Important Things to Know #9: Parents & Other Relatives of TV Stars

10-8-2010 3-36-43 PM

For some reason, the careers of parents and relatives of famous people always interests me. Exactly why I find the fact that Abe Vigoda's brother drew for Archie comics insanely interesting is beyond me. It just is. If you find the fact that both of John-Boy Walton's parents were ballet dancers even remotely interesting, the following list of TV celebs and their relations may be worth a read...

Relatives in politics:
Christopher Lloyd (Taxi) - uncle: 32nd mayor of San Francisco.
McLean Stevenson (M*A*S*H*, Hello Larry) - great uncle: Adlai E. Stevenson, the vice-president of Grover Cleveland.
Dan Akroyd (SNL) - father: policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Michael Learned (Little House on the Prairie) - father: diplomat*

Relatives in the arts:
Abe Vigoda (Barney Miller, Fish) - brother: illustrator of Archie comics
Melanie Wilson (stewardess neighbor on Perfect Strangers) - father: "Mr. Whipple" the Charmin spokesman
Gavin MacLeod (Love Boat, MTM) - mother: writer for Reader's Digest
Catherine Bach (The Dukes of Hazzard) - mother-in-law: actress Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) - father: art dealer
Pat Harrington (Schneider on One Day at a Time) - father; vaudeville performer
Robert Hegyes (Epstein on Welcom Back, Kotter) - cousin: singer Jon Bon Jovi
Billy Crystal (Soap) - father: record company executive
Ruth Buzzi (Laugh In) - father: nationally recognized stone sculptor
Richard Thomas (The Waltons) - father and mother: ballet dancers
Dan Rowan (Laugh In) - father and mother: carnival performers

Religious dads:
Adrian Zmed (TJ Hooker) - Romanian Orthodox Priest
Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched) - Presbyterian minister
David Soul (Starsky & Hutch) - Lutheran minister
John Davidson (Hollywood Squares) - Baptist minister

Lawyer dads:
Carol O'Connor (All in the Family)
Richard Mol (Night Court)
David Doyle (Charlie's Angels)
Larry Hagman (I Dream of Jeannie, Dallas)
John Sylvester White (Mr. Woodman on Welcome Back, Kotter)
Arte Johnson (Laugh In)

Professional musician parents:
Linda Lavin (Alice) - mother: opera singer
George Peppard (The A Team) - mother: opera singer
Olivia d'Abo (The Wonder Years) - father: member of the Manfred Mann band
Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch) - father: saxophonist

Scientist dads:
Tom Poston (Newhart): dairy chemist
Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati): environmental chemist
Markie Post (Night Court): nuclear physicist

Medical dads:
Sally Struthers (All in the Family): surgeon
Jaclyn Smith (Charlie's Angels): dentist

Agricultural dads:
Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch): tobacco sharecropper
Don Knotts (Andy Griffith Show): farmer
Diane Ladd (Alice): poulterer

Parents in Education:
Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch) - father: teacher
David Lander (Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley) - mother and father: teachers
Mike Lookinland (The Brady Bunch) - father: vice principal
Bob Barker (Price is Right) - mother: teacher

* Another Waltons castmember has political connections, but not with a relative. Will Geer (Grandpa Walton) was the gay lover of Harry Hay, a well known gay rights advocate.


  1. I too am fascinated by the careers of famous people's parents and family. I loved that Mike Nesmith's mom invented Liquid Paper and that the Ginsu knife guys and Ronco "Set it and Forget It" oven guy are related teen star Ashley Tisdale. I write for kids/teens which is why I know about that one ...


  2. Wow. A direct link between Mr. Microphone and Ashley Tisdale. Interesting. My favorite one, for some reason, is the Mr. Whipple - Perfect Strangers chick.

  3. I *knew* there was something, uh, a little "different" about Grandpa Walton. He always seemed nervous when he had to show affection to Grandma. Same mannerisms and attitudes as an old girlfriend's dad who later came out of the closet.

  4. Lenny BanterJune 02, 2011

    Another great post but I am sure that Will Farrell's dad was a keyboard player in the Righteous Borhters band.

  5. Lenny Kravitz's mom was Roxie Roker from 'The Jefferson's'

    And SNL alum Maya Rudolph's Mom was Minnie Ripperton.

  6. AnonymousJune 02, 2011

    I think a cool one, not on this list is that Buster Keaton's godfather was the great Houdini, who actually gave him the nickname 'Buster.' (source: Tempest in a Flat Hat)

  7. Grandpa Walton was gay?!! I had no idea...now I need to re-watch some old Walton's episodes to see if I can notice it now!

  8. Linc from the Mod Squad's grandfather, Clarence Williams, was pioneering jazz musician, who worked with Louis Armstrong. He wrote several songs such as "Sugar Blues."

    Also Neely Plumb, Eve's father, produced many easy listening LP for RCA in the 60s.

  9. nanette rJune 02, 2011

    larry hagman's mother was mary martin. she was a broadway actress who played peter pan ;)

  10. Desdinova - Even stranger than that, Linc married the The Oracle from The Matrix.

  11. That's right, Gilligan! I had forgotten that.

  12. AnonymousJune 04, 2011

    You were half right when you wrote that Olivia D'abo's father was in the pop group,Manfred Mann.He wasn't her father though,he was actually her uncle.Michael D'abo was Mayam D'abo's uncle as well.Mike D'abo was a great songwriter too;having written hits like "Build Me Up,Buttercup"and "Handbags and Gladrags" for both the Foundations and Rod Stewart respectalively.D'abo replaced the original vocalist,Paul Jones,after he left Manfred Mann.Budd

  13. AnonymousJune 04, 2011

    I am very saddened at the loss of a real hero,James Arness,yesterday at the good old age of 88.(He just celebrated his birthday last week on May 26th just a day after my own,45th.)He was a fine actor and will forever be in our hearts as the kind of passionate,tough but still righteous lawman;Marshall Matthew Dillion in the classic T.V. show,Gunsmoke.He lived a long life and just last year,lost his brother,Peter Graves,yet another of our superb television icons.Let's fire a shot,have a drink and ride our horse to the sunset.God bless you,Mr. Arness.Budd

  14. Here's one ;Anthony Montgomery (Travis Maywather on Star trek Enterprise ) Is the grandson of Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.

  15. Loving this...fascinating information...just wanted to correct you though, Michael Learned was the mother on the Waltons and not on Little House on the Prairie.

  16. AnonymousJune 12, 2011

    Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books, was a distant cousin of... Christopher Lee. Lee was Fleming's choice for who should play Dr No.

    The father of DeForest Kelley (McCoy in Star Trek) was a Baptist Minister.

  17. Who are the people in the picture? I assume they are English, from the "Family Farm Ltd." on the box.