Sadly a lot of iconic television stars left us throughout 2012 with some passing away during the holiday season. Here are 10 TV superstars of their day with highlights from their ground-breaking careers. One of Tampa’s own was not a TV star per se. He played for the NFL while being featured on live televised football games. Other notable television stars also passed on who deserve recognition.
Dick Clark (April 18) – A man of many accomplishments who created and produced the music dance show “American Bandstand” and the American Music Awards. He hosted the game show “$25,000 Pyramid” and the perennial “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” from Times Square.
Don Cornelius (February 1) – He was another pioneer of the music dance show “Soul Train.” This was an urban, hipper version of “American Bandstand.” The show ran longer than its white counterpart from 1971 to 1993.
Andy Griffith (July 3) – Baby boomers grew up on his TV series “Andy Griffith Show” that was based on his real-life hometown. He later starred in another hit series “Matlock.”
Jack Klugman (December 24) – Starred in the television version of the Broadway and film hit “The Odd Couple.” Klugman played the sloppy character Oscar Madison. Later on he starred in the hit medical/crime drama series “Quincy, ME” as an inquiring medical examiner.
Alex Karras (October 10) – Here’s a former NFL player for the Detroit Lions turned actor. His best known TV role on “Webster” was that of a former NFL player who adopts the young son (Emmanuel Lewis) of a former teammate who passed away.
Andy Williams (September 25) – His popular music-variety TV show titled “The Andy Williams Show” introduced the very young Osmond Brothers, including Donny and Marie. For a number of years he starred in his own Christmas television specials. One of his hits songs “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” can be heard in many TV commercials during the holidays.
Davy Jones (February 29) – “The Monkees” lead singer starred in this nonsensical TV comedy/music series based on The Beatles film “A Hard Day’s Night.” The short film pieces introducing their songs each week would later be springboards for today’s music videos.
Phyllis Diller (August 20) – She paved the way for comediennes with her eccentricities, colorful hair colors, and loud cackling laugh. Diller was a staple on the talk show circuit and appeared on many game shows.
Sherman Hemsley (July 24) – Definitely broke the stereotype wide open with the hit sitcom “The Jefferson’s” starring as George Jefferson. The show also featured a bi-racial couple who were openly affectionate at times.
Larry Hagman (November 23) – By far television’s greatest icon of all-time was reprising his role as J.R. Ewing in TNT’s “Dallas,” which focuses on the next generation of Ewing’s. He taped a number of episodes for the upcoming second season. Hagman was a gifted actor in both sitcoms such as “I Dream of Jeannie” and the primetime soap opera “Dallas.”
– Tampa’s own O.J. Murdock, 25, who played for the Tennessee Titans, passed away on July 30. He was found dead inside his car that was parked in front of his former Tampa high school, Middleton.
Other Television Notables:
-Ron Palillo (August 14) and Robert Hegyes (January 26) – They were from the “Welcome Back Kotter” fame.
-Chad Everett (July 24) – Starred in “Medical Center” a precursor of today’s medical dramas, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” One episode featured Robert Reed of “The Brady Bunch” fame wanting a sex change. This was a radical topic for television during the mid-1970s.
-Ernest Borgnine (July 8) – Played the lead role in “McHale’s Navy.”
-Yvette Wilson (June 14) – Best known for her role in “Moesha.”
-Richard Dawson (June 2) – He’s one of the stars of “Hogan’s Hero’s” and the game show host of “Family Feud.” He was famous for kissing all of the female contestants, young and old.
-George Lindsey (May 6) – He occasionally guest starred on “The Andy Griffith Show.”