What Character Actors!

(Above; Whitman in ‘Starr of the Yankees,’ Waggoner in ‘Wonder Woman)

You might not immediately recognize the name of Stuart Whitman, but you’ve no doubt seen his acting chops countless times. On the other hand, if you were around in the ‘60s or ‘70s – or just a fan of classic comedy or superheroes – you certainly know Lyle Waggoner. What Whitman, who died Monday at 92, and Waggoner, who died Tuesday at 84, share in common is that they were both great character actors.

Lyle Waggoner

Waggoner became very well known for playing countless characters  — and straight men – during his seven seasons (1967-1974) on CBS’s comedic The Carol Burnett Show. Here’s one example, posted yesterday by over-the-air channel MeTV, where half-hour versions of the series now air weeknights at 11 pm ET:

Waggoner then pivoted into a successful three-season role as Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman (ABC, 1976-1977; CBS, 1977-1979). Here, from ABC’s original 1975 TV movie pilot, Trevor and Wonder Woman meet for the first time:  

You can now see Wonder Woman Sundays at 1pm ET on over-the-air channel Heroes & Icons, while subscribers to DC Universe can stream the entire series.

Stuart Whitman

Although Stuart Whitman also played mostly supporting roles over his 50-year career, he had a couple of moments of leading man glory.

Most famously, Whitman received an Oscar nomination as Best Actor for playing an ex-con child molestor in 1961’s The Mark, now available only on DVD:

Whitman also starred for one season in a 90-minute western, Cimarron Strip (CBS, 1967-1968), which has many episodes streaming free on YouTube. You can view a notable one at the bottom of this article.

For those missing baseball this year – and especially for Yankee fans – we also present Whitman playing a supporting role in Starr of the Yankees. This unsold TV pilot was filmed in the late ‘50s and ran on CBS’s General Foods Summer Playhouse in 1965. It was directed by Arthur Hiller, later to get an Oscar nomination for Love Story (1970). So let’s journey back to the days when batters didn’t wear helmets:

And here, from Cimarron Strip, is ”Knife in the Darkness,” a take on Jack the Ripper written by Harlan Ellison, with a score by Bernard Herrmann:

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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