This year the TV community lost some icons, both to death and cancellation. In a year with few quality TV debuts, the losses are that much more significant. Compiled here is a short list of those who we will miss from television.
Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) Along with strong performances in television movies like “Inherit the Wind” and “12 Angry Men,” Lemmon captured the hearts of audiences with his incredible portrayal of Morrie Schwartz in “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Lemmon turned acting into an art form, inspiring hundreds of other actors, including Ving Rhames who practically “gave” his Golden Globe award to his fellow nominee.
Carroll O”Connor (1924-2001) O”Connor will forever be remembered as a patriarch. As the set-in-his-ways father of the dysfunctional Bunker bunch, he never quite got his foot out of his mouth during the run of the series, but the man behind Archie Bunker always knew what he was doing forcing the audience into social discussion. After his stint on “All in the Family,” O”Connor once again took on the role of the patriarch as Sheriff Bill Gillespie on “In the Heat of the Night.”
Behind the scenes, O”Connor was a father struggling to keep his own family together only to face the grief from the loss of his son.
A mentor to many actors, O”Connor ushered in a new generation of actors who have desperately tried to recreate the talent of this fallen star.
William Hanna (1910-2001) One half of the dynamic animation duo of cartoon powerhouse Hanna /Barbera, William Hanna enjoyed a wonderful career full of characters like Huckleberry Hound, Scooby Doo and The Flintstones. Hanna and partner, Joseph Barbera, effectively paved the way for modern animated sitcoms like “The Simpsons.”
Christopher Hewett (1922-2001) As America”s beloved steward, Mr. Belvedere, Hewett served his “typical American family” with humorous disdain. Fading from the limelight after the end of the show, Hewett died from complications from diabetes.
“Mister Rogers” Neighborhood” (1966-2001) Fred Rogers hosted this beloved children”s television program that featured an imaginary world with puppets living in a medieval- type kingdom. Saying his last “won”t you be my neighbor,” the host ended his run after 35 years.
“3rd Rock from the Sun” (1996-2001) After playing aliens playing humans for six seasons, John Lithgow, French Stewart, Kristen Johnston and Jordan Gordon-Levitt said goodbye and headed back to that big head in the sky.
Dr. Peter Benton departs “ER.” After seven years on the award-winning NBC ratings giant, original cast member, Eric La Salle left his position at County General. In a wonderfully subdued episode, Dr. Benton chose his child over his career and gracefully takes a new position at another hospital. La Salle”s departure leaves only Anthony Edwards and Noah Wyle of the original “ER” crew, (the returning Sherry Stringfield as Dr. Susan Lewis doesn”t count) and Edwards is headed out the door at the end of the season.