9 TV creators who secretly made cameos on their own shows
Did you ever spot these sneaky guest appearances?
Alfred Hitchcock was the king of the cameo. The iconic director snuck into 39 of his own films. He hosted his own television series, and even managed to make a little cameo in the middle of one of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents tales, too. Hitch was not the only Hollywood creator to turn up in his own work.
Some of the brains who came up with TV's most beloved characters found a way to become characters themselves. Here are nine clever creator cameos you might have missed in classic television.
1. Hugh Wilson on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'
Hugh Wilson put a lot of himself into his seminal Seventies sitcom creation, WKRP in Cincinnati. The character Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) was named after and inspired by his cousin. Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers) was based on his wife. He also put his own face on the screen, in the episode "Hold Up." He's the cop who slaps the cuffs on Johnny Fever.
2. The creator, director and writer of 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'
The super spy series shoved a ton of creator cameos into a party scene in the early episode "The Giuoco Piano Affair." Series creator and producer Norman Felton plays chess at the party, while one of the show's principle writers, Joseph Calvelli, taps away at typewriter over on a couch. The drunk man in the plaid blazer? Well, he's played by Richard Donner, the episode's director, who would go on to make Superman, The Goonies and more.
3. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee on 'The Incredible Hulk'
Artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee were the brilliant Marvel minds behind many of your favorite superheroes. The two dreamed up the Hulk in 1962. In turn, The Incredible Hulk gave screen time to its creators. Hulk designer and penciller Kirby, a giant of comics, makes a cameo at the end of "No Escape," playing a sketch artist. Stan Lee would finally show his face in one of the three TV movies that followed after the series, 1989's The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Of course, these days he's in every Marvel movie.
4. Gene Roddenberry in 'Star Trek'
"If the crew has to eat synthetic meatloaf, I want it to look like turkey," Captain Kirk tells the Enterprise chef early on in "Charlie X." The man standing with his back to the camera is nobody you know, just an extra, but later on, we hear the chef reporting back to Kirk. "Sir, I put meatloaf in the ovens. There's turkeys in there now. Real turkeys," the chef reports back over the bridge intercom. It's the voice of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Honestly, he could have acted a little more surprised in the scene. Meatloaf turns into turkey!
5. Erle Stanley Gardner on 'Perry Mason'
"The Case of the Final Fade-Out," the final episode of the series, allowed the Perry Mason producers a chance to give some screen time to the crew. The show's grips, gaffers, prop men, accountants, electricians, etc. fill the minor roles. Presiding over it all is Erle Stanley Gardner, the mystery novelist who created Perry Mason. He plays the judge in the final courtroom scene.
6. William Dozier on 'Batman'
In "Fine Finny Fiends," Batman looks through a series of mugshots on a screen. The first two are William Dozier and series producer Howie Horwitz. The latter also makes a brief cameo in the very last episode, "Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires," wearing a yellow robe. Dozier, of course, could be heard throughout the show. He was the narrator imploring you to tune in to the "Same time, same channel!" Here you got to see his face.
7. Garry Marshall on 'Happy Days'
As an actor, Garry Marshall often accepted bit parts, with more than a dozen uncredited roles that saw him as a hoodlum in 1964's Goldfinger, a detective in Jumpin' Jack Flash, and the devil in Hocus Pocus. He plays a first baseman in his own hit film Runaway Bride, an audition director in Beaches, and a bum in Pretty Woman. He turns up in a bunch of his television shows, too, typically drumming. His first appearance on his Happy Days is shown here, as a drummer in "Fonzie's Getting Married." He also drummed on The Odd Couple and Laverne & Shirley.
8. Stephen J. Cannell on 'Renegade'
You can thank Cannell for some of the greatest action shows, from The Rockford Files and The A-Team to The Greatest American Hero, 21 Jump Street and The Commish. The acting bug also nipped the macho TV producer. On Renegade he went all in, playing one of the principal bad guys, Donald "Dutch" Dixon, in dozens of episodes. On a show known for its mullets, his hair held its own, thank you.
9. Larry Charles on 'Seinfeld'
Larry David can be heard throughout Seinfeld, primarily as George Steinbrenner. Now that the Curb Your Enthusiasm star is known in his own right, he stands out. However, Seinfeld writer Larry Charles, the mind behind some of the show's knottiest, kookiest plots in the first five seasons, is less known. He is certainly easy to spot, however. In "The Airport," when Elaine has to use the plane's toilet, he's the hirsute man with the massive beard coming out of the bathroom. Prompting Elaine to hold her breath.
Image: Sony Pictures Entertainment