Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Barnard Hughes has passed away at the age of 90, and for me personally, as a big fan of character actors, this is a sad day.

One of the high points in my Broadway theatre-going once I moved to NYC was to see Mr. Hughes perform the lead role of "Da" the night after he won the Tony Award for Best Actor. The audience and the actors were charged up by the recognition of his talent.

Born July 16, 1915 to Irish immigrants in Bedford Hills, NY, his full name was Barnard Aloysius Kiernan Hughes. He was acting since the 1930s with a time-out for a stint in the Army. While rehearsing a show to be performed in military hospitals in 1946, he met actress Helen Stenborg and they married in 1950.

He first came to prominent notice for me in 'All In The Family', in his recurring role as Father Majeski. And from there it also led me to one of the TV movies that made quite an impression on me, "Dr. Cook's Garden".

For Toobworld, he's embodied historical characters such as William Casey, the CIA chief during the Reagan years, and the voice of newspaper publisher Horace Greeley in a televised portrait of Abraham Lincoln. He's played classic characters like Shakespeare's Dogberry of "Much Ado About Nothing" and "The King" in Twain's "The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn", as well as the legendary Merlin in modern times. He also appeared in the first of the adaptations of Mary Norton's "The Borrowers", which happens to be the book I brought along to read on vacation.

Although this is a blog dedicated to the TV Universe, two theatrical movie releases stand out for me as well. In 'Cold Turkey', Barnard Hughes played Dr. Proctor, the town physician who had the second worst addiction to tobacco in his small town. (Tom Poston played the guy who had it REALLY bad.)

The image that I always conjure up when thinking about this movie is that of Mr. Hughes, along with Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart, writhing on the ground with gunshot wounds to the gut while all about them the town is celebrating their rewards for kicking the cigarette habit for a month.

This movie was a Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin production, and thanks to it Mr. Hughes gained two of his recurring roles in Toobworld. He worked for Lear and Yorkin again as Father Majeski on 'All In The Family', and he played Newhart's dad Herb Hartley in several episodes of 'The Bob Newhart Show'.

The other movie is "The Lost Boys", and it has special resonance for me and Toobworld in that he had the following quote as the grandfather:

"If you've got TV Guide, you don't need TV."

A lot of times, I've found that to be true as I go about my Caretaker duties.

Barnard Hughes won the Emmy award for Best Guest Star in a Dramatic Series for an episode of 'Lou Grant' wherein he played a judge. He played a lot of judges during his long career; so many in fact, that he told the NY Times once that he could have played the roles “without pants.”

“I was always sitting behind something like a desk. I was a judge or a businessman or a lawyer or a doctor. Nobody saw my bottom half.”

“I’m a feeler,” Mr. Hughes said of his acting approach in the interview with The Times. “As a matter of fact, I think if we had more feelers and less thinkers we’d be a hell of a lot better off — not only in the theater, either.”

And we will definitely feel his absence from the TV Universe......

"Blossom" (1991) TV Series .... Buzz Richman (1991-1995)
"The Cavanaughs" (1986) TV Series .... Francis 'Pop' Cavanaugh
"Mr. Merlin" (1981) TV Series .... Max Merlin
"Doc" (1975) TV Series .... Dr. Joe Bogert
"As the World Turns" (1956) TV Series .... Mr. Barton (1969-1970)
"The Secret Storm" (1954) TV Series .... Wilfred Hollister #1 (1968-1969)
"Dark Shadows" (1966) TV Series .... Stuart Bronson (1966)
"The Guiding Light" (1952) TV Series .... Dr. Bruce Banning #2 (1961-1966)

"The Bob Newhart Show" - Herbert Hartley
- Grizzly Emily (1978) TV Episode
- Making Up Is the Thing to Do (1976) TV Episode
- An American Family (1974) TV Episode
"All in the Family" - Father John Majesk
- Edith's Conversion (1973) TV Episode
- Edith Flips Her Wig (1972) TV Episode
- Edith's Accident (1971) TV Episode
"The Trials of O'Brien" - Judge
- A Horse Called Destiny (1966) TV Episode
- No Justice for the Judge (1965) TV Episode

Kix Cereal (1996)

Blossom (1990) (TV) .... Grandpa

Lincoln (1992) (TV) (voice) .... Horace Greeley Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North (1989) (TV) .... CIA Director William Casey
Day One (1989) (TV) .... Secretary Stimpson
Little Gloria... Happy at Last (1982) (TV) .... Justice John Francis Carew
Kill Me If You Can [The Caryl Chessman Story] (1977) (TV) .... Judge Fricke
Guilty or Innocent: The Sam Sheppard Murder Case (1975) (TV) .... Attorney Philip J. Madden
Pueblo (1973) (TV) .... Secretary of the Navy

American Playhouse: Under the Biltmore Clock (1986) (TV) .... Ludlow Whitney
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1985) (TV) .... The King
Much Ado About Nothing (1973) (TV) .... Dogberry

Past the Bleachers (1995) (TV) .... Ed Godfrey
Trick of the Eye (1994) (TV) .... Harry Pitt
Miracle Child (1993) (TV) .... Judge
The Incident (1990) (TV) .... Doc Hansen
Home Fires Burning (1989) (TV) .... Jake Tibbetts
A Hobo's Christmas (1987) (TV)
Night of Courage (1987) (TV)
The Sky's No Limit (1984) (TV) .... Arthur Bennett
A Caribbean Mystery (1983) (TV) .... Mr. Rafiel
A Conflict of Interest (1982) (TV)
Homeward Bound (1980) (TV) .... Harry Seaton
Sanctuary of Fear (1979) (TV) .... Father Brown
See How She Runs (1978) (TV) .... John Matusak, Betty's Father
The World Beyond (1978) (TV) (as Barney Hughes) .... Andy Borchard
Tell Me My Name (1977) (TV) .... Uncle Tyler
Ransom for Alice! (1977) (TV) .... Jess Halliday
The UFO Incident (1975) (TV) .... Dr. Benjamin Simon
A Memory of Two Mondays (1974) (TV) .... Jim
Another April (1974) (TV) .... Marion Weston
The Borrowers (1973) (TV) .... Mr. Crampfurl
The Holiday Treasure (1973) (TV)
Look Homeward, Angel (1972) (TV) .... Dr. McGuire
All the Way Home (1971) (TV) .... Joel Lynch
Dr. Cook's Garden (1971) (TV) .... Elias Hart
The Borgia Stick (1967) (TV) .... Doctor Helm
The Million Dollar Incident (1961) (TV) .... Wallace

- Daniel in the Lion's Den (2000) TV Episode .... Judge Panicio
"Homicide: Life on the Street"
- In Search of Crimes Past (1995) TV Episode .... Sam O'Donnell
"The Marshal"
- Twoslip (1995) TV Episode .... Judge Tuttman
"The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd"
- Here's Who Ordered the Pizza (1988) TV Episode .... Shimkin
"The Love Boat"
- Ace in the Hole/Uncle Joey's Song/Father in the Cradle (1984) TV Episode
- Passages (1984) TV Episode .... Joe Freilich
"Tales from the Darkside"
- Trick or Treat (Pilot) (1983) TV Episode .... Gideon Hackles
"Lou Grant"
- Judge (1977) TV Episode .... Judge Felix Ruthman
"Hawaii Five-O"
- A Capitol Crime (1977) TV Episode .... Clinton Palmer
"Wide World of Mystery"
- The Two Deaths of Sean Doolittle (1975) TV Episode .... Warren
"Love Story"
- All My Tomorrows (1973) TV Episode .... Andrew Corby
- Dead Pigeon (1971) TV Episode .... Jack Riker
"The Nurses"
- Show Just Cause Why You Should Weep (1963) TV Episode .... Harold Myle
"Naked City"
- Prime of Life (1963) TV Episode
"Route 66"
- Two on the House (1962) TV Episode .... Al Forrester
"The Defenders"
- The Boy Between (1961) TV Episode
"'Way Out"
- William and Mary (1961) TV Episode .... Dr. Foster
"The United States Steel Hour"
- Little Charlie Don't Want a Saddle (1957) TV Episode .... Leo
"Armstrong Circle Theatre"
- Four Homes for Danny (1957) TV Episode .... Mr. Dubois
"Kraft Television Theatre"
- Papa Was a Sport (1954) TV Episode

[Thanks to the]

One Toobworld note: It's a shame Barnard Hughes never did an episode of 'The West Wing'. I could see him playing one of those professors emeritus, or a senior senator or congressman, or a justice on the Supreme Court.

And although he wouldn't have been the right type to play the father of Jed Bartlet as written, I think he would have made a great elder of the Bartlet clan, or even as the father of Stockard Channing's Abby (especially since Martin Sheen worked with Mr. Hughes in the film version of "Da" back in 1988.....)


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