More than Benson: Mariska Hargitay’s other TV work


Mariska Hargitay

Q: Is “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” the only series Mariska Hargitay has done? — Adam Brock, Twin Falls, Idaho

A: If you don’t count crossover episodes of other series in producer Dick Wolf’s NBC “Law & Order”/“Chicago” universe, she had several shows before starting what would become a historically long run as Olivia Benson. Several of them — “Downtown,” “Tequila and Bonetti” and “Prince Street” — also were in the police vein, and she co-starred in the comedy “Can’t Hurry Love” as well. Additionally, Hargitay had extended guest arcs on “ER” and “Falcon Crest.”

Q: Did Ellen DeGeneres take home the “Goodbye” mat that Jennifer Aniston gave her on her last show, as she said she would? It looked like she walked right past it when she left. — Christine Sears, Reading, Pa.

A: We can’t say we have visual proof, but we’re virtually sure that the mat now resides — along with others the now-former talk-show host has collected, some also from Aniston — at the DeGeneres house. She and Aniston are close friends, so it’s unlikely she would leave the gift behind, simply on that basis. Bear in mind that a lot was happening in DeGeneres’ thoughts at the moment of her final walk-off from her syndicated weekday show, so the mat might not have been top-of-mind right then, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t go back for it later.

Ellen DeGeneres

Q: Is Jimmy Kimmel leaving his late-night show? — Lisa Jefferson, via email

A: Though it doesn’t appear to be imminent, Kimmel recently said that he’s been thinking “a lot” lately about when his exit from his ABC program might come. He has noted that the job is not something he’d planned to do forever … and even after he leaves it, he probably will stay associated with the network in other ways, as with his producing of the “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” specials and a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” revival.

Q: I enjoyed the “WKRP in Cincinnati” marathon on Decades, but I heard that the actor who played Dr. Johnny Fever died recently. Is that true? — John Enders, Columbus, Ohio

A: Sadly, it is. Howard Hesseman — who channeled some of his own early-career experiences as a disc jockey into his memorable “WKRP” portrayal of Dr. Johnny Fever — passed away in late January at age 81. He had proven to be a reliable guest player on shows ranging from “Dragnet” to “The Bob Newhart Show” before landing the part of Fever, which quickly became his signature role. Later, he starred for several seasons on “Head of the Class,” then became a regular on the original version of “One Day at a Time” for a couple of years.

Q: I saw “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” on Turner Classic Movies recently. Was the very tall man Paul Newman fought in an early scene the actor who also played Lurch in “The Addams Family”? — Scott Parks, via email

A: It was indeed. It was hard to mistake the imposing Ted Cassidy for anyone else, not only for his towering height but also for his distinctively deep voice. He wore so much makeup as the Addams’ manservant, some people still might have been thrown by his lack of it in “Butch Cassidy,” but that surely was still him. Cassidy was in another Western movie the same year (1969), “Mackenna’s Gold” with Gregory Peck and Omar Sharif; he would do much other work throughout the 1970s, but he died young at age 46 in 1979.

Q: Please settle a debate. Was there ever a “Sherlock Holmes” TV series? — Kate Ellis, Boulder, Colo.

A: Of course, there was the popular “Sherlock” series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman that had several “Masterpiece” runs on PBS during the 2010s. That network also was the American home of a series of Holmes mysteries with Jeremy Brett that aired from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.

Two BBC-sanctioned series about Holmes aired mainly in England in the early 1950s and the mid-1960s, but a mid-1950s show starring Ronald Howard (whose father was “Gone With the Wind’s” Leslie Howard) received international distribution that brought it to America via syndication.

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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