The Early TV Appearances of 7 Big Stars

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My Dad is something of a star-spotter. He loves to pick out famous actors in bit roles they played early in their careers. Even at age 85, he's got a great memory for faces, but coming up with the name has always been problematic: "That's what's-his-name, you know, that kid"¦.he was on that show, the one with the horse, you know who I mean"¦" For those of you who also frequently recognize young faces in old shows, here's a quick cheat sheet of who to watch for when you're catching up on reruns. Feel free to chime in with any "Hey, isn't that"¦..?" sightings not mentioned.

1. Aaron Spelling on I Love Lucy

Before Aaron Spelling became the TV producer with the Midas touch, he was a struggling young actor who couldn't even afford to buy a car. One of his earliest roles was that of a gas station attendant in the "Tennessee Bound" episode of I Love Lucy. Spelling's the guy in the slouchy sweater wearing a hat. Watch him really cut a country rug with Weensy near the end of this clip:

2. Christine Baranski on The Brady Bunch

Emmy-winning actress Christine Baranski had a different name (and apparently a different nose) when she started out in the business. Here she is at Marcia's slumber party feeling the effects of the ol' itching-powder-in-the-sleeping-bag trick on The Brady Bunch:

3. Lisa Kudrow on Newhart

The series finale of Newhart was memorable for a couple of reasons"¦it was the first time we heard the Darryls speak, and it took the "it was nothing but a dream" device to a new level by bringing back Suzanne Pleshette, Bob's TV wife from his previous series, for the final scene. For Friends star Lisa Kudrow, this episode was memorable mainly because it marked her second TV appearance (she'd previously appeared on Cheers). You can play "Spot Lisa" about three minutes into this clip when the wives of Larry, Darryl and Darryl make their entrance:

4. Brad Pitt on Dallas

Brad Pitt's first credited TV appearance was a four-part story arc on the prime time soap Dallas. He played "Randy" (paging Dr. Freud!), the hormonally-charged high school hunk who was literally caught in the hay with Charlotte "Charlie" Wade.

5. Anthony Geary on All in the Family

On November 16, 1981, 30 million viewers tuned in to General Hospital to watch the wedding of Luke and Laura, as portrayed by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis. Ten years prior to being daytime television's favorite hunk, Geary appeared on an episode of All in the Family, where (in Archie's opinion, at least) his sexual preference somewhat ambiguous:

6. Rob Reiner on Batman

Rob Reiner is a celebrated producer/director/writer. He also worked successfully as an actor (see him as "Meathead" in the All in the Family clip above). Like many struggling actors, however, he had his share of "will work for food" roles, such as the delivery boy in this episode of Batman (skip ahead to 2:30 to see him):

7. Laurence Fishburne on Pee-Wee's Playhouse

By 1986 Laurence Fishburne had a fairly impressive list of film credits on his resume, but his TV work had been limited to one-off spots on shows like M*A*S*H and Trapper John, MD. While working with the Groundlings improvisational comedy troupe early in his career, he befriended Paul Reubens. When Reubens became famous as Pee-Wee Herman and landed his own TV series, he brought Fishburne on board to play Cowboy Curtis:

See Also: The Early TV Appearances of 9 More Stars

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July 15, 2009 - 11:01am
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