A Year: Day to Day Men: 26th of August, Solar Year 2018


August 26, 1986 marks the passing of American comedic actor Ted Knight.

After World War Two, Ted Knight studied acting in Hartford, Connecticut where he became proficient with puppets and ventriloquism. This led to steady work as a television kiddie-show host at WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island, from 1950 to 1955. In Albany, New York, Knight hosted “The Early Show” for station WROW,  featuring Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movies.

Ted Knight spent most of his early years in Hollywood doing commercial voice-overs and playing minor television and movie roles. He had a small part at the end of Hitchcock’s movie “Psycho” playing the police officer guarding the arrested Norman Bates. Knight guest-starred in the episode “The Defector” of the 1961 season of the syndicated television series “Sea Hunt” which starred  Lloyd Bridges. He appeared frequently in all the popular television shows at that time including “Highway Patrol”, “The Outer Limits”, “The Donna Reed Show’, “Bonanza”, and”McHale’s Navy”, among others.

Probably Ted Knight’s most well-known role was his work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” which ran from 1970 to 1977.  His role as the WJM newscaster Ted Baxter brought Knight widespread recognition and his greatest success. The Ted Baxter character was the dim-witted, vain, and miserly anchorman of the “Six O’Clock News”. Baxter frequently made mistakes and was oblivious to the actual nature of the topics covered on the show, but considered himself to be the country’s best news journalist. Ted Knight received six Emmy Award nominations for the role, winning the Emmy for “Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy” in 1973 and 1976.

Ted Knight’s distinctive speaking voice brought him work as an announcer, notably as narrator of most of Filmation Studio’s superhero cartoons as well as voice of incidental characters. He was narrator of the first season of the “Super Friends” and other animated television series. Knight’s work included the voices of the opening narrator and team leader Commander Jonathan Kidd in the animated science fiction television series “Fantastic Voyage”.

A few months after the end of the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1977, Ted Knight was diagnosed with cancer for which he received various forms of treatment over several years. In 1985, the cancer returned as colon cancer which, despite rigorous treatment, eventually began to spread. Knight’s condition continued to worsen and he died on August 26, 1986, at the age of 62. He is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. His grave marker bears his birth name Theodore C. Konopka and, at the bottom, the words “Bye Guy”, a reference to his Ted Baxter catchphrase “Hi, guy!”.

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