Popular Actors Who Found Success In TV Shows Instead Of Movies

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Many people assume that movies are the only way for actors to catapult themselves to superstardom. That isn’t always the case, though. Many actors have starred in popular television shows and built a name for themselves. Some were even fortunate enough to star in multiple hit shows due to their talent and luck, and achieve celebrity status. Thus, here is a list of 5 popular actors who have found success in TV shows rather than movies:


1. David Hasselhoff of ‘Baywatch’ fame

Among the popular actors who received fame from TV shows
Known for setting the Guinness World Record as the most watched man on TV: David Hasselhoff.

David Hasselhoff is among the most well-known actors from TV shows around the entire globe. For six seasons on ‘The Young and the Restless,’ Hasselhoff played Dr. Snapper Foster to American audiences. Later, Hasselhoff starred in NBC’s popular series ‘Knight Rider’ as Michael Knight.  He won a People’s Choice Award for most popular actor, and the show went on to be a great international hit. Hasselhoff went on to have a successful music career in Europe after the show finished. He’s continued to play and has nine albums to his credit. On Baywatch, Hasselhoff reprised his role as Mitch Buchannon. Baywatch, now an international television sensation, was at its prime at that time, with over one billion weekly viewers in 140 countries .

2. Courteney Cox got a taste of Global fame with ‘Friends’

One of the most popular actors who got famous from TV shows
American actress, director, and producer, most-known as Monica Geller on Friends.

Courteney Cox took acting classes while modelling since her ultimate aim and desire was to be an actress. She had a brief role as a young debutante named Bunny in an episode of As the World Turns in 1984. She was cast as Lauren Miller in Family Ties a few years later. After the finale of Family Ties, Cox had a dry stretch in her acting career, appearing in forgettable films like Mr. Destiny. When she performed in the unforeseen hit ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’, her fortunes shifted significantly, and a year afterwards, she was cast as Monica Geller on one of the most successful TV shows ever: Friends. It was for this role that she became an international celebrity and was nominated for an American Comedy Award.


3. Betty White: the longest TV career in Hollywood history

The actress with the longest career on TV shows.
The greatest TV actress ever, with a career spanning seven decades.

Betty White began her career in radio with ‘The Betty White Show’. Later, she starred in her own production’s film ‘Life with Elizabeth’, in which received her first Emmy. White developed a reputation for herself as a panellist on entertainment shows such as ‘Password,’ ‘Match Game,’ ‘Tattletales,’ ‘The Hollywood Squares,’ and ‘The $25,000 Pyramid,’ among others. Her television career peaked when she landed the role of Sue Ann Nivens on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’. Rose Nylund on ‘The Golden Girls’ was White’s second famous role and greatest character ever. In the 2000s, White appeared on the serial series ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’, and had a recurring role on Boston Legal’. She also played Elka Ostrovsky, the feisty home caretaker in ‘Hot in Cleveland’ at the age of 88. White still owns the Guinness World Record for the Longest Television Career by a Female Entertainer, however her mark also surpasses the male category.

4. Scott Bakula a.k.a Captain Jonathan Archer on ‘Star Trek Enterprise’

One of the actors who got popular after starring in TV shows.
American actor and director: Scott Bakula.

Scott Bakula is best remembered for his appearances in two sci-fi TV shows: Quantum Leap as Sam Beckett and Star Trek: Enterprise as Captain Jonathan Archer. He garnered four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award for Quantum Leap.  Bakula also appeared in the comedy-drama series Men of a Certain Age and had a guest appearance as the protagonist’s father in the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Chuck. He starred as businessman Lynn on HBO’s ‘Looking’ from 2014 to 2015. He also portrayed Special Agent Dwayne Cassius “King” Pride on NCIS: New Orleans from 2014 until 2021. In the season 12 premiere episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he made a cameo as himself.

5. Ted Danson of ‘Cheers’ fame

Among the most popular actors who got famous from TV shows
American actor and producer, best known for his role as Sam Malone.

Danson got his start in television as a contractual player on the daytime drama ‘Somerset’. Later, he appeared on the NBC sitcom Cheers in 1982, as the womanising ex baseball player and bartender Sam Malone, who had an on-again, off-again romance with Diane Chambers. Danson has played Sam Malone in several guest appearances on other comedies such Cheers spin-off Frasier, The Jim Henson Hour, and The Simpsons. He also landed a role in the CBS sitcom Becker, which was a hit. He then wowed viewers as Michael in ‘The Good Place.’ Danson was recently cast as a wealthy businessman running for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong purposes in the comedy series ‘Mr. Mayor’, which premiered in 2021.


Written by Alfeeya Pathan

Articles Published: 342

Alfeeya Pathan is an entertainment news writer at FandomWire. With over 4 years of experience in writing and a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication, Alfeeya has honed her skills in writing compelling news for reader's.