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Barnard Hughes (1915-2006); Mr. Merlin

I just read in the New York Times that character actor Barnard Hughes, who was a Tony and Emmy winner, died yesterday in New York.

He had a long career, but I will mostly remember him as Max Merlin, the title role in the 1981-2 sitcom Mr. Merlin. Sadly, I can't find much about this show on the Internet, although I did find this review of the pilot in the New York Times archive. (ETA: And here's an audio file of the theme song!)

Does anyone else remember this show? The premise was that Max Merlin was the real Merlin from legend, living in the 20th century, forced to take on a new teenage apprentice named Zachary. And then wacky hijinks ensued. Probably was a little dumb, but I remember my eleven-year-old self eagerly watching every episode I could.

Copyright © Michael Burstein


Do you remember "Wizards and Warriors" at all?

"I don't wear a hat."

Yes, I remember it very well. Jeff Conaway, Julia Duffy...they really need to release that on DVD.
I remember that show! I had a great love for it when I was a kid.
Mr. Merlin was one of the first things I remembered about Hughes. I used to watch that show, too.

The other two things were Blossom and Sister Act II.
I rememeber Mr. Merlin. I liked the show.
Remember it fondly.
Remember it, but not well - I was 9 at the end of 1981. I remember the puzzle that could only be assembled once, and, well, that's about it.
Loved Mr. Merlin! I even had the novelization for ages--I think I finally donated it to a library a few years back. Even when I saw him in TRON and other shows, I still thought of Barnard Hughes as Mr. Merlin. I named my first parakeet after him.

The two things I really remember about it was the crowbar Zach pulls from the concrete to show he's worthy as an apprentice, and Alexandria (Alex) the hot blonde sorceress who keeps popping in to converse with Merlin. Ah, memories.
Um, novelization? There's a novelization?

Off to search...
I remember it as well. Shows what use (or uselessness) I've been putting my brain to...
I loved Barnard Hughes and Mr. Merlin! He was also in another show I loved, with Christine Ebersole. Some Irish family name or something? This is going to drive me crazy now.
Well, I linked to his IMDB entry above, so if you check, maybe you'll find the show. Was it "The Cavanaughs?"
YES! Thank you.
Wow. A lot of us remember that show, don't we? I recall it fodnly, but mainly because I always liked Hughes. He was always one of those character actors you paid attention to.

Loved that show.

I also loved him in Doc Hollywood.
Ah 81-82. I didn't own a TV, and my first marriage dissolved. No wonder I have no recollection of this show whatever. Speaking of short lived TV shows that need to be released to DVD though, I nominate Flying Blind, a ruthless 're-imagining' of my first (and only) serious relationship in high school. (For those keeping score at home., Woody Allen ripped off the same relationship for Mi>Love and Death</i>. What can I say - I had a cinematic relationship). Flying Blind was the first star vehicle for Tea Leoni, as well.
No, I remember him, and this show is my primary memory of him. In fact I was just thinking about him a few days ago and remembering the show. *Sigh*

December 2016

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