Today is the birthday of popular character actor Barnard Hughes (1915-2006). Theatre lovers know him from his long running Broadway hit Da (1978-1980, with many ensuing tours and revivals). But I knew him originally from his 1975-1976 CBS sit-com Doc.
In Doc Hughes played a lovable small town doctor with a bunch of kooky patients. The equally lovable Elizabeth Wilson played his wife, and the ubiquitous Mary Wickes played a smart-mouthed nurse. If I recall correctly, the energy was kind of like The Bob Newhart Show (as it ought — bothw ere produced by MTM). One of my best, most distinctive memories of this show: it was one of the first places I ever saw Steve Martin, whom I think played Doc’s banjo playing son.
Doc was quite popular in its first season but for the second they changed the format, adding cast members Audra Lindley (later of Three’s Company and The Ropers), David Ogden Stiers (pre-M*A*S*H), Professor Irwin Corey and Herbie Faye. Despite that awesome line-up, the public didn’t go for the new format and the show was cancelled just a few episodes into its second season.
I remember “Doc”! Here’s how well I remember it — the guy who played his goofy son-in-law was the same actor who played the preacher at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral on “Mary Tyler Moore.”