Top Television Stars of the 80s

Back in the day when Netflix, Hulu, and other young generation entertainment were not available, people would visit theaters with their families to watch hit movies. This was a time when television was making its way in almost every house, therefore, the entertainment industry was in full swing. Plus, at the time, even though many stars were coming out with new content almost every week but it wasn’t hard to keep up with everyone since the channels were relatively fewer. This is why the stars of the 80s are perhaps remembered with fond memories. One way or the other, they became a part of our childhood. So let’s take a look at the top television stars of the 80s that we miss seeing today.

Tom Selleck

Thomas William Selleck aka Tom Selleck entered the entertainment industry as a private investigator in the Television series Magnum, P.I. He played the role of Thomas Magnum who was a private investigator equipped with intelligence and appropriate training to solve the crime and crime-related cases. The show ran for 8 years before coming to an end in 1988. 

Since 2010, Selleck has co-starred in the series Blue Bloods as New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagen. It has been more than a decade that the show continues to run and was previously renewed for its 12th season in 2021-2022. 

Since Magnum, P.I Selleck has appeared in more than 50 films. He played the role of architect Peter Mitchell in Three Men and a Baby released in 1987 and its sequel Three Men and a Little Lady released in 1990. Apart from the movies, Selleck has been able to grab several roles in television such as Friends, The Rockford Files, and Las Vegas.

Shelly Long

Born in 1949, Shelly Long is an American comedian and actress. Long is famous for her role as Diane Chambers in Cheers, which was a hit sitcom. She managed to receive five Emmy nominations, finally winning in 1983 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Then, she continued to win two Golden Globe Awards for the same role. 

Even after the show ended, she took on the same role in the spin-off Frasier with three episodes. She received an additional guest Emmy nomination. The year 2009 saw long playing the role of DeDe Pritchett in Modern Family on the ABC comedy series. 

Apart from the hit television series, Long has also starred in movies such as The Money Pit, Night Shift, and Hello Again, etc. all released in the 80s. Although most people recognize Long from her work in TV series but the fact of the matter is that before entering the industry she had appeared in several commercials and advertisements. 

Richard Dean Anderson

Richard Dean Anderson began his television career in 1976 by playing Jeff Webber in General hospital, which was an American soap series. He received his first breakout in 1985 by becoming a lead actor in the television series MacGyver. At the same time, he was also appearing in movies such as Pandora’s Clock, Firehouse, and Through the Eyes of a Killer. 

Then, Anderson returned to television by performing in the Stargate SG-1 spinoff of the 1994 film Stargate. He was the lead role in the series. The lead role continued from 1997 to 2005 while receiving a recurring role from 2005 to 2007. Since then, Anderson has appeared in a few movies, all of which were either follow-up or spinoff of Stargate. 

Although General Hospital was the biggest contribution to Anderson’s success, he had already guest-starred in many other tv series such as The Facts of Life and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. 

David Hasselhoff

The 80s era is incomplete without mentioning David Hasselhoff. He was literally everywhere and not a day passed by that he was not seen on television screens. He has enjoyed an immensely successful career as a producer, actor, singer, businessman, and television personality. 

Hasselhoff also set a Guinness World Record for the most-watched man on TV. He got his first break in the series The Young and The Restless in which he played the role of Dr. Snapper Foster. 

Then, he starred as Michael Knight in Knight Rider, which ran from 1982-1986. Following Knight Rider, he starred in Baywatch as Mitch Buchannon. He was the lead role on both series. Apart from acting in Baywatch, he also produced several episodes from the 1990s until 2001. 

In addition to the series, Hasselhoff has also performed in several movies such as Dodgeball, The Spongebob SquarePants Movie, Hop and Click. Before Samuel L. Jackson, it was Hasselhoff who played the role of Nick Fury in Telefilm Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Kristie Alley

Kristie Louise Alley stepped into the spotlight with her breakout role in NBC sitcom Cheers as Rebecca Howe. She managed to bag a Golden Globe and Emmy Award for her role in 1991. Then, from 1997 to 2000, she starred in Veronica’s Closet earning her additional Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. 

Just like David Hasselhoff, Kristie Alley was the most popular tv actress throughout the 80s and 90s since she appeared in multiple films such as Shoot to Kill, Summer School, Mad House, and Village of the Damned, etc. 

The year 1994 saw her winning another Emmy Award for the television film David’s Mother. Continuing her journey, Alley starred in The Last Don while receiving further Emmy nominations. Alley Returned to the television screen by joining the sitcom Kristie in 2013 and Scream Queens in 2016. 

William Katt

William Katt before becoming an actor was a musician. He was inspired by his father and followed his footsteps into the entertainment industry. In the beginning, he appeared in summer rock theater and other small television roles. He officially began his career by starring in Carrie by playing Tommy Ross. 

Then, in 1978 he starred opposite Gary Busey and Jan-Michael Vincent as a young surfer in the drama film Big Wednesday. The very same year, he took on the role of Sundance Kid in the 1979 film Butch and Sundance: The Early Days. 

His role in Big Wednesday made him so successful that he became a star of the surfing world and also presented one of the Association of Surfing Professionals awards at the Annual World Championship Tour ceremony. Throughout his career, Katt has starred in many films and television series and was also once seriously considered for a role in Star Wars. His last appearance was in 2020 in the movie The 2nd.


Mr.T while reading a National Geographic magazine came across an unusual hairstyle, which he sports even today. The hairstyle was famous amongst Mandinka warriors and he thought that the adoption of the hairstyle would serve as a way to represent his African origin. However, at the time, he did not wear any gold or jewelry, etc. 

In 1980, Mr.T caught Sylvester Stallone’s eye while participating in NBC’s “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition. Although Mr. T’s role was intended for just a few lines in the Rocky III but was later cast as Clubber Lang. Following the role, he appeared in several other films and television series. 

He was hired to play a role in The A-Team as a genius mechanic who was afraid of flying. In addition to that, his career also includes numerous tv commercials including for Comcast, Snickers, Forbes, and RadioShack, etc. 

Mr. T before appearing in movies was a professional wrestler and was a tag-team partner of Hulk Hogan. He entered the professional world of wrestling in 1985 and spent several years wrestling and appearing as a special referee. 

Phylicia Rashid

Phylicia Rashid is an American stage director, singer, and actress. In 1983, she joined the cast of ABC soap opera One Life to Live. She played the role of Courtney Wright as a publicist. 

However, Rashid is mostly known for her role as attorney Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. She earned several Emmy award nominations in 1985 and 1986. Additionally, she was termed “The Mother of the Black Community” at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards.

The year 2004 saw Rashid becoming the first black actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. As she continued her journey, she appeared in Gem of the Ocean, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Into the Woods. 

Final Word

The 80s era was not short of bigger than ever stars and celebrities. Most of the stars belonging to that era continue to act in films and tv series today. The biggest factor contributing to their relevance is perhaps the shift from acting to producing and starring in commercials etc. Apart from being celebrities and stars, they have also become the face of many communities like Phylicia Rashid who continue to inspire and motivate people to follow in their footsteps, ultimately shifting the world’s attention towards them every now and then. 

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