This Is What Happened To Your Favorite Stars Of The ’60s Small Screen

There was nothing like television in the 1960s. Sure, the screens were smaller and squarer, and the switches weird, but plenty would tell you that the shows themselves were more fun and light-hearted. Perhaps you remember sitting in front of the box for as long as your parents would allow, eyes eagerly fixed on your heroes. But what happened to the actors who portrayed them? Well, from classics such as Leave it to Beaver, The Addams Family and Bonanza to Lost in Space, Star Trek and The Munsters – we’ll tell all.

40. Ken Osmond

Ken Osmond played Eddie Haskell, the teenage bully on the show Leave it to Beaver. And he partly grew up on the set, being 20-years-old when it finished in 1963. A career change saw him become an LAPD officer – we’re not lying – but in 1980 he got shot and had to retire. Yet it meant he could return to a contemporary version of his old show Still the Beaver in the 1980s, where he made over 100 appearances. That’s some life!

39. Barbara Feldon

Feldon became one of the sex symbols of the 1960s when she played Agent 99 in Get Smart. She hasn’t done many big shows since then, mostly popping up on TV movies and series, but she did reprise the 99 role for a new version in 1995. Still, she’s perfectly content to have 99 being the main thing she’s remembered for. She told Forbes magazine in 2016, “I was just happy to be working back then.”

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38. John Astin

John Astin was the man behind one of the most iconic television characters ever, Gomez Addams from The Addams Family. The actor’s in his 90s now, and he’s not really on TV anymore apart from occasional voice work, but he still quite rightly has a dedicated fan base. Fun fact: he’s the adoptive father of Lord of the Rings and Stranger Things star Sean Astin.

37. Walter Koenig

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You probably know Walter Koenig best as Chekov from Star Trek, but he had a pretty steady career as a TV actor long before that one world-conquering show came along. During the first half of the 1960s he had roles in, among other things, The Great Adventure, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and Gidget. He became a writer in later years but never quit acting, and he’s still doing the occasional Trek convention.

36. Lorne Green

Lorne Green played Ben Cartwright on the Western show Bonanza and became a father figure of sorts to a whole generation of children. He appeared in other popular shows later on in his career, including Battlestar Galactica, but he was always most associated with Bonanza. Upon his death in 1987, his co-star Michael Landon told the Associated Press, “He was Ben Cartwright to the end.”

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35. James Hampton

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You might know James Hampton from the Teen Wolf franchise, but before that he was a staple of 1960s’ television. He appeared in Gunsmoke and Rawhide before getting the role of the fantastically incompetent P.F.C. Dobbs in F Troop. His career has lasted all the way into the present day. And believe it or not, he was actually in an army unit called F Troop before becoming an actor.

34. Billy Gray

Billy Gray’s performance as Bud in Father Knows Best opened the door for him to appear in a lot of popular 1960s’ TV shows. You can spot him in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Rawhide, The Greatest Show on Earth and plenty more. He’s now in his 80s and has taken on a completely new career – he’s an inventor. He created a new kind of water hose lock!

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33. Max Baer Jr.

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Max Baer Jr. was never quite able to escape the specter of his most popular character, Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillies. Once the show was done he tried to branch out into other roles, but eventually he just leaned into being Jethro. Yup, he bought the rights to The Beverly Hillbillies and started a line of casino slot machines based on the characters.

32. Julie Newmar

There’s a lot of men out there who will never forget seeing Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the 1960s. She was purr-fect playing the character in the 1966 Batman series, so much so that she’s actually still doing the voice for her in some animated productions. And even though she’s in her late 80s now, she still looks fantastic.

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31. Pat Priest

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Remember Marilyn, the “ugly” one in The Munsters? The joke was, of course, that she wasn’t remotely ugly. But she was allegedly told she was too old to play her character anymore by the time The Munsters became a movie. Priest has no regrets though. In 2020 she told the website Senior Voice, “I’ve done everything I wanted to do and gone everywhere I wanted to go. I’m 83 now and whatever happens in the future is all just pluses.”

30. Robert Clary

Robert Clary did various game shows in the 1950s before getting the role of Corporal Louis LeBeau in Hogan’s Heroes come 1965. That’s probably his best-known character, but don’t forget he was also a soap opera star, having appeared in both Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful. He’s retired from acting now, and does art and lecturing instead.

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29. Carol Burnett

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Carol Burnett is considered to be the 1960s’ heir of Lucille Ball, the latter being the 1950s comedy star. She was so good she got her own show, The Carol Burnett Show, in 1967. And she just plain never went away after that. Her modern-day fans will have seen her in Hawaii Five-0, Angie Tribeca, Mad About You and more.

28. Shelley Fabares

Shelley Fabares was born into show business, so she was performing on television from a young age. But it was during the 1960s when she got big, since she played a major role on The Donna Reed Show. Eventually she was written off, but she already had the fame she needed. A movie career followed, and she even did three films with Elvis Presley.

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27. William Shatner

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The name William Shatner will always be associated with Captain Kirk and Star Trek, but he was an all-round superstar of TV in the 1960s. Before Trek even started, he’d already been in shows such as The Defenders, For the People and Dr. Kildare. Unsurprisingly he’s still a household name even today.

26. Kathleen Nolan

Actress Kathleen Nolan was everywhere in the 1960s. She was Kate McCoy on The Real McCoys and Lt. Anne Morgan on Broadside. Plus she had guest appearances in shows such as Bewitched and One Life to Live. She hasn’t acted since 2017 at this point, but she seems perfectly happy living life with her only son Spencer in L.A.

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25. Mark Goddard

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The actor Mark Goddard had been in Hollywood only three weeks when he got cast in his first TV show. It’s alright for some. Bigger and bigger parts followed until come 1965 he played Major Don West in the now-iconic Lost in Space. He still occasionally does Lost in Space work, such was the impact it had on his career.

24. Barbara Eden

If you know the show I Dream of Jeannie, you know Barbara Eden. She played the title role for five seasons and it made her own. That fame translated into multiple accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But Eden doesn’t act so much these days, instead she does important charity work.

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23. June Lockhart

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June Lockhart starred in two of the most iconic series of the 1960s, Lassie and Lost in Space. And she also found time to guest star in a few more, including The Beverly Hillbillies and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. She acts only sporadically now, but she’s in her mid 90s so you can’t blame her for wanting to relax a bit.

22. Burt Ward

Burt Ward had no professional acting experience at all when he was cast as Robin in the 1960s’ Batman series. But it was a gamble that paid off, since the show was a huge hit and it threw Ward himself into stardom. For the rest of his career he did roles that piggybacked off his Robin one, but he never seemed to mind.

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21. Diana Rigg

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Diana Rigg was a star in every era, but it was the 1960s that made her. She was the iconic character of Emma Peel on the massively popular British show The Avengers, which ran from 1965 to 1968. Such was her success that she was made a Dame in 1994. Younger folks will know her as Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones, but to one generation she was always Emma.

20. Tina Louise

Tina Louise, aka Ginger Grant, is the last surviving star of Gilligan’s Island. For years she refused to appear in revivals and reunions of the show, but she always loved the fanbase that sprung up around it. In 2020 she told The New York Post newspaper, “We brought a lot of joy to people and still do.” Louise went on to appear in Dallas amongst other shows. Nowadays, in her late 80s, she’s taking it much easier.

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19. Diahann Carroll

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Diahann Carroll was a trailblazer in the 1960s. She was the title character of Julia, one of the first shows to feature a black woman in a non-stereotyped role. And after that she became the first leading black character on any soap opera with her role in Dynasty. She passed away in 2019, leaving an impressive legacy.

18. Sherry Jackson

Sherry Jackson was a child star in the 1940s, but during the 1960s she made a name for herself as an adult. She appeared on multiple television shows during the decade, and lots of the most well-remembered ones: The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Batman, Star Trek and more. She’s 79 now and retired from acting, her last role being in the TV show Strike Force.

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17. Bernie Kopell

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Maybe Bernie Kopell isn’t a household name, but you’ve definitely seen him in something. He’s a hugely prolific actor. Back in the 1960s he was in – to name just a few – My Favorite Martian, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Get Smart and The Beverly Hillbillies. These days you can see him show up in Superstore, Hawaii Five-0 and er, 2018’s The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time.

16. Dick Sargent

Dick Sargent is most well-known for being the second actor to play Darrin on Bewitched, but he has a fascinating story beyond that too. After retiring from acting and being diagnosed with prostate cancer, in 1991 he made an important announcement: he was gay. Sargent spent the rest of his life fighting for LGBT rights until he passed away in 1994.

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15. Yvonne Craig

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Dancer and actress Yvonne Craig played two beloved characters during the 1960s. One was Batgirl on Batman, and the other was the green-skinned Marta in Star Trek. But outside of acting, she quietly worked as a philanthropist and helped women receive free mammograms. Sadly, cancer claimed her life in 2015.

14. Fred Gwynne

Fred Gwynne was the man underneath the Herman Munster make-up. It was a tough job – it was unbearably hot in the costume under the studio lights – but he weathered it out. After The Munsters finished he took on a wide variety of different roles, on the small screen and the big one. His last film was 1992’s My Cousin Vinny and he died of cancer the following year.

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13. Marlo Thomas

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Marlo Thomas was the daughter of famed actor Danny Thomas, so it’s not surprising she followed him into acting. And she became a superstar when her 1960s’ sitcom That Girl turned into a massive hit. She gained four Emmy nominations for her role as Ann Marie. And really, the spotlight never faded on her. You can catch her in modern movies such as Ocean’s Eight, plus she was Rachel’s mother in hit comedy Friends.

12. Eartha Kitt

The late Eartha Kitt played Catwoman on Batman after Julie Newmar did, and made herself an icon in doing so, but that was just one part of her long career. She was also a Grammy-nominated musician and an anti-Vietnam War activist. It’s no wonder that back in the day Orson Welles reportedly once called her “the most exciting woman alive.”

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11. Kathy Garver

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Kathy Garver is best known for playing Cissy in Family Affair, which is still beloved today. But she took her career in different directions after that. She did stage work for a while – including an Israeli musical version of Family Affair – and then started doing voice acting. And in 2020 she reprised her iconic sitcom role for a web series called Aunt Cissy.

10.George Takei

George Takei is still to this day considered an icon for both Asian-Americans and LGBT people. And it all started back in the 1960s. Not only did Takei play an important role in Star Trek as Lieutenant Sulu, he was also in a controversial episode of The Twilight Zone that centered on the Vietnam War.

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9. Bob Denver

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Bob Denver was the Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island, though in real life he was reportedly the exact opposite of the characters he portrayed. After Gilligan’s Island, he appeared in numerous other series but mostly while still reprising his Gilligan role. He faded from the spotlight as he became a carer to his disabled son and then sadly passed away in 2005 due to complications of cancer treatment.

8. Cloris Leachman

The late Cloris Leachman had the sort of career most actors only dream of. She spent the 1960s appearing in virtually every TV show going – Adam-12, 77 Sunset Strip, Dr. Kildare, Perry Mason and plenty more. Then in the following decade she found more fame with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and became a highly acclaimed actress, later winning an Oscar. American Gods was one of her last notable shows, but we’ll never forget her turn as Frau Blucher in Young Frakenstein.

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7. Andy Griffith

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Andy Griffith had his own program in the 1960s and to this day everyone knows its name: The Andy Griffith Show. And without the success of that show, and the charm of Griffith’s performance, we might never have gotten Matlock, the beloved 1986 series Griffith both produced and starred in. The legend passed in 2012.

6. Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery will always be associated with the sitcom Bewitched. It was so iconic that even today there’s talk about rebooting it as a movie. If so, working in a tribute to Montgomery herself would be a good way to go. She didn’t just make the witch Samantha her own, she did lots of acclaimed acting work before her death in 1993.

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5. Adam West

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There’s a whole generation to whom Adam West is the Batman, despite the fact that multiple actors have played him over the years. And West continued to be an icon of geek culture all of his life. He played Batman in many other productions and parodies, and when he wasn’t doing that he was playing himself on Family Guy. When West passed in 2017, the creators of the adult cartoon dedicated an entire episode to him.

4. Sally Field

Before she was an Oscar winner, Sally Field was working on TV. First she played the main character in 1965’s Gidget, which only ran for one season. But then she became the star of The Flying Nun, a very odd TV show about a nun with the power of flight. After that the sky was the limit, if you’ll pardon the pun.

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3. Nichelle Nichols

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When Nichelle Nichols played Uhura on Star Trek, she made history in more ways than one. None other than Martin Luther King asked her to continue playing the role, telling her she was a role model for African-Americans. She was that for the rest of her career as well – she took a job with NASA encouraging black and female would-be astronauts to join the space program. Thanks in part to her, science fiction and regular science changed for the better.

2. Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is the quintessential Western star, and he was that even back in the 1960s when his career was just starting out. Yep, before he was a star of Wild West movies, he was a star of Wild West TV shows. He played Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, and the year after that show finished The Good, the Bad and the Ugly came out and changed everything. Clint continues to act and direct movies today, even in his 90s.

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1. Dick Van Dyke

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Dick Van Dyke is one of the most iconic television stars of all time. In the 1960s he was the star of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran for 158 episodes. And though the show itself is no longer with us, Van Dyke himself very much still is. He’s in his 90s now – and still able to tap dance.

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