News

10 Holiday-Themed TV Episodes and Specials Featuring Greats We Lost This Year

by | December 22, 2016 | Comments

For celebrity deaths, 2016 was brutal – whether you’re a fan of classic TV, pop music, movies, or Broadway, the losses this year were substantial. Pay homage to some of those legends with their work on these memorable Christmas specials and episodes.


David Bowie – Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (1977)

crosby-bowie

The legendary clip of the Thin White Duke and Der Bingle dueting on “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” always had a certain poignancy, since it was from the last of Crosby’s many classic Christmas specials, but now that we’ve lost both singers, this once unthinkably incongruous duet takes its place among the indelible holiday moments.


Garry Shandling – It’s Garry Shandling’s Show

Garry-Shandling

Before The Larry Sanders Show, Shandling played “himself” in a revolutionary sitcom that constantly broke the fourth wall and acknowledged that it was, in fact, a sitcom. So of course they eventually had to do a Christmas special (season 2, episode 8 – “It’s Garry Shandling’s Christmas Show”), where Garry attempts to get Tom Petty to come perform on Garry’s Christmas special.


Florence Henderson – The Brady Bunch

Florence-Henderson

The multi-talented Henderson has a richly diverse career, but nothing immortalized her in the pop culture pantheon as much as her role as perfect mom Carol Brady, first on The Brady Bunch and then on later iterations, including the family’s beautifully bizarre variety show. In the sitcom’s first season (season 1, episode 12 – “The Voice of Christmas”), Carol gets laryngitis right before she’s supposed to sing at church for Christmas. Will the holiday be saved? (Spoiler: Yes.)


Patty Duke – A Christmas Memory (1997)

patty-duke

Duke was a legendary child star, winning an Oscar at 16 for her turn as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and then headlining her own hit sitcom as a teenager, but she remained active in film and TV throughout the rest of her life. (She was also one of the first celebrities to openly discuss her battles with bipolar disorder, in her must-read memoir Call Me Anna.) One of her more notable adult roles was the lead in this sweetly nostalgic adaptation of the Truman Capote story, which has become an annual holiday staple on cable TV.


William Schallert – The Patty Duke Show

william-schallert

In a strange twist, veteran character actor Schallert, who played Patty Duke’s father on her eponymous sitcom, also passed away this year. (There are a lot of TV dads on his long-as-your-arm IMDB page, but I always think of him as the kindly science professor in the Kurt Russell “Dexter Riley” movies at Disney.) It’s in the season-one holiday episode of The Patty Duke Show (season 1, episode 15 – “The Christmas Present”) that we learn that Schallert’s character is himself a twin, giving him his own opportunity to act opposite himself.


Ken Howard – The White Shadow

ken-howard

Another performer with a long and varied résumé – he played Thomas Jefferson in the original Broadway cast and movie adaptation of 1776, and recently had memorable roles in movies like Michael Clayton and TV hits like 30 Rock – Howard is best remembered for his long-running role on the CBS drama The White Shadow, where he played a retired NBA player who became coach for an inner-city team. In this episode (season 3, episode 5 – “Christmas Story”), his players learn that other kids have it even tougher than they do.


Doris Roberts – Mrs. Miracle (2009)

doris-roberts

Whether Everybody Loves Raymond or Remington Steele was the first long-running series to pop into your head when you saw Roberts’ name, she too enjoyed a lengthy and eclectic career that encompassed stage and screen, although she definitely made her mark on TV via shows like the aforementioned, as well as Angie and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She remained busy as ever well into her 80s and 90s, even creating a franchise of Hallmark Christmas movies as the titular busybody of Debbie Macomber’s heartwarming holiday tale.


Ron Glass and Abe Vigoda – Barney Miller

ron-glass-abe-vigoda

Two talented members of the Barney Miller ensemble left us this year – accomplished actor Glass, who played the dapper Det. Harris, and Vigoda (after years of internet rumors, he actually did die in 2016) as the rumpled Det. Fish, a character who eventually earned his own spin-off show. In this holiday entry (season 3, episode 10 – “Christmas Story”), Fish must go undercover as Santa Claus to find a mugger who’s targeting Saint Nicks.


Janet Waldo – The Jetsons

janet-waldo2

Waldo’s voice work made her an animation legend; as part of the Hanna-Barbera ensemble, she popped up in classic show after classic show, including The Flintstones (as Fred’s mother-in-law Mrs. Slaghoople), The Wacky Racers (she was Penelope Pitstop), and Josie and the Pussycats (as lead singer Josie). But her most iconic character was unquestionably Judy Jetson, swingin’ teen of the future. In this holiday episode (season 2, episode 45 – “A Jetson Christmas Carol”), mean boss Mr. Spaceley gets the Scrooge treatment after forcing poor George to work on Christmas Eve.


Robert Vaughn – The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Robert-Vaughn

Even the Cold War’s hottest spy show wasn’t immune to the pull of a holiday episode (season 3, episode 15 – “The Jingle Bells Affair”), so remember the suave and distinguished Robert Vaughn – between this show and The Magnificent Seven, his film and TV work has been subject to quite a few remakes of late – with this action tale of attempted assassination and international skullduggery. For Christmas!

Tag Cloud

Superheroe CBS All Access Cosplay documentary Black Mirror GoT unscripted indie green book Trailer dceu boxoffice nature diversity DC Comics Marvel Studios Netflix Christmas movies tv talk SXSW 2016 crime drama award winner Winter TV SundanceTV YA X-Men YouTube Red Walt Disney Pictures Bravo renewed TV shows streaming Vudu WGN crime thriller romance Women's History Month blaxploitation President elevated horror talk show Christmas Tarantino sag awards TNT Acorn TV cancelled TV series Television Academy BBC America Awards Tour Crunchyroll Mindy Kaling USA Network TV Land Martial Arts Calendar name the review police drama Comics on TV transformers Mudbound romantic comedy zombies Red Carpet Disney streaming service joker Comic Book sitcom theme song Syfy Turner Classic Movies Esquire composers 24 frames Fox News spy thriller Extras spider-man Epix Polls and Games 21st Century Fox GIFs versus science fiction Box Office comic Family Comedy ghosts crossover directors The Purge screen actors guild slashers TCA Disney Channel A&E technology Animation Hallmark Stephen King Cartoon Network TV OneApp Comedy Central cartoon adaptation Thanksgiving Nat Geo Creative Arts Emmys Interview CNN 45 San Diego Comic-Con psycho animated Teen spinoff docudrama revenge Spring TV Crackle Academy Awards YouTube ABC Character Guide A24 ESPN DirecTV thriller comiccon travel Holiday CW Seed Disney Plus Super Bowl Freeform crime Adult Swim Paramount Network Britbox robots Spike Anna Paquin Ovation Heroines Reality singing competition Set visit First Reviews Holidays VICE Spectrum Originals Oscars Tomatazos Rocketman Biopics Best and Worst cats YouTube Premium LGBTQ adventure cops teaser golden globes Elton John spain anime Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Horror Nickelodeon 2020 natural history Fall TV canceled Pet Sematary Fantasy war Infographic TLC TV renewals DGA serial killer Summer 2017 comics biography Sundance Now MTV Schedule Discovery Channel mutant Winners PBS FX Binge Guide 2015 IFC Films Pirates American Society of Cinematographers discovery Warner Bros. 007 kids Paramount Year in Review Starz Marvel latino TCA 2017 Musical Peacock RT History Universal supernatural disaster Election south america finale medical drama anthology Dark Horse Comics period drama USA Star Trek New York Comic Con screenings Photos Trivia Sci-Fi harry potter video Turner TCM VH1 free movies TIFF Opinion historical drama History aliens APB Sony Pictures Quiz GLAAD Country Disney+ Disney Plus Action Watching Series Grammys Toys The CW Lifetime Christmas movies Premiere Dates Rocky jamie lee curtis Ghostbusters Awards cancelled television vampires Rom-Com cars sports Hallmark Christmas movies Trophy Talk 2018 Masterpiece ITV RT21 Logo The Walking Dead First Look Columbia Pictures Superheroes social media Shudder NYCC Film Festival Pride Month MCU stand-up comedy quibi Western 20th Century Fox Showtime dragons Mary poppins Lucasfilm spanish language game of thrones DC Universe miniseries cults blockbuster game show NBC Pixar National Geographic hist Apple casting Tubi cancelled TV shows Ellie Kemper facebook The Arrangement FOX justice league cinemax SDCC Podcast politics Brie Larson Marvel Television series what to watch sequel Endgame BBC DC streaming service toy story canceled TV shows Mary Poppins Returns Apple TV Plus Sundance TV Tumblr 2019 batman Video Games Netflix Chernobyl festivals Emmy Nominations Film Captain marvel Lionsgate PaleyFest 71st Emmy Awards zero dark thirty cooking Mystery OWN Sneak Peek mockumentary TBS werewolf Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt political drama Sundance Emmys space Hulu Star Wars book TruTV Rock FXX The Witch strong female leads Avengers AMC Baby Yoda Classic Film based on movie MSNBC binge Apple TV+ foreign movies Writers Guild of America Song of Ice and Fire reboot Music psychological thriller E3 Musicals Arrowverse rotten movies we love Pop El Rey television E! ABC Family christmas movies Amazon Prime Video LGBT TCA Winter 2020 Reality Competition ratings Nominations Cannes dramedy BET Amazon Disney CMT Countdown Kids & Family dc zombie independent richard e. Grant IFC Food Network halloween Drama HBO HBO Max doctor who Certified Fresh Mary Tyler Moore Shondaland witnail children's TV Amazon Prime CBS cancelled Valentine's Day Marathons Lifetime See It Skip It true crime WarnerMedia hispanic breaking bad