10 groundbreaking TV characters

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 15, 2011 - 2:10 PM

10 GROUNDBREAKING TV CHARACTERS

TV has occasionally spotlighted physically challenged characters on fictional shows as well. Here are a few who stand out:

"TATE" (1960)

David McLean played a bounty hunter who's the fastest draw in the West even though he lost the use of his left arm in the Civil War.

"IRONSIDE" (1967-75)

Although a sniper's bullet forced Raymond Burr's detective into a wheelchair, he still managed to roll over bad guys.

"LONGSTREET" (1971-72)

He may have been blinded by an explosion, but James Franciscus' insurance investigator could still see through criminals' flimsy stories.

GERI ON "THE FACTS OF LIFE" (1980-84)

Geri Jewell became the first physically disabled actress to portray a recurring character, teaching the girls the facts of cerebral palsy.

CORKY ON "LIFE GOES ON" (1989-93)

Chris Burke, who was born with Down syndrome, won our hearts and admiration as the eternally optimistic Corky Thatcher in this feel-good family drama.

DR. WEAVER ON "ER" (1995-2007)

We learned that Laura Innes' Kerry Weaver was a lesbian and abandoned as a child before discovering that her limp was caused by congenital hip dysplasia.

AUGUSTUS HILL ON "OZ" (1997-2003)

Harold Perrineau Jr.'s character narrates from a maximum-security prison and a wheelchair after a cop threw him off a roof for killing his partner.

JOE SWANSON ON "FAMILY GUY" (1999)

It figures that TV's crudest cartoon would have its most likable character be wheelchair-bound Joe, voiced by Patrick Warburton.

JOEY LUCAS ON "THE WEST WING" (2000-06)

Before battling on "Celebrity Apprentice," deaf actress Marlee Matlin took on Josh Lyman as a savvy political consultant.

BECKY ON "GLEE" (2009-)

Wheelchair-bound Artie (Kevin McHale) may be a bigger character, but we'll save our biggest cheer for Sue Sylvester's protégée, played by Lauren Potter, who has Down syndrome.

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