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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Actors Who Struck TV Gold...Twice, Thrice, and More!

Okay, so I have only a few hours to write this blog entry today, so I really tried to choose a topic that was quick and easy, but yet was still informative enough to get people talking.  And, I think I came up with one.

But first things first, I want to take a small moment here to talk about Shirley Temple Black, the actress who won over the hearts of millions during the 1930s as one of Hollywood's first child stars.  She passed away on February 10, 2014 at the age of 85.  She definitely was a class act the entire time, and through her lengthy movie career we watched her grow from child starlet to young woman.  And, Shirley Temple definitely had an impact on my own family as well, as one of my sisters happened to be named after one of the characters she played in one of the many movies that she was featured in (That movie being the 1936 classic "Captain January"). 

So, before I continue with today's blog entry, let's raise our glasses of Shirley Temples in memory of Shirley Temple.  

Now let's continue on with today's blog topic.  This is the "Whatever Wednesday" portion of the blog, which means that I will let the hands of fate decide what my topic is going to be about.  Now, I had already chosen the card before I left for work on Tuesday, and I can share with you now that the topic will have something to do with television, as I drew the Mrs. Peacock card.

And, here's the beauty of it all.  I was relieved that I had chosen the Mrs. Peacock card, because today's topic was heavily inspired by a conversation that I had with a co-worker of mine just yesterday at work.

Here's the situation.  Occasionally at my job, one of us is dispatched to the customer service desk to grab any and all recovery for our department.  What I mean by recovery are items that have been returned by customers, or items that have been left in other departments, or other similar circumstances like that.  Well, yesterday I went up to grab recovery, and there were a whole bunch of box sets of television series on DVD and Blu-Ray to put away.  And, my co-worker and I were discussing the various television shows that we were putting back on the shelf.

Well, as it so happened, I had a whole bunch of "The Big Bang Theory" DVD's to put away, and I made the casual observation "I can't believe that the guy who plays Leonard on this show used to be on "Roseanne" twenty years ago."

My co-worker seemed shocked.  "Really?"

I said, "Yeah.  Come look and see."

As, as luck would have it, we also happen to have the complete series run of "Roseanne" on sale in the same aisle.  And, then I showed my co-worker the picture of David on the "Roseanne" cover, and compared it to the cover of "The Big Bang Theory" season one edition, and sure enough, he noticed that Johnny Galecki had played both roles.

And, it got me thinking.  These days, it's very rare for actors to strike gold twice in two different roles on two different television shows.  Certainly Johnny Galecki has managed to join that club.  In addition to the seven seasons and counting of "The Big Bang Theory" he has filmed, he was also a part of "Roseanne" for, I believe six of the show's nine-year run.  That's a combined total of thirteen years on two different shows.  Very impressive.

But I'm certain that Johnny Galecki is not the only actor to have success like that.  There are hundreds of actors who have enjoyed a successful run on one show, and then had another successful show years down the road. 

And, that's what this topic is about.  Actors and actresses who have struck gold twice in the world of television.

Now, just for the sake of argument, I won't be talking about actors and actresses who have played the same role on a parent show and its spin-off.  So, as much as you really loved Estelle Getty on "The Golden Girls", I can't bring up the fact that she also played the same role on "Empty Nest" as well.

But, that's not to say that we won't have a couple of Golden Girls making an appearance on this list.  For now, let's begin by sticking with "The Big Bang Theory", as another star of the show struck it big twice.


Of course these days, most people will likely know her in the role of Leonard's on-again/off-again/on-again girlfriend, Penny on "The Big Bang Theory".  But that wasn't her first role in television.  When Cuoco was just seventeen years old, she had won the role of Bridget Hennessy in the ABC series "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter".  That show managed to run a total of three seasons before it was cancelled in 2005, but just a couple of years later, Cuoco would win the role that made her really famous.  Although, there is a part of me that wonders...had John Ritter lived, would "8 Simple Rules" had continued longer than 2005?  We'll never know, of course, but this leads right up to our next actress.


Now, Katey Sagal is an interesting case, because she is in an even rarer category.  She managed to have lighting strike not once, not twice, but thrice.  "8 Simple Rules" was the sitcom that was sandwiched in between her other two success stories.  The first one, of course, was playing the role of Peg Bundy on the FOX series "Married...With Children" from 1987-1997.  And, of course most people nowadays associate her with the show "Sons of Anarchy", in which she has played the role of Gemma Teller Morrow since the show's debut in September 2008.  I would also state that the three series in which she has really made the most impact have cemented Katey Sagal's status as a wonderful actress, as the roles of Peg Bundy, Cate Hennessy, and Gemma Teller Morrow are all so wildly different from each other.

(And, that's not even counting her turn as the animated character of Leela on "Futurama" either!  My goodness, everything she touches really does turn to gold, doesn't it?)


Well, since we mentioned Katey Sagal as Peg Bundy, we may as well add her on-screen husband, Ed O'Neill, who played Al Bundy for the eleven seasons that "Married...With Children" aired.  These days, you can find Ed on the set of another successful sitcom, "Modern Family".  In that series, Ed's character is married to Sofia Vergara's character...who ironically enough was the woman that Al Bundy probably fantasized over in "Married...With Children".  It just took him...oh...eleven, twelve years to achieve that dream.  (insert winky face here).


Well, you could basically insert mostly anybody from "Three's Company" on this list with the exception of Joyce DeWitt.  After all, John Ritter did that show and "8 Simple Rules".  Don Knotts did that show and "The Andy Griffith Show".  Heck, even Jenilee Harrison was featured on "Dallas" for a couple of years after filming "Three's Company"!  But ironically enough, Suzanne Somers was the one who had two and a half successful sitcoms to air after she famously was fired from her role as Chrissy Snow in 1981. 

Now, the reason why I say two and a half successful shows is because while "She's The Sheriff" ended up lasting a couple of seasons, hardly anyone I knew watched it, and it didn't really take off.  But when Suzanne Somers was offered the lead actress role in "Step by Step", she stayed on for seven seasons - two more than she did when she was on "Three's Company"!


And, since we're on the "Step by Step" train, we may as well include Patrick Duffy.  After spending twelve seasons on "Dallas" (minus the dream season, of course), Patrick Duffy won the role of Suzanne Somers' husband on that show just a few months after "Dallas" wrapped up in 1991.  Interestingly enough, Duffy is currently on the rebooted series of "Dallas" which began filming in 2012.


And, hey, let's keep the "Step by Step" train chugging along with Staci Keanan.  She too stayed on the series during the show's entire run...but her first big break was on the NBC series "My Two Dads", which aired from 1987-1990.


Okay, so I know most of you remember Kim Fields from her nine season stint as Dorothy "Tootie" Ramsey from "The Facts of Life".  But while Nancy McKeon moved to "The Division", Mindy Cohn became the voice of Velma on "Scooby-Doo", and Lisa Whelchel became a "Survivor" contestant, Kim Fields managed to be a part of a second successful sitcom.  Just five years after ending her run as Tootie, Kim Fields was cast as Regine in the UPN sitcom "Living Single", which ran from 1993-1998, starring in the sitcom alongside Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, and former Cosby Show actress Erika Alexander.


On "The Andy Griffith Show", Andy Griffith played Andy.  On "Matlock", Andy Griffith played...Matlock.  And, both roles lasted eight and nine years respectively.  Who says you have to be a certain age to achieve success?


Ron Howard is another one who proved that age meant nothing when it came to having huge success in television.  Not only did Ron Howard grow up on the set of "The Andy Griffith Show" for eight years playing Opie, but six years after the show wrapped, he would play the role of Richie Cunningham on "Happy Days" which aired between 1974 and 1984.  And these days, he's only one of the biggest movie directors in the world.  I'd say that boy did real good in his life, wouldn't you?


Seriously, with maybe the exception of Estelle Getty, all the Golden Girls were the queens of lightning striking twice or even three times.

Bea Arthur began her career in "Maude", playing the title character between 1972-1978.  Later, she would play the role of Dorothy Zbornak during the entire show's run from 1985-1992.

Rue McClanahan also had a recurring role in "Maude" as Maude's dingbat neighbour, Vivian.  And, Rue followed Bea Arthur to "The Golden Girls" as Blanche Devereaux.  But in between that, she also had a recurring role on "Mama's Family", playing the role of Aunt Fran in between "Maude" and "The Golden Girls".

But the real champion of success?  Betty White.  She had no less than four...count them...four successful runs on four different television series.  Of course, we all love her in "The Golden Girls" playing Rose Nylund.  But she also played Sue Ann Nivens in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" for a number of years, played the role of Ellen in "Mama's Family" for a couple of seasons, and is currently enjoying a four-year-run on the sitcom "Hot In Cleveland".  And, at 92, she shows no sign of stopping.  You go, Betty White!

So, that's just a smattering of actors who struck it big in television more than once.  Have any more to add?

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