Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Five (OK, make it seven) Best Classic TV Doctors

Change of seasons creating havoc with your allergies? Sprained an ankle from stepping in a rabbit hole while mowing (been there, done that)? Job stress causing migraines? You need to see a doctor!

To assist you in selecting the proper physician, we pick our classic TV favorites from the 1960s through the 1980s. Whether you want a brain surgeon, a family practitioner, or you're just interested in a good-looking bachelor, the right M.D. awaits you:

1. Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda) - Sarcasm and wit mask the inner feelings of a deeply compassionate surgeon who can operate under the worst of conditions. Often consults with his friend "Trapper" John McIntyre, who has a successful private practice later in life.

2. Dr. James Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) - Long before Grey's Anatomy's McDreamy and McSteamy, Kildare ruled the airwaves as TV's first heart-throb doctor in the 1960s. But don't let his good looks fool you--he's intelligent and caring. Plus, if you pay an office visit to him, you can get a second opinion from Blair Hospital's senior M.D., Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Raymond Massey).

3. Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) - Hey, you're thinking, he's on the run from the law on The Fugitive! That's true, but he was wrongly convicted. He's also very sensitive, has a way with kids (he was a pediatrician), and still appears to be current on the latest medical procedures.

4. Dr. Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) - Looking for an obstetrician who accepts new patients? Then, try Dr. Huxtable...if you live in New York. In addition to having a good reputation as a doctor, he's funny and also great with kids! Furthermore, if you're the victim of malpractice (from another physician, of course), you can hire Cliff's wife Clair as your attorney.

5. Dr. Marcus Welby (Robert Young) - No physician has a better bedside manner than the kindly, fatherly Dr. Welby. He always goes the extra step for his patients. An added bonus is his hip young partner, Dr. Kiley (James Brolin), who can get through to the new generation.

6. Dr. Ben Casey (Vince Edwards) - This intense, idealistic surgeon needs to tone it down from time to time, but everyone says he's brilliant. It also helps that Dr. Zorba (Sam Jaffe) is around to provide a calming influence on the young Casey--and to offer second opinions.

7. Dr. Adam "Doc" Bricker (Bernie Kopell) - If you're sick or injured on a luxury liner, then Doc Bricker is your man. Be forewarned, though, he does consider himself a ladies' man and he doesn't spend a lot of time attending to patients.

Honorable Mentions: Dr. Joe Gannon from Medical Center; the staff of the Saint Eligius Hospital (aka St. Elsewhere); and Dr. Alex Stone (Carl Betz) from The Donna Reed Show. I'm sure I missed others, too, so please leave a comment if desired.


  1. Rick, I liked the diversity of the candidates on this poll, with pediatrics, obstetrics, and surgeons included with family doctors. I think I am leaning toward Hawkeye Pierce because he works well under pressure.

    I did think, too, of the "Doctor in the House" series with Dirk Bogarde and the unforgettable James Robertson Justice as Dr. Lancelot Spratt. It started earlier, though, in the 1950s.

  2. How about Dr Bones McCoy of "Star Trek?" Just dealing with Kirk was a full time job!

  3. Gilby, I still can't believe I left Bones McCoy off the list! My STAR TREK friends have stopped talking to me....

  4. I thought Cliff Huxtable was practising in Philadelphia?
    Awesome website, by the way!

  5. rockfish, I think Dr. Huxtable was in Brooklyn. Thanks for the feedback on the Cafe! We love reading comments (good or bad).

  6. Okay. I'll grant the gentlemen listed are good at their job and possess a variety of admirable qualities. However, have any of them successfully removed a bullet from their best friend on a dirt floor by the light of a kerosene lamp? Have they delivered babies during hail storms? Have they had to contend with Chester AND Festus? Doc Adams is the man!

    1. An excellent addition (especially considering--as you pointed out--he had Festus and Chester as patients).

  7. I completely agree with Alan Alda heading the list as Hawkeye. He was completely believable in the role.

  8. Oh, Ben Casey, hands...uh, down. I loved that show. But I never could reconcile the fact that Casey's love interest in the show (well, more or less) was, in real life, married to the grizzled Sam Jaffe. Who knew?

    If only real doctors were like television doctors, the world would be a better place. Ha!

    Great post, Rick.

    I might add Doctors Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) and John Carter (Noah Wylie) from ER to the mix.