Question: As a child of the '50s (don't laugh), I was a big fan of Car 54. Could you tell me when the show premiered and ended? Also, if memory serves correctly, didn't comedian Joe E. Ross die shortly afterward? If you could give me any further particulars on him I would appreciate it. Thank you. John Maloney, NYC
Televisionary: Laugh? I was a child of the '60s, John, so I'm not all that far behind you. Anyway, I'm really tired of everyone buying into this Hollywood-spawned belief that age is something to be ashamed of. I go to a lot of press conferences and trust me on this: Tyne Daly says more in one sentence than the latest hot young thing giggles out in an hour. Just my two cranky cents.
Created by The Phil Silvers Show's Nat Hiken, Car 54, Where Are You? ran on NBC from September 1961 to September 1963. But the lovable Ross, who played Officer Gunther Toody, enjoyed a longer life than that. The comic actor passed away in 1982 and, if you believe his epitaph, died with a smile on his face. "This man had a ball," reads the marker on his grave in the Hollywood Hills.
Don't believe me? Check out 1970's The Boatniks or dig up some old tapes and listen carefully to the voices from Saturday-morning offerings Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch! or Hong Kong Phooey.