Skip to comments.Horrible Showbiz Career Decisions (McLean Stevenson Effect)
Posted on 11/25/2012 7:06:22 AM PST by PJ-Comix
People in the entertainment business sometimes make horrible career decisions. This is what is known as the "McLean Stevenson Effect." Named after actor McLean Stevenson who played the part of Henry Blake in the hit TV series "M*A*S*H." Stevenson was unhappy with being part of an ensemble so after about 3 seasons left the show to become the lead in the "McLean Stevenson Show" which promptly flopped. His career never recovered.
Another victim of the McLean Stevenson effect was Shelly Long who was in the hit series "Cheers." She left after 5 seasons to become a movie actress but pretty much flopped in that endeavor.
Finally there was Jeff Conaway who starred in my own favorite TV series "Taxi." After 3 seasons he left the show with a one-way ticket to obscurity.
Who else made poor showbiz career decisions to become victims of the "McLean Stevenson Effect."
Jeff Conaway had a pretty good run on Babylon 5.
I have heard it said that if an actor(ess) can be on an even MODERATELY successful TV Series(or 2 Good Movies), he (or she) will never have to work again. Is this true?
There was also David Caruso from “NYPD Blue.” He never really went on to do anything in movies, so he jumped back to one of the 3,000 iterations of “CSI.”
Or, do like Wayne Rogers also from MASH. Quit showbiz and get a real job as an investment guy. I think he did a lot better. Smart move on his part.
Helping keep mankind warm for 65 years.
Rob Morrow, who ruined Northern Exposure when he left and then never amounted to a hill of beans.
I heard the same thing. I believe it was four years of a successful series and the actor was set for life. Given how unlikely it is to get that four-year show, I certainly wouldn’t bank on it...
I remember interviews with fellow MASH actors. They all testified that McLean Stevenson was purposely set up to fail, as revenge for leaving his contract early.
The nutcase that left Bonanza because he was afraid of being typecast , Pernell Roberts. Didn’t see much of him afterward.
Actually, Wayne Rogers was an investment adviser at the time he was acting on MASH. He actually considered his show business career a part-time gig to supplement his income.
Trapper John MD.
“In the first episode of South Park, (”Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”) Kyle tells his brother Ike to “do your impersonation of David Caruso’s career” to get Ike to jump out of a spaceship.”
“Jeff Conaway had a pretty good run on Babalon 5.”
Did 2 years on celebrity rehab too.
How about Scott Baio’s decision to leave “Happy Days” for “Joanie Loves Chachi”?
Then you have guys like James Arness who rode Gunsmoke right into old age and then made a couple of Gunsmoke movies.
What is it called when someone in show business parts company and becomes an even greater celebrity? I think I would call it the "Dolly Pardon Effect" but there must be other examples.
Lead actors in NUMBERS.
Shelly Long left the most successful sitcom ever and never did anything of real significance after (but at least she kept working). That decision had to sting, but I guess she can take comfort that she was set for life as long as she didn’t get into drugs or spend her money like the average lottery winner.
Set up to fail...hmmmm.By the directors/producers/script writers? How would they have done that,apart from telling him,because they were unhappy with his performances and/or his character,that they were gonna kill him off?
He went on to do Trapper John MD which had a good run for 7 years.
According to wiki, he had guest appearences in 60 different shows.
Except for Bonanza and Mash, I’ve never heard of any of the shows mentioned on this thread.
I think I’m better for it.
Like I said. Smart guy. He actually USED the “entertainment” clowns to his benefit. Thanks for the update.
He was good in “Quiz Show”...and then he vanished/died or something.
Depends on what you are satisfied with.
Most people could retire at 30 if they were OK with living like Mahatma Gandhi for the rest of their life ;-)
Ginger from Gilligan’s Island didn’t leave, I guess, but always complained about how that series ruined her chance to be a big star.
Also, Don Adams was sort of stuck after Get Smart because he was typecast.
Stevenson could see the writing on the wall about M*A*S*H becoming the voice of Alan Alda so he chose not to participate in the show moving from an ensemble to one with a lead (Alda) and everybody else in support roles. Since nobody else on the show really had a big role after M*A*S*H, Stevenson just short-circuited the process but also lost out on a chunk of residuals.
Sasha Alexander - quit after the first 2 seasons of NCIS as agent Caitlyn Todd. She did forgettable parts in forgettable movies for 5 years. Now she’s back in TV on TNT’s “Rizzoli and Isles”. It’s an OK show but nowhere as good as NCIS.
Apparently, the trick is that if your show is around for 100 episodes they can syndicate it, at which point the dough just rolls in.
Of course that’s what Artie Lange from the Howard Stern Show said a few years ago to some actor whose show was about to hit the 100 episode threshold, and the actor agreed.
The tv execs set him up. I distinctly remember all the MASH actors emphasizing that one point.
They gave him a choice, play the lead or you’ll never act again. It would have been wiser for him to tell them to shove it and then go into theatre until a good part came along.
The only thing show business will not forgive is failure.
Ken Wahl of “Wiseguy.”
I’ve heard that the actors on Friends got $400k per episode. I guess it depends on the show.
Actors in successful television series earn much less today. My accountant does television acting work and says that the salaries are way down. His gigs are typically small roles and does the work mostly as a hobby during the slow accounting months, but he says the big stars earn a fraction of what they did earlier.
I think Sasha Alexander is married to Sophia Loren’s son and left to start a family.
The way she went out, there is no way for her to return. We don’t watch NCIS anymore anyway - the show seems to be leaning left now.
They started out making about $22 grand an episode, but they topped out towards the end at a million dollars an episode.
How he ever had an acting career after Rambo - Part1, is beyond me.
I always get a kick out of watching Miss Kitty's saloon in "Gunsmoke," filled with "working girls." Straight arrow Marshall Matt Dillon would go in there to have a drink and NEVER indulged in the women. Maybe they should have had an episode where Marshall Dillon returned to Dodge City after a couple of weeks on the trail and asks Miss Kitty to get him a room plus one of the working women for the evening.
I was just a kid when that happened but I get the impression that a lot of viewers really resented it when he left. People loved their Bonanza and they didn’t like it when big shot actors messed with it.
As I understand it, it’s not the paychecks for the acting work, it’s the constant cash flow from the syndication of the show. Maybe “set for life” can be overstating it for your average series, but for shows like “Star Trek” or “Seinfeld” or “The Office”, those folks will likely be seeing rather decent checks for the rest of their lives.
I should say “The actor who played Radar...”
How about Shannen Doherty? After getting kicked off 90210, she never came close to anything like that again. Except for a lead role in Mallrats and a 3 year gig on a WB series (1998-2001), it’s all been bit parts and cameos. She’s as arrogant as Val Kilmer with nothing to back it up.
Aside from Barbara Billingsly’s memorable performance in Airplane, its hard to think of a Leave it to Beaver alum who succeeded in acting beyond their first series.
On the other hand there are people like John Travolta, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington who parleyed their TV success into much greater fame
I didn’t say that he left to do another show. Just that he was pressured to take that part when it was given him.
An interesting fact about Radar coming into the operating room to announce Colonel Blake’s death was also a set up, to ensure Stevenson could never return to MASH. Up until the point of shooting, nobody was aware that Blake was going to die. The actor playing radar was supposedly given a cue card to read, just as he was going into the operating room to do something else.
Actually the six stars of Friends got $1,000,000 per episode the last season OR two. $25,000,000. Before that that there was a season of $750,000(I believe).
Who? Honestly. Never heard of him.
Chevy Chase effect works too with the benefit of knowing he is a scumbag in real life.
I think Shelley Long had a pretty respectable career for someone who was primarily a TV actress. You have to remember that actresses tend to have a shorter shelf life than actors. She also did reprisals of her Diane character on “Frazier”.
Now Kelsey Grammer—there is a guy who knew how to leverage a supporting role! I read somewhere his net worth is $80M.