The new "Star Trek" movie has been out for a few weeks; "The Lone Ranger"* opened a couple of weekends ago to a dismal box office and poor reviews.
TV shows have been a source for movie material for a couple decades now, but rarely have the original cast been called upon to recreate their roles. The 1966 "Batman", "Maverick", "McHale's Navy" (the 1960s version), and the first ten "Star Trek" movies are the high points among the exceptions.
But in most cases, the casting starts from scratch - sometimes to invigorate the brand and forge its own identity, but it's out of necessity for the most part: the original actors are usually too old or already dead by the time a movie gets the green light. ("Sgt. Bilko", "Car 54, Where Are You?", "The Addams Family")
But the stars of those original series are sometimes asked to come back for a cameo in the new film versions. Sentimentality may play a part, and the need for good karma, but I think the bottom line is that the studios can milk their participation for publicity.
(I think the bad juju incurred by the first remake of "The Lone Ranger" - starring Klinton Spilsbury - was due to the way Clayton Moore was treated. Not only was he not offered a chance to do a cameo of some sort, but they forced him to stop wearing the mask at public appearances.)
So here's a Super Six list of actors who starred in the original series and who later appeared in the movie remakes - but as different characters......
ACTORS APPEARING IN MOVIES BASED ON THEIR TV SHOWS,
BUT IN DIFFERENT ROLES FROM THEIR ORIGINAL CHARACTERS
1) PATRICK MACNEE - "THE AVENGERS"
I never saw this movie, the advance hype kept me away from it. And I recently saw a scene from it with Sean Connery as the bad guy talking to giant teddy bears. Uh oh. (Not that the TV series didn't have more than its fair share of silly concepts.)
But I would have liked to have "seen" the cameo by the original John Steed. And I put "seen" into quotation marks because he played Invisible Jones, a voice-only role. (I also would have liked to have seen the movie for Carmen Ejogo, but that's for different reasons entirely...)
2) RAY WALSTON - "MY FAVORITE MARTIAN"
In this movie, his character's name was "Armitan", which is an anagram for "Martian". He also had several lines that could be considered in-joke references to the original series. I suppose Walston had finally reconciled himself to his sitcom past, having his role on 'Picket Fences' to show as a better example of his Toobworld talents......
3) NOEL NEILL - "SUPERMAN"
When young Clark Kent outraces the train, we see a family watching in amazement from within one of the passenger cars. The little girl will grow up to be Lois Lane and she's traveling wtih her parents. Noel Neill keeps her connection to the Lane family by this time playing Lois' mother, Ella. And her father? That's Kirk Alyn, the Superman of the 1940s serials.
4) JONATHAN FRID - "DARK SHADOWS"
Along with Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and David Selby, Frid showed up at a party held in the Collinwood mansion. Unfortunately, the appearance by the quartet was one of those blink and you miss it moments. But it did serve for a sweet farewell to Mr. Frid who passed away not long after.
5) JUNE LOCKHART - "LOST IN SPACE"
Most of the remaining cast members from the original TV series made appearances in this movie remake - Angela Cartwright, Marta Kristen, and Mark Goddard, plus Dick Tufeld returned as the voice of Robot. As for the others, Bill Mumy and Jonathan Harris gave it a pass, and Guy Williams had passed away in Argentina when he was 65.
But of those involved, I chose June Lockhart because the movie had the most fun with her cameo. She played the principal of Will Robinson's school and she appeared to Maureen Robinson as a hologram to complain about Will's behavior in school. However, Will over-rode the controls on the incoming message and kept putting Ms. Lockhart's head on different bodies, including a gorilla and a Rambo-like mercenary/bodybuilder.
6) BUDDY EBSEN - "THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES"
This is my favorite one and I wish I could take credit for remembering it. But I'm no Milton Berle....
Buddy Ebsen played Jed Clampett in the original series, as well as in a TV movie and reunion special, thus earning him his slot in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. (October 2002, while Toobworld Central was off-line.) But in the movie remake, the late Jim Varney took on the role of the backwoods multi-millionaire (and I think he effectively erased his image of Ernest in the process.)
What makes Ebsen's cameo in the movie unique from all the others is that he played his OTHER most famous TV role - aged private eye Barnaby Jones. And that meant that Jones not only had a counterpart in the Cineverse but he was played by the same actor in both universes.
Thanks to my brother AJ and to Hugh Davis for their suggestions! (AJ gave me Noel Neill; Hugh suggested Buddy Ebsen.)
* Hugh also correctly pointed out that "The Lone Ranger" and "Superman" both began "life" in different fictional universes than TV. But in the case of "The Lone Ranger", I think his existence in the TV Universe is better known to the general public.