|Handsome early publicity photo, c. 1960|
There was one more major triumph on the stage (a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award for The Rothschilds in 1971) before Barney Miller turned Hal Linden into a TV superstar. However, it was eminently clear to viewers tuning in to the variety shows and specials which still were a staple of network programming, that Linden, fantastic as he was as the rumpled, beleaguered, yet dignified Captain Miller, seemed to be happiest when given the chance to put on a tux and be a song and dance man.
|Dorothy Loudon, Hal Linden and Barbara Eden in The Best Of Everything variety special (aired September 18, 1983)|
|Cathryn Damon, Hal Linden, Linda Lavin and Bonnie Franklin in The Hal Linden Special (aired April 11, 1979)|
|The Borden Twins, c. 1976|
After Miller ended its seven year run, Linden continued to be visible in television movies, specials, and guest appearances; he also attempted three more starring vehicles, but neither Blacke's Magic (1986), Jack's Place (1992-93) nor The Boys Are Back (1994) managed to capture the public's imagination. Linden was as nimble an actor as ever, and if anything, seemed to be growing handsomer; but like other beloved icons of 1970's television -- Mary Tyler Moore, anyone? -- he was forever cast in stone as his most famous creation, and audiences seemingly couldn't accept him as any other character on a weekly basis. Acceptance as a guest star, however, or as his charming self, was another story: Linden took home two Daytime Emmy Awards for his work as host of the children's program, FYI, in 1984 and 1985; and won a third Daytime Emmy for his guest role on CBS Schoolbreak Special in 1994.
|Suave as ever in Blacke's Magic (1986)|
Most recently, Linden has been touring with his cabaret act, which he has performed off-and-on since the early 1980's. He also released his long-overdue solo album debut, It's Never Too Late (2011) -- which had also been in the recording process, off-and-on, since the early 1980's, but the initial tracks were shelved when record companies of the time couldn't see any investment value in Barney Miller singing pop and jazz standards. Happily, it's time finally came, and we certainly find Hal Linden richly deserving of all appreciation his talent receives -- and wish him much, much more.
March 20, 1931