Rerun Junkie–Guest Stars: Virginia Gregg

Guest stars are the underrated necessity to any TV show. Someone has to be a victim, be a villain, be a good guy, be a witness, be a friend, be a bystander, be a customer. In short, the main cast needs someone else to interact with on occasion just to keep things interesting.

I have a list of my favorite guest stars that I think are worthy of posts of their own. These are my people.

Virginia Gregg

On any given day of the week, it’s entirely possible that I’ll see Virginia Gregg on one of my reruns. Sometimes it seems like she was on every show ever made for about thirty years. Sometimes it seems like I see her every day of the week.

Of course, this isn’t a bad thing.

It’s also not too far off from impossible.

When I played my Me-TV guest star game last fall, the only person that had more guest appearances on the shows of the fall line-up was Vitto Scotti. When I said Virginia Gregg was in everything, I’m not really exaggerating the truth by much.

Of the current Me-TV summer line-up, she’s in 72 episodes of 22 of the shows.

So, yeah, it’s not far-fetched to possibly see her every day in a given week on this one channel.

She was a favorite of Jack Webb’s so she was in Dragnet (both TV incarnations, two movies, AND the radio version), Emergency!, and Adam-12 (13, 8, and 6 episodes, respectively). With Westerns as popular as they were back in the day she did Gunsmoke (didn’t everyone?), Bonanza, Big Valley, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, The Rebel, Daniel Boone, and Rawhide. Detective shows? Try Streets of San Francisco, Mod Squad, Cannon, and The Rockford Files. She was on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Thriller, and The Twilight Zone. Perry Mason and The Fugitive. And lest you think she could only do drama, she was on episodes of Happy Days and Make Room for Daddy.

And those are just shows on ONE station.

You can witness her fabulousness on Mission: Impossible, Ironside, My Three Sons, Charlie’s Angels, Marcus Welby MD, Bold Ones: The Lawyers, Bold Ones: The New Doctors, The Virginian, Maverick, Alias Smith and Jones, and so many more (I just listed shows I watch).

Being on so many shows, she’s played a variety of characters. The easiest way to get a sample of her range is to watch her episodes of Dragnet ’67. She played a cynical journalist, a gypsy grifter, the wife of a wounded veteran police officer, a no-nonsense secretary, the head of a pyramid scheme, a robbed candy store employee, a widow attempting insurance fraud, a gambler’s wife, a business owner not impressed with crime prevention, and a woman trying to get two police officers in trouble, just to name more than a few.

My personal favorite of her appearances, though, was on an episode of Adam-12 in which she bashed her own car because she was mad at her husband for drinking all the time. She wailed on that thing. It was impressive. And fun.

And so is Miss Virginia Gregg.

Be sure to catch her. She’s on any given day of the week.

Rerun Junkie–The Guest Star Game

Star Cluster

I watch a lot of reruns, as you may know. Most of the time, my TV is tuned to Me-TV for my rerun junkie needs. Because I watch that station so much during the day, it’s not unusual for me to see the same guest star faces several times during the day. Some actors got around A LOT and some were kept very busy by television.

As such, I’ve developed my favorite guest stars, faces I’ve love to see pop up on my shows (but that’s another post). And since I’ve gotten so good at recognizing the faces that other people might not notice, it’s led me down the road to other thinky thoughts.

For example, one weekend I was bored off of my rocker and as I was watching my reruns I suddenly wondered who had been in the most shows that were on the current Me-TV fall line-up. My guess was Virginia Gregg because that woman was in EVERYTHING. It’s not uncommon for me to go a couple of weeks in a row and see her pop up somewhere at least once a day.

Then my thought went a little further. How many guest stars would it take to represent the current Me-TV fall line-up?  What’s the fewest number I could come up with?

And so the game was born.

I started off with the guest stars I thought I saw all of the time: Virginia Gregg, J. Pat O’Malley, Dabbs Greer, Kevin Hagen, Vitto Scotti, and went from there, adding and researching new names as I came across them. It turns out that Vitto Scotti was in more of the shows than Virginia Gregg, but the two of them combined covered most of the line-up. After that it was just filling in the blanks.

So far the game stands at 11 as my lowest. Eleven guest stars cover 65 shows.

Some shows are harder than others to find one of my familiar faces on and oddly, some of the shows were surprising in their difficulty.

But the game continues. I’m sure that if I pay attention and keep researching, I’ll be able to get that number down under ten. I’m just sure of it.

And when the schedule changes in the spring, like I”m sure it will, I’ll start the game all over again to account for the change.

Okay, yes, this is a pretty geeky timewaster, I admit that. It’s taking rerun junkie to a new limit.

I’m an overachiever.