Who Are The Worst Actors In TV History

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Frank Soyke, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. Frank Soyke

    Frank Soyke Screenwriter

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    We have had many great actors grace the small screen over the years but a few actors stand out to me as horrific actors/actresses. Either through the stilted emotionless delivery of their lines or ridiculous over-acting, this bunch IMO can't act their way out of a paper bag:

    1) Celia Weston (Alice) - IMO the worst actress ever to be on TV. Her acting is downright putrid.How did she get the par of Jolene? Did nobody but Mason Reese audition?

    2) Charlotte Rae (Different Strokes/Facts of Life) - I don't know whether it was the writing, directing, or something else, but her acting and line delivery are terrible. I'm guessing on this one the scripts may have been a factor since many of the other actors on those 2 shows (Plato, Coleman, Kohn) were pretty lousy too.

    3) Ann B. Davis (Brady Bunch) - Has there ever been an un-funnier character on TV than Alice Nelson? Although Sherwood Schwartz did a decent of job of writing for a juvenile show like Gilligan, Brady Bunch was totally different. That aside, Davis is simply a poor actress to begin and her comedic timing is way off.

    4) Gabe Kaplan (Kotter) - One liner stand up delivery make work at the Roxy in LA, but it doesn't make for a good viewing experience on most occasions. Even Seinfled (who acting wise, I don't think was stellar either) found a way to put some emotion in his character. Kotter is emotionless and isn't a good fit with the histrionic sweathogs or Mr. Woodman. Isn't the point of the show that he was an ex sweathog coming back home to teach? He acts more like an accountant than a sweathog. As an aside Marcia Strassman may have ever been worse than Kaplan.

    5) The numerous child actors under 10 that were brought on to near dead shows to boost sagging ratings. Danny Cooksey, Joey and Matthew Lawrence, Dawn Lyn, Robbie Rist, Brian Bonsall. Truthfully, Brandon Cruz, Bill Mumy, Jerry Mathers and Ron Howard were the only pre teen child actors that were even watchable..... and Larry Matthews, don't get me started.

    Who are your choices??
     
  2. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Mad Men's January Jones makes all those actors look like classically trained thespians in comparison.

    In terms of bad child actors, Reina King, who played Raj and Nadine's foster child for one season on What's Happening Now!!, takes the cake; she made Danielle Spencer (Dee) look like Meryl Streep in comparison! I didn't miss her when they wrote her off.
     
  3. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    Ann B. Davis was terrific in everything she ever did. The Brady Bunch may have put her in lots of dopey situations, but she really ran with it. She also great in Love That Bob, and there she won the Emmy twice and was nominated four times. As she was cast as the comedic relief in two successful shows with significant runs, it's safe to say that virtually everyone disagrees with you on that one.
     
  4. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    This is a much too subjective topic so I would like to make a comment on a modified premise. Who was the worst actor that TV kept trying to shove down our throats as a "star?" Top honors for that goes to McLean Stevenson who after leaving MASH was given no less than FOUR floppo TV series of his own in a decade and who was even given Tonight Show guest hosting spots and incredibly enough his own variety special. All for a guy of very limited talent.
     
  5. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    Billy Zane. He even sucked in Sniper.
     
  6. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    He had five floppo series, but the scripts on those shows just weren't very good, either on their own terms or compared to M*A*S*H. Hello, Larry stands out mainly because it was a Johnny Carson punchline—attacking NBC from a very safe position—and because NBC desperately tried to make it happen by retroactively turning it into a Diff'rent Strokes spin-off. It was pretty unexceptional in most respects.
     
  7. Frank Soyke

    Frank Soyke Screenwriter

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    Wow, it's great that you have such a line on what "virtually everyone" thinks. Just curious if you did a quick nationwide Gallup pole before offering this "gem" to the thread. I am very careful when I post to not transfer my feelings to others, no matter how strong my opinions are. That being said, my OWN opinion remains... she stunk.
     
  8. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    It's probably unfair to hold kids to the same standards as adult actors but I guess I'll be unfair and say "most child actors". There's certainly exceptions (besides the actors you mention, I think Tony Dow was good also) but some kids are just awful to the point that it's not even subjective anymore. They just are bad!

    As an aside, check out Ron Howard in The Twilight Zone episode called Walking Distance. He's very young and can't act yet but it makes you appreciate how much better he got in a few years for The Andy Griffith Show.
     
  9. moviebuff75

    moviebuff75 Supporting Actor

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    I thought that Charlotte Rae was fantastic in "Facts of Life." She really gave the show a lot of heart, and I believed her when she gave the girls advice. Mrs. Garrett is one of my all time favorite sitcom characters. As far as bad actors, I would say Roseanne started off terrible but she got better. However, that didn't affect the comedy of her show because her bad acting endeared her and actually made her funnier.
     
  10. davidHartzog

    davidHartzog Cinematographer
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    William Shatner in anything, and that 2by4 currently playing McGarrett in 5-0.
     
  11. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    I agree with the OP about Charlotte Rae; just terrible.

    I agree about the child actors; there were too many putrid child actors to list here. A lot of them started out okay and got worse as they got older. Larry Matthews was okay when he was very young but stunk to high heaven during the last season of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Ron Howard was incredible as little Opie but nothing special at all after puberty started kicking in. The same could be said of Jerry Mathers.

    I agree about Gabe Kaplan, and on the subject of standup comics who tried to act, I'd put Roseanne Barr on the list of bad actors.

    About Ann B. Davis, as others have said, she was fine on The Bob Cummings Show/Love That Bob, but totally unfunny on The Brady Bunch, and I mean totally. But I don't think it was her fault. She was stuck with terrible writing and direction in a terrible show. The same could be said about Lucille Ball, who hit the all-time heights of TV acting in a comedy on I Love Lucy and hit the same Ann B. Davis-depths in Here's Lucy, i.e., being totally unfunny stuck with terrible writing and direction in a terrible show.

    Now I'm going to name someone I think was a terrible actor and I'm sure it's going to be much more controversial than Ann B. Davis or Charlotte Rae. I'm sure he made many people laugh and some people think he's hysterical, but as an actor -- and that's what we're supposed to be considering here -- he was so limited that I think he never had more than one expression on his face.

    I hereby nominate Tim Conway.

    Now, wait. I'm going to make the case that millions agreed with me and were bored to tears with him.

    After becoming known on McHale's Navy, where he started giving his one-note, one-joke, one-expression-on-his-face-all-the-time so-called "performance," look at his TV career:

    Rango: one half season
    Turn-On: one show, widely known as perhaps the biggest bomb in TV history
    The Tim Conway Show (1970): one half season
    The Tim Conway Show (1980): one half season
    Ace Crawford, Private Eye: five weeks

    That leaves The Carol Burnett Show. I know Carol Burnett raves over him, as if everyone in the world falls down laughing at the very sight of him. Apparently, it never dawned on her that after he joined the show as a regular, her ratings started an incontrovertible decline: #29, #35, #43 ... goodbye. He did it again. The show was cancelled by CBS, but they let Burnett claim she was quitting.

    I used to watch The Carol Burnett Show, being a fan of her, but the more it started showcasing Conway, the less I watched it until I joined the millions of other people who stopped watching altogether. I just couldn't take any more of that one-expression "scene stealer" or one more viewing of "here's where Tim breaks up Harvey, just like they rehearsed it all week."

    Let me end with another "actor" who was one-note, one-expression, not funny: William Demarest on My Three Sons. But everyone was pretty lousy on that show.
     
  12. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Children don't have fully developed brains, but that's no excuse for why Mary-Kate Olsen was just as bad on Weeds as she was on Full House. I suspect Ashley would have been no better.
     
  13. Frank Soyke

    Frank Soyke Screenwriter

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    I agree with the addition posters have added, with the addition of Mclean Stevenson. yes Hello Larry was terrible, but his portayal of Henry Blake was a classic performance. IMO the tender moment between he and Burghoff during his final episode moved me as much as any TV episode I have seen. Here are a few more unwatchable actors I want to throw in IMO. I don't have time to elaborate right now:

    Bill Macy

    Tina Yothers

    Susan Olson

    Estelle Getty - Poster child or one trick pony(and her trick wasn't that funny to begin with).

    Shelly Fabares

    Richard Deacon

    Glenn Scarpelli - After Tina Yothers, possibly the worst child actor I've ever seen.

    Jane Dulo - Character actress with no talent at all

    Anyone on the PT 73 crew other then Borgnine and Flynn.

    Anyone who played one of Blanche's dates on The Golden Girls or ancillary characters on The Brady Bunch (all wooden).

    Mark Goddard




    .
     
  14. Frank Soyke

    Frank Soyke Screenwriter

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    exception of Mclean Stevenson I meant
     
  15. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    My point about Stevenson was that he was the worst actor that TV kept over and over trying to shove down our throats as a *star*. As a supporting player on MASH he was drawn out to the limits of his talents, but he was not an actor who could be the focal point of anything, least of all a guy supposedly capable of getting his own variety special (I still shake my head in disbelief over that) and getting Tonight Show guest hosting gigs. I've also over the years had to endure his presence on GSN repeats of "Match Game" where he was beyond insufferable. Yes, some professional writers and directors and the right vehicle where he was limited gave him a few good moments, but to give this guy one floppo star attempt after another for almost ten years was just ridiculous.
     
  16. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    I think that the success of her career speaks for itself as a gage of general opinion, which I think was clear from my post.
     
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  17. derosa

    derosa Supporting Actor

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    I'm a big fan of the original Bionic Woman show,but I actually think Lindsey Wagner wasn't a very good actress. She seemed to get worse. Her first few appearances she wascharming, and by the reunion movies, just awful.
     
  18. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Like everyone else here I could easily list actors and actresses that I really didn't care for, but that would just be raining on other people's parades, so I'll resist the urge. The only reason I'm posting is because I utterly disagree with the listing of Richard Deacon. He was gold on both LITB and TDVDS.


    Gary "but, to each his own" O.
     
  19. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Agree, Deacon was a versatile and reliable supporting player which was his niche. He was perfect on the Van Dyke Show.

    There needs to be an understanding that some actors are limited in general but are able to find their niche in a certain property. For instance, no one would ever call Lynda Carter a great thespian but she was the perfect Wonder Woman.
     
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  20. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    She was Meryl Streep compared to Lee Majors. Talk about someone who couldn't act.
     

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