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Austin Chronicle TV Eye

By Margaret Moser

JANUARY 19, 1999:  "Nine Faces We'll Miss" certainly hit home. Last issue, I picked nine not-so-arbitrary television faces who passed on in 1998 but once again, readers rallied with their own suggestions, starting with Michael S., who said...

"Okay, okay, maybe it was harder than I thought to figger out which one of your nine faces I didn't think belonged on the list, but how could you leave out everybody's favorite police chief of Hawaii Five-O,"

Jack Lord?
Book her, Dan-o.-- Michael S.

Jack Lord died almost a year ago of heart failure at age 77 after playing Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O, TV's longest-running crime drama. I lived in Honolulu for a while and he seemed like kind of a buttwipe when I'd see him at various functions. My ex-husband once threw him out of his tattoo shop. Great PR for Hawaii, though.

... Sonny Bono
-- Bill G.

The problem is, you folks want me to say something nice about some of these people just because they died. Bono smacked into a tree while skiing last January, thereby creating the battle of the widows. Bono's wife Mary grabbed the press first but the first ex-Mrs. Bono, Cher, muscled her way into the services with an award-winning performance. Sonny had formerly been mayor of Palm Springs and was a congressman from California's 44th District when he died. Okay, something nice ... Did you ever watch his gawdawful Sonny Comedy Revue in 1974? Aren't you glad?

... Harry Caray
-- J.T.

You know, I almost put Harry Caray in my list but the truth is I never watched him that much. Besides, I promised not to write about sports. But in deference to both baseball and Chicago, the beloved sportscaster died in February. Bless his heart.

... Frank Sinatra
-- Sandra L.

I had completely forgotten Ol' Blue Eyes' foray onto the small screen not once but twice. Sinatra, who died in May of a heart attack, was twice host and star of The Frank Sinatra Show (1950-1952, 1957-1958). Of course, there was a reason I forgot about those -- so has almost everyone else.

... Robert Young
-- Jabbo

Good old Robert Young, a dad we can all love, first in Father Knows Best,then on Marcus Welby, M.D. His role as Jim Anderson beat the pompous Ward Cleaver or the useless Steve Douglas hands down, even if his TV children were pioneers in the young-stars-go-bad sweepstakes.

... Buffalo Bob Smith
-- Steve J.

Shame on me. I should have gotten Buffalo Bob on the list. The host of The Howdy Doody Show died of cancer in July but will remain loved by folks everywhere. Howdy Doody was such a big part of my life, I hallucinated a Flubadub on my first acid trip.

... Gene Autry
-- Chris G.

When Gene Autry died in October, he was the second cowboy singing star to go -- Roy Rogers had died in July. But Gene made it possible for Roy to exist and when he died, so did a little bit of history.

... Bob Trow
-- Kay K.

Another one I should have somehow shoehorned in, Trow was Mister Rogers' sidekick on PBS' Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He played Robert Troll and Bob Dog among other characters, and was a good friend to Fred Rogers.

... Johnny Roventini
-- P.R.

Like Harry Caray, Roventini was one-of-kind, a midget player who was best known for dressing like a bellhop with a "Call for Phillip Morris!" Roventini died in November.

... Norman Fell
-- Gwyn D.

Hard to imagine that Fell plumbed his role as Stanley Roper on Three's Company for only two excruciating years but that's what he did. The actor died of cancer in December, and had a string of credits behind him but, well, this is what he gets remembered for..

And because I am likely not to be here next year writing this, R.I.P. Iron Eyes Cody, who died last week. Oskie "Iron Eyes" Cody started acting in 1919 but in 1971 signed on for a "Keep America Beautiful" TV commercial that brought him fame for the rest of his life. Remember how he'd paddle up and see the trash everywhere, turn to the camera, and let one single tear spill down his craggy cheek? Some actors spend their whole lives looking for that one film part or TV show that will pay off. Cody got it in a 30-second spot.

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