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Remembering Caesar, Waite, Canfield, Temple

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Actress Shirley Temple Black accepts the Life Achievement Award onstage during the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Actress Shirley Temple Black accepts the Life Achievement Award onstage during the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

We lost four more actors this past week.

Sid Caesar: one of the pioneer stars during the early days of television passed away February 12th at the age of 91. Caesar starred in the live television show “Your Show Of Shows” that ran on NBC from 1950-1954. In that day TV was all live unless a show was aired as a kinescope: a filmed presentation of TV signal. No videotape or digital disc back then. Along with Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner, it was a 90 minute show of live, original comedy every Saturday night at 9pm ET, with movie parodies, wordless pantomimes, and brisk routines with Coca. He also starred in theatrical films such as It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), Airport 1975, and Grease (1978). He set the standards for comedy shows on television that we enjoy today.

Ralph Waite: one of the most beloved character actors on television passed away February 13th at the age of 85. Known in the 1970’s as John Walton on the CBS hit series “The Walton” from 1972-1981, Waite was the patriarch of a family living on Walton’s Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Jefferson County Virginia. The show was a #1 hit for CBS back then with some 221 episodes, one special, and seven made for television movies. It went into syndication as well and aired on KXTX Channel 39 during my tenure there. Waite also was on the hit FOX show “Bones” and up until the time of his death was in a recurring role as the father of Special Agent Jethro Gibbs on CBS’s #1 show NCIS. He was still actively working until his passing last week.

Mary Grace Canfield: this actress is one that you may not remember unless you were alive in the 1960’s. Canfield was a character actress that appeared in the ABC sitcom “The Hathaways” but she is best remember as Ralph Monroe, along with her brother Alf Monroe (Sid Melton) on the CBS hit sitcom, “Green Acres”, who were constantly trying to fix up Oliver Douglas’ home in Hooterville. Canfield had mixed emotion appearing on that show with a man’s name but being clearly evident that she was female. She was with the show from 1966-1971 when CBS cancelled it as a overall purge of rural comedies. She also starred in the Disney movie Pollyanna (1960) as the upstairs maid. Canfield passed away this past Saturday at age 89. This show was a huge hit in syndication after it left CBS.

Shirley Temple: probably the most famous child theatrical film star that ever lived. From 1932-1939, Temple was the top box office draw in the United States and brought in lots of money for 20th Century Fox and its boss Darryl Zanuck. By the late 1930’s, her popularity declined and while she made a few movies in the 1940’s, such as The Bachelor & The Bobby-Soxer (1947), her acting career was over but in 1950 married Charles Black. Temple ended up in politics and later as a Republican Party fundraiser and an Ambassador to Ghana under President Nixon and later Ambassador to Czechoslovakia. When I worked for WTSP-TV in Tampa/St. Petersburg, one of my supervisors, Programming Director Jayne Boyd, would buy a movie package from FOX Syndication we called, “The Temples”…all of her movies from 1932-1939. Some were in black and white but a few were in color. Temple also had a TV show on ABC and NBC called “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” as the host and narrator of a series of dramatized fairy tales. Temple passed away February 10th at age 85.

The men and women who work in filmed entertainment both in TV and the theatrical side owe a lot to these four people. Thank you all for the great times and your work will live on for years.

See you next time.

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