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Don’t Read This if You’re Under 50

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

If you cant identify this actor, don’t read any further.

It was the 1970s. When men wore slacks, and women drove station wagons.

There were still only a few television stations in the U.S., but cable TV arrived, as did HBO and Showtime. If you turned the channel dial on your television between channels, you might even be able to “steal” a grainy bit of HBO and see one of the pioneers of porn in action.

Better than that, if you connected a cable line to your stereo receiver’s FM antenna, you got a pure signal to some great radio stations in the largest metropolitan area close to you. Ah, but cable operators figured that all out in the long run, and radio was never the same again.

Nipsey Russell and Avery Schreiber

TV was a big deal in our house, and I had a front-row seat to all 70s classics: Mary Tyler Moore, M*A*S*H, Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, Love, American Style, The Odd Couple, Starsky & Hutch.

We saw them all. Too many times.

Crime was just as prevalent on TV as it is now. I dare to say it had graphic violence too. Watch old episodes or Hawaii 5-0 or Kojak, and some violent, painfully cruel killings went down. Almost every episode of Barnaby Jones began with a brutal murder of some poor soul. Those scenes still bug me.

Few shows reeked of the 70s like Quinn Martin Productions. They had a formula and featured famous guest stars. You could tell it was a Quinn Martin production before you glanced up at the screen by the music and the voice-over.

Barnaby Jones, Cannon, and The Streets of San Francisco were the big three Quinn productions, and others not so well known. Not as many as you might think, but it seemed like my life was a Quinn Martin production.

William Conrad

Game shows were interchangeable with dramas in the 70s. The cast of Good Times or Barney Miller would randomly appear on one show or another. A Columbo here, Love Boat there, and later on an episode of CHiPs.

What made the 70s, though, were the actors you would see repeatedly. They weren’t even big stars but so familiar it seemed like they were.

Diahann Caroll and the Landers sisters

Here are a few names and photos. If you watched TV in the 70s, these were household names. You saw them more than some of your family. My favorites were actors not known for one particular role, who became famous for guest appearances.

Dick Gautier

I started a list, in alphabetical order:

Susan Anton

Adrienne Barbeau

Ken Berry

Diahann Caroll


Chad Everett

Norman Fell

Fanny Flag

Dick Gautier (Hymie from Get Smart)

George Gobel

Jane Kennedy

The Landers Sisters (Audrey and Judy - each doubly talented)

Ricardo Montalban

J.P. Morgan

Jo Anne Pflug

Charles Nelson Reilly

Barbara Rhodes

Esther Rolle

Nipsey Russell

Soupy Sales

Avery Schreiber

Brett Somers

Nancy Walker

Paul Williams

Jo Anne Worley

You had to be there. Even if you were too young to get the story or the jokes, the actors made memorable performances. If they appeared on your show, things were going well. There weren’t many shows, so you saw a lot of the same faces

Adrienne Barbeau

There are so many more shows produced today. A lot more good ones and a lot more bad ones. Plenty of good young talent getting it done.

Miss the old actors? Me too. But get over it. Bert Convy ain’t walkin’ through that door anytime soon.

Not even tonight on the ABC Movie of the Week starring Bill Bixby and Jack Albertson.



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