Saturday, April 14, 2018

Tim O'Connor Passes On

Tim O'Connor, who starred in the TV shows Peyton Place and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, died on April 5 at the age of 90. The cause was cancer.

Tim O'Connor was born in Chicago on July 3 1927. During World War II he served in the United States Navy. After his service he studied acting at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. In the early Fifties he moved to New York City, where he appeared Off-Broadway in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. He made his film debut in Master Minds in 1949. He made his television debut in an episode of Look Up and Live in 1954 and appeared in an episode of Brenner in 1959. In 1960 he appeared in episodes of such shows as Diagnosis: Unknown and The DuPont Show of the Month.

In the Sixties Mr. O'Connor guest starred on such shows as Way Out, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, General Hospital, Espionage, The Outer Limits, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, The Name of the Game, Daniel Boone, and Dan August. He had a recurring role on The Defenders and starred in the night time soap opera Peyton Place.

In the Seventies Tim O'Connor guest starred on such shows as Mannix, Longstreet, Hawaii Five-O, Gunsmoke, The F.B.I., The Manhunter, Get Christie Love!, The Rockford Files, All in the Family, The Six Milllion Dollar Man, Police Story, Cannon, Maude, Columbo, The Streets of San Francisco, Lou Grant, Police Woman, Wonder Woman, Barnaby Jones, and M*A*S*H. He starred in the first season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He appeared in the films Wild in the Sky (1972), The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972), Across 110th Street (1972), Sssssss (1973), and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979).

In the Eighties Mr. O'Connor had a recurring role on the TV show Dynasty. He guest starred on such shows as M*A*S*H; Vega$; Matt Houston; Knight Rider; The A-Team; Murder, She Wrote; Dallas; and Doogie Howser, M.D. He appeared in the film La cruz de Iberia (1990).  In the Nineties he guest starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation; Walker, Texas Ranger; and The Burning Zone. He appeared in the film The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991). His last appearance was in the movie Dreams Awake (2011).

Tim O'Connor was an extraordinary actor. While he played plenty of military officers and cops in this career, he also played a variety of roles. He played the newspaper man who had previously spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit on Peyton Place. In Sssssss he played a carnival freak show owner. On All in the Family he planned an old flame of Edith. Tim O'Conner could play a variety of roles. What is more, regardless of the material, he always brought a depth to his role. There should be little surprise that he was very much in demand for roles in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Flash Gordon (1980)

(This post is part of "The Outer Space on Film Blogathon" hosted by Moon In Gemini)

Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope) was the smash hit of 1977. Indeed, it would become the highest grossing film of all time, a title it would retain for many years. As might be expected in the wake of such success, several sci-fi films set in outer space would be released in the years following Star Wars. Among the sci-fi films set in space following Star Wars, both serious and otherwise, were Starcrash (1978), Alien (1979), Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), Galaxina (1980), and The Last Starfighter (1984). Even old sci-fi properties would see a revival due to the success of Star Wars, including Star Trek (with Star Trek: The Motion Picture released in 1979) and Buck Rogers (with a movie released theatrically in 1979 followed by a TV series that fall). Alongside Buck Rogers would be another older sci-fi property that would be revived in the wake of Star Wars. The comic strip Flash Gordon was nearly fifty years old when the motion picture Flash Gordon (1980) was released.

Of course, just as Flash Gordon (1980) owed its existence to Star Wars, the original comic strip Flash Gordon owed its existence to another, earlier science fiction property. The comic strip Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. first appeared on January 7 1929. It was distributed by the John F. Dille Co., a newspaper syndicate that would later be known as the National Newspaper Syndicate,  

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. proved to an enormous success, so much so that other newspaper syndicates took notice. Among these was the powerful King Features Syndicate, who decided they wanted their own science fiction comic strip to compete with Buck Rogers. Initially they sought to license Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars novels, but the syndicate could not reach an agreement with the author. King Features Syndicate then turned to one of their staff artists, Alex Raymond, who was currently illustrating the comic strip Secret Agent X-9, and asked him to create a science fiction comic strip. Borrowing the idea of a rouge planet from Philip Wylie's novel When Worlds Collide, Alex Raymond and Don Moore created Flash Gordon. The comic strip first appeared on January 7 1934.

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon proved enormously successful from the beginning, even more so than Buck Rogers. It was quickly adapted to other media. In 1935 a radio show, The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, debuted. This was followed in 1936 by the Universal serial Flash Gordon, starring Buster Crabbe in the title role. The serial proved successful enough to produce two sequels: Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940).  All three serials were also edited and condensed into feature films. The success of Flash Gordon would continue for many years, so that it would be adapted as a television series in 1954. The TV series Flash Gordon was produced in Germany and syndicated to television stations throughout the United States.

The lasting success of Flash Gordon made it inevitable that a big budget feature film would be made based on the comic strip. In fact, some very recognisable names were interested in making such a film. In the early Seventies George Lucas approached King Features Syndicate about obtaining the film rights to Flash Gordon. Unfortunately for Mr. Lucas, King Features Syndicate asked for more money than he could afford. As a result he went ahead and created his own space opera inspired by Flash Gordon and other sources, Star Wars. In more ways than one, then, Star Wars would not exist without Flash Gordon.

As it turned out, King Features Syndicate had another director in mind besides George Lucas for a Flash Gordon movie. Quite simply, they wanted legendary Italian director Federico Fellini. Although he never actually wrote an Italian continuation of Flash Gordon after it was banned in Fascist Italy as often claimed, Mr. Fellini was a huge fan of the comic strip. For whatever reason, Federico Fellini eventually declined making a Flash Gordon movie.

Filmation's Flash Gordon
Of course, while neither George Lucas nor Federico Fellini would direct a Flash Gordon movie, after the success of Star Wars it perhaps became inevitable that someone would. It was in August 1977 that King Features Syndicate announced that they had licensed the live-action film rights to Dino De Laurentiis. At the same time they announced that licensed the animated rights to Filmation in order to produce an animated television movie. With the rights to Flash Gordon secured, Filmation would produce both the 1979 animated series Flash Gordon and the television movie Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of Them All (although made before the Saturday morning cartoon, it would not air until 1982). As to Dino De Laurentiis, he would produce Flash Gordon (1980).

While Mr. De Laurentiis now had the rights to Flash Gordon, in some respects Flash Gordon (1980) would not be an easy film to make. Initially he hired Nicolas Roeg, who had directed Don't Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), to direct Flash Gordon.  Mr. Roeg began work with screenwriter Michael Allin, who had written Enter the Dragon, on the screenplay. Ultimately Dino De Laurentiis was dissatisfied with Nicolas Roeg's vision for Flash Gordon, and as a result the director would leave the project. Dino De Laurentiis offered the chance to direct Flash Gordon to the legendary Sergio Leone, who turned it down because he wanted to do something more faithful to Alex Raymond's original comic strip. Dino De Laurentiis also hired Lorenzo Semple, Jr. to write the screenplay. Best known for the TV series Batman, Mr. Semple had also written the screenplays for Papillon (1973), The Parallax View (1974), and Three Days of the Condor (1975).

Dino De Laurentiis finally found a director in the form of Mike Hodges, who had directed Get Carter (1971) and The Terminal Man (1973). While Mr. De Laurentiis had difficulty finding a director, he also had difficulty finding someone to play Flash Gordon. He offered it to Kurt Russell, who rejected it outright. He also considered a then unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger. As might be expected, it was Mr. Schwarzenegger's accent that cost him the role. According to Liz Smith's February 1 1977 column, William Katt was also being considered for the role of Flash Gordon. Mr. Katt had already appeared in Carrie (1976), First Love (1977),  and Big Wednesday (1978). Eventually he would gain fame as the star of the TV show The Greatest American Hero. The part would finally go to a total unknown. Dino De Laurentiis's mother in law had seen Sam Jones on The Dating Game. His only movie appearance had been in the movie 10 (1979).

The role of Dale Arden, Flash Gordon's love interest, would also present some problems. After several actresses had been auditioned, Canadian model Dayle Haddon was cast in the role. Unfortunately for Miss Haddon, Dino De Laurentiis had second thoughts about her only days before the movie was set to shoot. It was then that Melody Anderson was cast as Dale Arden. Miss Anderson had guest starred on the TV shows Welcome Back, Kotter; Logan's Run; and Battlestar Galactica.

Orenlla Muti and Max Von Sydow as Aura and Ming
Max Von Sydow, who was a friend of Dino De Laurentiis, was cast as Ming the Merciless, Flash Gordon's archenemy. As Flash Gordon's friend and ally, another one of Mr. De Laurentiis's friends was cast, Broadway star Topol. Brian Blessed practically demanded to be cast as Prince Vultan, prince of the Hawkmen. He even went so far as to point out his resemblance to Vultan as drawn by Alex Raymond. Ultimately Mr. Blessed was cast in the role and it has since become one of the most iconic of his career.

Even once principal photography was completed, Flash Gordon was not an easy film to make. For reasons that are now unclear, Sam Jones got into a spat with Dino De Laurentiis and would do no further work on the film. Any dialogue that had to be redubbed was then done by another actor, whose name remains unknown to this day. Of course, this also meant that Sam Jones would not do publicity for the film. As a result, the publicity campaign for Flash Gordon was not quite as big as Universal had intended it to be.

Of course, one of the most famous aspects of Flash Gordon is its musical score. Dino De Laurentiis decided that the film should have a score composed by the rock group Queen. The soundtrack to Flash Gordon sold well, hitting no. 23 on the Billboard album chart and no. 10 on the UK album chart.

Sam Jones as Flash
Flash Gordon was released on December 5 1980. It received largely positive reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film a largely good review, commenting, "Is all of this ridiculous? Of course. Is it fun? Yeah, sort of, it is." Pauline Kael also gave the film largely a positive review, writing, "Flash Gordon is simply out to give you a good time." David Ansen of Newsweek also liked the movie, remarking, "Like the original, Flash Gordon has nothing on its mind but moving its jet-propelled plot from one fairy-tale setting to the next. It's nice to see a movie accomplish exactly what it sets out to do, with wit and spirit to boot." Upon its initial release Flash Gordon did have its share of detractors. The uncredited critic at Variety was not impressed with the film, writing, "The expensive new version of Flash Gordon is a lot more gaudy, and just as dumb, as the original series starring Buster Crabbe." Vincent Canby of The New York Times also gave the film a bad review, writing, "The pacing is so funereal that this Flash Gordon seems far longer and far less funny than the 15-chapter serial Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938)." While Flash Gordon did receive some bad reviews, over all it had a good reception, and it maintains a fairly good reputation to this day. At Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 82%.

While Flash Gordon received several positive reviews, its box office in the United States was less than impressive. Flash Gordon made $27,107,960 in North America (that would be about $81,827,259 today). It did a good deal better in the United Kingdom, as well as in Europe. According to director Mike Hodges, a sequel would have been possible if not for Sam Jones's disagreement with Dino De Laurentiis.

While Flash Gordon received mostly positive reviews, there were fans of Alex Raymond's original comic strip, as well as various sci-fi fans, who disliked the movie's camp approach. Like the TV series Batman before it (which was developed for television by Lorenzo Semple, Jr.), there were those who felt that the movie was poking fun at Flash Gordon. Whether Dino De Laurentiis set out to create a campy movie is unclear today. Director Mike Hodges seemed to think the only way to approach Flash Gordon was camp. In the book Get Carter and Beyond: The Cinema of Mike Hodges by Steven Paul Davies, Mr. Hodges is quoted as saying, "What else are you meant to do but laugh at a comic strip? When Alex Raymond had first created the strip in the 1930s, man was a long way from landing on the moon. But by 1980 we'd been there, done that! It had to be done tongue-in-cheek."

Melody Anderson as Dale
In an interview with Starlog, Lorenzo Semple, Jr. also expressed the idea that Flash Gordon was meant to be a campy film, although he regretted writing it as such. He said, "Dino wanted to make Flash Gordon humorous. At the time, I thought that was a possible way to go, but, in hindsight, I realise it was a terrible mistake. We kept fiddling around with the script, trying to decide whether to be funny or realistic. That was a catastrophic thing to do, with so much money involved... I never thought the character of Flash in the script was particularly good. But there was no pressure to make it any better. Dino had a vision of a comic-strip character treated in a comic style. That was silly, because Flash Gordon was never intended to be funny. The entire film got way out of control."

While Mike Hodges and Lorenzo Semple, Jr. seemed to think Flash Gordon was meant to be done tongue-in-cheek, Melody Anderson has not only said that everyone in the cast played their roles seriously, but Dino De Laurentiis was not happy that people were laughing while watching the film. She said, "When the crew watched the rushes and were laughing hysterically, Dino said, 'Why are you laughing?' And then they discovered they had a comedy, that it was camp."

Brian Blessed as Vultan
Whether Dino De Laurentiis meant for Flash Gordon to be campy is perhaps a moot point. Despite the fans who are critical of the film and Lorenzo Semple, Jr.'s reservations about it in later years, the camp approach works very well for Flash Gordon. Indeed, in many of the reviews upon the film's release, many of the critics appreciated the film's camp approach and regarded it as one of the best things about the film. Certainly the camp approach of the film is much of the reason it would develop a cult following over the years. It is one of director Edgar Wright's favourite films and he has said that it influenced the look of his film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). It is the favourite film of comic book artist Alex Ross, who painted the cover of the film's "Saviour of the Universe Edition" DVD release from 2007. Brian Blessed regards Flash Gordon as one of the high points of his career and Prince Vultan's line, "Gordon's alive?" is perhaps the most quoted line of any character he has played.

While it seems possible that a serious take on Flash Gordon in 1980 could have been successful, it also seems likely that it might not have. Over the years the many tropes of the comic strip had been borrowed and reused so many times by comic strips, comic books, movies, and television shows that they no longer seemed fresh and new the way they did in 1934. Indeed, Star Wars, released only three years before Flash Gordon in 1977, was done seriously and borrowed many of the tropes of the original comic strip. Done seriously, Flash Gordon may have run the serious risk of being compared to Star Wars, a film that utilised many of the themes it had originated.

Besides, like the first season of the TV series Batman, Flash Gordon can be appreciated as an adventure movie was well as camp. There is plenty of action and excitement in the film and, while many of the situations in the film might be humorous, everyone in the cast plays their roles straight. What is more, while its humorous tone might set it apart from the original comic strip, Flash Gordon is loyal to the bare bones of the comic strip. Just as in the comic strip, Dr. Zarkov forces Flash and Dale into his spaceship in order to save Earth from a collision with the rogue planet Mongo. Once there, they run afoul of the planet's ruler, Ming the Merciless. What is more, the movie looks a good deal like the comic strip, with many of the costumes and sets looking as if they came straight out of one of Alex Raymond's panels. Indeed, the production design of Flash Gordon may be the best thing about the film, so much so that looking back it seems amazing that it was not nominated for an Oscar for production design.

While it initially did not do that well at the American box office, Flash Gordon has since become one of the most recognisable and most popular sci-fi films of its era. It has maintained a cult following to this day, so much so that articles are still being published about the film in such sources as Empire magazine and the website Uproxx. While there many always be those who object to its camp approach, one thing seems certain. Flash Gordon will continue to be popular for many years to come.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Soon-Tek Oh Passes On

Korean actor Soon--Tek Oh, who appeared in several films and TV shows, and provided the voice of Fa Zhou in Mulan (1998), died on April 4 2018 at the age of 85.

Soon-Tek Oh was born on June 29 1932 in Mokpo, Japanese Korea (now South Korea). He graduated with a degree in political science from Yonsei University in Seoul. After immigrating to the United States he won a scholarship to the Neighbourhood Playhouse in the United States and also attended the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1965 he founded East West Players in Los Angeles, one of the first Asian American theatre groups in the United States.

Soon-Tek Oh made his television debut in an episode of I Spy in 1965. In the Sixties he guest starred on such shows as Mister Roberts, The Wackiest Ship in the Army, The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, It Takes a Thief, Death Valley Days, and Dan August. He made his film debut in Murderer's Row in 1966. He appeared in a bit part in The President's Analyst in 1967.

In the Seventies Mr. Oh guest starred on such shows as Night Gallery, Ironside, Search, The Magician, Kung Fu, M*A*S*H, Logan's Run, Baa Baa Black Sheep, How the West Was Won, and Hawaii Five-O. He had a brief, recurring role on Charlie's Angels. He appeared in such movies as One More Train to Rob (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Good Guys Wear Black (1974), and The Final Countdown (1980).

In the Eighties Soon-Tek Oh guest starred on such shows as Charlie's Angels, Trapper John M.D., M*A*S*H, Quincy M.E., M*A*SH, The Greatest American Hero, Hart to Hart, Airwolf, Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Magnum P.I., The A-Team, MacGyver, Simon & Simon, Tour of Duty, and Hunter. He appeared in the mini-series East of Eden and Marco Polo. He appeared in such films as Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985), Steele Justice (1987), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), and Collision Course (1989).

In the Nineties Soon-Tek Oh guest starred on such shows as Zorro; Highlander; Murder, She Wrote; Babylon 5; Kung Fu: The Legend Continues; Malcolm & Eddie; and Stargate SG-1. He was a guest voice on such animated shows as The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and King of the Hill. He appeared in such films as A Home of Our Own (1993), Red Sun Rising (1994), S.F.W. (1994), and Beverly Hills Ninja (1997). He provided the voice of Fa Zhou in the animated film Mulan (1998). In the Naughts Mr. Oh guest starred on the TV shows The District and Touched by an Angel. He appeared in the films True Blue (2001), Last Mountain (2005), and Gang-jeok (2006).

Soon-Tek Oh was an extremely talented actor. In the course of his career he played everything from Japanese soldiers during World War II to police detectives to surgeons. He may be most familiar today in the role of Mulan's father, Fa Zhou. Mr. Oh was always convincing in any role he played.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Susan Anspach R.I.P.

Susan Anspach, who appeared in such films as Five Easy Pieces (1970) and Play It Again, Sam (1972), died on April 2 2018 at the age of 75. The cause was heart failure.

Susan Anspach was born on November 23 1943 in New York City. Miss Anspach left home when she was 15 years old later attended  the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.on a full scholarship. Initially majoring in music, she switched to drama in her second year there. She made her professional debut in the play Pullman Car Hiawatha at a summer theatre in Maryland. She made her debut on stage in New York City in an Off Broadway production of A View From the Bridge. She made her television debut in an episode of The Patty Duke Show in 1965. That same year she appeared in an episode of The Defenders.

In the Sixties she appeared on Broadway in And Things That Go Bump in the Night and Lovers. On television she guest starred on The Nurses and Judd for the Defence. She made her film debut in The Landlord and that same year appeared in Five Easy Pieces.

In the Seventies she guest starred on the TV shows Love Story, McMillan & Wife, Rosetti and Ryan, and Visions. She appeared in the films Play It Again, Sam (1972), Blume in Love (1973), The Big Fix (1978), and Running (1979). In the Eighties she was a regular on the TV shows The Yellow Rose and The Slap Maxwell Story. She guest starred on The Hitchhiker; Empty Nest; and Murder, She Wrote. She appeared in the films Montenegro (1981), Misunderstood (1984), Blue Money (1987), Heaven and Earth (1987), Into the Fire (1988), The Rutanga Tapes (1989), Blood Red (1989), and Back to Back (1989). She later appeared in the TV movies Cagney & Lacey: The Return (1994) and Dancing at the Harvest Moon (2002), and the feature films American Primitive (2009) and Inversion (2010).

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Late Great Chuck McCann

Children's show host, puppeteer, voice artist, actor, impressionist, and comedian Chuck McCann died yesterday, April 8, at the age of 83. The cause was congestive heart failure.

Chuck McCann was born on September 2 1934 in Brooklyn, New York to a show business family. His grandfather was a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. His father was big band leader Val McCann. Val McCann arranged music at the Roxy Theatre in New York City and later worked for CBS Radio. He was only 7 years old when a director noticed Chuck McCann while at CBS visiting his father and offered him a job doing voice overs. He worked in radio well into his teens.

Chuck McCann began performing in night clubs around New York City. In the mid-Fifties he got a job at New York City DuMont affiliate WABD-TV. It was there that he met children's show host Sandy Becker. Mr. McCann then helped create Wonderama, the classic New York City children's show that Sandy Becker hosted from 1955 to 1956. It was Sandy Becker who introduced Chuck McCann to puppeteer Paul Ashley, with whom he first worked on the children's show Rootie Kazootie. Over the years Messrs. McCann and Ashley would work together on several shows. Mr. McCann also appeared on the classic children's show Captain Kangaroo, on which he played Sailor Clyde. He first appeared on the show in 1959 for a brief time and would return infrequently to the show from the Sixties to the Eighties. It was also in 1959 that Chuck McCann hosted his first children's show, Puppet Hotel for WNTA in Newark, New Jersey, alongside puppeteer Paul Ashley.

Mr. McCann went onto host Let's Have Fun on Sunday mornings on WPIX in New York City, and later The Chuck McCann Show on WPIX and then The Chuck McCann Show, The Great Bombo's Magic Cartoon Circus Lunchtime Show and Chuck McCann's Laurel & Hardy TV Show on WNEW. Chuck McCann's Laurel & Hardy TV Show aired Hanna-Barbera's "Laurel & Hardy" cartoons, and on the show Chuck McCann would perform his Oliver Hardy impersonation.

Chuck McCann would leave children's programming for other projects after the late Sixties, but he would return in 1980 when he made two pilots with Paul Ashley: Tiny TV and LBS Children's Theatre.  In 1989 he hosted Chuck McCann's Funstuff on KCAL.

Chuck McCann also had a long career as a voice artist. In 1962 he originated the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, the animated mascot for General Mills' breakfast cereal Cocoa Puffs. On the 1966 animated TV series Cool McCool he provided the voices of Number One, The Owl, and Harry McCool. Over the years he would provide voices for a number of animated television series, including such television cartoons as The New Shmoo, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, Space Stars, Ri¢hie Ri¢h, Pac-Man, The Get Along Gang, Galtar and the Golden Lance, Toxic Crusaders, Where's Waldo, and The Garfield Show. He was the voices of Mummy Man on Drak Pack, Leatherneck on G.I. Joe, Duckworth and Burger Beagle on DuckTales, Dumptruck and Gibbler on TaleSpin, The Thing on the 1995 cartoon Fantastic Four, Blizzard on the 1994 cartoon Iron Man, and Bossman, Skinny, and other voices on The Powerpuff Girls.

Chuck McCann acted in live-action shows as well, and appeared frequently on television in the Seventies and Eighties. He appeared on The Steve Allen Show and Hobby Lobby in 1959. He would have been one of the regulars on the ill-fated show Turn On if more than one episode had aired. It aired only once, on February 5 1969, before ABC cancelled it. In the Seventies he starred on the live-action Saturday morning show Far Out Space Nuts opposite Bob Denver. Centred on a pair of NASA workers who are accidentally launched into space, the show as co-created by Chuck McCann. He guest starred on such shows as Bonanza, Temperatures Rising, The Bob Newhart Show, Columbo, Kojak, Little House on the Prairie, Police Woman, Starsky and Hutch, Switch, The Rockford Files, and Fantasy Island. In the Eighties Mr. McCann appeared several Christmas seasons on the soap opera Santa Barbara in the role of Kris Kringle. He guest starred on such shows as  CHiPs, The Greatest American Hero, One Day at a Time, The Love Boat, St. Elsewhere, Matt Houston, Tales from the Darkside, Cagney & Lacey, 227, and Knot's Landing. In the Nineties he guest starred on such shows as On the Air, Empty Nest, Dream On, Sliders, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Mad About You. In the Naughts Mr. McCann had a recurring role on Boston Legal. In 2017 he guest starred on the comedy/talk show Friend or Foe. Throughout his career Chuck McCann appeared on several talk shows, game shows, and variety shows, including I've Got a Secret, Tonight Starring Jack Paar, The Jimmy Dean Show, The Garry Moore Show, Happy Days, The Dick Cavett Show, The David Frost Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Mike Douglas Show.

In addition to providing the voice for Sonny the Cuckoo Bird for many years, Chuck McCann also appeared in several commercials. In the Sixties he appeared in commercials for Maxwell House coffee. In the Seventies he appeared in several commercials for Standard Oil doing his Oliver Hardy impersonation with Jim MacGeorge as Stan Laurel. He also appeared with Mr. MacGeorge as Stan Laurel in commercials for Arby's and Tony's Pizza. From the Seventies into the Eighties Mr. McCann appeared in commercials for Right Guard as a neighbour who shared a medicine cabinet with another fellow (played by Bill Fiore). Mr. McCann's character would greet him with a boisterous, "Hi, guy!" and then go onto talk about how good Right Guard was.

Chuck McCann also had a career in movies. He made his film debut in the drama The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in 1968. In 1971 he had the lead role in the comedy The Projectionist. In the Seventies he appeared in such films as Jennifer on My Mind (1971), Play It as IT Lays (1972), Herbie Rides Again (1974), Linda Lovelace for President (1975), Silent Movie (1976), Survival (1976), Foul Play (1978), They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978), C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979), and Up Yours (1979). In the Eighties he appeared in the films Lunch Wagon (1981), The Comeback Trail (1982), The Rosebud Beach Hotel (1984),  Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986), Thrashin' (1986), Cameron's Closet (1988), That's Adequate (1989), and Guns (1990). He was the voice of  Duckworth in the animated film DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990). From the Nineties to the Teens he appeared in the films Ladybugs (1992), Storyville (1992), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), They Call Him Sasquatch (2003), Night Club (2011), and Horrorween (2011).

Of course, Chuck McCann was famous for his Oliver Hardy impersonation. Given how well he impersonated Mr. Hardy, it should come as no surprise that he had a personal connection to the legendary comedian. When he was 12 years old, living in Queens in New York City, he tried locating Stan Laurel. He eventually contacted Mr. Laurel on the phone and the two talked for hours. It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until Stan Laurel died in 1965. Mr. McCann first played Oliver Hardy in the Fifties. He would do so opposite Tom Poston, Dick Van Dyke, and Jim MacGeorge as Stan Laurel. He not only played Oliver Hardy in various commercials, but along with Jim MacGeorge in tributes to Laurel and Hardy on stage. Chuck McCann. actor Orson Bean, cartoonist Al Kilgore, and author John McCabe were among the five founding members of the Sons of the Desert, a fraternal organisation dedicated to Laurel and Hardy that would eventually span the globe.

Chuck McCann also participated in various comedy records. He was one of the voices on The First Family, the legendary record album parodying the Kennedys. He also recorded another album parodying the Kennedys, Sing Along with Jack. In 1965 he recorded the children's album Yogi Bear And His Friends--Wake Up America!, on which he voiced a number of the Hanna-Barbera character of the time (he was the only voice actor on the record). 

The word versatile is used of many performers, but it was particularly applicable to Chuck McCann. His talents extended to so many different arts. He could act. He could do impressions. He was a comedian who could tailor his material for children, adults, or both. He had a knack for creating memorable characters, including the number of puppets on his children's show. As a voice artist he was incredible. Over the years he voiced a number of memorable characters, each with his own unique voice, from Sonny the Cuckoo Bird to Number One on Cool McCool to Scrooge McDuck's butler Duckworth on DuckTales to The Thing on Fantastic Four. Chuck McCann should really be counted among the all time great voice artists, alongside Bea Benaderet, Mel Blanc, Stan Freberg, and June Foray.

Of course, Chuck McCann was not great as a voice artist simply because of his very adaptable voice, but also because he was a very good actor. He gave an incredible performance as the deaf mute Spiros Antonapoulos in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a role that would have been difficult for an experienced dramatic actor. He gave a touching performance in The Projectionist as the lonely movie projectionist who projects himself into films. He was one of the best parts about the comedic Bonanza episode "The Younger Brothers' Younger Brother". Over the years he appeared in a number of memorable roles on television and in film. Even when he was on the screen only briefly, he made an impression.

If Chuck McCann was so loved by his fans, it was not simply because he was an enormous talent. From those who knew him well to those who only met him once, everyone has the same thing to say about Chuck McCann: he was one of the nicest guys one could ever meet. From all reports Chuck McCann was a warm, wonderful, funny man who enjoyed interacting with his fans, whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or in person. It should be little wonder so many are mourning him so much.