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James Garner Dies, Creates Two Iconic TV Characters

Those of us who grew up watching television in the 60s and 70s continue to see actors we grew up watching pass from the scene. TV legend James Garner died over the weekend at the age of 86.

Garner first became known in the 50s as Bret Maverick, the lovable gambler and con man. Then, in the 70s, Garner created the private investigator Jim Rockford, who marched to his own drummer, to say the least.

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This got me thinking about actors who have created iconic characters on the small screen over the years. There have been many memorable characters on TV over years, but how many actors have come up with folks we remember more than once.

James Garner did it twice with Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford. Here are some others I came up with:

Mary Tyler Moore

We first met Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 60s. Then, there was Mary Richards, the single working woman who became a role model for women of the 70s on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Andy Griffith

One of THE most unforgettable characters on TV in the 60s was Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. In the 80s came a very different persona, the irascible attorney Ben Matlock.

Carroll O’Connor

Speaking of actors whose two TV characters were very different … Carroll O’Connor was the loveable bigot Archie Bunker on All in the Family, then brought the southern police chief Bill Gillespie to television is the series adaptation of In the Heat of the Night.

Harry Morgan

Before Harry Morgan was Dr. Sherman Potter (whose hometown was Hannibal) on MASH, he was Bill Gannon, Joe Friday’s sidekick on Dragnet in the late 60s.

David McCallum

Of course, since my favorite TV show is the procedural drama NCIS, I need to include David McCallum, who rose to fame as Illya Kuryakin on The Man from UNCLE in the 60s, and then reappeared over three decades later as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the medical examiner on NCIS.

There are others, and I’m sure you have your own list.

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