The Top 10 Cool Dudes Who Died in 2010
Amidst all the parties, new gifts, and huge meals that mark the holiday season, let's take a moment to remember some of the great guys who passed on this year. Let's hope they made it to Guy Heaven, where the beer is always cold, the pizza's always hot, and the cable always free.
10. Stephen J. Cannell
Although the name may not be as familiar as some of the other guys on this list, if you've watched any amount of TV over the last 40 years, odds are you've seen a Stephen J Cannell show. Over his long career, he produced such dude classics as The A-Team, Baretta, Hardcastle and McCormick, The Rockford Files, and 21 Jump Street. In his later years, he turned mostly to novel writing and cranked out detective novels at a pace of one a year. Even though he died this year, they guy still released two books. Cannell was a hard worker who busted his balls for years to bring audiences top quality cops and robbers stories. Hell, the guy brought B.A. Barracus, Faceman, Hannibal, and Murdoch to our TV screens. For that he deserves a place in the dude hall of fame and the undying respect of everyone who's ever said, "I pity the fool."
9. Gary Coleman
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Life ain't easy when you peak creatively and professionally before your tenth birthday. Gary Coleman had a hit TV series and bags of cash long before he hit puberty. Unfortunately for him, Fate loves few things more than screwing with child stars. He spent the rest of his life living down the role that made him a household name. But, you know what? At least he did with a sense of humor. Coleman knew he was never going to be the star of a hit TV show again and even if he cured cancer, everyone was still going to yell, "Whatchoo talking about, Willis?" at him for the rest of his life, so he had fun with his legacy. He did the reality circuit, did a ton of self-deprecating cameos, and kept smiling, despite his lackluster career and personal problems. In the process, he inspired the hundreds of ex-child stars who are desperately trying to hold on to their shrinking bit of fame. It's okay to pander, as long as you do it with a wink.
8. Merlin Olsen
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If only they still made NFL players like Merlin Olsen. After an all-star career as a defensive lineman for the L.A. Rams, where he was part of the dreaded "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line, Olsen avoided every pit and valley that ex-athletes seem to fall in. He transitioned almost painlessly into an even more successful career as a broadcaster, actor, and commercial pitchman. A dyed-in-the-wool gentle giant, he made his mark on the world by terrorizing opposing teams on the field, but looked and acted like the nicest uncle anybody ever had off it. Merlin Olsen was a stand-up, old fashioned guy who was tough as nails. Sure he starred in some pretty sappy shows and scored somewhere between Pat Robertson and your elementary school vice principal on the "cool dude" scale, but that's who he was. And there are a lot worse things to be remembered as than the toughest nice guy around.
7. Robert Culp
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Robert Culp first came to fame playing a tough secret agent with Bill Cosby on the 60s series I Spy. Over the next 40 years, he carved out a more than respectable career trading on his gruff voice, square jaw, and tough guy manner, most famously as Bill Maxwell, the FBI agent who tied to keep a leash on The Greatest American Hero. He never had a huge role and pretty much stuck to TV, but Robert Culp was a welcome presence on hundreds of shows. He could play anything, and always turned in a great performance. He had slowed down in recent years, but still found time to branch out into video game work (he provided the voice of the bad guy in Half-Life 2) and was about to direct a big screen version of Terry and the Pirates. Still, we'll always remember him as the quintessential tough guy in a tie. Like many of the characters he played, Culp was a no-nonsense hard worker and consummate professional who got the job done. That's what being a dude is all about.
6. Tom Bosley
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Okay, so no one ever accused Tom Bosley of being a tough guy. Over his long, long Hollywood career, Bosley could be a badass, but so could anyone put up against a teenaged Ron Howard or a septuagenarian Angela Lansbury. But even though he's best remembered as the dad on Happy Days and the sheriff of the quaint, but bloodsoaked small town of Murder, She Wrote, Bosley deserves a spot on this list. He wasn't fancy, he wasn't dangerous, and he was about as cool as your dad falling asleep after eating too much turkey on Thanksgiving, but darn it, he was a dude plain and simple. He spoke from the hip, didn't stand for any nonsense, and knew how to be funny without being crude. He was a real man and the world is always in short supply of those. We'll miss you, Mr. Cunningham. And whatever your name was on Murder, She Wrote.