Last month I talked about typecasting, and discussed six actors who were typecast for one role. However, all six managed to rise above that and either have decent careers anyway (even if it was basically playing the same role over and over), or at least remain in the public eye by doing public appearances like conventions or appearing in reunion movies, or some find work in other fields (the way Henry Winkler became a director when he couldn’t escape from The Fonz).
But sadly, some actors do not get this luxury and the typecasting hurts their careers so much that they do crappy work to get for a paycheck, and even disappear from the public eye.Â Here are some examples of actors who were typecast so bad that it didn’t just hurt their careers, it all but ended them.
Bull Shannon was a very popular character on Night Court. A big brute who was dimwitted but extremely likable. When Night Court went off the air, Moll had little parts here and there and these days does lots of voice over work especially in video games. But I don’t think anyone could see him as anything but Bull.
The ironic thing is that Seinfeld did an episode where Kramer was typecast. Long story, but it would turn out to be very prophetic. Kramer was such a fun and quirky character, it seemed inevitable that he would be typecast. Richards tried to break through with a god awful spy series that came on after Seinfeld ended. He had everything to do with that show, and it was still beyond terrible. He never really recovered And then of course there was that rant that was caught on tape, which is a subject for another discussion. His appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm was good, but of course it’s because he was playing Kramer yet again. What about Jason Alexander? Yeah playing George did hurt his career (or it was those god awful KFC ads he did for awhile) but I think he’s doing OK now.
This kid had everything going for him. Not only was he Steve Urkel on Family Matters, but he was also the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog. Steve was such a outspoken and well known character, it makes sense no one could see White as anything else. They tried to show he was more on Family Matters (what hat Stephan Urquel nonsense), but no one bought it. These days he does web series and appeared on Dancing with the Stars (where all good typecasted actors end up I think). Here’s another example :Of course this kind of typecasting is especially hard on kids, Jaleel White is just one of many kid actors who struggled to find work after the role they were famous for vanished
Of course being typecast was hardly his only problem. From health problems to legal problems, this guy couldn’t get a break. But I think one of the problems he had was that fact that everyone saw him as Arnold Jackson from Diff’rent Strokes. And while he was cute and funny on that series, I imagine he could do more. But no he could never really find work and it seemed like when I did see him on TV it was a guest spot where he was the character (or a facsimile thereof). As I said he had other troubles and of course he has sadly passed away but I always felt bad that he could never leave that character behind.
To be fair, the guy was a bit of an ego. He’s talented but I think he thinks he’s much more talented than he really is. After playing Balki for years on Perfect Strangers, Pinchot tried other roles but they never really took. He does have the distinction of being in one of the absolute worst TV shows ever made called Trouble with Larry. These days he has written a novel and works in audio book. He also had a home restoration show on DIY network.
Unlike Harrison Ford, who did very well after Star Wars, Mark Hamill really struggled. It seemed that people could only see him as Luke Skywalker. He didn’t really do much for years, until he started acting against type. Who knew he could play psychotic killers so well? He was The Trickster in the 1990 Flash series and I think his performance there really impressed people. But it wasn’t until he got into voice acting in cartoons and video games that things got a little better. And yes, he was the voice of The Joker in the Batman Animated Series. I could never get this guys voice down in my head, and it was Hamill who finally gave him a voice that worked. You may think Carrie Fisher should be on here but honestly I think she had other problems besides simple typecasting.
No women are not exempt. For instance, whatever happened to Lynda Carter? She will always be Wonder Woman I guess. She has appeared in things like TV movies and guest shots on sitcoms, but has never been able to remove herself from the shadow of Wonder Woman. Everytime she appeared on The Bob Hope specials that was all they seemed to talk about, as if that was all she ever did! But she does do other things this day she is a gay rights activist and songwriter. I think she appreciates being connected to such an icon, but you can’t deny it hurt her career. By the way speaking of women I saw Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie on other lists like this. Not sure if it counts but I guess it is fair that to say when people think Barbara Eden they think Jeannie first. Thought I think she has done OK and maybe belongs on my previous list more than this one.
Most of these stories ended happily in some way, the celebrities found other careers even if it took them out of the public eye. But for some, typecasting is much harsher. And I don’t think is a better or more tragic example than George Reeves. He plays the original Superman in the classic TV series. When the series ended, he found it almost impossible to find other roles. He was an amazing actor, seriously check it out! But no one could see him as anything but The Man of Steel. This depressed him and could have resulted in his tragic death, which is another story for another day since it is a long one and in many ways still an unsolved mystery
So did I miss any you think should have been mentioned? Comment and let me know
And hey, wait a second. According to my count, my next blog is #500. Wow! I guess I should do something big, but what……