From 1984 to 1992, the sitcom Night Court was one of the biggest hits in NBC’s history, with its witty cast and the funky theme song composed by Jack Elliott. The show, which was produced by Barney Miller writer Reinhold Weege, was nominated for 31 Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards during its run. How much do you remember about the show and the actors who made it so great?
When Comedy Meets The Courtroom
The show surrounds the nightly activities inside Manhattan’s Criminal Court, which is led by the newly appointed judge Harold T. “Harry” Stone. Even with the show moving from network to network throughout the years, it still had a strong fan base that helped the show last for an incredible 193 episodes.
Night Court received recognition for its technical direction and editing, lighting, sound, and mixing. But the main thing that made the show great was its cast. Read on to find out where they are now.
Falling for Ellen Foley
In the second season, actress/singer Ellen Foley was cast as Harry Stone’s love interest Billie Young. She was removed from the show because the producers felt that her on-screen relationship with Harry Anderson was more of a brother and sister type.
In 2015, she appeared in the film No Pay, Nudity and the documentary Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell. She’s also appeared on Broadway and has four solo musical albums and some collaborations with the rock singer Meat Loaf.
Markie Post Had Recurring Roles
From 1985 to 1992, Markie Post portrayed the role of public defender Christine Sullivan on Night Court. The character was beautiful and fiercely independent but had a prudish attitude.
After the show ended, she landed a co-starring role on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. More recently, she lent her voice to the Transformers Prime cartoon, and she held recurring roles on Rack and Ruin and Chicago P.D. Sadly, Post passed away on August 7, 2021, after a long battle with cancer.
John Larroquette’s Humble Request
John Larroquette’s role of prosecutor Daniel R. “Dan” Fielding earned him four straight Emmy wins (1985-1988) in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. In 1989, he asked for his work to not be submitted for another Emmy nomination.
After the show, the Louisiana native would create The John Larroquette Show and make critically acclaimed appearances on The Practice and Boston Legal. Recently, he had a recurring role on the TNT series The Librarians.
Richard Moll Becomes A Villain
Voice actor Richard Moll’s portrayal of Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon was beloved by Night Court fans around the world. His deep voice really resonated with audiences and he continues to use this talent in his acting career.
Since leaving the show, the California native became the voice behind comic book characters on Batman: The Animated Series (Two-Face), Spider-Man (Scorpion), and Justice League (Java). Recently, he has made appearances on Anger Management, Cold Case, and Kirby Buckets.
Marsha Warfield Is A Twitter Jokester
Actress and comedian Marsha Warfield’s best-known role was the tough as nails bailiff Roz Russell from seasons 4 through 9 on Night Court. After the show ended, she landed the role of Dr. Maxine Douglas on the sitcom Empty Nest.
She has also appeared on Family Ties, Clueless, Riptide, Cheers, Living Single, Moesha, and more. Warfield’s last on-screen role was on an episode of Veronica’s Closet back in 1999. She still performs stand-up comedy and delivers jokes over Twitter.
Charles Robinson Won The NAACP Image Award
Charles Robinson’s biggest role in his career was playing Vietnam War veteran Macintosh “Mac” Robinson on the hit show.
After Night Court ended, he landed the role of Abe Johnson on the CBS sitcom Love & War. Later, the Texan made appearances on Grey’s Anatomy, Mom, 30 Rock, and Key and Peele. He was a recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. Robinson passed away in July of 2021, at the age of 75. The cause of death was reported as “cardiac arrest and cancer.”
Terry Kiser Will Spend The Weekend With You
Terry Kiser portrayed the role of tabloid reporter Al Craven in the first two seasons. After leaving the show, he gained his most memorable role of Bernie Lomax in the popular films Weekend at Bernie’s and its sequel, Weekend at Bernie’s II.
In 2013, he opened an acting school with his partner Joy Leigh in Austin, Texas called The Actors Arena. He was recently seen on The Accidental President, Bail Out, and Johnny Dynamo.
Denice Is Mrs. Robinson
Starting from season two, Denice Kumagai had a recurring role on Night Court as Mac’s wife Quon Le Duc Robinson. Her character was Vietnamese, and Mac had served in Vietnam during the war.
Prior to the show, she appeared on M*A*S*H. After Night Court ended, she was seen on Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, Veronica’s Closet, and Living Single. Her last onscreen role was Aunt June on Gilmore Girls.
John Astin Is An Addams
Oscar-nominated actor/director John Astin, who is best known for the role of Gomez Addams on The Addams Family, portrayed the role of Harry’s biological father Buddy Ryan. After leaving the show, Astin revived his role of Gomez Addams for The Addams Family animated series.
In 2015, he landed the role of Professor Peabody in the film Starship II: Rendezvous with Ramses. Fun fact: Astin was married to the iconic actress Patty Duke from 1972–1985.
Brent Plays Hillbilly Bob
Brent Spiner had the recurring role of hillbilly Bob Wheeler on the hit series. After leaving the show, he gained the biggest role of his career as Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the films Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Insurrection.
Recently, he landed the role of Sidney on the Cinemax series Outcast. Spiner is also a musician and he recorded an album of 1940s pop songs in 1991.
Yakov Smirnoff Is Everyone’s Favorite Russian
Comedian Yakov Smirnoff portrayed the role of Russian immigrant Yakov Korolenko. After his stint on the show, Smirnoff, who is credited for Russian reversal jokes, continued to perform stand-up all over the country. His catchphrase is “And I thought, ‘What a country!'”
He has been referenced on several shows, including Futurama, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. Recently, he released a PBS special titled Yakov Smirnoff’s Happily Ever Laughter: The Neuroscience of Romantic Relationships.
Remember Joleen Lutz As Lisette?
In the final two seasons of Night Court, Joleen Lutz played ditzy court stenographer Lisette Hocheiser. She appeared in 45 episodes over the final two seasons of the series.
After the show ended, she made small appearances on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, City Guys, and Living Single. Recently, she was seen on Pushing Daisies, Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint, and Desperate Housewives. Fun fact: she was once a Chicago Bulls cheerleader.
Gilbert Gottfried’s Voice Was Heard
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is famous for his loud and shrill voice. In the final season of Night Court, he portrayed the role of attorney Oscar Brown.
After the show, Gottfried gained what would become his most well-known roles as Iago from the Aladdin franchise. He also had roles as Digit from Cyberchase, Kraang Subprime from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and voiced the Aflac duck. Currently, he hosts Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, which he’s done since 2014.
You Could Find Ms. Stanley On Stage
Florence Stanley brought her My Two Dads character Judge Margaret W. Wilbur onto Night Court to help fill in for Harry. The Illinois native is also known for her roles as Grandma Ethyl Phillips on the hit ABC series Dinosaurs, Dr. Amanda Riskin on the NBC sitcom Nurses, and Wilhelmina Packard in the Disney films Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Atlantis: Milo’s Return.
On October 3, 2003, Stanley died from a stroke. She was 79.
What Happened To The Gruff County Clerk?
If you tuned into Night Court during Season 1, you likely remember the Gruff County Clerk. Played by Canadian-American actress Selma Diamond, you may have noticed her in a variety of other appearances such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, Bang the Drum Slowly, All of Me, and The Twilight Zone.
It’s also rumored that she inspired the Sally Rogers character on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Sadly, Diamond sadly wouldn’t appear in any additional seasons of Night Court…
Selma Diamon Died of Lung Cancer In 1985
Selma Diamon was a longtime chain smoker, and while filming Season 1 of Night Court she was diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer. Her symptoms worsened rapidly and at age 64, Diamond died in Los Angeles. She is buried in Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.
Following her death, actress Florence Halop replaced Diamond as bailiff Florence Kleiner. Sadly, Halop also died of lung cancer, just one year after Halop.
“Mimi” Kennedy played the character Patty Douglas in Season 2 of Night Court. The character was an heiress and also mentioned to be the fiancé of the character Dan Fielding for a time. Mimi later became better known to audiences for her role on the 1990s show Dharma and Greg, where she played the character of Dharma’s mother Abby O’Neil.
Mimi is still acting today and has appeared in tons of TV shows including Criminal Minds, Veep and Scandal. She currently has a recurring role on the show Mom, playing the character Marjorie.
The famous jazz vocalist Mel Torme, whose voice was called “The Velvet Fog,” made eight guest appearances on Night Court. He appeared as himself on the show and also acted in other shows and films.
Mel wrote many songs over his life, some of which are now classics like “Jeepers Creepers” and “The Christmas Song.” His music is still constantly used throughout television shows and films despite the legend having passed away in 1999 at the age of seventy-three.
“Bumper” Robinson appeared throughout Seasons 2 and 3 of Night Court where he played the role of Leon, an orphaned shoeshine boy. Bumper started as a child actor and appeared as a baby on shows like The Jeffersons and Hill Street Blues. He has appeared in numerous television shows over the years as both an on-screen voice actor. One of his most famous voice acting roles was Dwight Conrad from Futurama.
Probably his most popular acting role, though, was Clarence on the sitcom Amen. Most recently, he has worked as the voice of Falcon in the animated version of Avengers Assemble.
Estelle Harris is most famous today for her role as Estelle Costanza on Seinfeld. She appeared in Season 3 and 4 of Night Court as the character named “Easy Mary.” As the character name implies, Easy Mary was a nightwalker.
Estelle is still acting and is now in her 90s. Her most recent voice acting role is as the character Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 4. She also played Muriel on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
Daniel Frishman broke boundaries for little people after he appeared as District Attorney Vincent Daniels on Night Court. His character first appeared in a Season 3 episode called “Dan’s Boss.” Daniel first got his start acting on the stage before transferring into film in the movie Under the Rainbow as the Mayor of Munchkinland.
He also appeared in multiple Shakespearean plays over the years. He has since retired from acting and now works as a real estate agent.
Michael J. Fox
Marty McFly himself, or Michael J. Fox, also appeared on Night Court in Season 1 which aired in 1984. Michael played a teenage delinquent named Eddie Simms. At the time, Michael was best known for his role as Alex Keaton on Family Ties.
He later became a huge star thanks to playing Marty McFly in the Back to the Future films and also from his 1990s sitcom Spin City. Michael was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991. He now has dedicated much of his life to advocating and helping to find a cure for the disease.
Cathy McAuley appeared as two different characters in four episodes of Night Court. She played a character named Daphe and then a character named Wanda Flinn, who was a dating agency clerk who later married Bull.
Cathy appeared in numerous TV shows over the years including Murder She Wrote, and Dharma and Greg. Cathy has since transitioned to a playwright and also founded The Sparc Foundation, which aims to mentor high-risk youth through acting and performing.
Joey Aresco appeared in Season 1 of Night Court as the character Ronald McKenzie. Joey appeared in many roles on TV over the years including with his Night Court co-star John Larroquette. The two starred together in the TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep in the 1970s.
Joey has continued acting over the years and his most recent role was in the 2015 series The Flash. He was also in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stargate SG-1.
Stanley Brock started acting in the 1960s and appeared in numerous TV programs before his role on Night Court. On Night Court he appeared as numerous characters throughout various seasons of the show.
Stanley was also in other well-known shows over the years like Baretta, The Bionic Woman, Welcome Back Kotter, Cagney and Lacey and much more. He passed away in 1991 at the relatively young age of fifty-nine, due to a sudden heart attack.
M*A*S*H: Amazing Facts From The Hugely Popular TV Show
MASH was a beloved series that ran for 11 seasons on CBS. Based on Roger Altman’s film about the Korean War – and thinly veiled critique of the Vietnam War – the television show would go on to break viewership records and win numerous awards during its historic run. It still has quite a large fan base today.
But you probably know all about that. What you might not realize is the fascinating history of the show during and after its broadcast run. From behind-the-scenes creative frustrations to life after MASH, here are some really interesting facts about the show that generations of Americans have come to love.
Radar Is Now A Wildlife Painter
Gary Burghoff, the actor behind the Radar O’Reilly character in both the MASH film and TV show, is now a self-taught wildlife painter.
Burghoff took his childhood love of animals and lifelong commitment to wildlife as a basis for his art. “I’m hoping to make the viewer see the beauty and soul of the animal,” he told The New York Times in 2004.
Star Alan Alda Is A Veteran Who Served In Korea
Alan Alda played Captain Hawkeye Pierce in a fictionalized account of the Korean War, but he also served in Korea post-war as part of the Army Reserve. Alda joined up after his graduation from Fordham University in New York and served as a gunnery officer.
Jamie Farr, who portrayed Corporal Klinger, also served in the U.S. Army and acted in training films.
Corporal Klinger Was Originally A One-Off Character
Speaking of Farr’s Corporal Klinger, the character was originally supposed to be “an effeminate gay” appearing in an early episode (“Chief Surgeon Who?”) as a cross-dresser. Instead, the writers decided to change Klinger to a heterosexual soldier who wore dresses in a bid to be kicked out of Korea on a psychological discharge.
He proved to be a hit and stuck around. His plots would persist throughout the series, including frequent get-rich-quick schemes as well as his cross-dressing.
Real Baseball Players’ Names Were Used For Characters
Writer Ken Levine said that in Seasons 6 and 7, the 4077th included several patients named after California-based ballplayers. Those included the Angels infield in Season 6 and the 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers team (the entire roster and even the owner Walter O’Malley, and legendary announcer Vin Scully).
Levine also used names of his former girlfriends (“Patty Haven” and “Linda Nugent”) for the objects of Radar’s affection.
The Finale’s ‘Most-Watched’ Record Hasn’t Been Beaten By Another Series
The series finale on Monday, February 28, 1983, was watched by about 106 million people, over three-quarters of the United States’ television watching population, that night. It’s a record that still has not been beaten by a non-Super Bowl telecast.
The show ran for eleven seasons on CBS, and was followed by a short-lived spin-off series called AfterMASH. The original was consistently in TV’s top 20 most-watched programs for the majority of its run after a shaky first season. “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” the finale, ran for two-and-a-half hours.
…And Again In 1980
MASH star Alan Alda told the Chicago Tribune’s Gene Siskel in 1979 that the show might not make it past the conclusion of its eighth season in 1980. “It depends on whether we think we can think up more stories,” he said.
“By the end of next year, we will have done 200 stories. If we develop a staff that feels like it has the energy to go on, then maybe we’ll decide to go on. We don’t want to run it into the ground. A couple of times lately, we’ve felt as though we were repeating ourselves, and we don’t want to do that.”
The Cast May Not Have Liked Gary Burghoff
There was apparently no love lost when Radar actor Gary Burghoff left the series in 1979. TV columnist Mike Drew wrote in 1983 that, “No castmates cried much over the departure of Burghoff.” The actor personally wrote to Drew, saying “While there may not have been tears shed by my cast members over my leaving the show, they did know – and still do – of my contribution.”
The other cast members rebutted the accusation, which also appeared in TV Guide, in a telegram that closed by saying “When Gary left the show, he left in friendship and with our warm wishes for a happy and successful life.”
Col. Potter Was Charged With Battery In 1997
Not the character who commended the 4077th for the last eight seasons, but the actor who played him. Harry Morgan, who found a second career in television movies after MASHended, was charged with misdemeanor spousal battery in July 1997.
He went into counseling for six months and the charges were dropped. Morgan passed away in 2011 at the age of 96.
William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) Is An Autism Advocate
The actor who portrayed the 4077th’s chaplain, Father Mulcahy, is an advocate for those with autism.
William Christopher’s son, Ned, is autistic and the elder Christopher works with the National Autistic Society to bring greater awareness through public service announcements. Along with his wife Barbara, Christopher wrote a book in the 1980s about their son Ned, titled Mixed Blessings.
Alan Alda Directed The Series Finale
Alan Alda directed the series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” and also had a writing credit on the episode. He had a hand in writing 13 episodes altogether and directed 30 before the record-breaking finale.
Thanks to his multitasking, Alda won Emmy Awards for acting, directing and writing during his time on MASH. That was the first time someone had done so much on the same series.
CBS Rejected One Episode As ‘Unpatriotic’
The network rejected one episode during MASH’s long run: a story about the soldiers standing outside in a bid to get sick and sent home to the States.
“Such an anti-military event was deemed too unpatriotic for mass audiences,” wrote author James Wittebols in Watching MASH, Watching America, in a perfect example of the tensions creators faced between telling a story about the realities of war but needing to cater to commercial realities of television at the same time.
Wayne Rogers Never Signed A Contract
The star who played Trapper John for the first three seasons made a notorious break with the show after becoming “Alan Alda’s second banana.” He had originally expected a fairly equal role to Alda’s Hawkeye, as in the film version, but over time that changed.
When he decided to leave the show, the producers sued him for breach-of-contract. But it turned out that he had never signed his contract in the first place and there was actually nothing to breach.
The Pilot Took Only Two Days To Write
Show creator and producer Larry Gelbart penned the pilot episode in just two days in November 1971, for $25,000. At the time, he was living in London, disillusioned with the Hollywood scene.
But he jumped at the chance to adapt Robert Altman’s MASH film into a television sitcom and actually found it quite easy. A decade later, the show would probably be even more influential and beloved than the movie.
CBS Forced The Producers To Use A Laugh Track
According to series creator Larry Gelbart, “the laugh track was always a thorn in my side.” CBS forced the use of the laugh track since it was a de facto part of sitcoms back then. But in some cases – operating room scenes and the black-and-white documentary style episode “The Interview,” for example – the producers were able to omit it.
“By and large, the network got their way,” Gelbart said. “They were paying for the dinner.” When the show aired in England, however, the laugh track was cut.
Wayne Rogers Was Not The First Choice For Trapper John
Actor Wayne Rogers is known for his three seasons on the show as Trapper John, but he actually was not the producers’ first choice for the character. Comedian Robert Klein was offered the role but turned it down, something he allegedly regretted afterward.
His manager, Larry Brezner, said that Klein told him later “You should have made me take it.” But Klein denies he ever felt that way.
McLean Stevenson Originally Auditioned For Hawkeye
McLean Stevenson auditioned for the role of Hawkeye Pierce, the lead character who would be memorably portrayed by Alan Alda. But the producers liked Stevenson for a different role altogether: the bucket hat-adorned Lt. Colonel Henry Blake.
Blake became a much-loved character in his own right. When he finally left the 4077th in “Abyssinia, Henry,” viewers were shocked by the news, delivered at the end of the episode by Radar, that Blake’s plane home had been shot down over the Sea of Japan.
Wayne Rogers And McLean Stevenson Left Out Of Frustration
Both Wayne Rogers (Trapper John) and McLean Stevenson (Henry Blake) left the series out of frustration at their supporting roles. Rogers joined MASH assuming that Trapper John would be equal in status to Hawkeye Pierce, as in the film, but Alan Alda soon became an audience favorite. Stevenson, meanwhile, wanted a starring role and left when his contract ended after the third season.
Writer Ken Levine disputes that Stevenson or Rogers were really unhappy with the show or crew. They were just seeking more prominent roles. Levine quotes Rogers as saying he “probably would have kept [his] mouth shut and stayed put” if he knew the show would have the success it did.
Like His Character, McLean Stevenson Was From Bloomington, Illinois
Actor McLean Stevenson didn’t just portray a character who was from the central Illinois city of Bloomington, he actually was from the city. In fact, Stevenson was a cousin of another famous Bloomingtonian: Adlai Stevenson. Yes, that one, who was the one-term governor of Illinois, two-time Democratic presidential nominee, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
McLean brought more than just the hometown to his character. He said about Henry Blake: “I played my dad. My father was a country doctor, and he was 80 years old when he passed away.” Sadly, Blake would not make it back to Bloomington after the war.
Many Of The Plotlines Were Based On Real Events
Many of the storylines featured in the first few seasons were based on real events that were relayed to the production team by real MASH surgeons, nurses, and patients who lived through the Korean War.
Screenwriter Ken Levine even claims that some of the true stories they heard were so shocking that they had to be toned down by the writers for the series.
Catching Up With Hot Lips
In 2014, Loretta Swit sat down for an interview in which she admitted that she rarely watches reruns of MASH — only because she doesn’t watch much TV at all. But she said, “I saw one this morning, a gem. I nearly know it by heart. It’s called ‘Fracture’ starring Anthony Hopkins. A great psychological mind game about a murderer who is determined to get away with murdering his wife.”
Swit never wrote a book about her time on the series, unlike some of her cast mates.