January 14 marks a number of television-related birthdays
Hal Roach (1892-1992) – American Film Producer best remembered for Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang shorts. As a young vidiot growing up on suburban Long Island, I spent countless hours in front of the tube watching reruns of the Our Gang comedies which had been packaged for television as The Little Rascals. Roach remained active late in life, appearing on Letterman when he was 90, and the Academy Awards at 92 and again shortly after his 100th birthday. He died in 1992 two months short of his 101st birthday, outliving most of the children who starred in his Our Gang shorts. I can still hear Alfalfa crooning “I’m in the mood for love" (so can you if you click on the link below).
Mark Goodson (1915-1992) – Pioneering Game Show Producer. Along with partner Bill Todman, Goodson was responsible for the most famous and longest running game shows in TV History including What’s My Line, To Tell the Truth, The Price is Right, Password, Beat the Clock, Concentration, Family Feud, and Match Game (my all time favorite). I can still hear the announcer’s closing tag line “This has been a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Production”
Andy Rooney (1919-2011) – Journalist and author best known for "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" his long-running feature on 60 Minutes. For 33 years the curmudgeonly commentator held forth on a series of diverse and mostly mundane subjects such as coffee cans, mixed nuts and pill bottles. Andy could take the most prosaic topic and make it interesting and amusing. In addition to his talent as a writer and commentator, Andy is best remembered for having the bushiest eyebrows in broadcasting (rivaling Pierre Salinger). He died at the age of 92 in November 2011, one month after his final broadcast.
Guy Williams (1924-1989) – American actor. Another favorite of young Mr. Mike was Lost in Space which starred Williams as Professor John Robinson - father, husband, pilot, space explorer, astrophysicist and all around great guy (he even looked terrific in velour). In addition to LIS Williams had the title role in Zorro for Disney. This role made Williams especially popular in Argentina where he spent the last 17 years of his life living in retirement. He died in 1989 of a brain aneurysm at the age of 65.