As 2018 fades into memory, let’s remember the television performers, producers and personalities we lost this year.
Jon Paul Steuer (“Grace Under Fire”) died on New Year’s Day. January also witnessed the death of Jerry Van Dyke (“Coach”), remembered by many for “My Mother the Car,” perhaps the most high-concept comedy of the 1960s. We also lost Bradford Dillman (“Night Gallery”); Dorothy Malone of “Peyton Place” and Mark Salling from “Glee.”
February saw the death of John Mahoney, the heart of “Frasier”; Nanette Fabray, Emmy winner for “Caesar’s Hour,” and comedian and game show habitue Marty Allen. Evangelist Billy Graham, who broadcast his sermons and revivals, died on Feb. 21.
Frank Avruch, TV’s first Bozo the Clown, left us in March, as did “M*A*S*H” star David Ogden Stiers.
Prolific producer Steven Bochco (“Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue,” “L.A. Law”) died on April 1. That month also saw the death of Harry Anderson (“Night Court”).
Hugh Dane, known to many from “The Office,” died in May, as did Margot Kidder. The big screen Lois Lane was James Garner’s co-star in the NBC Western “Nichols.”
June brought us the shocking death of chef, author and television host Anthony Bourdain (“No Reservations,” “Parts Unknown”). No other television personality could share a meal with Ted Nugent one season and President Barack Obama in another. While so much of basic cable is literally designed to drive us apart, Bourdain proved that humor and curiosity offered a common bond.
Robin Leach, who died Aug. 24, did not invent “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” but he adorned them with “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” Prolific playwright Neil Simon (“The Odd Couple”), who died Aug. 26, was among a group of talented writers for “Your Show of Shows.”
Before “Deliverance” and the “Smokey and the Bandit” franchise, Burt Reynolds, who died Sept. 6, appeared on “Gunsmoke,” “Hawk” and “Dan August.” Not to mention many a talk show couch.
In October, we lost Scott Wilson of “The Walking Dead.” November took from us Stan Lee of Marvel Comics; Roy Clark, who brought country music into living rooms on “Hee Haw”; Ricky Jay, the legendary illusionist and “Deadwood” star, and Stephen Hillenburg, creator of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
December began with the death of Ken Berry (“F Troop” and “Mayberry R.F.D.”). Penny Marshall died on Dec. 17. Although she went on to direct big-screen hits “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” she remains best known as the wise-cracking Laverne DeFazio from “Laverne & Shirley.”
Almost too late to make this list, nun and BBC art historian Sister Wendy Beckett died on Dec. 26.
I know this list simply scratches the surface. Apologies for any oversights. Let’s raise a glass to their memories and think of them all fondly in the years to come.
- Syfy’s “Twilight Zone” marathon continues.
- “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2019” (7 p.m. and 9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) follows festivities on both coasts.