seen an unhealthy number of times.

It should be no surprise that many of the shows I listed featured Mr. Scotti more than once in various roles. They knew a good thing when they saw it and he was very much a good thing.

Vito Scotti was a frequent flyer when it came to TV guest roles and as such, it’s no trouble to catch him in one of his many appearances. His brilliant talent is always a spectacular addition to any show.

Rerun Junkie Guest Star–Joyce Van Patten

“I didn’t know Dick Van Patten had a sister,” my roommate said.

Now I could take that two ways. One, my roommate didn’t know who Joyce Van Patten was or two, she knew who Joyce Van Patten was, but just didn’t realize that she was Dick Van Patten’s sister.

It turns out it was the latter and that stands to reason. Joyce Van Patten has had quite the solid career, built upon her own fantastic talents. A little nepotism really wasn’t necessary in her case.

She was Claudia Gramus on The Good Guys, Iris Chapman on The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, and Maureen Slattery on Unhappily Ever After. And she has a slew of guest credits on a wide variety of TV shows.

Two of my favorite guest appearances of hers happened to be on the same show, Hawaii Five-O.

Miss Van Patten made her first appearance in the Season 3 episode “The Payoff”. She plays a woman helping out an old friend that she’s sweet on. The only thing is that her old friend was involved in a kidnapping for ransom that ended in murder and now he’s been gut shot by one of his co-conspirators. She’s desperate in multiple ways –desperate to help Jace, desperate to have Jace feel for her what she feels for him, and desperate to evade the law. Unfortunately, none of it works out for her and the scene in Steve’s office where she spills her guts has you aching for her.

Her second appearance came in the Season 5 episode “I’m a Family Crook–Don’t Shoot!” I picked this as my favorite episode of that season and with good reason. Joyce Van Patten plays the matriarch of a swindling, thieving family with Andy Griffith as her husband. The family pulls their bump and grab routine on a mob bagman and lets just say that it doesn’t work out well for them. These crooks are obviously the lesser of the evils in this ep, and even though they are crooks, you can’t help but like them. The way that Miss Van Patten plays both outlaw and doting mother is a unique blend that feels real. She is all about her family, it’s just that the family business is illegal.

She also tangled with the law on episodes of The Untouchables, The Defenders, Perry Mason, Men at Law, The FBI, McCloud, The Streets of San Francisco, Amy Prentiss, Columbo, Law & Order, and NYPD Blue; worked with Jack Lord on Stoney Burke and Andy Griffith on The Andy Griffith Show; checked in on Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare and Young Dr. Kildare, The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Medical Center, and Diagnosis Murder; got laughs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Odd Couple, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, and Love, American Style; worked with Bob Newhart on The Bob Newhart Show and Bob; went west on Gunsmoke and The Virginian; went to jail on Oz and got in with mob on The Sopranos; privately investigated on Cannon and The Rockford Files; got spooky on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, and the 1960s Outer Limits; was family oriented on Family, Sisters, Touched by an Angel, and Judging Amy; made headlines on Lou Grant and disappeared on Without a Trace; went back in time on Boardwalk Empire and Brooklyn Bridge; and got soapy for several episodes on All My Children.

Joyce Van Patten has a charm that shines across genres, no matter the role or the show. She’s eye-catching in a subtle way, and compelling whether she’s making you laugh or pulling at your heart strings. Her older brother may have been pretty great, but she holds her own. As the paraphrased saying goes…thank God for little sisters.

Rerun Junkie Guest Star–L.Q. Jones

When I think of L.Q. Jones, I usually think of him with a cowboy hat. Or a mustache. Or both. Maybe because the roles I associate with him most are cowboys. Maybe it’s because he’s a Texas native. Maybe it’s both. But Mr. Jones played more than just a cowboy and though his film roles might have been bigger, he’s always been around on the small screen as well. With 165 credits from 1955-2006, he had plenty of opportunity to do more than hang out on the range.

However, he did hang out there a lot as Belden on The Virginian and Sheriff Lew Wallace on The Yellow Rose. He also did a stint on the show Renegade, which sounds like it could have been a Western, but was really more of a “What if The Fugitive became a bounty hunter?” show.

My personal favorite guest role of L.Q. Jones is his appearance in the Season 4 episode of The A-Team, “Cowboy George”, in which he gets to be a cowboy villain in a decidedly non-Western show. He plays Chuck Danford who owns the “Floor ’em” where Face has booked Cowboy George to play. Little does Face know that a loophole in the talent contract allowing for substitutions results in Boy George being sent to play the country joint instead. Face is also unaware that the entire purpose of the concert is so Chuck’s associates can rip off the armored car carrying the intended audience’s payroll. It’s not easy playing a bad guy against The A-Team. After all, you’re guaranteed to lose. But L.Q. Jones pulls it off brilliantly. The ease in which he appears to be a good guy right up until he isn’t is great because you buy him as both. He could totally be an innocent business owner or a guy plotting to get The A-Team lynched for the crime that he orchestrated.

Mr. Jones didn’t have to have a big role to make an impression on me. He’s in two episodes that stick in my mind. One is called “A Purge of Madness” from Season 4 of The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. Ross Martin plays a man given to bouts of psychotic rage and the doctors decide to treat it through psychiatric neurosurgery. L.Q. Jones is one of the doctors (along with Milton Berle!) consulting on the case. A small, but integral role that he filled well.

Another one was in the Season 1 episode of Hawaii Five-O called “King of the Hill”. Yaphet Kotto plays a marine suffering from severe PTSD which leads to him shooting Danny before taking him hostage in a hospital room under the belief that he’s protecting a wounded friend and holding a hill until help arrives. Mr. Jones plays a colonel who helps fill in some of the blanks Five-O needs to resolve the situation safely. Again it’s a small role, but an important one. It’s not easy to give convincing exposition.

A natural in a cowboy hat, L.Q. Jones really did pop up on a lot of Westerns, including Alias Smith and Jones, Lancer, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Cimarron Strip, Branded, Rawhide, Hondo, Laramie, The Rebel, Have Gun, Will Travel, Death Valley Days, The Rifleman, Tales of Wells Fargo, Cheyenne, Johnny Ringo, The Rebel, and Wagon Train.

He went to the dogs on Lassie and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin; joined up on Men of Annapolis; tangled with the law on The New Adam-12, Columbo, Walker, Texas Ranger, The FBI, McCloud, Ironside, CHiPs, and Perry Mason; messed around with some good ‘ol boys on The Dukes of Hazzard and Enos; checked in on Ben Casey; privately investigated with Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, Matt Houston, and Cannon; wandered on Kung Fu and Route 66; time-traveled on Voyagers!; and hung on with Bill Bixby on My Favorite Martian, The Magician, and The Incredible Hulk.

Yeah, I don’t know how he missed The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, either.

With or without a cowboy hat, with or without a mustache, if you need a charming villain or a villain with a real mean streak -or both- or even a good guy with a Texas edge, then L.Q. Jones is your man. And we’re all so lucky to have him riding our TV range.

Rerun Junkie Guest Star–Jeanne Cooper

Jeanne Cooper spent nearly 40 years playing Katherine Chancellor Murphy on The Young and the Restless, so it’s easy to forget that she spent some time making the guest star rounds. And if you’re at all familiar with her on the soap, then you know that every appearance she made was glorious.

With 136 credits listed on IMDB spanning from 1953 to 2013, Ms. Cooper had plenty of opportunity to pop up on various shows, including as Grace Douglas on Bracken’s World, and multiple appearances on shows like Wagon Train and Perry Mason.

Quite possibly my favorite guest role of hers is as Heath’s villainous aunt on The Big Valley in the Season 1 episode “Boots with My Father’s Name”. As the rest of the Barkley’s prepare to unveil a statue in the patriarch’s honor, Victoria is obsessed with the woman her husband had an affair with which gave the clan Heath. She heads to Heath’s birthplace to find out more and finds herself in the grip of Martha, who’s had enough of her nothing husband and her nothing life and sees Victoria as a ticket out, by conniving, by threat, by force…whatever works.

It’s an episode filled with scenes between two powerhouse actors: Jeanne Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. It is an understatement to say that those scenes are great. They’re phenomenal. It’s mesmerizing to watch the two women go toe-to-toe.

Which is probably why Ms. Cooper made another appearance on the show as a different character later in the series run. Why wouldn’t you want those two together again?

It doesn’t take much screen time for Jeanne Cooper to make an impression.

One of my favorite examples of this is the Season 4 episode of Hawaii Five-O, “…And I Want Some Candy and a Gun That Shoots”. Five-O is dealing with a shooter secured in a bunker overlooking a major road. He’s already taken shots at the cops and hit a few. It turns out he’s a mentally unstable vet and once Steve discovers his identity, he tries to bring in people who know him that might be able to talk him down safely. One of these people is his mother as portrayed by Jeanne Cooper.

Let’s just say if she were my mother, I’d probably be up on a hill taking shots at people, too. She’s one cold bitch. She denies that it’s her son up on that hill, calls her son’s wife a tramp, and absolutely refuses to speak to her son. It would be kind to call her a piece of work. And it would be easy for her to be a two-dimensional rendering of an emotionally cold mother. But Ms. Cooper grounds that character and gives it enough depth and spin that you start wondering if the guy on the hill wasn’t made that way…or born that way.

Jeanne Cooper didn’t always play a ruthless bitch, but damn if she wasn’t good at it. And she found her way onto a variety of shows.

She appeared on other Westerns like The Adventures of Kit Carson, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Sugarfoot, Shotgun Slade, Maverick, Cheyenne, Rawhide, Stoney Burke, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Branded, Daniel Boone, Death Valley Days, and Lancer; and other cop shows like Highway Patrol, State Trooper, M Squad, The New Breed, Ironside, and McCloud.

She spied on I Led Three Lives and The Man from UNCLE; got strange on The Twilight Zone and Kolchak: the Nightstalker; changed lives on The Millionaire and Touched by an Angel; educated on Mr. Novak; privately investigated on Mike Hammer, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Cannon, Mannix, and Longstreet; went to the hospital on Ben Casey and Emergency!; tangled with the feds on The Untouchables; showed up as herself on Diagnosis Murder and The Nanny; and played son Corbin Bernsen’s on-screen mom on L.A. Law.

Ms. Jeanne Cooper is a force. Whether her role is only a couple of minutes or the main focus, good or bad (and she’s so good bad), you can’t help but be drawn to her. She’s an unbelievable talent and though her guest spot career might not be as robust as some others, she is an absolute treasure every time she appears onscreen.

Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–Michael Constantine

Michael Constantine is one of those guest stars that I never expect to see as often as I do. I can remember the first time I watched the Perry Mason episode “The Case of the Runaway Racer” and when he appeared onscreen, I literally pointed at the TV as said, “That’s Michael Constantine!” (This was repeated when I saw Gavin MacLeod and Paul Winfield.)

Despite many of his 182 credits going back to 1959 on IMDB being TV credits, I still think of Mr. Constantine as more of a movie actor. Maybe it’s because of Thinner and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Maybe he just has a presence that says “Big Screen”. Either way, he’s done plenty on the small screen.

In addition to reprising his role as Gus on My Big Fat Greek Life (which only ran for seven episodes), he was also Jack Ellenhorn on Hey, Landlord, The Sorcerer on Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Judge Matthew Sirota on Sirota’s Court, and Principal Seymour Kaufman on Room 222, which was his longest regular TV stint.

Perhaps one of his most memorable guest spots was in an episode of The Twilight Zone called “I Am the Night–Color Me Black”, in which a condemned man is set to hang and the local newspaper editor questions his guilt, implying that the Deputy lied and the Sheriff is too lazy/apathetic to do anything about it. When the sun doesn’t rise on the day of the hanging, the townspeople start to realize why. It’s a fantastic episode made all the more better by Michael Constantine’s sheriff and George Lindsey’s deputy. If you only know George Lindsey as Goober Pyle, you’re in for a shock. Mr. Constantine doesn’t shy away from the character that he’s playing either.

My favorite guest appearance of his is on Murder, She Wrote in the episode “Murder Takes the Bus”. First of all, it’s a fabulous guest cast that includes Mills Watson, Linda Blair, Rue McClanahan, Larry Linville, Albert Salmi, Don Stroud, and David Wayne. Secondly, it’s a whodunit on a bus stranded at a cafe in a storm. The killer is most definitely among them and the victim is a recently released prisoner who’d been involved in a bank robbery in which someone was killed. When Michael Constantine confesses to killing the man in retaliation for his daughter dying during the robbery, your heart breaks for him. He’s a grieving father who’s held onto this bitterness for years and the lack of remorse from the man responsible for his daughter’s death drives him over the edge. You feel for him. And then you get the twist of the victim already being dead when he stabbed him. It’s just a fantastic episode with every player hitting the high notes, particularly Mr. Constantine.

He turned up on other solve-a-murder shows like Ellery Queen, Quincy ME, and McMillan and Wife; joined in on family friendly fare like The Flying Nun, Benson, Mama’s Family, Highway to Heaven, The Odd Couple, and Hogan’s Heroes; went West on The Virginian, Gunsmoke, and Iron Horse; tangled with Raymond Burr yet again on Ironside; went to war on Combat! and 12 O’Clock High; checked in on Trapper John MD, Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, and The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; was privately investigated on Remington Steele, 77 Sunset Strip, The New Mike Hammer, Matt Houston, Vega$, and Magnum PI; went to paradise on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island; got legal on Cain’s Hundred, Judging Amy, and The New Breed; got into other people’s business on Blacke’s Magic and Midnight Caller; tangled with the law on Cold Case, Hunter, The Untouchables, Naked City, The Streets of San Francisco, The Detectives, and Homicide: Life on the Street; went sci-fi on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, and The Outer Limits, and got spooky on Night Gallery and Friday the 13: The Series; evaded the law on The Fugitive; got in on the action on Airwolf, The Fall Guy, Mission: Impossible, and MacGyver; and worked with Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show; Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; and then Ed Asner on Lou Grant.

It’s no surprise that Michael Constantine had the range to tackle multiple genres. Good guys, bad guys, funny guys, sympathetic guys, he had the chops to tackle them all, bringing a certain weight and believability to every single character he played.

Yes, he was absolutely perfect for the big screen, but lucky for us, he graced the small screen often, too.

Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–Richard Jaeckel

Do you need a good looking man of a questionable character? Allow me to introduce you to Richard Jaeckel.

Okay, he more than likely wasn’t of questionable character outside of the roles he played and not all of the roles he did play were of questionable character, but he did play the mime rapist on that one episode of Little House on the Prairie, so yeah, I’m going to side-eye him forever for that.

He was Tony Gentry on Frontier Circus, Lt. Pete McNeil on Banyon, Hank Meyers on Firehouse, Jack Klinger on Salvage 1, Maj. Hawkins on At Ease, Lt. Martin Quirk on Spenser: For Hire, and Ben Edwards on Baywatch, and with 187 credits on IMDB going back to 1943, many of them for TV shows, you’ve probably seen him in something, most likely a Western.

He did multiple stints on Gunsmoke, but the episode I remember best is a final season entry called “Larkin”, in which he plays an outlaw pursued by bounty hunters who happens to run into Newly and is taken into custody. Newly is hurt during the course of the action and he struggles to make it back to Dodge City with Larkin in tow and bounty hunters right behind them. Larkin is a killer and he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the bounty hunters and the law, but better the devil that would rather take you in alive. It’s a tightrope of nuance and tension that Richard Jaeckel walks brilliantly.

He also put in appearances on other Westerns such as Bonanza, The Virginian, The Wild Wild West, Wagon Train, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Rebel, and The Oregon Trail.

Mr. Jaeckel made a brief, but memorable appearance in an episode of Emergency! called “Kids”, in which he successful defends a man of abusing his stepson. His unapologetic demeanor endears him to no one, particularly Dr. Brackett, and definitely not the audience, especially at the end of the episode when the actually guilty stepfather sends the stepson to Rampart General once again.

Frequently cast in roles as a member of the military, he turned up in episodes of Black Sheep Squadron, Combat!, and China Beach. His penchant for playing police officers and criminals alike landed him on shows like Ironside, Perry Mason, McCloud, Baretta, and The Naked City. He also dealt with his share of private detectives in episodes of Charlie’s Angels, Cannon, and 77 Sunset Strip.

He tangled with the feds on The FBI, The Untouchables, and O’Hara, US Treasury; showed up on both The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; went to paradise on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Big Hawaii; got sci-fi on The Time Tunnel and The Outer Limits; found himself in the presence of criminally brilliant minds on Murder, She Wrote and Ellery Queen; made news on Lou Grant, spied on Mission: Impossible, and went big on Dallas.

No matter what show he turned up on and no matter what state his character’s character might have been, Richard Jaeckle is always an impressive presence.

Nothing questionable about that.

Rerun Junkie Guest Star–Nehemiah Persoff

Nehemiah Persoff sadly passed away last month at the age of 102, but with 207 credits listed on IMDB, there’s a reason why it felt like he was always on TV for about a thirty year span. Pretty impressive when you consider that he never had a regular or recurring role on any series. Maybe best known for his role in Yentl, Mr. Persoff left his mark on many TV shows during his career.

He did multiple episodes of Hawaii Five-O, but his turn as the unpleasant Harry Cardonus, the weak-link in a criminal organization that McGarrett manipulates in order to get him to testify, really stands out. While under police protection, his attitude towards Steve McGarrett, Five-O, and HPD makes you wonder if Steve won’t kill him before his buddy does. He’s unlikable from the beginning, but there’s enough character and humanity to him that makes him feel like a real, fully formed human and not just a plot device.

Mr. Persoff frequently played rabbis and other Jewish characters. His turn as Yakov Berger, a Hassidic Jew and diamond merchant on two episodes of Barney Miller (the closest he came to a recurring character) are fantastic. In the first episode, “Middle Age”, he’s the intended target of a theft. In the second episode, “Riot”, he along with other members of the Hassidic community take umbrage with the precinct’s lagging response times to calls to an extreme. Both episodes are quite funny, thanks in large part to Mr. Persoff’s performance.

Most likely because of his olive complexion and his gift with accents, he was often cast as Middle Easterners or Latinos. His performance as Pancho Hernando Gonzalez Enriques Rodriguez in the Gilligan’s Island episode “The Little Dictator” is probably the best example of the latter.

A gifted, versatile actor, Mr. Persoff turned up on a wide variety of shows. Westerns like Wagon Train, Rawhide, The Big Valley, The Wild Wild West, The High Chaparral, and several episodes of Gunsmoke; Sci-Fi shows like The Twilight Zone (in a rather haunting episode called “Judgment Night”), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, Logan’s Run, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek: The Next Generation; and family friendly fare like The Flying Nun, Little House on the Prairie, and Doogie Howser MD.

He ran the gamut of crime shows, from Honey West, Mannix, Richie Brockelman Private Eye, Vega$, and Magnum PI to The Untouchables, The Mod Squad, Adam-12, The Streets of San Francisco, Columbo, McCloud, and Police Woman to Burke’s Law, McMillan and Wife, Ellery Queen, Baretta, Quincey ME, Murder, She Wrote, LA Law, and Law and Order.

He checked in with Ben Casey, Marcus Welby MD, and Chicago Hope. He got spooky with Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Thriller. He courted intrigue with The Man from UNCLE, Mission: Impossible, and Search. He hung out with both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman; sided with Wonder Woman; helped out MacGyver; rode the Supertrain; and spent some time on Fantasy Island. He even has the distinction of guesting on two shows that shared the same name (but not the same premise) twice! I Spy (a series in 1955 and again in 1965) and Hunter (a series in 1976 and again in 1984).

Nehemiah Persoff was a talented man with an incredible range from the dramatic to the comedic and everything in between. And those talents can be regularly found on just about any rerun. It’s nice to know we can still find him any time we want to tune it.

Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–Burt Mustin

For nearly 30 years, if a TV show was in need of a quirky and/or spunky senior citizen, they could call on Burt Mustin.

According to IMDB, he racked up 199 credits between 1951 and 1979, a feat that wouldn’t be too remarkable if he hadn’t made his first onscreen appearance at age 67. As fate would have it, Mr. Mustin’s retirement as a salesman gave birth to a second career that has blessed us all.

Mr. Mustin had recurring roles on several series including portraying Arthur Lanson on Phyllis, Jud on The Andy Griffith Show, Grandpa Jenson on Petticoat Junction, and Gus the Fireman on Leave It to Beaver. He also frequently made repeat appearances on shows as different characters, including Our Miss Brooks, Adam-12, My Three Sons, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Texan, Dragnet 67, and The Monkees.

It’s the last two shows that contain my favorite Burt Mustin performances.

In the Dragnet 67 episode “Homicide: DR-22”, he plays Calvin Lampe, who is at first thought to be a nosy neighbor of and then a possible suspect in the murder of a career girl. It’s later revealed that he’s a retired chief of detectives and friend of Friday and Gannon’s boss. He ends up helping the two whippersnappers solve the homicide. Calvin Lampe has an unmatched attention to detail and his insinuation in the case is at first a source of a bit of annoyance before Friday and Gannon realize how valuable it is. One of my favorite scenes is Lampe talking to Friday and Gannon while a uniformed officer in the background (played by Jack Webb favorite Marco Lopez) gives them a yikes look.

Mr. Mustin appeared in two episodes of The Monkees that I love. He was the butler in the classic “The Christmas Episode” and he portrayed a Tarzan knock-off by the name of Kimba in “Monkees Marooned”. The bit in which Peter translates for him is a hoot.

He stuck to The Andy Griffith universe, appearing in both Gomer Pyle: USMC and Mayberry RFD and even popped up on The New Andy Griffith Show; spent some extra time in the Henningverse on a couple of episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies; completed the Jack Webb odyssey with a couple of episodes of Emergency!; and appeared on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda.

He turned up on Westerns like Maverick, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Virginian, and Alias Smith and Jones; hung out with Lucille Ball on both The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy; and cut up on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, Laugh-In, The Brady Bunch, Sanford and Son, All in the Family, and Love, American Style. He got mysterious on Mr. Lucky, Surfside 6, and 77 Sunset Strip; saw some action on The Girl from UNCLE, Batman, The Fugitive, and Get Smart; got spooky on Thriller, The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Outer Limits; and he even did a couple of medical stints on Ben Casey and Marcus Welby MD.

There wasn’t a television genre that Burt Mustin couldn’t shine in. He’s a delight in everything he appears in, elevating a generic senior citizen into something more memorable and cementing his face into the good graces and fond memories of generations.

Not bad for an old guy, huh?