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A Generation Gap in Talent? You Be the Judge

April 01, 1999|JOAN FANTAZIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You probably know the sons, but do you know the fathers?

If you're addicted to TV, you most likely have seen those older actors but never gave them much thought. Take a little time to get acquainted this month and see if there are resemblances between father and son.

* The bad guy in "Bonanza" (April 19 at 2 p.m. on KPXN Channel 30) is played by character actor George Dolenz--Mickey's father. In "Marie, My Love," Ben Cartwright flashes back to life with wife No. 3 (Little Joe's mother), whose honor has been impugned by a duelist--Dolenz. The character actor, who earlier had starred in a short-lived series--"The Count of Monte Cristo," from 1955 to '56--was born in Italy in 1908 and died in 1963, two days before the "Bonanza" episode originally aired.

* You can also see Kurt Russell's dad, Bing, on three "Bonanza" episodes (April 15, April 20 and May 3, at 2 p.m., on KPXN Channel 30) from 1963. He had an occasional role, that of a deputy, from 1961 to '73. He's also on a "Gunsmoke" (April 10 at 3 a.m. on KDOC Channel 56) from 1967.

* It would be understandable for people to think that Ron Howard's father was Andy Griffith or Tom Bosley. But Dad is actually a lower-profile actor named Rance. He's got a guest shot on "The Andy Griffith Show" episode "Barney and the Governor" (April 19 at 8 a.m. on TBS). (No, he's not the governor; he's the chauffeur.) As a bonus, the next day you can watch Ron's little brother, the cute-child-star-turned-bizarre-looking Clint ("Gentle Ben"), who plays the peanut-butter-and-jelly-eating Leon, on back-to-back episodes (8 a.m. and 8:30 on TBS). Clint would go on to co-star with his dad in "Gentle Ben," from 1967 to '69.

* In the "MASH" episode "Lend a Hand" (April 22 at 2:30 p.m. on FX), Robert Alda--Alan's father--has a guest-starring role as a medical consultant that Hawkeye can't stand. (Alan Alda's brother Anthony plays a medic.) Robert Alda, a Tony winner for the original Broadway production of "Guys and Dolls," hosted variety and game shows in the '50s and has guest-starred in series ranging from "Robert Montgomery Presents" to "The Incredible Hulk."

Trivia quiz:

What was the name of Mickey Dolenz's character in his first TV series? (Answer is below.)

Set Your VCR

* Next week, A&E shakes up its weekday schedule, getting rid of some '70s crime fighters (Columbo, McCloud and McMillan and his wife) in favor of '80s gumshoes "Simon & Simon." That detective show, which ran from 1981 to '88, starts with the pilot (Monday at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.). Other firsts: "The Andy Griffith Show" (Friday at 8:30 a.m. on TBS); "Miami Vice" (April 26 at 3 p.m. on FX); "NYPD Blue" (Friday at midnight on FX); "The Big Valley" (April 17 at 4 p.m. on KPXN Channel 30); and "I Dream of Jeannie" (April 16 at 6 a.m. on TV Land).

* Decades before he was a player in the California initiative process, years before he was a director and even before he was a meathead, Rob Reiner was a recruit--on "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." (April 20 at 2:30 a.m. on TBS). The episode is from 1966, five years before "All in the Family."

* The doomed tour guide that Dr. Joe Gannon (Chad Everett) falls for on "Medical Center" (April 18 at 11 p.m. on KPXN Channel 30) is the series star's real-life wife, Shelby Grant.

* Lee Van Cleef had worn a black hat a lot by the time he guest-starred in "Zorro" (April 26 at midnight on the Disney Channel) in 1958 and "The Rifleman" (April 9 at 5 a.m. on KDOC Channel 56) a year later. He was in the movie "High Noon" in 1952 but was still a ways off from the spaghetti westerns of the '60s.

* Myles Berkowitz, the actor-filmmaker who got a fiancee out of his recent "20 Dates," has already been a groom--on a 1990 episode of "The Golden Girls" (May 2 at 11 a.m. on Lifetime). Pay attention, though, or you'll miss him (he wasn't in charge of this production, after all). The real star of the episode is Howard Duff.

* Forget who's in the credits of a 1963 "Combat!" (Saturday at 1 p.m. on KDOC Channel 56); it's who's not in them that matters: Barbara Babcock and Hans Gudegast. Babcock would go on to win an Emmy for "Hill Street Blues" more than 15 years later; Gudegast, of course, would become the bad guy on "The Rat Patrol" and then a huge soap star under the name Eric Braeden.

* Disney character Prof. Ludwig Von Drake makes his debut in "An Adventure in Color/Donald in Mathmagic Land" on "Walt Disney Presents" (Friday at 11 p.m. on the Disney Channel).

* It's a sweet coincidence that an Emmy for writing went to "The Scholar" episode of "The Waltons" (Monday at 1 and 7 p.m. on TNN), in which John-Boy tutors a woman who's too proud to admit she can't read or write. And it wasn't the only Emmy the series got for the 1972-73 season: It won for outstanding drama series; best actor (Richard Thomas); best actress (Michael Learned); and best supporting actress (Ellen Corby).

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