Actors who came on and saved the show.

by bonifan | created - 4 months ago | updated - 4 months ago | Public

Times when new characters were added to the cast who improved ratings or extended the life of a TV series.

1. Joe Besser

Actor | The Desert Hawk

Joe Besser was born on August 12, 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. Short, chubby, balding, childish character actor who began his career on the vaudeville circuit before breaking into films in the early 1930s. He was a frequent foil of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in their films and played Stinky on ...

Joey Bishop Show

2. David Canary

Actor | All My Children

David Canary was born on August 25, 1938 in Elwood, Indiana, USA as David Hoyt Canary. He was an actor, known for All My Children (1970), One Life to Live (1968) and Hombre (1967). He was married to Maureen Maloney and Julie M. Anderson. He died on November 16, 2015 in Wilton, Connecticut, USA.

Bonanza

3. Jimmy Smits

Actor | Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Jimmy Smits was born on July 9, 1955 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Jimmy L. Smits. He is an actor and producer, known for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), NYPD Blue (1993) and The West Wing (1999). He was previously married to Barbara Smits.

NYPD Blue, LA Law

Cousin Itt on the Adams Family

5. Jaleel White

Actor | Family Matters

Jaleel White was born on November 27, 1976 in Pasadena, California, USA as Jaleel Ahmad White. He is an actor and writer, known for Family Matters (1989), Big Fat Liar (2002) and Sonic the Hedgehog (1993).

Family Matters

6. Harry Morgan

Actor | M*A*S*H

Harry Morgan was a prolific character actor who starred in over 100 films and was a stage performer. Known to a younger generation of fans as "Col. Sherman T. Potter" on M*A*S*H (1972). Also known for his commanding personality throughout his career, he tackled movies and television in a way no ...

MASH

7. Mike Farrell

Actor | M*A*S*H

Mike is one of four children. His father, Joe, who died in 1956, was a carpenter at Hollywood studios. Mike attended grammar school with Natalie Wood and Ricky Nelson. He entered the Marines in the 1950s for two years. Later, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles and studied ...

MASH

8. Jonathan Winters

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Jonathan Harshman Winters III was born on November 11, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio. His father, Jonathan Harshman Winters II, was a banker who became an alcoholic after being crushed in the Great Depression. His parents divorced in 1932. Jonathan and his mother then moved to Springfield to live with his ...

Mork and Mindy

9. William Demarest

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William Demarest was a prolific actor in movies and TV, making more than 140 films. Demarest started his acting career in vaudeville and made his way to Broadway. His most famous role was in My Three Sons (1960), replacing a very sick William Frawley. Demarest was ...

My Three Sons

10. Henry Winkler

Actor | The Waterboy

Henry Franklin Winkler was born on October 30, 1945, in Manhattan, New York. His parents, Ilse Anna Maria (Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, were Jewish immigrants who avoided the German Holocaust, moving to the US in 1939. His father was the president of an international lumber company while his ...

Happy Days

11. Paul Fix

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Paul Fix, the well-known movie and TV character actor who played "Marshal Micah Torrance" on the TV series The Rifleman (1958), was born Peter Paul Fix on March 13, 1901 in Dobbs Ferry, New York to brew-master Wilhelm Fix and his wife, the former Louise C. Walz. His mother and father were German ...

The Rifleman

12. Roger Moore

Actor | Moonraker

Roger Moore will perhaps always be remembered as the man who replaced Sean Connery in the James Bond series, arguably something he never lived down.

Roger George Moore was born on October 14, 1927 in Stockwell, London, England, the son of Lillian (Pope) and George Alfred Moore, a policeman. His ...

Maverick

13. Dennis Franz

Actor | NYPD Blue

Dennis Franz was born Dennis Franz Schlacta in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and is the son of Eleanor (Mueller) and Franz Ferdinand Schlachta. His father was a German immigrant, and both he and Franz's mother, a German-American, were postal workers. He has two sisters, Marlene (born 1938...

Hill Street Blues

14. Tommy Chong

Actor | Up in Smoke

Tommy Chong was born on May 24, 1938 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada as Thomas B. Kin Chong. He is an actor, known for Up in Smoke (1978), Zootopia (2016) and Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980). He has been married to Shelby Chong since 1975. They have four children. He was previously married to ...

That 70's Show

15. Burt Reynolds

Actor | Boogie Nights

Enduring, strong-featured, and genial star of US cinema, Burt Reynolds started off in T.V. westerns in the 1960s and then carved his name into 1970s/1980s popular culture, as a sex symbol (posing nearly naked for "Cosmopolitan" magazine), and on-screen as both a rugged action figure and then as a ...

Gunsmoke

16. Paul Lynde

Actor | Bye Bye Birdie

Paul Lynde was born in 1926 in Mount Vernon, Ohio (one of six children and the middle of four boys). His father was a local police officer and the sheriff of the Mount Vernon Jail for two years. Lynde got his inspiration to become an actor at the age of four or five after his mother took him to see...

Bewitched

17. Sandy Duncan

Actress | The Swan Princess

This wholesome "Chatty Cathy" delight had all the earmarkings of becoming a dithery TV star in the early 70s and a couple of sitcom vehicles were handed to her with silver platter-like enthusiasm. Neither, however, made the best use of her elfin charm and both series died a quick death. Nonetheless...

The Hogan Family

18. Christopher Lloyd

Actor | Back to the Future

Christopher Lloyd was born on October 22, 1938 in Stamford, Connecticut, USA as Christopher Allen Lloyd. He is an actor, known for Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Addams Family Values (1993). He has been married to Lisa Loiacono since 2016. He was previously married to ...

Taxi

19. Andy Kaufman

Actor | Taxi

Referred to by some as a dadaistic comedian, Andy Kaufman took comedy and performance art to the edges of irrationality and blurred the dividing line between reality and imagination. Born in New York City on January 17, 1949, the first son of Stanley and Janice Kaufman, Andy grew up on New York in ...

Taxi

20. Kelsey Grammer

Actor | Cheers

A six-time Emmy Award winner, Kelsey Grammer was born in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Sally (Cranmer), a singer, and Frank Allen Grammer, Jr., a musician and restaurateur. He was raised in New Jersey and Florida. Grammer was drawn to the works of William Shakespeare and spent two years at ...

Cheers

21. Woody Harrelson

Actor | True Detective

Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor Woodrow Tracy Harrelson was born on July 23, 1961 in Midland, Texas, to Diane Lou (Oswald) and Charles Harrelson. He grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, where his mother was from. After receiving degrees in theater arts and English from Hanover College, he...

Cheers

22. William Sanderson

Actor | Blade Runner

Prolific and versatile character actor William Sanderson was born on January 10, 1944, in Memphis, Tennessee. His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father was a landscape designer. William served two years in the US Army. Following his military service he attended Southern Methodist ...

Newhart

23. LaWanda Page

Actress | Friday

Best known for her role as Aunt Esther Anderson on "Sanford And Son", she appeared in many films including "Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood" (1996), "Friday" (1995), "The Legend of Dolemite" (1994), "West From North Goes South" (1993), "The Meteor Man" (1993...

Sanford and Son

24. James Garner

Actor | The Notebook

Amiable and handsome James Garner had obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero/con-man persona he first developed in Maverick, the offbeat western TV series that shot him to stardom in the late 1950s.

James Garner was born James Scott ...

8 Simple Rules

25. Barry Livingston

Actor | War Dogs

Barry Livingston was born on December 17, 1953 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Barry Gordon Livingston. He is an actor, known for War Dogs (2016), Argo (2012) and Jersey Boys (2014). He has been married to Karen Huntsman since February 26, 1983. They have two children.

My Three Sons

26. John Stamos

Actor | Full House

John Phillip Stamos was born in Cypress, California, to Loretta (Phillips), a model, and William Stamos, a restaurateur. His father was of Greek descent, with the family surname originally being "Stamotopoulos". John has two younger sisters, Janeen and Alaina, both school teachers. His first ...

ER

27. Yvonne Craig

Actress | Batgirl

Yvonne Joyce Craig was born on May 16, 1937 in Taylorville, Illinois. As a young teenager, Yvonne showed such promise as a dancer that she was accepted to Denham's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her training progressed until she left the company in 1957 over a disagreement on casting changes. She ...

Batman

28. Bill Murray

Actor | Lost in Translation

Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, ...

Saturday Night Live

29. John McIntyre

Actor | Paradise Park

John McIntyre is an actor, known for Paradise Park (1991) and Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers (1990).

Wagon Train

30. Joe Mantegna

Actor | The Godfather: Part III

Joe Mantegna is an American actor who has made over 200 film and TV appearances. He is also a producer, writer, and director, and is probably best known for his role as Joey Zasa in the Francis Ford Coppola epic The Godfather: Part III (1990), in which he stars alongside Al Pacino and Andy Garcia.

...

Criminal Minds

31. Ted Danson

Actor | Cheers

Ted Danson is well known for his role as Sam Malone in the television series Cheers (1982). During the show's 11-year run, he was nominated nine times for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and won twice, in 1990 and 1993. The role also earned him a Golden Globe Award for ...

CSI

32. Jesse L. Martin

Actor | Rent

Jesse Martin was born Jesse Lamont Watkins in Virginia's Blue Ridge mountain range. His mother, Virginia Price, was a college career counselor. His father, Jesse Reed Watkins, was a truck driver. His parents divorced when he was very young. His mother then moved his family to Buffalo, New York. He ...

Law and Order

33. Billy Crystal

Actor | Forget Paris

Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1948 in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. He is the youngest of three sons born to Helen (Gabler) and Jack Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who co-founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. His family were Jewish immigrants ...

Saturday Night Live

34. Colin Quinn

Actor | Trainwreck

Colin Quinn was born on June 6, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York, USA as Colin Edward Quinn. He is an actor and writer, known for Trainwreck (2015), A Night at the Roxbury (1998) and Grown Ups (2010).

Saturday Night Live

35. Al Molinaro

Actor | Get Smart

Albert was born on June 24, 1919 to Raffaele Molinaro and Teresa Marrone. His father was born in Calabria, Italy and immigrated to the US when he was 15 years old and worked as a water boy with a railroad crew going west from New York. He ended up in Kenosha Wisconsin where he met and married ...

Happy Days

36. Scott Baio

Actor | Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2

Scott Vincent James Baio was born on September 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the third child of Mario and Rose Baio, who had emigrated from Italy. At the young age of nine, Scott decided that he wanted to be an actor. Soon after, his parents took him on interviews and he was able to land ...

Happy Days

37. Arnold the Piggy

Actor | Green Acres

Arnold the Piggy is an actor, known for Green Acres (1965).

Green Acres



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