Thursday, January 22, 2015

Readers' Turn: Discuss Iconic Actors and Their Famous Roles

Karen: All right, here's another chance, if you have some burning subject you want to throw out there, now's the time!


William said...

I was thinking of this last night. Of actors who are famous for playing more than one "Iconic" role, which do you most identify them with.

For example do you think of Harrison Ford more as Indiana Jones or Han Solo?

Or is Sylvester Stallone more Rocky or Rambo?

Patricke Stewart - Captain Picard or Professor X?

Ian McKellen - Gandalf or Magneto?

You get the idea. Discuss.

William said...

I should have added "and Why?" to the end my first sentence. So also discuss why you think actor (or actress) X is more associated with this character or that.

dbutler16 said...

The toughest one for me is Harrison Ford (what, no Bob Falfa?), I could go either way depending on my mood, but I'll go with Han Solo because Star Wars was such a big part of my childhood, Star Wars is something I think about on a regular basis, often unbidden, and so of course Harrison Ford as Han Solo then pops into my head.

Sly- Rocky. I've seen and enjoyed all of the Rocky movies, well not Rocky V so much. I've never seen a Rambo movie, sorry.

Patrick Stweart - Captain Picard. He was great as Prof. X, but again, I've had so much more exposure to him as Captain Picard, plus that role came first.

Ian McKellan - Gandolf. Much as I enjoy the X-Men movies, I enjoy the Tolkien movies (especially Lord of the Rings) even more, so perhaps that is what I choose Gandolf. This one is a tough call, though.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.A. Morris said...

My answers:

Doug said...

I like this topic!

I'd offer a couple of TV actors for the conversation:

Lee Majors and Robert Conrad.


Edo Bosnar said...

Excellent! Running with an idea I sort of floated a few weeks ago in the TV Saturday post. Where, I should add, Lee Majors came up as well.

Anyway, in the case of Ford, Stallone, Stewart and Majors, I first associate them with Solo, Rocky, and Picard, simply because it's the first role I saw them in - even though I actually like Indiana Jones better than Han Solo and don't like Stallone very much either way. Stewart, however, just owned Picard and, really, TNG in general. Also, for me there's this general rule that an actor's Star Trek role pretty much trumps anything else he or she has ever done...

As for McKellen, it's hard to say, really, but I guess I'll go with Gandalf - he really did bring to life the image I had pictured in my mind when I first read the books more than any of the other cast members.
Majors for me will always be Steve Austin, not only because it's where I first saw him, but also because the Six Million Dollar Man was just such an iconic show.
Don't really have any particular associations with Conrad - Baa Baa Black Sheep came to mind, but I really didn't watch that show very much.

Humanbelly said...

Good subject, good subject.
We sort of touched on it tangentially recently-- I think in hopes of coming back to it in more depth later, yeah?

Y'know-- I've never seen any of the Rocky OR Rambo films! Wow-- turn in my Baby-Boomer card right now, I guess. . . Still, I'm gonna go w/ Rocky for Stallone.

Patrick Stewart-- Yeah, Picard without question. Sheer volume of work alone. 178-ish episodes, plus four feature films of ST:NG vs four films (well, 3-1/2) and several video games as professor X. Granted, he is guh-reat in the latter role and perfectly cast-- but there's just no comparison.

Ian McKellen-- gotta go w/ Magneto here, 'cause (oh boy, here we go) HBWife and I were NOT IN LOVE w/ the LoTR films one bit. Truly not. Deeply not. But-- I'm not sure Sir Ian would consider either role the one he'd want to be best remembered for. He is a deeply proud stage actor to his core-- and his MacBeth was one against which all later MacB's would be measured.

Okay, now here is the trifecta:

Michael Landon: Little Joe from BONANZA; Pa Ingalls from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE; or Johnathan on HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN?

And some others:

Jack Klugman: Oscar on THE ODD COUPLE; or QUINCY?

Clint Eastwood: DIRTY HARRY or The Man With No Name from the Sergio Leone westerns; or heck, as Rowdy Yates for the entire run of RAWHIDE (for the folks here older than ol' HB, even!)

Which makes me think again of Lee Majors, who is of COURSE the SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN to most of us; but to that same older contingent he could well be Heath Barkley from BIG VALLEY (which seemed to be in a perpetually heavy syndication cycle); or to the younger as the FALL GUY (a show I've never seen once, I'll admit).


Humanbelly said...

How'd I miss Harrison Ford?
Indiana Jones for me, yep. Just as fun as Han Solo, but muuuuuch more expanded and challenging to the actor himself.


Anonymous said...

Great topic William!

For just about all of the actors mentioned, I can safely say that as soon as I answer which role I "most" identify them with, I find myself thinking, "then again...". I guess that's the sign of a good actor huh. Or at least, good casting.

And what - no love for women? Bea Arthur - Maude or Dorothy? Mary Tyler Moore - Laura Petrie or Mary Richards?

Or how about the ones that could never really get past that ONE iconic role - Adam West? Henry Winkler? Chris Reeve?


Doug said...

Speaking of Mary Tyler Moore:

Gavin McLeod as Murray, or on the Love Boat as Captain Stubing?

I recall being so taken aback the first time I saw Car 54, Where Are You? with Fred Gwynne. Simply could not get Herman Munster out of my head!


Karen said...

Could it be that to some people, William Shatner is TJ Hooker? Or Denny Crane?

Great topic today, William.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, like I said, for me a Trek role trumps everything else, so Shatner is always Kirk first and foremost.

As for some of the other suggestions:
Bea Arthur - Maude, definitely.
Mary Tyler Moore - Mary Richards, definitely.
Speaking of women in iconic roles, or just iconic women, what about Betty White?

And a few women come to mind when thinking about Tom's point about those who never seemed to overcame that one iconic role: Lynda Carter and Lindsey Wagner especially, but also, say, Erin Grey (c'mon, I don't think anyone associates her with that role in Silver Spoons), Loretta Swit and Catherine Bach.

Anonymous said...


For you it was Car 54. For me it was when Fred Gwynne was the judge on My Cousin Vinny.


Sorry your honor, "Yoooths".


The Prowler said...

I started off my original post by agreeing with HB and the internet ate it.

But I'm back to say "It's true, it's true"!!! Harrison Ford is Indiana. You call him Dr. Jones!!!

Robert Conrad is West, Jim West.

Eastwood is a hard one. Is he Callahan? Then, like Tom says, is he the cowboy with no name?

And Edo, I don't know. If Mary Tyler Moore is Mary Richards, what happens when you say these two little words: Oh, Rob???

Richard Dean Anderson, is he MacGyver or O'Neill?

Larry Hagmen, Nelson or Ewing?

Will Richard Thomas forever be John Boy?

(Right turn, Clyde).

Redartz said...

Lots of fun here today!
Harrison Ford- Indiana Jones, no contest. After all, they named the dog Indiana...
Ian Mckellan: Gandalf
MTM: Mary Richards
Gavin Mcleod: a toss-up, but have to go with Murray
Finally, another name for the list today: Buddy Ebsen. ( Jed Clampett or Barnaby Jones; this corner goes for Jed...)

Doug said...

Tough call on Buddy Ebsen, but I knew him as Jed first. That seems to be where most of our preferences lie.

Ditto Conrad as Jim West.

Buster Crabbe -- Flash Gordon or Tarzan?


J.A. Morris said...

Even though the got the Tarzan gig due to his swimming background, Crabbe is, was and always shall be Flash Gordon.

Pat Henry said...

Difficulty with most big screen actors is they end up playing some version of themselves, or the schtick they present to the world. Brad Pitt is always some kind of Brad Pitt-ish character, Tom Cruise is Cruise, Harrison Ford is always some Harrison Ford-ish rogue. Stallone perhaps the most extreme example. So the iconic actor and iconic role.

It's usually the B list character actors in Hollywood who cement for themselves memorable roles (Bill Paxton, yes?).

TV demands greater breadth and variety; and British film with its smaller cast rolls is awash with people who play all manner of surprisingly diverse characters and roles.

Stewart and McKellen and Freeman and Cumberbatch, etc, come out of that latter list.

Humanbelly said...

It all falls on a very line of when exactly a show aired, and how old one was at a role/show's height of popularity, doesn't it?

But boy, I give MTM BOTH points. I could not decide between her two iconic roles.

Gavin McLeod will also ALWAYS be Murray for me. (Y'know, he was also part of that of that crew of ne'er-do-wells on MCHALE'S NAVY. . . )

Buddy Ebsen is totally Jed Clampett. I only saw Barnaby Jones sporadically, and every time he engaged in a chase scene I feared for his health mightily! Although, as an ex-hoofer, he was clearly still quite spry.

Larry Hagman will always be Major Nelson in my book-! As good as he was in DALLAS, IDofG showcased his far rarer talent-- of being a truly, truly funny Straight Man/leading man as the central figure in a goofball comedy. (Such a nice guy, too--)

Bea Arthur = Maude (Boy, though, has that show not aged well. . .)

Hey, a few more?

Raymond Burr: Perry Mason, or Ironside?

Andy Griffith: Andy Taylor, or Matlock? And along with that, is the ubiquitous Ron Howard Opie Taylor, or Richie Cunningham?

William Conrad: Voice of Matt Dillon on the radio version of GUNSMOKE, or the hefty detective on CANNON? (Boy, there's another one that couldn't sustain a fight or chase scene!) Hmm- we may all remember him as the re-cap/wrap-up announcer on the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, though. Hey, he's Matt Dillon to me.

And finally, Bill Bixby had no less than FOUR major television roles! The lead guy (Tim?) in MY FAVORITE MARTIAN; the Dad in COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER; the Magician/detective in THE MAGICIAN; and (the one EVERYBODY'S gonna vote for!) Dr David Banner on THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

And if I may move us uncharacteristically into this century--

David Boreanaz: ANGEL or Booth from BONES (Tough one!)

Nathan Fillion: Mal Reynolds (FIREFLY) or CASTLE?

Alyson Hannigan: Willow, or Lily? (Geeze, another hugely tough one. . .!)

Maybe. . . I'm a little too deep into this topic. . . ?


Anonymous said...

HB - William Conrad was the announcer on Rocky and Bullwinkle???

Man this place is a fount of knowledge (or is it "font"?)!


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, interesting topic. I'll go with:
Ford=Han Solo; Stallone=Rambo; Stewart=Picard; Klugman=Quincy; Bea Arthur=Dorothy; MTM=Mary Richards; McLeod=Capt. Stubing; Ebsen=Jed Clampett and R.D. Anderson=MacGyver...because those are the roles I first saw them in, so they're the ones that stuck.

For others, it's kind of a tie:
Lee Majors=Steve Austin AND Colt Severs; Eastwood=Dirty Harry AND The Man With No Name; McKellen=Gandalf AND Magneto.

For Larry Hagman, I first saw him as Major Nelson, but he seemed to fit better as J.R., so that's who I associate him with. As for the newer ones: Boreanaz=Angel (though I never cared for that show or the character too much); Hannigan=Willow (she was perfect in that role); Fillion=Castle (mainly because it lasted longer, and is still going).

The rest I either don't remember or don't really care about.

Mike W.

Karen said...

Re: Buddy Ebsen. If we were all about ten years younger, we might be thinking of him as George Russell, Davy Crockett's pal from the Disney mini-series.

It's fascinating to see responses here because I do think if we had a broader range of ages we'd see more variety. I think of Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man, but I also know of him from Big Valley, as my mom adored that show. But I never watched an episode of Fall Guy, though I was aware of it.

Edo Bosnar said...

I actually watched Fall Guy pretty regularly, actually - in fact, I probably watched more episodes of that than 6 Million Dollar Man, but Majors is still Steve Austin to me.

And HB, that brings me to Bill Bixby. I always think of him as "Eddie's Father" first, even though I watched him as Banner on the Hulk show for much longer.
As for Fillion, heck, it's simple: he's the Firefly guy in Castle.

Garett said...

I picked up the first seasons of Fall Guy and 6 Million Dollar Man in the last couple years, and Fall Guy has aged much better. The humor on the show has kept it fresh. I was a much bigger fan of 6 Million Dollar Man when the shows first came out.

Humanbelly said...

That, edo, is the perfect answer, yes.

Ha! Thank you, thank you--


William said...

Doh, I started this topic and then was out all day and couldn't put my own two cents in. Love some of the other suggested actors and roles. Buddy Ebsen, Larry Hagman, and Raymond Burr are great examples of what I was talking about.

Hey, what about Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker or the voice of The Joker?

As for my own answers. I'd go with Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, because Indy is just one of my all time favorite characters.

Sly Stallone is a tough one. I guess I'll have to go with Rocky because it's just become such a part of Americana.

Patrick Stewart will always be Jean Luc Picard to me.

Ian McKellen IS Gandalf. I really don't think anyone else could have brought that character to life other Sir Ian.

Buddy Ebsen, "weeelll doggy" I'm going to have to go with Barnaby Jones, just because my dad used to watch that show endlessly.

Larry Hagman, gotta go with J.R. Ewing. LH just seemed to relish playing that part and it came through in his performance.

With Raymond Burr I'll have to go Perry Mason, just because it was his first iconic role.

As for MTM, she'll always be Mary Richards, and the same with Gavin Mcleod as Murray.

Redartz said...

Bill Bixby was a great addition to today's list! When he first premiered as David (Bruce) Banner, I could only see him as Eddie's father. Now he instantly comes to mind as Banner....

Anonymous said...

Frank Gorshin - the Riddler or Bele?


Anonymous said...

There's only one Paladin! Richard Boone!
(Also, the real voice of Smaug.)
Unless somebody already mentioned him. I'm a little dyslexic.
"Have gun, will travel reads the card of a man...' mp

Anonymous said...

Here's my picks -

Harrsion Ford - Indiana Jones just edges out Han Solo (loved Han Solo's swagger but Indy is tops in my book!)

Sly Stallone - hmm tough one here; both Rocky and Rambo are iconic characters but I'll choose Rambo (IRL if Rocky took all those punches he'd be dead by now!)

Patrick Stewart - no contest here - Picard!

Ian McKellen - being a huge LOTR fan, of course I'm gonna say Gandalf. While I loved Magneto, on film Gandalf trumps Magneto.

Lee Majors - yes, some people know him as Heath from the Big Valley or Colt Severs from the Fall Guy, but seriously, the only logical choice has to be the Six Million Dollar Man. He owned that role. Mark Walberg, you got some pretty big shoes to fill if you end up making that movie!

Clint Eastwood - "go ahead, make my day". You know who!

- Mike 'do ya feel lucky, punk?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Bill Murray-Captain Steve Zissou.
Actually, I think the character from Lost in Translation actually WAS Bill Murray, playing himself. World-weary, absurdist, lonely charm. mp

Anonymous said...

"Godammit, I hate these dolphins."

Humanbelly said...

Ooooo- can I toss the lovely Angela Lansbury into the mix late, here?

Mrs. Lovett in the original run of SWEENEY TODD (Which is, hands-down, my vote)?; MAME in the original broadway run?; Jessica in MURDER SHE WROTE (likely everyone's vote)?; Mrs. Potts in BEAUTY & THE BEAST?-- or gosh, something else altogether from a fantastically long and varied career?


Edo Bosnar said...

HB: besides Jessica Fletcher, I most associate Lansbury with the role of the evil mother in the Manchurian Candidate.

Humanbelly said...

That waa the other one I almost included! But I wasn't sure how dominant that would be in other folks' minds. . .


Redartz said...

Bill Bixby was a great addition to today's list! When he first premiered as David (Bruce) Banner, I could only see him as Eddie's father. Now he instantly comes to mind as Banner....

Redartz said...

Lots of fun here today!
Harrison Ford- Indiana Jones, no contest. After all, they named the dog Indiana...
Ian Mckellan: Gandalf
MTM: Mary Richards
Gavin Mcleod: a toss-up, but have to go with Murray
Finally, another name for the list today: Buddy Ebsen. ( Jed Clampett or Barnaby Jones; this corner goes for Jed...)

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