As a new year dawns, a tribute to those we’ve lost in the year now ending is merited … and in 2012, those sad milestones have encompassed some of the most popular personalities in television history.
Andy Griffith: The actor-producer who put Mayberry on the map forever will be remembered as one of television’s most genial personalities, also extending to his run as wily lawyer Matlock.
Dick Clark: The number of music stars who owe at least part of their success to the “American Bandstand” maestro is incalculable. Thanks to him, people also enjoy “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” receive American Music Awards and have a greater appreciation of bloopers. Here’s a “so long” salute to you, Dick.
Larry Hagman: The truly unfortunate irony of the veteran actor’s recent death is that he was just starting his second round of “Dallas” success as master schemer J.R. Ewing. He’ll also be long recalled fondly for “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Jack Klugman:�Many earlier TV appearances led to stardom for the home-screen “Odd Couple’s” Oscar, who also had a later series success as medical sleuth “Quincy, M.E.”
Mike Wallace: His tenacious reporting method had its detractors – especially those who were his targets — but the “60 Minutes” staple maintained his truly iconic style.
Whitney Houston: Music and movies were her mainstays, but the singular singer also made her TV mark on specials, award shows and an update of “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
Ernest Borgnine: Alternately brutal and likable on the big screen, the Oscar winner milked his more amiable side for his runs in such series as “McHale’s Navy” and “Airwolf” – and also for the voice of Mermaid Man on “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
Charles Durning: A familiar presence in TV movies and “Evening Shade,” this magnificent character actor also honored his decorated military service in National Memorial Day Concert appearances.
Sherman Hemsley: Certainly “movin’ on up” when he landed an “All in the Family” spinoff, this stage veteran made George Jefferson the very definition of “feisty.”
Chad Everett: The actor’s literal movie-star looks translated well to the series “Medical Center” and numerous guest appearances (including “Castle” shortly before his death).
Ben Gazzara: The ever-edgy demeanor Gazzara possessed helped the series “Run for Your Life” and “Arrest and Trial,” plus such TV landmarks as “QB VII” and “An Early Frost.”
Andy Williams: Not only was the “Moon River” crooner a staple of variety television for years, live Grammy Awards telecasts might not have started when they did (1971) had he not agreed to host the first one.
Davy Jones: Hey, hey, he was one of the Monkees … and also the music star who gave Marcia Brady perhaps the most memorable school prom date any TV character ever has had.
Don Cornelius: Another pioneer of music on television, Cornelius — with that famously deep voice of his — regularly invited viewers to board the “Soul Train.”
Richard Dawson: He was one of “Hogan’s Heroes,” but the actor-comedian scored even bigger fame as the female-friendly host of “Family Feud.”
Phyllis Diller: With that zany laugh that let you know it couldn’t be anyone else, Diller was a staple of variety and talk shows, with the occasional stab at such series as her own “Phyllis Diller Show” (aka “The Pruitts of Southampton”).
George Lindsey: The likable, agreeable Goober of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry, R.F.D.” later parlayed the image into its most ideal TV home at the time, “Hee Haw.”
Frank Cady: Another staple of rural sitcoms, Cady had a rare trifecta as storekeeper Sam Drucker on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Petticoat Junction” and “Green Acres” at the same time.
Robert Hegyes and Ron Palillo: An especially sad year for the Sweathogs saw the passings of the “Welcome Back, Kotter” stars who had been high-school students Epstein and Horshack.
Don Grady: As Robbie Douglas, the handsome Grady was one of “My Three Sons” through all but the last year of the series’ run.
Alex Karras: From football player to sportscaster to actor (“Webster”), Karras logged much screen time over several careers.
William Windom: Though he also was a regular on “The Farmer’s Daughter” and “Murder, She Wrote,” Windom earned his main TV fame – and an Emmy Award – for the James Thurber-inspired “My World and Welcome to It.”
Jonathan Frid: This actor died just before the opening of the movie that updated his biggest claim to fame, “Dark Shadows,” in which he had a cameo (but not as vampire Barnabas Collins again).
Kathryn Joosten: Less than a month after her Mrs. McCluskey succumbed to cancer on “Desperate Housewives,” Joosten — who won two Emmys for that show, and also was Mrs. Landingham on “The West Wing” — died of the disease.
Lupe Ontiveros: “Desperate Housewives” suffered the loss of another of its Emmy winners with the passing of the veteran talent — and crusader for diversity in casting — who played the snoopy Juanita Solis.
Jenni Rivera: The Mexican-American singer and reality show star died in a plane crash following one of her concerts, and shortly after she had signed with ABC for her own sitcom.
Michael Clarke Duncan: The distinctive gentle giant co-star of “The Finder” died soon after that “Bones” spinoff ended.
Peter Breck: The hothead of the Barkleys as Nick on “The Big Valley,” Breck made sure the character’s family loyalty was ever-present.
Gary Collins: An actor in such shows as “The Sixth Sense,” Collins transformed to become the host of the weekday “Home Show” and such events as the Miss America Pageant.
Deborah Raffin: Reliable in projects from “7th Heaven” to “Noble House,” the actress also was a pioneer in the books-on-tape business.
Art Ginsburg: A big part of popularizing cooking on TV, the syndicated “Mr. Food” was famous for his food-sampling sign-off, “Ooh, it’s so good!”
John Ingle: For the better part of 20 years, the former
acting teacher was Quartermaine-family patriarch Edward on the ABC daytime staple “General Hospital.”
Dick Tufeld:�”Danger, Will Robinson!” was the signature
line of the man who supplied the robot’s voice on “Lost in Space.”