Gone but not forgotten, 2010: Goodbye to some true TV icons
Rue McClanahan was among the stars who passed away in 2010.
A number of genuine icons of the home screen passed during the 12-month period now coming to a close -- talents whom many people literally grew up watching and, some might say, who helped them grow up -- so it isn't just proper to say a collective goodbye to them. It's essential.
Gary Coleman: Despite his later troubles, countless fans will recall Coleman fondly as whip-smart Arnold -- of "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" fame -- on "Diff'rent Strokes."
Barbara Billingsley: Unofficially "America's mom," this actress oversaw the Cleaver household with grace and wisdom on "Leave It to Beaver."
Tom Bosley: Similarly a national father figure, this Tony-winning stage veteran even played paternal to rebellious Fonzie as Mr. C on "Happy Days."
John Forsythe: Once a "Bachelor Father" figure, Forsythe aged with grit and style into the role of tycoon Blake Carrington on "Dynasty" ... and gave voice to one of television's most famously faceless characters on "Charlie's Angels."
Leslie Nielsen: He played it straight through much of his career, but the movie satire "Airplane!" set Nielsen up to become the riotously clueless Frank Drebin of "Police Squad!" -- a part he carried into the big-screen "Naked Gun" comedy hits.
Rue McClanahan: And then there was one -- namely, Betty White -- after the death of the actress who gave such life to sassy Blanche on "The Golden Girls."
Dixie Carter: "Designing Women," too, lost a pivotal player with the passing of the performer (and wife of Hal Holbrook) who was saucy Julia Sugarbaker.
Peter Graves: No impossible mission has been, nor will be, the same without the man who saw many tapes self-destruct as espionage leader Jim Phelps.
Pernell Roberts: Some thought this actor's career had self-destructed when he left the hugely popular "Bonanza," but he would resurrect it years later in "Trapper John, M.D."
Robert Culp: Bill Cosby always has credited his "I Spy" co-star with doing much to enable Cosby to remain a strong television presence since the 1960s spy drama.
James MacArthur: There's a new "Danno" on a new "Hawaii Five-0" now, but to devotees of the original, there can be only one. This one.
Fess Parker: "Daniel Boone was a big man," all right, as the theme song said -- and the tall, rustic Parker embodied him ideally.
Merlin Olsen: Another actor comfortable with staying basic, this football veteran had a great run with actor-producer Michael Landon, first on "Little House on the Prairie" and then in the title role of "Father Murphy."
Don Meredith: The genuinely "Dandy" Dallas Cowboys quarterbacking veteran became one of the true characters of sportscasting as part of ABC's "Monday Night Football" team.
Dorothy Provine: The girl-next-door quality of this Warner Bros.-bred actress served her well on many of the studio's classic shows, including "77 Sunset Strip" and "Hawaiian Eye."
Art Linkletter: One of the people for whom the word "host" was invented, this folksy personality regularly invited viewers to his weekday "House Party" and also confirmed that "Kids Say the Darndest Things."
Mitch Miller: One of television's prime music men for many years, Miller led a brigade of vocalists (notably including Leslie Uggams) on "Sing Along With Mitch."
Jimmy Dean: Besides being legendary as a sausage king, Dean also was a country music star with a mid-'60s ABC variety series (and was a semiregular on the aforementioned "Daniel Boone").
Stephen J. Cannell: "The Rockford Files," "The A-Team," "The Greatest American Hero," "21 Jump Street," "Wiseguy" ... many classic series had this prolific writer-producer's stamp.
Tony Curtis: When his days as an A-list movie star were on the wane, Curtis turned to television, first opposite Roger Moore in "The Persuaders!" and later in "McCoy" and "Vega$."
Dennis Hopper: The relentless rebel of the big screen wrapped up his career in the Starz series spinoff of the Oscar-winning film "Crash."
Patricia Neal: Though she did television only occasionally, this Oscar winner was the original Olivia Walton in "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" and helped dramatize her own recovery from a stroke in "The Patricia Neal Story."
Jill Clayburgh: Another actress whose television work was occasional, Clayburgh had excellent 1970s TV movies in "Hustling" and "Griffin and Phoenix: A Love Story"; she spent two seasons on "Dirty Sexy Money" much more recently.
Lynn Redgrave: This member of one of England's great thespian families did much work for the BBC in her homeland, while in the States, she launched the series version of "House Calls" and famously was a spokeswoman for a weight-loss program.
Edwin Newman: A longtime staple of NBC News, Newman served as a voice of reason on the path television news took after his tenure.
Daniel Schorr: Another legendary name in network news, Schorr spent more than two decades at CBS, then continued his career on CNN and National Public Radio.
Harold Dow: The CBS newsmagazine "48 Hours Mystery" lost a distinctive voice with the death of this longtime correspondent.
Frances Reid: A true matriarch in daytime drama, this actress originated the role of Alice Horton on NBC's "Days of our Lives," then continued it for 42 years.
Helen Wagner: Another soap-opera superstar, Wagner was Nancy Hughes on CBS' "As the World Turns" for a whopping 54 years ... and died, somewhat ironically, in the same year the program ended.
Robert B. Parker: The best-selling author of the "Spenser" detective novels gave television another franchise with Tom Selleck's "Jesse Stone" movies for CBS.
Art Clokey: Without this master of stop-motion animation, the world likely would not have had Gumby and Pokey, nor Davey and Goliath.
Charlie O'Donnell: Long the voice of "Wheel of Fortune," the announcer was like part of the family to Pat Sajak, Vanna White and the game show's audience.