7 TV Celebrities Your Parents Loved

The trailer for the new movie Julie & Julia brings back fond memories. Julia Child was the first voice impression I perfected as a teenager. My kids have no idea who she was. At the same time, they know who Billy Mays was and I didn't until his recent death made the news. That caused me to think about the celebrities my generation shared and of whom those of you under 35 probably have no experience. It didn't take long to think of a half-dozen people who achieved television fame in the 60s, 70s, and 80s even though they weren't actors or singers.

1. Euell Gibbons

Say the name Euell Gibbons and people of a certain age will tell you that many parts of a pine tree are edible. Born in 1911, Gibbons helped his family through the Depression by gathering wild foods. As an adult, he traveled the country, trying out various jobs and homes and always foraged for food growing wild. His first book, "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" became a classic. Gibbons was regarded with respect by the natural food movement. His appearances on TV shows and in commercials made him a household name, and the subject of jokes and parodies. Gibbons died in 1975 at age 64.

2. Clara Peller


Many Baby Boomers who wouldn't recognize the name Clara Peller will know who she is as soon as they hear her say, "Where's the Beef?" The Wendy's ad campaign that began in 1984 made Peller a star. She was 80 years old before she began her acting career. "Where's the Beef?" became a nationwide catch phrase, and Peller appeared on talk shows, other commercials, and even in a couple of movies using the phrase (or something close to it) for comedic purposes. Peller died in 1987 at age 85.

3. Justin Wilson


Louisiana native Justin Wilson made a career of telling Cajun stories and jokes, but his biggest fame came from cooking shows he did for PBS. Wilson's Cajun idioms and delivery as well as the stories he told while cooking kept the audience glued to their sets, waiting to hear the catchphrase "I gar-on-teee!" Wilson was 87 when he died in 2001. See a clip of Wilson in action.

4. Dr. Ruth Westheimer


Dr. Ruth make sex easier to talk about. Before Dr. Ruth, no one said "penis" in public, and we weren't all that sure how to pronounce "vagina" because even our sex education teachers used euphemisms. Her radio show Sexually Speaking took off in 1980 and led to a syndicated show and then television. The 4'7" sex therapist with the cute accent reminded us of our grandmothers, which made hearing her advice even more fun. What a lot of people didn't know was that her life before becoming a sex icon was even more amazing. Dr. Ruth was born in Germany in 1928 and was sent to an orphanage to escape the Nazis. Both her parents died in concentration camps. She emigrated to Palestine at age 17 and lived in a kibbutz. She joined the Haganah and served as a sniper in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Ruth Siegel, as she was named then, was wounded by an exploding shell and spent months in recovery. Her formal education began in 1950, which led to several degrees and a career as a sex educator and television personality. Dr. Ruth is still active at age 81.

5. Marlin Perkins


Marlin Perkins hosted the nature show Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom from 1963 to 1985. He was a respected zoologist and zoo curator, and had accompanied Sir Edmund Hilary on a 1960 Himalayan expedition to find the yeti. Perkins' more than two decades in the national spotlight made him a spokesman for the conservation movement, and he helped popularize the idea of protecting endangered species. As the years went by, Perkins handed more and more of the fieldwork for the show off to co-host Jim Fowler, which led to affectionate parody and running jokes. The show itself was unpredictable, with the animals sometimes upstaging the hosts. Perkins died in 1986 at the age of 81.

6. Bob Ross


Bob Ross is one bygone celebrity that mental_floss readers are familiar with, whether or not they ever saw him in his heyday. He was the host of The Joy of Painting on PBS from 1983 to 1994. He always completed a painting in the alloted half-hour or less, impressing everyone with his speed and confidence. Ross used the wet-on-wet oil painting technique, where layers of paint could be partially mixed and shaded because all the painting was done before any paint was allowed to dry. He described his landscapes as happy places, and encouraged viewers to lift their spirits through painting. Ross died in 1995 at age 52. You can still buy painting kits and supplies through his website.

7. Julia Child


Julia Child was America's first celebrity chef. She was born in 1912 and served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II handling classified communications. After the war, Child went to cooking school in France, where she teamed up with two other chefs to open a school of their own and published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961. Her first TV show premiered in 1963. Child had several series on PBS up through the 1990s, drawing an audience who wanted to cook for the joy and pleasure of it. They also loved the chef with her inimitable voice and laid-back personality. Child died in 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday. Her kitchen is now a part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, and can be seen in this interactive site. You can watch Child cook and listen to her marvelous delivery in several videos.

Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.

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11 Incredible Stephen Hawking Quotes
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Getty Images

When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at age 21, doctors thought he'd only survive a few more years. But the theoretical physicist defied the odds: Hawking, who passed away yesterday, lived to be 76. Here are 11 quotes from the director of research and founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time


"At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided."

— From the lecture "My Brief History," 2010


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010


“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”

— From a lecture at Arizona State University, April 2011


"If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can."

— From "Handicapped People and Science," Science Digest 92, No. 9, September 1984


"I would go back to 1967, and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy."

— To The New York Times, May 2011


"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

— From Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays


"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


"Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010

9. On HIS I.Q.

"I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

— To The New York Times, December 2004


“They are a complete mystery.”

— To New Scientist, January 2012


"One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


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