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Too Close for Comfort aired from November 1980 until September 1986 on ABC and in first run syndication.
Henry Rush ( Ted Knight) was a middle-aged, conservative and very orderly professional illustrator. His biggest regret was that many years before he had gotten caught up in doing a kids cartoon called "Cosmic Cow" and now it was ruling his entire life. His second greatest regret was that his two grown daughters had talked him into letting them live in the downstairs apartment of his two-apartment San Francisco town house. As boyfriends came and went, Henry agonized over his two little lambs.
Jackie ( Deborah Van Valkenburgh), the brunette, worked at a bank and Sara ( Lydia Cornell) , the blonde sex kitten , was a freshman at San Francisco State College. Among the others who drifted around this sex farce were Muriel ( Nancy Dussault), Henry's independent, understanding wife who had once been a band singer and now was a successful free-lance photographer; Mr. Wainwright ( Hamilton Camp), Henry's diminutive publisher; Monroe ( J.M. J. Bullock), Sara's flaky student friend who caused many problems for Henry on a daily basis and Henry's hand puppet from which he got inspiration for his comic strip and a sympathetic "ear" about his daughters' problems. Appearing occasionally was Mildred Rafkin ( Selma Diamond), the sister of the former downstairs tenant.
The second and third season changes were abundant. A couple memorable events included the arrival of April ( Deena Freeman), Henry's hippie niece from Delaware, who stayed with the family for a year and Muriel's pregnancy at age 42, resulting in the birth of a son, Andrew( played by William Thomas Cannon and Michael Philip Cannon). Also arriving in 1982 were Muriel's nagging mother, Iris ( Audrey Meadows), who added much grief to Henry's life and Jackie's fiance, policeman, Brad Turner ( Jordan Suffin)who was seen occasionally.
Too Close For Comfort made history in 1983; after its cancellation , the supplier ( Don-El Productions, headed by D.L. Tafner) and the syndicator ( Metromedia) announced that new episodes would be produced beginning in January 1984 , to be shown by individual stations on a syndicated basis. The principal reason for this decision was to make more episodes available by the time reruns were sold to local stations; only sixty-three half hours had been produced by ABC, a quality regarded as too small to assure sucess in syndication. Too Close For Comfort thus became one of only a handful of series to remain in production after cancellation by the network. The first run episodes starred Ted Knight, Nancy Dussault, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Lydia Cornell and J.M. J. Bullock from the old series. The part of Andrew was now played by Joshua Goodman. Van Valkenburgh and Cornell left in November 1985 after the first 44 syndicated episodes had been produced.
The series returned to the air in the spring of 1986. The title of the series had been changed to The Ted Knight Show and the format was also changed as well. Henry had purchased 49% of a weekly newspaper, The Marin Bugler, and he, Muriel and Andrew had moved to a new home in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, to be close to his new place of employment. Monroe, who had worked as a security guard after college, was still around attempting to help out at the Bugler, but Sara and Jackie were off on their own after being dropped from the cast.
New to the cast were the Rushes' Hispanic housekeeper, Lisa ( Lisa Antille) and the publisher of the Bugler, Mrs. Stinson ( Pat Carroll). She still owned 51% and loved her editorial disputes with her new editor and partner Henry!
The Ted Knight Show was scheduled to go into its second season of production when its star, Ted Knight, who had been sick with complications from cancer for several months, passed away during the summer of 1986. The episodes aired as The Ted Knight Show were later put into the syndicated package of Too Close For Comfort giving it 129 episodes total.
One of the series' visual gimmicks was Henry Rush's habit of wearing a different college sweatshirt for each episode.
Based on the British series Keep It in the Family.
A Review of THe Ted Knight Show from The New York Times
TV: 'THE TED KNIGHT SHOW,' ABOUT A SMALL-TOWN PAPER
By HERBERT MITGANG
Published: April 5, 1986
''The Ted Knight Show,'' which premieres tonight at 7:30 on Channel 5, is about a small-town newspaper that gives journalism, television-style, a bad name, and makes a strong case for repealing the First Amendment. It's a tossup which rings more hollow -the newspaper characters or the canned laughter.
The newspaper is called The Marin Bugler. That doesn't necessarily mean it takes place in lovely, laid-back Marin County, over the bridge from San Francisco, except for an opening stock shot and what looks like a painted mountain in the background. The locales may be real but they look like the same old Los Angeles studio set. The only thing missing is the chase on the freeway.
Ted Knight plays the role of the new editor of The Marin Bugler. Two actresses are wasted - Nancy Dussault as his sympathetic wife and Nancy Carroll as the widow of the publisher. They seem to talk a decibel or two higher than necessary, possibly to cover up for the shortcomings of the script. Mr. Knight's main contribution to the improvement of The Bugler is to wring his hands and roll his eyes. Miss Carroll doesn't like to change things on the old paper, and she's probably right. Leave worse enough alone.
Those responsible for this opening episode include the creator of the show, Brian Cooke; the producer and writer, George Yanok; the executive producer, Aaron Ruben, and the director, Peter Baldwin.
Some of the future newspaper episodes listed sound a little more promising - one on toxic waste, another on a Vietnamese family - but the first show looks like a typographical error. Someone should have stopped the presses on The Bugler.
Here is Ted Knight's Obituary
(died on August 26, 1986)
Actor Ted Knight dies
Popular Plymouth native suffered from cancer
From staff and wire reports
LOS ANGELES-Actor Ted Knight, a Plymouth, Conn., native who won two Emmy awards as the pompous and dimwitted newscaster Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," died Tuesday. He was 62.
Knight, who also starred in "Too Close for Comfort," died at his Pacific Palisades home with his wife and three children at his side, said Sol Leon, Knight's agent.
The actor died of cancer, said Knight spokeswoman Vanita Cillo.
Knight was hospitalized last year for removal of a cancerous growth from his urinary tract. Earlier this month, he returned to the hospital for treatment of complications from that surgery.
His doctors ordered him not to return to work because he was not fully recovered from the surgery, Henri Bollinger, a spokesman for Knight, said after the actor was released from the hospital a few weeks ago.
He was born Dec. 7, 1923, as Tadeus Konopka on Allen Street in the Terryville section of Plymouth, the son of a Polish immigrant bartender and a housewife. He changed his name not long after graduating from Terryville High School in 1943. After graduating, Knight fought in World War II and was one of the first Allied soldiers to enter Berlin.
In 1984, his favorite Plymouth school teacher, Lucy Dukenski, flew to Los Angeles to appear with Knight when he was honored on the television program "This Is Your Life." Miss Dukenski now retired and living in Stratford, had forgotten about Knight until 1972, when she read a story that mentioned his real name.
She wrote to him and they exchanged letters and Christmas cards for years afterward.
"I can't believe it," Miss Dukenski said Tuesday when she learned of the actor's death. "He was such a prince of a guy." She said Knight told her he had a crush on her as a schoolboy and referred to her as "the first love of my life."
Knight was a boyhood friend of Charles Freimuth Jr., the town's former fire chief, who visited him in Los Angeles in 1984. At the time Knight said he'd try to return to his birthplace to serve as grand marshal of the Plymouth Fire Department's 75th anniversary parade this year.
Matilda Levandoski of Plymouth, the actor's cousin, said he was last in Terryville in 1978. She said his relatives in the Plymouth area knew he was ill and were planning to visit him in September.
Knight won Emmys in 1973 and 1976 for outstanding performance by an actor in a supporting role in comedy for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
He played Roger Dennis, owner of a New York City escort service, in "The Ted Knight Show," in the spring of 1978 on CBS. He also played a middle-aged illustrator from 1980 83 on ABC's "Too Close for Comfort."
He starred with Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase in the 1980 movie "Caddyshack," a farce about a golf tournament.
"Too Close For Comfort," in syndication, had been scheduled to start filming a new season the middle of this month to reappear as "The Ted Knight Show." It was put on hold after Knight said he could not return said Leon.
Knight launched his acting career at the Randall School of Dramatic Arts in Hartford, performing in productions of "Liliom," "Grand Hotel," "Antigone" and "Time of Your Life."
He became a disc jockey, announcer, singer, master of ceremonies, ventriloquist, puppeteer and pantomimist in North Carolina, Rhode Island and New York before moving to New York City for further training at The American Theater Wing.
Between classes, he appeared on radio and television shows such as "Big Town," "Suspense" and "Lux Video Theater."
In 1957, Knight moved to Los Angeles and appeared in hundreds of commercials and television shows including "Gunsmoke," "The F.B.I.," and "Get Smart."
Knight was best known for his portrayal of Baxter, the arrogant, vain nincompoop on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" from 1970 to 1977. But it was an image he wanted to dump.
"I've really wanted to shake Ted Baxter," Knight said in 1981. "People want to see that character. Ted Baxter gave the whole world a superiority complex."
Larry Bloustein, vice president for publicity at Mary Tyler Moore Enterprises, said there would be no comment from Miss Moore.
"We are terribly private about this sort of thing," said Bloustein.
Grant Tinker, who was head of MTM Enterprises when it produced "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," said: "I really loved Ted Baxter and Ted Knight all together. I loved them both. They gave so many of us so many great laughs."
Knight said one of the reasons he took the role in "Too Close For Comfort" was to shed the Ted Baxter image.
"I would have an opportunity to do something more than the one dimensional character that Ted was," he said. "He was limited in that he could never display any intelligence. He was always the butt of the jokes. One of his charms was that he was never a threat to anybody.
"I used to worry about what effect that would have on my children, being the butt of all the jokes. But it didn't have any effect."
Of the first "Ted Knight Show," which began immediately after "Mary Tyler Moore," and folded after a month, he said, "That came too soon after Mary and it showed my character as someone the brass considered a little shady.
"I played the owner of an escort service. It smacked too much of night life and the seamy side. It wasn't in keeping with the image I wanted to project."
His was one of many careers helped by "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Among those who starred on the show were Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Georgia Engel, Ed Asner and Gavin McLeod.
Knight and his wife of more than 30 years, Dorothy, who is director and treasurer of the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, have two sons and daughter. All three were at their mother's home Tuesday evening, said Leon.
A private funeral will be held Friday in the Los Angeles area. The family is asking that memorial contributions be sent to the Price Pottenger Foundation for the Ted Knight Memorial Fund, a funding source for films on children's nutrition and natural lifestyles. The address is P.O. Box 2614, La Mesa, Cal. 92041.
To watch clips from Too Close For Comfort go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=too+close+for+comfort+full+episodes
For more on Too Close For Comfort go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_Close_for_Comfort_(TV_series)
For the Too Close For Comfort Site go to https://web.archive.org/web/20050207012059/http://www.meredy.com/cosmiccow/
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406165145/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/tooclose.html
For a Page dedicated to Ted Knight go to https://web.archive.org/web/20060222233418/http://www.what-a-character.com:80/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=KnightT
For the Official Site of Deborah Van Valkenburgh go to http://www.timem.com/starwebs/deborahvanvalkenburgh/index.htm
For the Lydia Cornell Fan Club go to http://www.lydiafanclub.blogspot.com/
For an Interview with Lydia Cornell on the podcast The Future and You (anecdotes about Ted Knight and Too Close For Comfort) go to http://thefutureandyou.libsyn.com/may_1_2006_episode
For some Too Close for Comfort-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/too-close-comfort
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKNdLIDRK_8
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Keywords: Too Close For Comfort Cast (Links Updated 7/22/18)