We've Already Lost Too Many Drew Carey Show Actors

Before asking contestants the cost of a car or vaycay package he'd give away on "The Price Is Right," Drew Carey starred in a popular sitcom that bore his name and ran for nine seasons starting in 1995. Carey played himself, an underachieving, good-natured pencil pusher at the Winfred-Louder department store, where colleagues like Mimi Bobek (Kathy Kinney) and his boss Nigel Wick (Craig Ferguson) constantly ridiculed him. After hours, Carey sought refuge from that hellish 9-to-5 grind by hanging out with high school buds Lewis (Diedrich Bader) and Oswald (Ryan Stiles), where they would get involved in a series of hijinx that helped fuel the show's irreverent humor. Adding to the laughs, the show garnered notoriety for bringing in guests infamously chastised in the tabloids (long before social media took hold of the hordes) from former Britney Spears beau Kevin Federline to a pre-Oval Office Donald Trump.

Carey also based the sitcom in Cleveland, his birthplace and home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He milked the rocker connection heavily, drawing appearances from a slew of recording artists that included The Goo Goo Dolls, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider and Joe Walsh of the Eagles. Additional appearances from seasoned comedic veterans from Phyllis Diller to Wanda Sykes bolstered the sitcom's credibility as well. While the bulk of the regular cast has gone on to prosper in the wake of "The Drew Carey Show," others who made cameos on the program are sadly no longer with us. 

Stanley Anderson

Anyone wondering why Drew Carey's character was so messed up when it came to professional ambitions and personal relationships didn't have to go much further than his father, George, whom Stanley Anderson played in 10 episodes. As a working stiff totally disenchanted at his job, George was also a washout in trying to pass on fatherly wisdom to son Drew. In Season 1 episode "The Electron Doesn't Fall Far From the Nucleus," George persuades Drew to join his Wildebeests lodge, until Drew discovers the club follows some rather racist policies. But in Season 7's "How Beulah Got Her Groove Back," it was Drew awkwardly providing advice to his father, in the wake of a split from his wife Beulah. 

While Anderson turned out to be an annual player on the show's nine seasons, he's better remembered for one pivotal role in "Seinfeld." In the series finale, he played Art Vandelay — the real one, not George's alter ego. In the series finale, Judge Vandelay sentences Jerry and the gang to one year in jail for failure to obey a small-town "Good Samaritan" law. In motion pictures, Anderson portrayed General Slocum in "Spider-Man" (when Tobey Maguire played the web-slinging anti-hero) and had a minor role as the president in the Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller "Armageddon." 

Referencing the work he did in support of the Democratic party, Anderson's family said in a statement, "He was most proud, ultimately, of the part he played in politics," per Deadline. The veteran actor died in 2018 from brain cancer. He was 78.

Tammy Faye Bakker

For a time, any show that wanted to court controversy over the airwaves could always count on a Tammy Faye Bakker appearance. Now, it was not for any outrageous statements she might make while the sitcom cameras were rolling, given that anything that came out of her mouth was relatively innocuous. Instead, it was her association with husband and business partner Jim Bakker, a high-profile televangelist and founder of the Praise The Lord religious enterprise. The organization raked in millions, until it was made public that Jim Bakker was philandering with his secretary while fraudulently mishandling funds, an infraction that put him in jail for nearly five years. With PTL collapsing, wife Tammy Faye seemed in the dark about what was going on, although she divorced her husband when he was still in prison. Her second husband, Roe Messner, spent 27 months in jail for bankruptcy fraud. 

It seems that Tammy Faye Bakker, notorious for her sky-high bouffants and multi-layered mascara, was an obvious fit for playing Mimi Bobek's mother in two episodes of "The Drew Carey Show," especially given Mimi's fondness for cosmetic excess. When asked by L.A. Connection about the toughest part about being on the sitcom, Tammy Faye replied, "Memorizing lines, because I'm an ad-libber." Other occasions requiring a script included a cameo on "Roseanne" and a small role in the documentary comedy "Windy City Heat." Bakker, who would use the surname Messner when she remarried, was 65 when she died of colon cancer in 2007.

Tom Bosley

Adding memorable real-life characters to the roster has long been a signature trait of sitcoms, although "The Drew Carey Show" took things further with the stunt casting, like bringing aboard Tammy Faye Bakker as Mimi Bobek's mother. Equally unusual was pairing Bakker up with Tom Bosley as her husband in an episode called "Mimi's Day Parade." Bosley's Mr. Bobeck runs a trucking company, and wouldn't you know it, Drew's department store needs help from Mimi's dad in order to enter a last-minute float into the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. And when Drew locks horns with Mimi, she gets her family to guilt him into having her become the float's main attraction.

Of course, Bosley was best known as Howard Cunningham, the laid-back yet stern father on the retro sitcom "Happy Days." In a chat with the Television Academy, he shared that he modeled the character after his own brother. "He was much saner than Howard Cunningham ... but his approach to raising family that I thought was very worthwhile," he said. "And I think we all drew on our families." Bosley's long career also included a lead role in "The Father Dowling Mysteries" and a recurring part on "Murder, She Wrote."  

However, he was most proud of his work behind the scenes. "Being a father to my family, and a husband, is to me much more important than what I did in the business," he told the Television Academy. In 2010, Bosley died of lung cancer. He was 83.

Debbie Lee Carrington

Mimi Bobek was known for a lot more than the verbal barbs she shot at Drew Carey in the offices of Winfred-Louder. Her eccentricity recognized no boundaries from the layers of make-up she slathered on to a wardrobe disaster resembling a paint factory hit by a cruise missile. Add to the mix an extension to her personality via Mini-Mimi, a little person named Doreen who idolized Bobek and was portrayed by Debbie Lee Carrington. Introduced in 1999 as a satirical take on the Mini-Me character introduced in the second "Austin Powers" movie, Doreen was featured in four episodes.

On the series, Carrington generated plenty of laughs, although she was better known for playing aliens in such movies as "Men In Black" as well as several "Star Wars" outings. Arguably her most memorable role was a Martian named Thumbelina in the 1990 version of "Total Recall," opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her acting chops and even her willingness to perform stunts helped get her roles in such TV dramas as "Baywatch," "ER," Dexter," "Seinfeld," and "Boston Legal." She also landed parts in a wide range of flicks from "Batman Returns" to "The Polar Express," as well as a gig in Disney theme park short "Captain EO." Of the Francis Ford Coppola-helmed project, she told Endor Express, "It was all just mind boggling and unforgettable."

Per Deadline, Carrington also earned a degree in childhood development at the University of California-Davis. She died in 2018 at the age of 58. The cause of death was not reported.

Carol Channing

Carol Channing had a brief cameo in one "Drew Carey" episode called "New York and Queens." Playing herself, she pops up in the episode as an irate motorist bashing her car against Drew's truck when he and his pals visit The Big Apple. As hilarious as that scene might have been, it paled in comparison to another New York-based role that immortalized Channing, that of Roaring Twenties flapper Muzzy Van Hosmere in the 1967 movie musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie." She ended up snagging a Golden Globe and earning an Oscar nomination for her work in the movie.

Before "Millie," Channing took on the title role in the original Broadway production of "Hello, Dolly!" and nabbed a Tony for her performance. When the show was turned into a feature film, however, the world met a new Dolly Levi. Channing once told Playbill that she was initially hurt Barbra Streisand was selected to play the part she originated, but ultimately was fine with the way things worked out. "Yes I saw the movie and now I'm frankly glad I wasn't in it because I wouldn't have been allowed to play it the way I wanted," she said.

By all accounts, the statuesque actor with a one-of-a-kind voice preferred the experience of performing on a stage anyway. Said Channing about the live experience in "Just Lucky I Guess" (via Vogue), "It's an electric thing for the performer; it's like plugging me in the wall." Channing died in 2019 at the age of 97 of natural causes.

Dick Clark

You could count on three types of guests to appear on "The Drew Carey Show" during its nine-season run. Naturally, the first type involved seasoned TV stars from Tim Allen to Henry Winkler. The group often overlapped with a contingent of celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Donald Trump, who knew how to stir controversy. The third category included folks so iconic they could get away with appearing as themselves; such was the case with Dick Clark, a rock 'n' roll mover and shaker often called "America's oldest teenager."  That was a credit Clark earned when he hosted the song-and-dance show "American Bandstand," which for decades showcased regular chart-topping hits. His name also became synonymous with December 31 as host of "New Year's Rockin' Eve," a show that Ryan Seacrest eventually took over. "He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life," said Seacrest in a statement to CNN.

Clark stuck to his celebrity host stereotype in two episodes of "Drew Carey," but his contributions to television were far more enormous, having produced several awards shows from The Grammys to the Golden Globes, even going so far as to create the American Music Awards in 1974. He also created the game show "$10,000 Pyramid" — a program that frequently changed its title whenever the prize money increased — as well as several variations of "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Clark, who suffered a stroke during his later years, died in 2012 at the age of 82 from a heart attack.

Tim Conway

Comedian Tim Conway always exuded a sense of mischief to get his straight-man counterpart into trouble, a task he deftly achieved in his sole appearance of "Drew Carey." In the episode "Volunteer," Conway played Gus, a retirement home resident who frames Carey — volunteering at the facility as part of a Winfred-Louder benevolence publicity stunt — in a widely-publicized abuse scandal that has the public showering the seniors with gifts. The scheme was pure Conway, recognized for playing slow dullards as a facade to unearth something devious that would put his cohorts off-balance. 

It was a technique Conway used to great effect on "The Carol Burnett Show," often portraying catatonic half-wits and going off-script in a way that would have Burnett and her cast of regulars doubling over with laughter and then some. While reminiscing about one particularly memorable sketch he was in opposite Harvey Korman, he told Conan O'Brien, "[Korman] actually wet his pants. ... And I'm very proud of that too, because I owned a cleaners at the time."

Conway's vapid, deadpan delivery as a clueless ensign opposite Ernest Borgnine in "McHale's Navy" first made him a legit comedic foil. That style turned him into an in-demand cameo player on shows like "Married... With Children," several Disney comedies, and voice-over work on "The Simpsons" and "SpongeBob SquarePants." For his efforts, he earned four Emmys for his contributions to "Burnett" and one each for appearances on "Coach" and "30 Rock." Conway was 85 when he died from hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, in 2019.

John Ingle

Soap stars rarely have a turn in the primetime spotlight, but the casting department of "The Drew Carey Show" can be credited for one notable exception: soap icon John Ingle played Father Seymour in five episodes of the sitcom. It was an unusual choice considering that Ingle probably would have been more suitable as someone who served the dude downstairs than the man holding court in heaven, especially when his best-known daytime role was in playing the notoriously evil tycoon Edward Quartermaine for several years on "General Hospital." In "Drew Carey," Ingle, as a man of the cloth, presided over some marriages, including one called "Steve and Mimi Get Married," which saw Drew's brother tie the knot with his workplace arch enemy.

No stranger to the daytime drama world, Ingle also had a prominent role on "Days of Our Lives." He eventually returned to "General Hospital" to continue portraying Quartermaine; as outlets like The New York Times noted, his final episode aired just days before his death. Many of his other TV and movie performances consisted of authority figures like as a doctor in "Batman and Robin," a senator and a judge in the short-lived sitcom "Dear John," and a eulogist in "Death Becomes Her." But his contributions away from the camera also spoke volumes. As an acting teacher at Beverly Hills High School, he passed on the tricks of the trade to such notable stars as David Schwimmer, Nicolas Cage, and Richard Dreyfuss, per The Hollywood Reporter. In 2012, Ingle died at 84 of undetermined causes.

Norm Macdonald

Comedian Norm Macdonald was the first to admit he never had the right stuff to be a thespian. "I can't act or do characters," he once said to AV Club. "So looking into a camera and doing jokes is the closest thing to stand-up that there is." Still, it was how he delivered those jokes that made him stand out. There's no doubt the funnyman reaped dividends from the unfiltered dumb-guy demeanor he cultivated in the comedy circuit to warrant playing a nefarious high school acquaintance in one "Drew Carey" episode called "The Bully You Know." By that time, the Canadian comic had already tapped a vein of riches that started with his stint as a Weekend Update anchor on "Saturday Night Live." Per The New York Times, he got the pink slip after his slew of O.J. Simpson jokes on the live TV series apparently infuriated NBC President Don Ohlmeyer, a pal of the football star.

He lasted a couple of seasons on his own sitcom "Norm" and starred in "Dirty Work," the only film that ever cast him in a lead role. Still, he remained a top draw on the laugh circuit, while his frequent appearances on after-hours talk shows like "Late Night With David Letterman" and "Conan" pumped up ratings of those shows. And had he not second-guessed himself (or listened to Regis Philbin), he could've walked away with all the marbles on the celebrity edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?".

In 2021, Macdonald died following a lengthy bout with leukemia. He was 61.

Nan Martin

As Dotty Louder, the acid-tongued owner of the Winfred-Louder department store, Nan Martin could deliver a line with whiplash impact and precision, a skill that doesn't come lightly to anyone but the most seasoned actors. It seemed to be a role that came easily to Martin, who played the retail magnate in 25 episodes during the first five seasons of "The Drew Carey Show." After all, she shared similar traits as Ali McGraw's standoffish mother in the hit movie "Goodbye Columbus." And even after the cameras stopped rolling, Martin still stuck to her role. "She was aloof with me during the shooting," wrote McGraw in her memoir (via Los Angeles Times), "that it wasn't until the last day that I realized her behavior had all been in character."

Martin's impressive list of theater credits includes a turn in the Broadway run of "J.B.," which scored her a Tony nomination. Her screen career began in the '50s, and things really kicked into high gear for her the following decade, thanks to gigs like the gangster show "The Untouchables" and the suspense series "The Twilight Zone." After her breakthrough role in "Goodbye, Columbus," she landed more work in TV with cameos in shows like "Mission: Impossible" and "Bewitched." Though she kept busy with her screen career, she found time to tread the boards, too. As Martin Benson of South Coast Repertory told the LA Times, "She did a lot of television and all that, but her real love was theater." In 2010, she died at 82 from complications with emphysema.

Eddie Money

Regular fans of "The Drew Carey Show" are quite aware that Drew's nemesis, Mimi Bobek, has had a colorful past, but when she spilled in the episode "Drew's Stomachache" that she was married to rocker Eddie Money, pretty much every substance on the planet hit the fan. It turned out that Bobek's plans to marry Drew's brother Steve hit a snag when she revealed her previous nuptials to Money were never annulled.

It all sounded like great fun for Money, whose real name was Edward Mahoney, a musician known for classic '80s rock jams like "Two Tickets To Paradise," "Baby Hold On," and "Take Me Home Tonight." And while Money was prolific in generating scores of videos for his music, he seldom appeared on TV. One of his other noteworthy guest roles was as himself on an episode of "Kings and Queens," where he performed a medley of his hits to the show's cast. While he earned a decent living as a singer-songwriter, he never got to ride the big-time gravy train like most of his contemporaries. As Money once said to Rolling Stone, "For some reason, I missed the boat when it comes to the big money."

Still, not receiving larger checks didn't let him down. "The kids aren't in jail, they're not in rehab, nobody's wrecked the car this week and there's still milk in the refrigerator," he told the outlet. "I'm having a good month." Money died at 70 of esophageal cancer in 2019.

Joey Ramone

While Drew Carey was often portrayed as a lovable loser for nine seasons on his own sitcom, he occasionally unleashed a few cool factors worthy of hipster attention. One episode called "Ramada Da Vida" saw him milk that connection when he and his pals auditioned for guitarists for their band The Horndogs. One of the coolest candidates had to be Joey Ramone, who flailed away on the fretboard, letting out a discordant expression worthy of a dumpster fire. When told that The Horndogs were all set on their lanky dude quota, a disappointed Ramone responded, "Oh, man, that really sucks!" before tripping on the guitar on his way out. Ramone's sole consolation, however, had to be that other celebrity six-stringers failing the audition included Guns N' Roses' Slash, Cheap Trick's Rick Neilsen, ZZ Top's Dusty Hill, and Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. 

But let's face it, Ramone didn't need the gig. As frontman for the New York power quartet The Ramones, he helped usher in a punk movement to the U.S. in response to the Sex Pistols craze already ravishing the U.K. Churning out alternative hits like the double-platinum "I Wanna Be Sedated" and the solid gold single "Blitzkrieg Bop," the Ramones made the most of their high-velocity formula of high-velocity chords with a simple backbeat and a melodic nod to '60s pop, evident on their remake of oldies like "Do You Wanna Dance." Ramone was 49 when he died of lymphatic cancer in 2001.

Dean Stockwell

One sad note about Hollywood is its penchant for tossing child stars into the gutter once thoroughly used up. Dean Stockwell, who signed his very first deal with MGM when he was still in elementary school, fought hard to avoid that trajectory. Part of his success had to do with selecting off-beat roles such as playing a computer geek named Hal in the "Drew Carey" 1999 episode "Y2K You're OK" who convinces Drew that the onset of the millennium would render his computer inoperative. Like most PCs that survived the Y2K bug, Stockwell's career also prospered but not without some ups and downs. 

As a youngster, Stockton starred in a number of movies before taking an extended break from acting. When he was ready to return to the screen, he teamed up with auteur David Lynch in '80s flicks "Dune and "Blue Velvet." And then, there was the role of Al, the wise-cracking hologram in the TV time-traveling drama "Quantum Leap" (which scored him a Golden Globe win) and Sen. Sheffield in two seasons of "JAG." A staple of the sci-fi scene, he popped up in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Stargate SG-1," and a reboot of "Battlestar Galactica." Stockwell died at 85 of natural causes in 2021.

Following Stockwell's death, Kyle MacLachlan waxed nostalgic about their time together in "Blue Velvet" and "Dune." "He was an actor I looked up to, one of the elite, the very best of his generation of actors," he tweeted. "I was lucky to have worked alongside him.

Adam West

As the legendary caped crusader Batman in the '60s action comedy that ruled TV airwaves for a couple of seasons, Adam West took on the most colorful of baddies from Catwoman and The Penguin to The Joker and The Riddler. One combatant he was never able to conquer was a stereotyping beast that got in the way of his acting career when the show was canceled. Some relief came via "The Drew Carey Show," when he was featured in an episode called "Hotel Drew." In the ep, West played one half of a gay couple who offer to redecorate a room that Carey rents out to them, a role that gave West to break away from the typecasting he grappled with during his post-Batman professional life. Otherwise, the actor had to be content with playing himself in other sitcoms from "Murphy Brown" and "King of Queens" to "Hope & Gloria" and "30 Rock."

He did find some financial relief revisiting his old character by providing voiceovers for animated outings like "The Batman," in which he played Mayor Grange, and a variety of characters in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." West even allowed himself to be lampooned in a couple episodes of "The Simpsons," although he enjoyed lengthy notoriety as Mayor Adam West in more than 100 episodes of "Family Guy," which was occasionally merciless for taking shots of his superhero past. It was a role he voiced until he died at 88 from leukemia in 2017.

Fred Willard

It might not take much to play an idiot, but it certainly takes a genius to reap dividends after decades of utilizing that same portrayal. Enter Fred Willard, who was the go-to goofball among casting agents ever since he sprang onto the entertainment scene as a clueless sidekick on a fake talk show. In "The Drew Carey Show" episode "Arrivederci Italy," Willard played sleazy travel agent Fred Tuttle tasked with putting together an Italy package deal for Drew.

At the time, Willard was in a personal renaissance of sorts, being in demand for guest appearances on sitcoms that included "Friends," Mad About You," "Married... With Children," "Family Guy," and "Murder, She Wrote." Armed with a quick wit and a gift for improv, pretty much any project that involved Willard would strike gold in one form or another. But he's best known for roles in Christopher Guest flicks like "Best In Show," chat show parody series "Fernwood 2 Night," and news station farce "Anchorman." Of working with Guest, he told Vulture, "I just look back and I say, you know, Christopher Guest just raised my whole career to another level."

Willard received five Emmy nominations, including two for a recurring role in "Modern Family." Oddly enough, he won one for a part in the soap "The Bold and the Beautiful." While still actively working, Willlard died at 86 from a heart attack in 2020.