Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–Ron Masak

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.

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?

Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–J. Pat O’Malley

Since I’ve already written about J. Pat O’Malley once when I discussed “The Fugitive” episode of The Twilight Zone, it’s only right that I go all in and do a guest star post about him. After all, he is one of my favorites anyway.

The adorable, sweet-faced actor has 242 credits listed on IMDB, and many of those are in TV Land, including recurring roles on Maude, A Touch of Grace, Wendy and Me, My Favorite Martian, Frontier Circus, Black Saddle, and The Adventures of Spin and Marty.

He also had the tendency to appear on shows multiple times, but as different characters. He appeared at least three times on Rawhide, The Twilight Zone, Death Valley Days, The Fugitive, The Real McCoys, The Virginian, Adam-12, Emergency!, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Barney Miller.

Of his three appearances on Barney Miller, his role as Mr. Holliman in “Dirty Rat” is probably my favorite. He plays a lovable ol’ houseless man who goes to a department store for the free samples and ends up falling asleep. When he wakes up, the store is closed until Monday. He makes himself at home while waiting for the store to open, but unfortunately, he couldn’t find an alarm clock so he could wake up in time to sneak out of the store. It’s a sweet, funny character, which is usually what I think of when I think of J. Pat O’Malley.

His appearance as Old Bill in the “Messing Around” episode of Emergency! is another one of my favorites. A sweet gent who entertains the folks waiting in the ER at Rampart General while seeking treatment for the persistent ailment of loneliness, Old Bill’s health takes a turn for the serious later in the episode and the paramedics have to intervene. What I like so much about it is not just his portrayal of Old Bill, but also everyone else’s response to him. They know he’s lonely and looking for a little attention, but they also don’t doubt him when he presents with an actual health concern. It’s just that he leaves to go home before he’s seen because he doesn’t think it’s anything to worry about. I can’t imagine pulling that twist off with another actor because of how endearing Old Bill has to be for it to work.

J. Pat did a tour of the Henningverse, appearing on The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres (4 times), and Petticoat Junction (2 times); was a medicine man on F-Troop; he welcomed the Bradys to TV in the pilot for The Brady Bunch; was Rob Petrie’s grandfather on The Dick Van Dyke Show; and attempted to con Barney Fife’s landlady on The Andy Griffith Show.

His cherub face graced Westerns like Alias Smith and Jones, The Big Valley, Wagon Train, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Rebel, Daniel Boone, Maverick, Stoney Burke, and The Wild Wild West; sitcoms like Three’s Company, Taxi, One Day at a Time, I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, and Hogan’s Heroes; law and order shows like Perry Mason, The Untouchables, Burke’s Law, Ironside, Quincy ME, and The Mod Squad; and PI classics like Barretta, The Rockford Files, Banacek, and Mannix.

He got soapy on Soap, thrilled on Thriller, tested his luck on Mr. Lucky, duked around with The Dukes of Hazzard, and batted around with Batman. He even had a brush with zombies on Kolchak: the Nightstalker.

And if you somehow still don’t recognize J. Pat’s face, you’ll probably recognize his voice. This singer provided the voices for characters in Disney classics such as One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Robin Hood, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and Alice in Wonderland.

Maybe J. Pat O’Malley didn’t stray much from type (at least not in the many things I’ve seen him in), but he played that type so well that it’s hard to think of him as anything other than somewhat lovable. And memorable.

After all, I named one of the neighborhood cats J. Patch O’Malley after him.

Have Yourself a Jeanette Nolan Christmas

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that Jeanette Nolan is one of my favorites, so it should be no surprise that I could find a way to elevate your holiday TV viewing with her presence.

Here are two Christmas-themed episodes of television shows featuring this holly jolly lady.

Okay, maybe she’s not so holly jolly in “PS Murry Christmas”, a Season 17 episode of Gunsmoke. In between appearances as Dirty Sally (and three years before her spin-off series of the same name), Jeanette played Emma Grundy, strict headmistress of a group of orphans that included Erin Moran, Jodie Foster, Willie Aames, and Todd Lookinland (Mike “Bobby Brady” Lookinland’s brother). In her employ is a handyman by the name of Titus Spangler, played by Jack Elam. That casting right there guarantees a hit.

When Titus, who is Jack Elam and therefore anything but subtle, embarrasses Emma in front of the orphanage’s benefactors during their annual Christmas visit, she fires him. The children, orphaned and impoverished, decide that going on the lam with Titus is a much better life and they convince him to take them along. Naturally, they all end up in Dodge City with Emma following. The plight of the children comes to light when Titus is arrested and Miss Kitty attempts to give the children a decent holiday with a party at the Longbranch Saloon, a gesture Emma refuses. It seems like she’s a straight up Scrooge, but there’s something a little more to Miss Emma than meets the eye.

It’s a sweet episode. You’ve got cute kids, the meaning of Christmas, and Jack Elam being Jack Elam. And at the heart you have Jeanette Nolan playing this very uptight character that goes beyond the stereotype of a heartless orphan-minder.

Jeanette isn’t who she seems to be in the MacGyver Season 5 episode “The Madonna” either. MacGyver takes a break from saving the world to try to bring a little holiday joy to some kids at an underfunded youth center. Sadly, the place is in danger of closing due to those lack of funds and kids like Katherine Isabelle (of Ginger Snaps fame) and Alessandro Julio (who went on to play Lt. Felix Gaeta on the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series) won’t have a place to go. And it’s tough out there on them streets! As we witness a couple of young punks roughing up an old homeless lady who appeared not long after a Madonna statue went missing from a local church. Nothing suspicious about that.

Turns out that everyone BUT Carol the homeless lady is short on Christmas spirit. MacGyver has a case of the holiday blues. The youth center needs $9,000 to stay open. Cynthia (Roxanne Reese), who runs the center, is at the end of her rope. Breeze (Charles Andrew Payne) has no love for the holiday he’s never had. The man who carved the Madonna, Vincent Battaglia (Anthony Holland), is all over sour. And Father Pat (Jackson Davies) isn’t too hopeful about the missing Madonna being returned before Christmas morning. Hell, even the Santa ringing a bell for money is down on his luck.

MacGyver works to both find the missing Madonna for his friend Father Pat and help the young people work to put on their Christmas show to get funds for the youth center, where Carol is now staying. And she helps out in her own special way.

It’s also a sweet episode with cute kids and Pete dressed as Santa and it ends just like you think it will (happy endings all around), but that doesn’t lessen the enjoyment. And Jeanette Nolan shines as the fount of Christmas Spirit. I mean, she takes a broom to a drunken Santa Claus and hustles 8 ball. Can’t get more spirited than that.

So, deck your halls, jingle your bells, trim your tree, and have yourself a Very Merry Jeanette Nolan Christmas.