Monday, January 12, 2009


As 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, we're inducting a new member every week from one of the following categories:

The League of Themselves
Historical Figures
The Tooniverse

For January, the month in which we usually salute the classics, who better for our Historical Figure inductee than Mark Twain?

Many of the portrayals of Samuel Langhorne Clemens can be delegated to other TV dimensions, to help spread the wealth.

My personal favorite would have to be Jerry Hardin's performance in the two-part 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' episode - Mark Twain in outer space! [pictured above] But I also enjoyed "Roughing It" with James Garner, "Mark Twain And Me" with Jason Robards, and of course, Hal Holbrook in his one-man show.

There are a few on this list that were narration only and so they wouldn't interfere with the "official" view of Twain for the main Toobworld. There are also a couple from the Tooniverse which can be accepted as being the same man, and some from foreign language productions. (There may be a couple of alternate Toobworlds that have been dominated by one particular foreign power or another.)

The one true Zonk among all of these would be the three different times Mark Twain visited his old friends the Cartwrights on 'Bonanza', and each time he was portrayed by a different actor. Whether one of them can be considered the true Mark Twain or not, I don't know. But at least two of them could be either alien shape-shifters or quantum leapers from the far future who can go that far back in Time.

I played with the idea that perhaps the Mark Twain who showed up on 'The Rifleman' was an imposter; that instead he was actually Walter Jameson in disguise (from the 'Twilight Zone' episode "Long Live Walter Jameson" which also starred Kevin McCarthy). But then I read the plot description and decided that it had to remain the real Mark Twain......

One last thing..... Here is a list of TV shows in which I wish we could have seen Mark Twain:

'Doctor Who'

'The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr.'

'The Wild, Wild West'


'Cold Case' (Why not? He could have been in Philadelphia on a speaking tour, and there should be no time limit on murder investigations.)

At any rate, here is a list of most of the actors who portrayed Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain in the TV dimension:

Charles Aidman
. . . "Disneyland" (1954) {Walt Disney: One Man's Dream (#28.12)}

Christopher Connelly
. . . Incredible Rocky Mountain Race (1977)

Kevin Conway
. . . Mark Twain (2001)

Robert Cornthwaite
. . . "Cavalcade of America" (1952) {Riders of the Pony Express (#2.11)}

Bing Crosby
. . . Swing Out, Sweet Land (1970)

John Cullum
. . . "Touched by an Angel" (1994) {It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (#4.12)}

Royal Dano
. . . Huckleberry Finn (1975)

Melvyn Douglas
. . . "Sunday Showcase" (1959) {Our American Heritage: Shadow of a Soldier (#1.23)}

Howard Duff
. . . "Bonanza" (1959) {Enter Mark Twain (#1.5)}

William Challee
. . . "Bonanza" (1959) {The Emperor Norton (#7.23)}

Ken Howard
. . . "Bonanza" (1959) {The Twenty-Sixth Grave (#14.7)}

Mark Habit
. . . Witch Hunt (1994)

Nicholas Hammond
. . . "Track, The" (2000) {A Rough Start (#1.1)}

Hal Holbrook
. . . Mark Twain Tonight! (1967)

Dwight Marfield
. . . "Bell Telephone Hour, The" (1959) {The Sounds of America (#3.9)}

Kevin McCarthy
. . . "Rifleman, The" (1958) {The Shattered Idol (#4.10)}

Dan O'Herlihy
. . . Mark Twain: Beneath the Laughter (1979)

Ken Richters
. . . Born to Trouble: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (2000)

Jason Robards
. . . Mark Twain and Me (1991)

Stephen Shortridge
. . . "Fantasy Island" (1978) {The Angel's Triangle/Natchez Bound (#6.4)}

Slavko Simic
. . . "Nikola Tesla" (1977)

James Stewart
. . . General Electric's All-Star Anniversary (1978) (TV)

Franchot Tone
. . . "Playhouse 90" (1956) {The Shape of the River (#4.16)}

Jack Warden
. . . Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues (1984)

Craig Wasson
. . . Innocents Abroad, The (1983)

Jeffrey Weissman
. . . Mark Twain: Adventures in the Holy Land (2008)

Drew Wilson
. . . "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (1996) {Jealousy (#4.3)}

Cameron Daddo
. . . Riverworld (2003)

Robin Dunne
. . . Roughing It (2002)

James Garner
. . . Roughing It (2002)

Jerry Hardin
. . . "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) {Time's Arrow, Parts 1 & 2]

Christopher Stone
. . . "Father Murphy" (1981) {Stopover in a One-Horse Town (#2.3)}

Rossie Harris
. . . "Voyagers!" (1982) {Created Equal (#1.2)}

David Knell
. . . Life on the Mississippi (1980)

Tom Skerritt
. . . "Death Valley Days" (1952) {Ten Day Millionaires (#17.12)}

Jonathan Walker
. . . "Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, The" (2000) {The Ballad of Steeley Joe (#1.10)}

Paolo Stoppa
. . . "Questa sera parla Mark Twain" (1965)

Oleg Tabakov
. . . Mark Tven-protiv (1975)

Frank Welker
. . . "Johnny Bravo" (1997) {Karma Krisis/A Star Is Bruised/The Prince and the Pinhead (#2.3)}

Paul Boocock
. . . "Venture Bros., The" (2003) {ORB (#3.11)}

Matthew McConaughey
. . . "Freedom: A History of Us" (2003) {Yearning to Breathe Free (#1.10)}

Edward Herrmann
. . . "Freedom to Speak" (1982)
Toby O'B


Anonymous said...

Twain did get referenced in an episode of Brisco County. In one, Brisco put his Ivy League background to use and served as attorney to a friend on trial. He was able to turn the case by pushing for fingerprint evidence, an idea used in Pudd'nhead Wilson for the first time in print, with the novel cited along the way, so he was a figure in the context of the show at least.

Interesting list--are you sure John Collum played MT on Touched by an Angel? I have a strong memory that was Jeff Corey in a very late role. I also know of an episode of the dreadful TGIF sitcom Teen Angel with Twain because I saw it, but I've never seen it listed on any sites.


Toby said...

What a quick response, Hugh! I was just posting a link to this on my Facebook page and your comment became part of the thumnbnail sketch!

I remember that episode well of 'Brisco County', the way Sock leapt to his feet to shout out "Pudd'nhead Wilson!" And that Judge Gatt was from Yale and so was naturally antagonistic towards Brisco.

Still would have liked to have seen the man himself though.....

I'm taking my list from the, and we all know how reliable that can be. But I'll check on the TBAA question. The Teen Angel reference sounds familiar as well.....