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  #1  
Old 02-08-2009, 08:39 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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What actor has played the same character ON SCREEN for the longest period of time?

Preferably not counting soap operas since there are a few actors who've played the same characters for 50 years or so, though they're mainly cameos these days.

On TV, Kelsey Grammer played Frasier Crane continually for 20 years on CHEERS and FRASIER, and a few of his CHEERS co-horts who made guest appearances on FRASIER did so almost as long. Bebe "Lilith" Neuwirth made the most appearances as her CHEERS character after CHEERS was cancelled, with George "Norm" Wendt, John "Cliff" Ratzenberger, Rhea "Carla" Perlman, and a couple of lesser regulars appearing in character late in the series (which means technically they played their characters for 20 years) with earlier guest appearances by Woody Harrelson, Shelley "Diane" Long, and Ted "Sam Malone" Danson). Does anybody match this in prime time?

In movies, Sean Connery played James Bond in 1962 and again in 1983 (with Bond films starring himself, Roger Moore, George Lazenby and David Niven in between). Has anybody played lead as a film character for more than 20 years?
David Llewellyn played Q for more than 30 years- is that a record?


I can think of several people who played a stage character for more than 30 years (Hal Holbrook has played Mark Twain for 50+ years, far longer than Sam Clemens did, while Yul Brynner played the King for about 30 years and Sarah Bernhardt went 40 or more with several characters [including the teenaged Joan of Arc]). Screen though is nowhere near as forgiving of age lines.
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  #2  
Old 02-08-2009, 08:56 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Previous thread on the subject. James Arness holds the record for TV actors in the US, I believe. Another thread, which picks Arness in the US. Somewhat related, Gunsmoke is one of the few shows to have original episodes in 5 different decades.
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  #3  
Old 02-08-2009, 09:22 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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David Jason played Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses from 1981 until 2003 but from 1991 it was only in christmas specials.
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  #4  
Old 02-08-2009, 09:30 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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William Shatner played James T. Kirk on TV and in movies from 1966 to 1994 (Star Trek: Generations). If you count video game voiceovers, his last performance as Kirk was in 2006.
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  #5  
Old 02-08-2009, 09:41 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner have been doing their 2000 Year Old Man routine since 1961, including a lot of TV appearances over the years. They haven't released a new routine since 2000, but even so, that's 39 years.

Jackie Gleason created the character of Ralph Kramden for a sketch in 1951. The Honeymooners ran as sketches, as a prime time series, variety shows and finally ending as a series of specials in 1978.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet debuted on radio in 1944 and moved to TV in 1954. That show ran until 1966 and another version with Ozzie and Harriet ran in 1973-1974.

Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll first played Amos and Andy on radio in 1928, While a TV version used different actors, Gosden and Correll continued to play the parts on radio until 1960.
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  #6  
Old 02-08-2009, 10:01 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Larry Fine and Moe Howard played the same characters starting in vaudeville days, going into movies in 1933 and lasting until 1970, so that 37 years in films alone.

Jack Benny played the same character starting in radio in 1932, then transitioning to TV and continuing in his own show until 1965 -- 33 years.
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  #7  
Old 02-08-2009, 10:48 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Originally Posted by spoke- View Post
William Shatner played James T. Kirk on TV and in movies from 1966 to 1994 (Star Trek: Generations). If you count video game voiceovers, his last performance as Kirk was in 2006.

Oh yeah, and come to think of it, Leonard Nimoy will be playing Mr. Spock in the upcoming Star Trek movie, and he played the character in the 1965 Star Trek pilot The Cage, so his time in that role spans 1965 to 2009 (44 years).
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  #8  
Old 02-08-2009, 11:01 PM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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Bill Roache has played Ken Barlow in British soap Coronation St for 49 years. Given that it's been on several days a week he's probably had the most airtime as a single character by far. According to Wikipedia
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Ken has been a teacher, a newspaper editor, a community activist and a trolley-pusher at a supermarket, before returning to teaching and writing. He has been married four times, widowed twice, and divorced once, and has had 27 girlfriends
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  #9  
Old 02-08-2009, 11:10 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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Originally Posted by Springtime for Spacers View Post
Bill Roache has played Ken Barlow in British soap Coronation St for 49 years. Given that it's been on several days a week he's probably had the most airtime as a single character by far. According to Wikipedia
It has to be a soap opera in the U.S. Susan Lucci has been playing the same character on All My Children for just over 39 years without a break.
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  #10  
Old 02-08-2009, 11:11 PM
Lantern Lantern is offline
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In movies, Sean Connery played James Bond in 1962 and again in 1983 (with Bond films starring himself, Roger Moore, George Lazenby and David Niven in between). Has anybody played lead as a film character for more than 20 years?
Paul Newman played Fast Eddie Felson in the Hustler in 1961 and then again in the Color of Money in 1986.
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  #11  
Old 02-08-2009, 11:33 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Originally Posted by hajario View Post
It has to be a soap opera in the U.S. Susan Lucci has been playing the same character on All My Children for just over 39 years without a break.
If we DO include soap operas, Helen Wagner played Nancy Hughes in the premiere episode of As The World Turns in 1956 and still appears occasionally as that character today. So that would be 53 years.
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2009, 11:47 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Ken has been a teacher, a newspaper editor, a community activist and a trolley-pusher at a supermarket, before returning to teaching and writing. He has been married four times, widowed twice, and divorced once, and has had 27 girlfriends
Sure, but that was a sweeps week.
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  #13  
Old 02-09-2009, 06:38 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Outside soapies: Horst Tappert played Inspector Derrick for 25 years continuously.
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  #14  
Old 02-09-2009, 07:18 AM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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Originally Posted by hajario View Post
It has to be a soap opera in the U.S. Susan Lucci has been playing the same character on All My Children for just over 39 years without a break.
Do soaps take a summer hiatus, or do they just write around an actor if she wants to take a vacation? (seems a hell of a long time with no time off)
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  #15  
Old 02-09-2009, 07:25 AM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
Do soaps take a summer hiatus, or do they just write around an actor if she wants to take a vacation? (seems a hell of a long time with no time off)
They write around them. Soaps are never on hiatus. However, most of the time there is no "star" who has to be onscreen every day. The casts tend to be ensembles, and the writers can write for whatever characters they want, so if an actor wants to take a vacation, the writers can just focus on other characters' storylines for a while. The vacationing actor can also film scenes prior to going on vacation that will air during the vacation week(s).

Writers will also sometimes send the character on vacation, and have them interact with the cast "back home" via phone calls (and usually the vacationing actor will have prerecorded his/her end of the calls, since s/he's not actually in the shot with anyone else). This has been done for actor pregnancies that weren't written into the storyline, too.
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  #16  
Old 02-09-2009, 10:18 AM
RiverRunner RiverRunner is offline
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Hmmm, I came in to mention Peter Falk and Columbo, but I think he's beaten out by some of the others mentioned.
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  #17  
Old 02-09-2009, 10:51 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Frances Reid has played Alice Horton since 1965.
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  #18  
Old 02-09-2009, 10:55 AM
Jack Batty Jack Batty is offline
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Dan Castellaneta has voiced Homer Simpson (and others) since '87 (on The Tracey Ullman Show), so that's 22 years.

I'm sure there are others in the Simpsons franchise that have been there that long too ... maybe Yeardley Smith?

Last edited by Jack Batty; 02-09-2009 at 10:56 AM..
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  #19  
Old 02-09-2009, 11:02 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Originally Posted by Jack Batty View Post
Dan Castellaneta has voiced Homer Simpson (and others) since '87 (on The Tracey Ullman Show), so that's 22 years.

I'm sure there are others in the Simpsons franchise that have been there that long too ... maybe Yeardley Smith?
Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart, and later Nelson and Ralph.
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  #20  
Old 02-09-2009, 11:13 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Elisha Cook played Wilmer in Casablanca (1941) and [B[The Black Bird[/b] (1975) -- 34 years.

Lee Patrick did the same.
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  #21  
Old 02-09-2009, 11:39 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Mel Blanc was Daffy Duck for 52 years.
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  #22  
Old 02-09-2009, 11:52 AM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is online now
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Originally Posted by RiverRunner View Post
Hmmm, I came in to mention Peter Falk and Columbo, but I think he's beaten out by some of the others mentioned.
Not by much, tho. He played Columbo from 1971 to 2003, so that's 32 years.
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  #23  
Old 02-09-2009, 11:56 AM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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Chris Noth was Det. Mike Logan in 1990 when Law & Order started, and he's now playing Logan on L&O: CI.
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  #24  
Old 02-09-2009, 12:03 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Chris Noth was Det. Mike Logan in 1990 when Law & Order started, and he's now playing Logan on L&O: CI.
Not for much longer though. It's been announced that he's being replaced by Jeff Goldblum from the next season.

Last edited by aldiboronti; 02-09-2009 at 12:04 PM..
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  #25  
Old 02-09-2009, 12:06 PM
ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
In movies, Sean Connery played James Bond in 1962 and again in 1983 (with Bond films starring himself, Roger Moore, George Lazenby and David Niven in between). Has anybody played lead as a film character for more than 20 years?
Quote:
Originally Posted by lantern
Paul Newman played Fast Eddie Felson in the Hustler in 1961 and then again in the Color of Money in 1986.
Anthony Perkins ties Newman's time span. He played Norman Bates in Psycho (1961), Psycho II (1983), and Psycho III (1986). If you include the made-for-cable Psycho IV:The Beginning (1990), Perkins spans 29 years as a lead character.
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  #26  
Old 02-09-2009, 12:38 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Originally Posted by Jack Batty View Post
Dan Castellaneta has voiced Homer Simpson (and others) since '87 (on The Tracey Ullman Show), so that's 22 years.

I'm sure there are others in the Simpsons franchise that have been there that long too ... maybe Yeardley Smith?
Julie Kavner also. I got into watching the old Tracey Ullman show just for the two minutes of Simpson cartoons. For those of you too young to remember or didn't watch the Tracey Ullman Show was a sketch comedy show in the early days of the Fox Network. The Simpsons were only on for about a minute before the middle commercial break and a minute after. Castellaneta and Kavner were very active members of the cast. They got the leads on the Simpsons basically because they were already on the payroll. I don't remember if Yeardley Smith and Nancy Carwright ever had live actions roles on the show in addition to their brief Simpsons work.
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  #27  
Old 02-09-2009, 12:46 PM
h.sapiens h.sapiens is offline
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Originally Posted by aldiboronti View Post
Not for much longer though. It's been announced that he's being replaced by Jeff Goldblum from the next season.
Dann Florek has been playing Captain Cragen for as long as Chris Noth played Logan, and is still playing him on L&O: SVU.
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  #28  
Old 02-09-2009, 12:59 PM
Sitnam Sitnam is offline
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George Clooney has played himself in every movie and TV show throughout his entire career.

Perhaps that's not what you meant though.
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  #29  
Old 02-09-2009, 01:16 PM
CrazyCatLady CrazyCatLady is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
In movies, Sean Connery played James Bond in 1962 and again in 1983 (with Bond films starring himself, Roger Moore, George Lazenby and David Niven in between). Has anybody played lead as a film character for more than 20 years?
Harrison Ford has been Indiana Jones since 1981, with the most recent movie coming out just last year. So he's been the same lead film character for 27 years. The first Rocky movie came out in 1976, and there was one in 2006, so Sly Stallone has been the same lead character for 30 years. Rambo has been almost as long-lived a role, with the first movie in 1982 and the last one just this past year.
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  #30  
Old 02-09-2009, 01:25 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Just for laughs, consider Alan Hale. He first played Little John in Robin Hood (1922), again in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and in his final film Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950), all under three different "Robins", giving him 28 years.
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  #31  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:13 PM
longhair75 longhair75 is offline
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George Clooney has played himself in every movie and TV show throughout his entire career.

Perhaps that's not what you meant though.
So did John Wayne.
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  #32  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:32 PM
bup bup is offline
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If commercials count, then Andy Griffith and Ron(ny) Howard both played Andy and Opie Taylor beginning in 1960 (including the Make Room for Daddy episode that introduced the characters), and again last year in an ad for Obama, a span of 48 years.
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  #33  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:33 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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If commercials count, then Andy Griffith and Ron(ny) Howard both played Andy and Opie Taylor beginning in 1960 (including the Make Room for Daddy episode that introduced the characters), and again last year in an ad for Obama, a span of 48 years.
Is that ad on YouTube? I totally missed that!
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  #34  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:36 PM
teela brown teela brown is online now
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Wow, those are lengthy relationships with the same character.

I came in to vote for Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994), but I see that he was a mere amateur compared to some of these folks.
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  #35  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:39 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Kevin McCarthy played Dr. Miles J. Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers back in 1956, essentially reprised the character in a really short piece in the 1979 remake, and showed up as him again in a cameo in 2003's Looney Tunes: Back in Action. That's a span of 47 years.


Raymond Burr played Steve Martin (I kid you not) in the added scenes for the Americanized Godzilla in 1956 and reprised the part in 1984 in the Americanized Godzilla 1985, a span of 28 years.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-09-2009 at 02:40 PM..
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  #36  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:42 PM
bup bup is offline
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Is that [Obama] ad on YouTube? I totally missed that!
I can't get to youtube at work, but if you google 'Andy Taylor Obama' you get a couple hundred thousand hits.
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  #37  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:43 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Of course, Burr also played Perry Mason from 1957 to his death in 1993. 38 years isn't too bad.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-09-2009 at 02:44 PM..
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  #38  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:43 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Raymond Burr played Steve Martin (I kid you not) in the added scenes for the Americanized Godzilla in 1956 and reprised the part in 1984 in the Americanized Godzilla 1985, a span of 28 years.
Cause Raymond Burr is a wild and crazy guy
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  #39  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:51 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Hey -- Disney Voice Actors have long careers.


Bill Thompson voiced J. Audubon Woodlore from 1954 to 2002 -- 48 years.

Clarence Naish did Donald Duck from 1934 to 1983 -- 49 years.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-09-2009 at 02:51 PM..
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  #40  
Old 02-09-2009, 02:52 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Cause Raymond Burr is a wild and crazy guy
I'm imagining Ironside with an arrow through his head, playing the banjo and making obscene balloon animals.
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  #41  
Old 02-09-2009, 05:11 PM
Paige Turner Paige Turner is offline
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I'm imagining Ironside with an arrow through his head, playing the banjo and making obscene balloon animals.
You just made my brain explode. That was not A Nice Thing To Do.

*goes back to giggling helplessly*
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  #42  
Old 02-09-2009, 08:29 PM
Sublight Sublight is offline
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Kiyoshi Atsumi played the lead character Tora-san on TV and in all 48 of the Otoko wa Tsurai yo series of films. It started in 1968 as a 1-year TV series and then moved to film starting in 1969 and ending with Atsumi's death in 1996. Had he not died, the series would very likely have kept right on going.

At one point, according to Wiki, this a Guiness record for longest movie series.
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  #43  
Old 02-09-2009, 08:38 PM
Sublight Sublight is offline
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Also, Midori Kato has been the voice of Sazae-san in the weekly prime-time cartoon of the same name ever since it first aired. The show was celebrating its 20th season back when The Simpsons made their debut, and is still going.
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  #44  
Old 02-09-2009, 08:51 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Bernard Fox played Dr. Bombay in the TV series Bewitched starting in 1966 (and years later on Tabitha), and played him on the soap opera Passions until 2000. That's 34 years.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-09-2009 at 08:51 PM..
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  #45  
Old 02-09-2009, 09:01 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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William Daniels played John Quincy Adams on the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1952, then played him again on The Adams Chronicles in 1976, 24 years apart.


He also played John Adams in 1776 in 1972 (after playing him onstage since 1970) and again in The Rebels in 1979, as well as the TV special The American Revolution in 1994. That's 22 years apart, but it's a case of one actor playing two members of the same family in two different productions each.

Add that he played Sam Adams in The Bastard in 1978, and he pretty much has the Adams family sewn up by himself. Except that everyone now thinks of Paul Giamatti as John Adams on accounta the HBO series.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-09-2009 at 09:02 PM..
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  #46  
Old 02-09-2009, 09:04 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Douglas Rain played HAL 9000 in 2001 (1968) and 2010 (1984), 16 years apart.


I did that just so I could stick all those dates close together.
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  #47  
Old 02-09-2009, 09:11 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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John Carradine played Dracula onstage from the 1930s on for many years. But in the movies, he only played him from 1944 ( House of Dracula) to 1979 (Nocturna). 35 years on film, although he played the role much, much longer than that.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-09-2009 at 09:11 PM..
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  #48  
Old 02-09-2009, 09:42 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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The OP meantions Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. He first did the role in 1957, aklthough the off-Broadway production opened in 1959. He performed the role most recently this very month, so he's been doing it for 52 years. The only on-film case of it I can find is the 1967 version, although I could have sworn they broadcast it at least one other time. I can't believe they simply rebroadcast a 1967 tape when I saw it -- but I can't find any record of another film or tape on the internet. (He appeared in the PBS biography of Twain, but not AS Twain.)


http://www.thegrand.com/HalHolbrook1.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Holbrook
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  #49  
Old 02-09-2009, 10:19 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Y'know, I kind of hope Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy qualify for the OP someday. I want to see where their characters from Before Sunrise / Before Sunset wind up 30 years on.

(Anyone know if Linklater has plans to revisit these characters down the road?)
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  #50  
Old 02-09-2009, 10:35 PM
Race Harley Race Harley is offline
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George Clooney has played himself in every movie and TV show throughout his entire career.

Perhaps that's not what you meant though.
So did Elvis.
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