Published in The Tampa Tribune, Dec. 17, 1999

The 100 Most Unforgettable Forgettable Entertainers of the Century


Wherever you look these days, you're likely to find someone-or-other trotting out a new ``definitive list'' of the most important movers and shakers of the past 100 - or even, for pity's sake, 1,000 - years.

These lists are all very serious and scholarly, and that's just fine and dandy. Big thinkers like Albert Einstein and Copernicus are getting some major ink again, which no one would begrudge them. But how important are those guys, really, in our everyday eBay-checking, ``Hollywood Squares''-watching, Chalupa-chomping late-'90s lives?

From what we've seen, most of the major categories for serious, scholarly lists already have been snatched up by the likes of Newsweek, Time, Entertainment Weekly and Highlights for Children. But why should that stop us from joining the Y2K list-making fray?

And so, today we proudly celebrate the also-rans of the entertainment world - those would-be has-beens who somehow never managed to fade from our collective memory banks.

You'll notice our list of less-than-towering talents is heavily weighed toward TV celebrities from the past 20 years or so. Although we would have liked to acknowledge a broad range of mediocre notables from earlier decades (``OK, so which silent film star is more passe, Ben Turpin or Theda Bara?''), this is not a history lesson. Pop culture has a short shelf life.

Individually, the performers honored here may have done little to further our basic understanding of the human condition, but collectively, they are indisputable national treasures. Their names and faces are seared into America's subconscious, serving as important points of common cultural reference in an increasingly fragmented society.

Like it or not, we know who they are and we've seen what they've done.


1. Doug Henning: Illusionist Henning was as well known for his pre-New Age karma and hippie-dippy demeanor as for his legerdemain. He broke the mold for magicians, eschewing the tuxedo-and-top-hat tradition. Perhaps his greatest trick was getting people to watch his wimpy TV specials.

2. La Toya Jackson: Arguably the least talented Jackson sibling, La Toya has surmounted family problems, marital woes and plastic surgery disasters to forge a career as a spokesperson for psychic infomercials, a nude Playboy model and sometime R&B singer. And she looks just like Michael. Yeeeeeeeek!

3. Madame: The star of TV's ``Madame's Place'' was wooden and brassy at the same time. Like a shriveled Mae West with amped-up hormones, this irrepressible dame could've eaten Charlie McCarthy alive. Sadly, her career has been on hold since the death of her friend Wayland Flowers in 1988.

4. Rip Taylor: The cape. The confetti. The mock-resentful blubbering. The lousy wig. The swept-up mustache and eyebrows. The antic, flamboyant whirlwind of motion. ``The Gong Show.'' ``The $1.98 Beauty Show.'' The memories, the memories.

5. JoAnne Worley: Like so many veterans of ``Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In,'' Worley never has been able to channel her, umm, unique abilities into successful follow-up projects. But if Quentin Tarantino is looking for someone who's loud and obnoxious and dislikes jokes about chickens, another career revival could be imminent.

6. William Frawley: His affably grumpy portrayal of neighbor Fred Mertz on the classic '50s series ``I Love Lucy'' brought Frawley a little slice of immortality. But he never would have made the cut on ``Friends'' or the WB. The era of the lovable, sexless old coot is long gone.

7. Jaye P. Morgan: Morgan made her name as a singer and sustained a career with a steady diet of ``celebrity panelist'' spots on TV game shows. Her severe personality was a perfect fit for ``The Gong Show,'' where she took pleasure in dismantling the fragile egos of contestants.

8. Mr. T: Talk about range. Mr. T dabbled in such diverse careers as bouncer, bodyguard and Hulk Hogan's tag-team partner. In between, he starred as Rocky's nemesis and played a vigilante mechanic on TV's ``The A-Team.'' Don't typecast him, fool.

9. Fabio: With his sculpted torso and flowing locks, he caught our attention as a model for romance novel covers. But he faltered attempting to enter the third dimension as a living, breathing ``personality.''

10. Zsa Zsa Gabor: Famous mainly for being famous, Miss Hungary of 1936 flirted with a film career before settling into her unofficial role as queen of talk show royalty. We laughed at her accent, her sparkly pretensions and her apparent blissful ignorance of the world in which the rest of us lived.


11. Joey Heatherton

12. Lyle Waggoner

13. Andrew Ridgley

14. Wayne Rogers

15. The California Raisins

16. Bob Saget

17. Peter Cetera

18. Charo

19. Byron Allen

20. Mickey Rourke

21. Pauly Shore

22. Charles Nelson Reilly

23. The Captain

24. Yakov Smirnoff

25. Bobby Goldsboro

26. Luther Campbell

27. Peter Tork

28. Ray-Jay Johnson

29. Jar Jar Binks

30. Sandra Bernhard

31. Richard Dawson

32. Keanu Reeves

33. Shields

34. Yarnell

35. Jimmie Walker

36. Vanilla Ice

37. Marc Singer

38. Barbi Benton

39. Charlene Tilton

40. Sally Struthers

41. Dee Snider

42. Dick Smothers

43. Alan Thicke

44. Vanna White

45. Adrian Zmed

46. Burt Young

47. Gary Coleman

48. Scrappy-Doo

49. John Oates

50. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

51. Adrienne Barbeau

52. Myron Floren

53. Daisy Fuentes

54. Wink Martindale

55. Rudy Ray Moore

56. Andrew McCarthy

57. Robin Leach

58. Curly Joe DeRita

59. Soupy Sales

60. (Tie) Joan Rivers/Melissa Rivers

61. (Tie) Corey Feldman/Corey Haim

62. Joan Collins

63. Chuck Woolery

64. Richard Simmons

65. Baby Bop

66. Karen Black

67. Jon ``Bowzer'' Bauman

68. Judge Joseph Wapner

69. Herve Villechaize

70. Jayne Meadows

71. Paul Lynde

72. Frank Stallone

73. Chuck Barris

74. Mike Douglas

75. The Great Gazoo

76. John Davidson

77. Adam West

78. David Hasselhoff

79. Denny Terrio

80. Ed Begley Jr.

81. Barry Williams

82. Abe Vigoda

83. Dirk Benedict

84. Bert Convy

85. (tie) Judy and Audrey Landers

86. Johnny Whitaker

87. Gilbert Gottfried

88. Ron Palillo

89. Fred Berry

90. Gene Gene the Dancing Machine

91. Eddie Vedder

92. George Hamilton

93. Louie Anderson

94. Pamela Anderson

95. Tori Spelling

96. Bronson Pinchot

97. Andrew ``Dice'' Clay

98. John Byner

99. Rich Little

100. Fred Travelena