A couple of months ago, I texted my sister that Joan Copeland had died. She fired back, "Who?" And I expected that. But after sending her a picture of the longtime theater and television star, she immediately got it...Joan Copeland played a judge on a number of episodes of Law & Order, which has always been one of my family's favorite series.


That happens a lot. There are hundreds of performers we have seen our entire lives--journeymen and journeywomen who have always followed the mantra "ALWAYS BE WORKING"--who we don't know by name. If there's a job available, they'll go for it.

You see actors and actresses all the time whose names you never learn, and when they die, you think, "Oh...him," or "Oh...her."

That may have occurred recently when Mitchell Ryan passed away at the age of 88. In fact, I didn't know he had died until I was watching an episode of The West Wing (I'm rewatching the classic NBC series which ran from 1999 to 2006) and he popped up. I did a Google search to remind myself what all he had been in and saw that he died.


I also learned that he was born in Cincinnati and raised in Louisville.

But when I did see Ryan's filmography, it was, "Oh yeah I saw that" or "I forgot he was IN that" or "He was in THAT?" It's like when you learn a certain artist sings a certain song and you never put the two together.


But yeah, Mitchell Ryan never let the grass underneath HIS feet during his career. I did remember him from The Dark Shadows when it was running in syndication. I remember his work in Lethal Weapon, The Golden Girls (I bet our resident Golden Girls fanatic Angel does too), Grosse Pointe Blank, and Dharma and Greg (an underrated comedy from the 90s and early 2000s).

And I could go on.

He's just always been a familiar face but maybe never a household name. And what a cool discovery that he spent many of his younger years right here in Kentucky.

I thought I knew of EVERYONE famous who came from the Commonwealth.

Oh well, I may not be good with names, but I never forget a face.

27 Celebrities from Kentucky Who Aren't Country Musicians

We could have a whole OTHER list of country stars from Kentucky--and athletes, for that matter. But how many of THESE celebrities did you know were from the Bluegrass State?

12 Actors Who Started As Extras In Movies And Television

These famous actors all began their on-screen careers with uncredited roles in movies and TV.

More From WBKR-FM