1980s TV Stars Who Are in Need of a Comeback

By Zach Oat
|  Saturday, Aug 22, 2009  |  Updated 11:15 AM PDT
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1980s TV Stars Who Are in Need of a Comeback

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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10: Actor Alan Thicke guest stars as Rich Ginger on "The Bold And The Beautiful" during taping on August 10, 2006 at CBS Studios in Los Angeles, California.

Shelley Long's joining Modern Family, Ted Danson creeps us out on Damages (and is also in Bored to Death) and Michael J. Fox is on Rescue Me. It's like the '80s are invading our TVs! But even as the invasion is going on, some of our favorite soldiers are missing in action -- where are these '80s TV favorites, all of whom have had spotty appearances since their heyday? Here's a list of '80s stars who are ripe for a comeback.

Alan Thicke
Back in the Day:
He played Dr. Jason Seaver, the stay-at-home psychiatrist father of the Seaver clan on Growing Pains.
Current Whereabouts: While Thicke has been working steadily, his latest gig, on the Canadian geek comedy jPod, was recently canceled. Let's get this fine Canadian actor back in America, where he belongs?
Dream Role: We'd love to see Thicke come on board at 30 Rock as a new corporate rival for Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy. Maybe he could be the Canadian head of microwaves and television?

Angela Lansbury
Back in the Day:
She played crime-solving crime novelist Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote.
Current Whereabouts: Although she hasn't been on TV since appearing in a Law & Order two-parter in 2005, even at age 83, Lansbury keeps busy, recently winning a Tony award for her role in the Broadway play Blithe Spirit.
Dream Role: Since the Nathan Fillion series Castle fills the need for a new, younger version of Murder, She Wrote, and Susan Sullivan already plays Fillion's mother, why not cast Lansbury as his grandmother? Jessica always did have a big family...

Arsenio Hall
Back in the Day:
From 1989 to 1994, he was the host of his own talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show.
Current Whereabouts: Still doing a lot of voice acting. He hasn't had much facetime since Martial Law, his martial-arts cop drama with Sammo Hung, was canceled. He popped up on Jay Leno's Tonight Show occasionally, and he even had a run on Hollywood Squares. If that's not a cry for help, we don't know what is.
Dream Role: The man hosted Star Search and the pilot episode of Deal or No Deal -- somebody create a new game show that he can emcee!

Kim Fields
Back in the Day:
She was Tootie on The Facts of Life, and Regine on Living Single.
Current Whereabouts: Despite a series of guest appearances on various shows, Fields' unaired, autobiographical pilot The Comeback was not the self-fulfilling prophecy she probably hoped it would be.
Dream Role: Nurse Jackie needs more nurses, and Jackie needs a nemesis besides herself -- get Fields in there and have her cuss up a storm.

Mr. T
Back in the Day:
When people think of Mr. T, they usually picture him as B.A. Baracus, one of the four members of the injustice-fighting A-Team.
Current Whereabouts: T does more commercials than actual shows nowadays, including commercials for World of Warcraft and the FlavorWave Turbo Oven. George Foreman, watch your back.
Dream Role: Considering how Mr. T has been a TV vigilante, a cartoon character and a comic book hero, making him a super-strong good guy on Heroes would be instantly believable, and pretty damn cool.

Pam Dawber
Back in the Day:
On Mork & Mindy, she was the Mindy to Robin Williams's wacky alien Mork, and she followed it up by playing Sam on My Sister Sam.
Current Whereabouts: Dawber hasn't acted in a decade, but is a spokeswoman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Dream Role: She's been married to Mark Harmon for 20 years, and Harmon's NCIS is apparently a pretty popular show. A nice, long stint on that series as a Naval Criminal Investigator (or whatever they call themselves) should help put her back in the public spotlight, don't you think?

Richard Grieco
Back in the Day:
Grieco came to his fame as Officer Dennis Booker on 21 Jump Street, and even got his own spin-off after only one season on the show. Sadly, Booker only lasted a season itself.
Current Whereabouts: After appearing on Veronica Mars as Steve Botando, Grieco signed up for a season of Gone Country and attempted to become a country singer.
Dream Role: Grieco's looking a little ragged these days, but we can use that -- let's bring him back as a Hunter -- or better yet, a vampire -- on Supernatural.

Soleil Moon Frye
Back in the Day:
You know her, you loved her and you learned to avoid abandoned refrigerators from her. She was... Punky Brewster .
Current Whereabouts: Frye is all grown up now, and played Roxie King on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and voiced Zoey on the Proud Family.
Dream Role: Since she's a looker and a mother of two -- and we're just throwing this out there -- maybe she could be the long-awaited mother who apparently takes Ted's architecture class on How I Met Your Mother?

Valerie Harper
Back in the Day:
Although her heyday was in the 1970s, with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the spin-off Rhoda, younger fans remember her as Valerie Hogan on Valerie, which became The Hogan Family after she left.
Current Whereabouts: Lately, it's been mostly TV guest spots, the most recent one on 'Til Death.
Dream Role: We don't know where Peter Bishop's mom is on Fringe, but Harper is the right age to play her. Even if she's dead in this world, maybe Olivia can bring her back from the same alternate reality Peter came from?

Delta Burke
Back in the Day:
She played Southern belle Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women, who has one of the top ten fictional character names ever.
Current Whereabouts: Aside from a few episodes of Boston Legal, Touched by an Angel and Popular, Burke has been appearing mainly in low-budget films and Hallmark TV-movies.
Dream Role: Man, it would be great to get her drawl on True Blood. She can do whatever she wants, as long as she brings the accent.

John Ratzenberger and George Wendt
Back in the Day:
For eleven seasons, the characters of Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson occupied the same two seats in a Boston bar called Cheers.
Current Whereabouts: Ratzenberger recently appeared on Dancing With the Stars, and of course voices a character in every Pixar film. Wendt mainly appears in independent films.
Dream Role: We'd love to see one or both men show up on Chuck, playing either a four-star general or the world-threatening villain of the season. Or both! Pit them against each other!

Emmanuel Lewis
Back in the Day:
Playing the adopted son of a former football player on Webster, Lewis was the most adorable kid on television for six seasons.
Current Whereabouts: Aside from appearing on The Surreal Life, and making a few cameos as himself, Webster has been largely absent from the world of acting since a guest spot on Moesha in 1998.
Dream Role: Give Lewis a recurring role on The Office, and watch Michael Scott explode while trying not to say anything about his height.

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