Same actor / Same Series...Different Roles

Alright first the question than the explanation. “Has any TV series besides Three’s Company used the same actor repeatedly in different roles as they did with Jeffrey Tambor?”

(told you it needed an explanation)

I read this on, the other day and decided to post it here. On Three’s Company, Jeffrey Tambor makes several (many?) appearances in various guest roles but always as a different character.

I remember watching the series as a kid (as did most of you all whether you’re going to admit it or not) and always thought: “Gee… Not THAT guy again??!”

So, the question what series regularly used the same actor with various, changing roles as TC did with JT?

And now just a few qualifiers.

I am not talking about using one of the lead actors and throwing make-up on him/her and having that actor play a dual role strictly as a one time shot. The Brady Bunch did this as did Gilligan’s Island with varying degrees of incredulity…hmmm… go figure.

Nor is this the same as the multiple roles played by Martin Lawrence on his self-named and overall decent sitcom.

So, how 'bout it?

Here is my probably futile attempt to be the first to mention that Mark Lenard played a Vulcan and a Romulan on the original Star Trek series and a Klingon in the first movie.

On Gilmore Girls, the guy who plays Kirk showed up first as a DSL installer and then as a swan deliverer, before settling in as the assistant manager at the grocery store. He may have been meant to be the same character, but nobody ever mentions DSL or swans…

On ST:TOS, Diana Muldaur played the blind doctor in Return to Tomorrow, and Dr. Miranda Jones in Is there in truth no beauty.

The Star Trek franchise in general has had a long history of re-using actors and actresses, particularly since all they have to do to make them look different is throw more latex at them. Jeffrey Combs played a Vorta and a Ferengi in DS9, and now plays an Andorian in Enterprise.

on the X files, the guy who played Krycheck played a different character for one episode before he became krycheck.

Law & Order has done this every once in a while. It isn’t uncommon for bit actors to recur in bit parts. But at least two of the main cast first appeared on the show in a bit part.

Jerry Orbach first appeared on the show as a defendant’s lawyer. S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Van Buren) first appeared as the mother of a shot kid or something like that.

Dennis Franz played “Dirty Sal” Benedetto in early “Hill Street Blues” episodes, then came back later to play Norman Buntz on the show.

Sheryl Lee played Laura Palmer in “Twin Peaks,” and (because it was a nonspeaking part :slight_smile: ) returned as Maddie Ferguson.

Harry Morgan had a guest shot as a nutty army colonel before being cast as Colonel Potter.

Not a tv series, but in all Bond flicks up through You Only Live Twice, most female spoken parts (except for Moneypenny) were dubbed by the same uncredited English actress.

Also, if you examine actress’s careers during the 70’s and 80’s, there were a lot of women who would play three or four parts per season in shows like Ironsides and Adam 12, so there were a great many walk-on repeats.

On MAS*H, Harry Morgan played a deranged General who tries to court martial a helicopter pilot. A few years later he was cast as Col. Potter, replacing McLean Stevenson.

I could be wrong, but I think Allen Melvin played more than one role on All In The Family. He was usually one of Archie’s drinking buddies, but I seem to remember him playing a cop once. In any case he played several roles on The Andy Griffith Show: An army recruiter, a man illegally selling produce on the roadside, an escaped convict, and probably several more that I haven’t seen. Does it count if someone plays a different character in a spin-off? Allen Melvin also played a Marine sergaent on Gomer Pyle.

This is a bit of a stretch, but in a Wayne’s World sketch on SNL, Ed O’Neil plays a drivers ed teacher, and then in the movies he’s running the donut shop.

As I coincidentally just posted in a related thread, in the first pilot for the original series, Majel Barrett (Roddenberry) played the exec officer adressed as Number One. She then took a demotion to appear as Nurse Chapel during the series’ main run. In addition, she apparently provided the voice of the Enterprise computer.

Oh, yeah, and reaching way, way back to the old Jack Benny TV show, both Frank Nelson (“Yeeeeesssss?”) and Mel Blanc played numerous characters in different episodes, though this may not fit the criteria specified by the OP.

The “blind doctor” in ITITNB was Miranda Jones. In RtT Muldaur played Dr. Ann Mulhall. Of course she also played the inestimable Dr Pulaski in ST: TNG.

Wow, I’d completely forgotten the “Yeeesssssss?” guy on Jack Benny’s show. He turned up pretty often. Jack Benny would go into a store, any kind of store and always, this same guy would be working there. He’d say “Yeeesssssss?”, and there’d immediately be a big laugh.

There was a 1/2 hour cop show that often used the same actor several times in different bit parts. Barney Miller. Doris somebody (who later played Mildred in Remington Steele) often showed up to file a complaint vs. someone, or to report a missing husband or whatever. I think she was re-used the most frequently, but I think there were others.

In the early 70’s James Garner starred in a series called “Nickels”, in which he played the reluctant sheriff of a small Western town (this was a few years after the movies “Support Your Local Sherrif/Support Your Local Gunfighter”). At the end of the first year, his character was killed in a gunfight, and Garner returned to the series as the brother of the slain sheriff. The series also had Margot Kidder and Stuart Margolin.

George O Petrie played a different guy in almost every episode of *The Honeymooners[/]. He was also the Ewing family lawyer, Harv Smithfield, on Dallas.

The actor who played Sam the Butcher on the Brady Bunch (don’t know his name) played several different roles on the old Andy Griffith Show. Usually he was the heavy, but he played a law enforcement agent in one episode.

Majel Barrett Rodenberry also played Deanna Troi’s mother in several episodes of Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. (And she was of course eventually the real-life wife of Gene Roddenberry.)

In preview … I can see I’ve been beaten to the punch, but “The Andy Griffith Show” was really into reusing actors. In fact, the already-mentioned Allan Melvin appeared (according to the IMDb) as no fewer than eight different characters on that show. There are several examples of that kind of “re-casting” on Griffith’s show.

“The Dick Van Dyke Show” did this as well … to the point where it actually seems they had a small ensemble of actors on which they would call. Allan Melvin also portrayed at least three different characters on that show (if you go by names, even more than that – but that’s because the writers couldn’t be bothered to remember what the name of Rob’s old army buddy was – Sal, Sam, or Sol, or Pomerantz or Pomeroy).

Law & Order does this more than “every once in a while”. They do it soooo much that there is an entire website devoted to tracking an actor’s multiple appearances on L&O. It’s called Law & Order: Repeat Offenders File

I found the name I was looking for. On “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, Frank Adamo played SEVENTEEN different characters – most of them one-liners. I seem to recall from a Nick-At-Nite promo that he was Van Dyke’s stand-in, so he was readily available, and thus, used often.

I Love Lucy utilized a very small cast of guest stars. I remember that guy with the black mustache playing several different roles.

The girl who played cousin Ellie for one episode on Married with Children turned up later as cousin Jimmy’s bride. Considering the tendencies of the Wanker side of the family, it wouldn’t have been at all surprising had she been the same character, but she wasn’t.