Allen Jenkins – If you’ve seen a few of the wonderful Warner Bros. films of the 1930s, you’ve probably seen Allen Jenkins, since he pops up in literally dozens of them. Thanks to his nasal New York accent, he specialized in Damon Runyon-type characters, the sort of people you’d find in saloons, newsrooms and race tracks. He remained a busy character actor right up to his death in 1974. But after about 1952, most of his work was in television— everything from I Love Lucy to Playhouse 90 to (of course) Damon Runyon Theater. I was delighted to find him in this episode of Adam-12 (4:09, “Anniversary,” November 1971), but also sorry to see he’d been separated from a few teeth over the years.
Carolyn Jones – A television immortal thanks to her role on The Addams Family (1964-1966), Carolyn Jones was a busy and far more versatile actress than she’s given credit for. That was especially true during the decade leading up to Morticia’s debut. You never know what Jones is going to look or sound like; if you spot her name in the credits and watch out for someone looking like Morticia Addams, there’s a good chance you’ll miss her altogether. Her climb up the ladder had been a fairly short one, and by the age of 25 she was playing leads in TV crime shows and anthology dramas, not to mention supporting roles in major movies. I can recommend a couple of her performances in particular— the sexy, reckless flirt on Wagon Train (1:03, “The John Cameron Story,” October 1957) and the cool con woman who passes bad checks all over town on State Trooper (1:02, “The Paperhanger of Pioche,” November 1956). She’s also great in this early role as a shooting suspect on the original Dragnet (3:31, “The Big Girl,” April 1954).
Jonathan Banks – Possibly the finest actor in contemporary television, Banks is best known for playing elderly tough guy Mike Ehrmantraut on a pair of outstanding shows (Seasons 2-5 of Breaking Bad and both seasons of the still-running Better Call Saul). The early years of his TV career were spent playing assorted thugs on dramas like Barnaby Jones and Lou Grant. Here’s how he looked in an excellent episode of Simon & Simon (1:12, “Matchmaker,” March 1982), in which he plays (you guessed it) a criminal.
Brad Pitt – I guess he needs no introduction, but his career does stretch back farther than you might think. Brad Pitt’s first credited role was on Dallas, in which he played Randy, a kid who dates Charlie Wade, the step-daughter of two-fisted rancher Ray Krebbs. Randy was a recurring character during the show’s eleventh season. He eventually goes too far with Charlie, gets his butt kicked for it and is never seen again. The producers evidently recognized some potential in the 23-year-old actor, but they still let him go after just four fleeting appearances. If you’ve seen those final seasons of Dallas, you know the producers were making more than a few unfortunate decisions in those days. Anyway, here’s Pitt, knee-deep in the ‘Eighties as romantic Randy (11:14, “Daddy’s Little Darlin’, December 1987).
Angela Cartwright – Very few child actors ever win a supporting role on a successful network show. Angela Cartwright got two of them, one right after the other: The Danny Thomas Show (1957-1964) and Lost in Space (1965-1968). But when young actors make the slow-motion leap from childhood to adulthood, their careers usually fall into the gaping crevasse in between. This didn’t quite happen to Cartwright, who landed a smattering of one-shot roles here and there, and even reprised her Danny Thomas role on Make Room for Granddaddy (1970-1971). But her acting career would never regain its momentum, despite being a talented and lovely young lady. Here she is at age 19, trying to avoid sniper fire on Adam-12 (4:11, “Assassination,” December 1971).