10 classic TV stars who had No. 1 hit songs
Ricky Nelson was the first Drake.
Depending on who you ask — specifically, what generation you ask — Drake is likely the first TV-actor-turned-pop-star that comes to mind. This year alone, the former Degrassi kid has sent two singles to the top of Billboard Hot 100. Before Drake came along, J. Lo went from In Living Color to chart-topper. And there are probably a bunch of Disney Channel darlings, too.
But, being MeTV, we'd rather look further back to the true classics. (Sorry, Hannah Montana.)
Below, you will find 10 actors who successfully made the impressive from TV to No. 1. They came from sitcoms and soaps, Westerns and cop shows. It is no easy feat. Don Johnson and Bruce Willis only managed to climb to No. 5 in the 1980s. Eat your heart out, Miami Vice and Moonlighting.
1. Bill Hayes - "The Ballad of Davy Crockett"
It's hard to explain to people today just how huge Davy Crockett was in 1955. Demand for coonskin caps outpaced raccoon pelt production, which led to a bunch of kids wearing possum hats. That year, there were three versions of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" in the Top 30. Bill Hayes had the most success, rocketing to the top. He had small television roles here and there in 1950s and '60s, but finally locked into an epic role on Days of Our Lives. He played Doug Williams for four decades.
2. Ricky Nelson - "Poor Little Fool" and "Traveling Man"
The Ozzie and Harriet son became one of the first true teen idols of the TV era. Heck, he even had a hit called "Teen Age Idol." He wrote the book, while landing dozens of pop hits. Only two of them made it to No. 1, however. "Poor Little Fool" was written by a 15-year-old girl named Sharon Sheeley — no wonder it resonated with young hearts around the land.
3. Shelley Fabares - "Johnny Angel"
At the time, Fabares was best known as daughter Mary Stone on The Donna Reed Show. "Johnny Angel" made its debut on the sitcom, actually, in the episode "Donna's Prima Donna." The Carpenters would later record the tune, and Fabares would land another lead sitcom role as an adult on Coach.
4. Lorne Greene - "Ringo"
Greene was practically singing in character. In case anyone forgot this was the patriarch of Bonanza, the album was even titled Welcome to the Ponderosa. Shuck, Greene is dressed as Ben Cartwright in all the artwork. The Canadian settled comfortably into his cowboy role. The tune was loosely based on the life of Johnny Ringo. Oddly, Ringo did not appear as a character on Bonanza, though he did turn up on the shows The High Chaparral, Tales of Wells Fargo, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and, of course, CBS's Johnny Ringo.
5. Vicki Lawrence - "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"
Lawrence landed her big break thanks to Carol Burnett. The teenage comedian was acting in skits on The Carol Burnett Show when most others were dreaming about college. The redhead became quickly beloved thanks to characters like Thelma Harper, who would earn her own series, Mama's Family. Though she was from Missouri, Mama Harper would undoubtedly have been a fan of "Georgia."
6. David Soul - "Don't Give Up on Us"
"Hutch" of Starsky & Hutch, Soul bared his, er, soul on this soft-rock ballad, which became a radio staple. It spent a single week at No. 1. The B-side, "Black Bean Soup," was a duet with his girlfriend, Lynne Marta, who also appeared on Starsky & Hutch a few times.
7. Shaun Cassidy - "Da Doo Ron Ron"
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries gave Tiger Beat another Cassidy heartthrob in 1977. Hot on the heels of the detective show, young series star Shaun Cassidy recorded a bubblegum cover of the Crystals' 1963 gem "Da Doo Ron Ron." Fun fact: Jeff Barry, who co-wrote the song, also co-wrote the theme to The Jeffersons.
8. John Travolta - "You're the One That I Want"
We believe you've heard this one before. Travolta turned into such an icon of 1970s cinema, people often overlook his breakout role on Welcome, Back Kotter. But even Vinnie Barbarino had to dress up like the Fonz to score a No. 1 hit. In 1978, Grease was indeed the word.
9. Rick Springfield - "Jessie's Girl"
Some say Springfield made his acting debut on The Six Million Dollar Man. Technically, no. The Aussie idol got his TV start thanks to The Brady Bunch. He played himself on the 1973 cartoon Mission: Magic, which was a spin-off of The Brady Kids animated series. Later that decade, Springfield would turn up memorably on Wonder Woman, playing a KISS-like rocker. General Hospital turned him into a soap opera star, as he landed a role as Dr. Noah Drake in 1981. Undoubtedly, that helped boost sales of this classic single.
10. Clint Eastwood - "Bar Room Buddies"
Okay, we are cheating a bit. Eastwood's duet with Merle Haggard, a song from his film Bronco Billy, only went to No. 1 on the Country chart, not the Hot 100. Still, that's an impressive feat, and we wanted to get the list to 10. In his Rawhide days, Eastwood showed off his surprisingly light and gentle singing voice with a full album of cowboy tunes, 1959's Cowboy Favorites.
SEE MORE: The 22 strangest novelty songs ever released by TV actors
Gomez Addams rapping in the 1960s? Frank Zappa making a song with Robin? Pop music was a weird, wonderful place. READ MORE