Thursday, November 22, 2007

The 100 Greatest TV Icons



For those of you who will be spending Thanksgiving with your family. I'm sure you will be under strict orders not to discuss politics, religion or the writers strike (If you are in LA or NYC) at the dinner table. I wanted to provide you with a safe topic of conversation that should be good for at least two courses or until your drunk uncle asks, "When are you gonna get a real job".

TV Land and Entertainment Weekly assembled a list of the 100 Greatest TV Icons. Most of the time I'd like to rip these lists apart like a turkey carcass and add my honorable mentions. I totally understand that someone in my age group would rearrange the numeric order, but that could be said of any TV generation. Let’s dig in.

I do think that certain actors received iconic status when in reality it should have been their most famous character receiving the honor.

Examples from list include:
100. Marcia Cross. The status should have been granted to Cross' Desperate Housewives character Bree Vandecamp. Bree has become the poster child for the modern day Stepford Wife. 91. Dennis Franz (Andy Sipowicz in NYPD BLUE)
86. Jerry Mathers (as the Beaver)
82. Ted Knight (Ted Baxter) Keith Olbermann pays homage to Ted Baxter when he impersonates Bill O'Reilly.
75. Peter Falk (Lt. Columbo)
70. Bob Denver (Gilligan)
69. Barbara Eden (Jeannie)
63. Ed Asner (Lou Grant) Lou Grant became an icon once he said, "You know what you got? You got spunk. I hate spunk!"
58. Don Knotts (Deputy Barney Fife)
49. Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal)
45. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Buffy was to girls in the 90s what Gidget (40. Sally Field) was to girls in the 60s.
42. James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano)
32. Henry Winkler (The Fonz)

Examples not from list include:
Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan). The Captain was to children's television what icon #1. Johnny Carson was to late night television.
Hoss Cartright (Dan Blocker)
Rader O'Reilly (Gary Burgoff)
Elvira mistress of the dark (Cassandra Peterson).
Ginger & Mary Ann (Tina Louise & Dawn Wells). Ginger & Mary Ann proved that there are the girl that you have fun with and the girl that you marry.
Lary "Bud" Melman (Calvert DeForest)

I also think that certain characters received iconic status when in reality it should have been the creator of that character receiving the honor.

Examples from list include:
21. Kermit the Frog should actually be Jim Henson.
57. Charlie Brown should actually be Charles Schulz

Examples not from list include:
Max Headroom (Matt Frewer).
Maxwell Smart (Don Adams)
Joe Friday (Jack Webb)
Iron Eyes Cody (Crying Native American in Keep America Beautiful PSA)
Mel Blanc (His list of characters is to long)

The Dictionary defines Icon as a person or thing that is uncritically adored, revered or admired, or is regarded as a symbol of a particular culture or sphere, etc; an idol.

I would define a TV icon as:
A) Someone who has set a standard of excellence in their field.

Examples from list include:
85. Rod Serling
81. Dick Cavett
64. Phil Donahue
60. Merv Griffin
55. Fred Rogers AKA Mr. Rogers
51. Bob Hope
41. Jon Stewart
28. Howard Cosell
23. Barbara Walters
22. Milton Berle
19. Andy Griffith
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
10. Dick Clark
8. Jerry Seinfeld
6. Carol Burnett
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

Examples not from list include:
Desi Arnaz
Danny Thomas
Jack Webb
Carl Reiner
Ernie Kovacks
Sheldon Lennard
Norman Lear
The Smothers Brothers
Lorne Michaels
Jack Benny

B) Someone who can be used as an example, role model, metaphor, analogy or punch line.

Examples from list include:
99. Delta Burke
96. Shannen Doherty
95. Richard Dawson
92. Judge Judy
85. Rod Serling
81. Dick Cavett
80. Adam West
74. Joan Rivers
72. Cher
68. Don Cornelius
65. Pamela Anderson
64. Phil Donahue
63. Ed Asner
60. Merv Griffin
55. Fred Rogers AKA Mr. Rogers
54. Florence Henderson
53. Ed McMahon
51. Bob Hope49. Calista Flockhart
47. Simon Cowell
46. Lassie
44. Susan Lucci
40. Sally Field
39. Jennifer Aniston
36. Diahann Carroll
34. Bob Barker
33. Ellen DeGeneres
31. Sarah Jessica Parker
28. Howard Cosell
27. Regis Philbin
26. Farrah Fawcett
23. Barbara Walters
18. William Shatner
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
11. Roseanne
10. Dick Clark
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
7. Mary Tyler Moore
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

Examples not from list include:
Donna Reed
Charo
The Gabor sisters
Jack Benny

C) Someone whose TV character can be used as an example, role model, metaphor, analogy or punch line.

Examples from list include:
100. Marcia Cross.
99. Delta Burke
96. Shannen Doherty
93. Neil Patrick Harris
91. Dennis Franz
89. Robert Guillaume
86. Jerry Mathers
85. Rod Serling
82. Ted Knight
78. Art Carney
75. Peter Falk
74. Joan Rivers
70. Bob Denver
61. Pee Wee Herman
58. Don Knotts
52. Ron Howard
50. Larry Hagman
49. Calista Flockhart
42. James Gandolfini
39. Jennifer Aniston
37. George Clooney
32. Henry Winkler
30. Alan Alda
29. John Ritter
24. Michael Landon
20. Carroll O'Connor
19. Andy Griffith
18. William Shatner
13. Jackie Gleason
12. Dick Van Dyke
11. Roseanne
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
4. Bill Cosby
2. Lucille Ball

Examples not from list include:
Donna Stone The Donna Reed Show. With out her there would be no Bree Vandecamp.
Mr. Spock
Dr. Johnny Feaver
Fred Flintstone
Ned Flanders
Jack Benny

D) Someone who has created of redefined a TV genre.

Examples from list include:
85. Rod Serling
81. Dick Cavett
71. Rosie O'Donnell
68. Don Cornelius
64. Phil Donahue
61. Pee Wee Herman
60. Merv Griffin
55. Fred Rogers AKA Mr. Rogers
41. Jon Stewart
36. Diahann Carroll
28. Howard Cosell
27. Regis Philbin
23. Barbara Walters
22. Milton Berle
20. Carroll O'Connor
19. Andy Griffith
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
12. Dick Van Dyke
10. Dick Clark
6. Carol Burnett
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

Examples not from list include:
Desi Arnaz
Danny Thomas
Jack Webb
Carl Reiner
Sheldon Lennard
Ernie Kovacks
Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera
The Smothers Brothers
Norman Lear
Jack Benny

And not forgetting that this is still a business.
E) Someone whose image sells T-shirts, lunch boxes and Pez dispensers.

Examples from list include
86. Jerry Mathers
85. Rod Serling
80. Adam West
72. Cher
71. Rosie O'Donnell
70. Bob Denver
69. Barbara Eden
65. Pamela Anderson
61. Pee Wee Herman
58. Don Knotts
57. Charlie Brown
54. Florence Henderson
53. Ed McMahon
46. Lassie
45. Sarah Michelle Gellar
44. Susan Lucci
43. Flip Wilson
41. Jon Stewart
39. Jennifer Aniston (The Rachel hairstyle also makes her a style icon)
36. Diahann Carroll
32. Henry Winkler
27. Regis Philbin
26. Farrah Fawcett
25. Heather Locklear
24. Michael Landon
22. Milton Berle
21. Kermit
19. Andy Griffith
18. William Shatner
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"
13. Jackie Gleason
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
4. Bill Cosby

Examples not from list would be incredibly long. I noticed that I added Jack Benny four times and Jack Webb three times. Perhaps the people who put together the list don’t know Jack.
If Jack Benny was alive to see him self not make the list, he might respond with, "Well!" and then probably feel better when he learns that there is no cash value to the honor.

Happy Thanksgiving


Tony Figueroa


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