The first season of CHiPs ran from September 15, 1977 to April 1, 1978. This season not only introduced viewers to Larry Wilcox’s Officer Jonathan Andrew “Jon” Baker and Erik Estrada’s Officer Francis “Ponch” Poncherello, it also exposed audiences to a variety of amazing guest stars. Though these actors only appeared in CHiPs once to a few times, they would go on to have pretty cool careers.
So, let’s take a moment to highlight some of the guest stars who added to CHiPs, starting with the hit show’s first season.
Edward James Olmos – Henry – “Flashback” 1.22
Appearing as a character simply named Henry, Edward James Olmos was still building his portfolio as an actor. Prior to playing the role of Henry in CHiPs’s first season finale, Olmos was mainly doing guest spots in various shows; one that stands out is a one episode appearance in Kojak.
Within a few years of appearing in CHiPs, Olmos would earn a role in Blade Runner, then in Hill Street Blues, and Miami Vice. Olmos’s resume is filled with dozens of roles since CHiPs, but many people 50-years-of-age or younger will most likely know him mainly has Battlestar Galactica’s William Adama.
Julie Cobb – Juliet – “Rainy Day” – 1.20
Julie Cobb is an actor who may have never had a long-term/multi-year role in her career, but has still managed to have an impressive career. Cobb’s first major TV role was as Yeoman Leslie Thompson in the Star Trek episode “By Any Other Name.” Between Star Trek and CHiPs, Cobb appeared in classic shows such as The Brady Bunch, The Waltons, and Gunsmoke. After appearing in CHiPs, Cobb would get work on The Incredible Hulk, Charles in Charge, St. Elsewhere, MacGyver, Judging Amy, and many more.
David Spielberg – “Rainy Day” – 1.20
David Spielberg appeared in CHiPs twice; once in 1978 and once 1980 as two different characters. Before appearing the season one CHiPs episode “Rainy Day,” Spielberg had some reoccurring roles in shows like The Doctors (1963), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and The Practice (1976).
After working on CHiPs, Spielberg’s career would continue to be a combination of one-off appearances or multiple appearances in a show. Some of these shows would be Jessica Novak, Wiseguy, Highway to Heaven, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Baywatch. Sadly, despite appearing in well-known and beloved shows, it seems that Spielberg would never get an iconic and long-lasting character to play.
Nita Talbot – “Crash Diet” – 1.19
Simply listed as “Driving Instructor,” Nita Talbot only appeared in one episode of CHiPs’s first season. She would appear again as a different character named “Nita.” In addition to her work on CHiPs, Talbot has a resume filled with amazing television shows. Prior to CHiPs, Talbot appeared in Maverick, Gunsmoke, Hogan’s Heroes, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
After CHiPs, Talbot would appear multiple times on several more shows with incredible legacies. Some of these shows were General Hospital, Fantasy Island, and Starting from Scratch. Talbot also worked as a voice actress and got work on the 1990s Spider-Man animated series. In addition to being background voices for the show, Talbot also voiced Anastasia Hardy – the mother of Felicia Hardy aka the Black Cat.
Robbie Rist – “Cry Wolf” – 1.18
Rist is infamously known as “Cousin Oliver” from The Brady Bunch. Though Oliver has become highly criticized by fans and media scholars, Rist has managed to carve out a great career for himself and is still actively working to this day. Between The Brady Bunch and CHiPs, Rist appeared in The Bionic Woman (1976), Big John, Little John, Mary Tyler Moore, and Galactica 1980.
Rist would appear in CHiPs three times, each appearance being as a different character. After CHiPs, Rist would work on an episode of Knight Rider as he expanded into voice work. As a voice actor, Rist worked on classic properties. For example, he voiced Michelangelo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. He would also work on Lilo & Stitch: The Series, and in many Naruto video games and the animated series as Choji Akimichi. Some of Rist’s more recent work has seen him return to the most recent Ninja Turtles TV series as the voice of Mondo Gecko.
While Rist will be forever linked to cousin Oliver, it is incredible to see that CHiPs allowed him the opportunity to build a long-lasting career.
Keep an eye out for all these guest stars and more when CHiPs airs on CHARGE! Weekdays at Noon/11c, 6pm/5c, and 7pm/6c.