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Ted Bessell

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Occupation  actor
Nationality  American
Role  television actor
Name  Ted Bessell
Years active  1962–1996

Smiling Ted Bessell in black and white

Full Name  Howard Weston Bessell, Jr.
Born  March 20, 1935 (1935-03-20) Flushing, New York, U.S.
Died  October 6, 1996, Los Angeles, California, United States
Spouse  Linnell S. Nobori (m. 1982–1996), Janeen A. Dara (m. 1963–1967)
Children  Mary Bessell, Sarah Bessell
Movies and TV shows  That Girl, Gomer Pyle - USMC, Me and the Chimp, It's a Man's World, Don't Drink the Water
Similar People  Marlo Thomas, Lew Parker, Rosemary DeCamp, Bill Persky, Danny Thomas

Ted bessell song

Ted Bessell (born Howard Weston Bessell, Jr.; March 20, 1935 – October 6, 1996) was an American television actor and director. He is best known for his role as Donald Hollinger, the boyfriend and eventual fiancé of Marlo Thomas's character in the TV series That Girl (1966–71).


Ted Bessell as Donald and Marlo Thomas as Ann-Marie from the TV series "That Girl".

Ted Bessell Tribute

Early career

Ted Bessell and Marlo Thomas standing together and wearing formal attire

Born in Flushing, New York, to Howard Weston "Buster" Bessell (1904–1958) and his wife, Jo (1915–2004), Ted Bessell grew up in Manhasset, Nassau County, Long Island. He was originally gearing up for a career as a classical musician. As a 12-year-old child prodigy, he performed a piano recital at Carnegie Hall. Bessell played lacrosse in high school with future football star and actor Jim Brown.

The main cast of the TV series "That Girl", Ted Bessell and Marlo Thomas

After attending Georgetown University and the University of Colorado, Bessell decided to focus on acting. He studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse, studied dance and dramatic movement with Martha Graham and Louis Horst, was a member of a professional acting class under Meisner, and worked with Wynn Handman in another professional acting group. He worked at ABC New York as a page (or usher) to supplement his income in the late 1950s.

He appeared on such talk shows as Who Do You Trust? with Johnny Carson and The Dick Clark Show, a Saturday-night variety show featuring rock 'n roll stars. He directed and acted in stock where he appeared in a wide spectrum of theatre works ranging from Shakespeare to Jule Styne. He then was cast in the off-Broadway production of The Power of Darkness, which led to further off-Broadway work with the Blackfriars Guild. He co-produced (with his brother, writer-director Frank Bessell) Joe Orton's Crimes of Passion, directed by Michael Kahn.

Bessell first went to Los Angeles in the West Coast production of Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel, for which he received great critical notices. Following that, he had small roles in The Outsider and Lover Come Back.

In 1962, he played 27-year-old college student Tom-Tom DeWitt on the short-lived television series It's a Man's World. In 1965, he appeared in an episode of 12 O'Clock High. In 1966, he was regularly featured on Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. as Private Francis Lombardi.

Bessell appeared in such feature films as McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force, and Don't Drink the Water. He appeared in the TV film Your Money Or Your Wife, which won the Peabody Award for Best Mystery of the Year.

That Girl (1966–1971) and other roles

Bessell's best-known TV role was as Donald Hollinger, Marlo Thomas's boyfriend and fiancé on the hit series That Girl, which ran for five seasons from 1966–71. (In the pilot, he was Donald Blue Sky, who had a trace of American Indian ancestry. In addition to being the boyfriend, he was also her agent).

When That Girl ended its run, he tried his hand at another sitcom, Me and the Chimp, created by Garry K. Marshall, which had a short, unsuccessful run in 1972. In 1974, Bessell carried the lead role in the television film Bobby Parker and Company.

It was not until 1975 that Bessell would appear in another sitcom, as Joe Warner, the boyfriend of Mary Richards, for two episodes on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In the 1980s, he appeared in several other television movies, including Breaking Up Is Hard to Do and The Acorn People. He also played regular roles on a pair of short-lived sitcoms, Good Time Harry and, in his last major role, Hail to the Chief, as the husband of Patty Duke's character, the fictional first female President of the United States.

Later career and death

Bessell moved into directing, helming episodes of The Tracey Ullman Show and Sibs. In 1989, he shared an Emmy as a producer on Fox Broadcasting's The Tracey Ullman Show, which was honored as best variety or comedy program.

Bessell died on October 6, 1996, due to an aortic aneurysm. He was survived by his wife, Linnell Nobori Bessell, and two daughters, Sarah and Mary, as well as his mother, and his brother, Frank. He is interred in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, California.


1986 Comedy Factory (TV Series)
Max Harrison
- The Arena (1986)
1985 Hail to the Chief (TV Series)
Gen. Oliver Mansfield
- Episode #1.7 (1985)
- Episode #1.6 (1985)
- Episode #1.5 (1985)
- Episode #1.4 (1985)
- Episode #1.3 (1985)
- Episode #1.2 (1985)
- Pilot (1985)
1981 The Acorn People (TV Movie)
Jesse Hooten
1980 Good Time Harry (TV Series)
Harry Jenkins
- Ben Younger (1980)
- Harry Kisses Death on the Mouth (1980)
- Play It Again, Stan (1980)
- The Wally Smith Story (1980)
- Audrey Simpson (1980)
- Harry: Part 2 (1980)
- Harry: Part 1 (1980)
1979 Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (TV Movie)
Pete McCann
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show (TV Series)
Joe Warner
- One Boyfriend Too Many (1975)
- Mary Richards Falls in Love (1975)
1974 Bobby Parker and Company (TV Movie)
Bobby Parker
1973 What Are Best Friends For? (TV Movie)
Paul Nesbitt
1973 Scream, Pretty Peggy (TV Movie)
Jeffrey Elliot
1973 The Ted Bessell Show (TV Movie)
1972 Your Money or Your Wife (TV Movie)
Dan Cramer
1972 Me and the Chimp (TV Series)
Mike Reynolds
1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. (TV Series)
Dr. Hal Powers
- Echo from Another World (1971)
1971 Two on a Bench (TV Movie)
Preston Albright
1971 The New Dick Van Dyke Show (TV Series)
Skip Holloway
- The Tennis Pro (1971) ... Skip Holloway
1965 That Girl (1965-1971 TV Series)
Donald Hollinger / Dr. Rex Kennedy / Don Blue Sky
1969 Love, American Style (TV Series)
Roger Bowen (segment "Love and the Roommate")
- Love and the Burglar/Love and the Roommate/Love and the Wild Party (1969) ... Roger Bowen (segment "Love and the Roommate")
1969 Don't Drink the Water
Axel Magee
1967 Off to See the Wizard (TV Series)
Gypsy Prince
- Gypsy Colt (1967)
1965 Gomer Pyle: USMC (1965-1966 TV Series)
Frankie / Jim Purcell
1965 12 O'Clock High (TV Series)
Corporal Smith
- Then Came the Mighty Hunter (1965)
1965 Billie
Bob Matthews
1965 McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force
Lt. Wilbur Harkness
1965 Karen (TV Series)
Willie Loggins
- Big Bad Jim (1965)
- Substitute Father (1965)
1965 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV Series)
Elliott Setlin
- Thou Still Unravished Bride
1963 The Bill Dana Show (1963-1965 TV Series)
Charlie / Peter
- Beauty and the Bellhop
- Honeymoon Suite (1963)
1964 The Tycoon (TV Series)
McCracken / George
- Toys in the Pentagon (1964)
- The Top Ten (1964)
1964 Ben Casey (TV Series)
Albert Brian
- August Is the Month Before Christmas
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth (TV Series)
Loring Wagner
- You're All Right, Ivy (1964)
1964 The Great Adventure (TV Series)
- Rodger Young
1963 Captain Newman, M.D.
Carrozzo - Patient (uncredited)
1963 The Lieutenant (TV Series)
Jim Douglas
- Alert! (1963)
1962 It's a Man's World (1962-1963 TV Series)
Thomas A. 'Tom-Tom' DeWitt
1962 Checkmate (TV Series)
The Assistant Director
- The Star System (1962)
1961 The Outsider
Kid (uncredited)
1961 Lover Come Back
Elevator Operator (uncredited)
1955 The Man Behind the Badge (TV Series)
- The Case of the Reluctant Thief


Ted Bessell Wikipedia