Way back in the 60s, Jerry Van Dyke had a reputation for showing up on very bad & very short lived sitcoms. In fact, I remember that a Mad Magazine spoof of TV Guide would include him in the cast of every insipid show they could imagine. I guess Jerry broke the curse when he landed on Coach, but I wonder who has inherited his mantle over the years.
I used to call actress Mary Page Keller “Kiss of Death Keller” because if she was in a show it was going to go off the air or the ratings were going to tank. She was brought on as a regular for a while on Life Goes On- a hit show- as Patti Lupone’s sister- it tanked until she was thrown overboard. She had several very shortlived shows (most notably a TV version of Look Who’s Talking with Scott Baio as the Travolta character and Tony Danza as the baby voice) and Camp Wilder which is mainly known for introducing Jay Mohr and a newly sexy Jerry O’Connell (previously known for the fat kid in Stand By Me and a tween idol in My Secret Identity) and several pilots that never got picked up.
Geena Davis is an Oscar winner for Accidental Tourist but she can’t keep a show afloat for a season to save her life. She’s played in sitcoms, she’s been the president of the US in an hour long, but I don’t believe she’s ever done anything on TV that survived infancy.
Of all people George Clooney was actually in this crowd for a while. He had several failed pilots, was brought on as hunk window dressing to Facts of Life but couldn’t save it (it was already circling the drain when he appeared), and was even in a sitcom called ER that tanked after a season before he made it big in 60 minute drama ER.
Ted McGinley was dubbed the patron saint of shark-jumping by jumptheshark.com back before it jumped the shark itself.
ETA Beaten again.
Alison La Placa
Jason Alexander post-Seinfeld. It seems like he’s been in a bunch of failed sitcoms over the past couple of years. The worst one was where he played a sportswriter/doting father.
Dabney Colemanhas had a brilliant career in movies playing assholes and a disastrous career when he tries to bring that character to TV.
Patty Duke – after her teenage years – could kill any sitcom she came near, despite being a first-class dramatic actress.
But I have to agree with Revtim. Allison LaPlaca is the Devil. In fact, she actually was brought into a show (Duet) that starred Mary Page Keller. After LaPlaca stamped it to death, her character was spun off into a new show (Open House) and it died.
The ex Seinfeld stars?
Jason Alexander has been mentioned, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss has a successful series (and a leading actress Emmy). Jerry Seinfeld hasn’t been beating down doors looking for work. Michael Richards has exactly one failed series to his credit.
Brought in? LaPlaca was in the cast from the very first episode of Duet. Blame the format of the IMDB: it makes it very hard to list the regular cast of obscure shows because you have to add the cast member to each individual show that ran and leads to absurdities where the front page lists one-shot guest stars but none of the regular cast.
Also, Mary Page Keller was in Open House, though LaPlaca was the star.
Summer Glau - certainly has the kiss of death around her. Every show she’s starred in has been critically acclaimed and ratings poor. Starting with Firefly and then Sarah Connor Chronicles. She recently joined Dollhouse just in time to watch it circle the porcelain bowl a few times.
Nothing against the talented Jason Alexander, but he was SUCH a loathesome little sack of shit in his role on Seinfeld that I do not believe he CAN be in another show. He was, and will forevermore be George Costanza. Besides - well, just look at him! No, Jason Alexander should just do broadway if he wants to keep acting.
Well Jason Alexander IS a pretty big Broadway name.
McLean Stevenson (post-MAS*H)?
Andy Richter, Page Brewster, Rob Schneider
Oh I don’t know. Andy has been doing well with Conan again. And Paget Brewster has been on the hit show Criminal Minds for many years now and going strong. Rob Schneider, AFAIK, has never even tried series TV. I also don’t agree with prior assessments of Jason Alexander and Michael Richards. Both of those guys have only been in one failed series since leaving Seinfeld. Ditto for Julia Louis-Dreyfus until her current hit. To be in the class of a Ted McGinley you need to be a second banana in a lot of series that go down the tubes. Kelsey Grammer was never a second banana, but he has been in one dud after another since Frasier ended. His latest, Hank, was dreadful and was one of first shows cancelled this fall.
Ted McGinley was even successful for a long time as Jefferson D’Arcy on Married With Children. 164 episodes over eight seasons. Most sitcom stars are with one series for approximately half that.