american-doctor-1974

Fourth American Doctor: Barry Newman

1974–81. Honorable mentions: Paul Sand, Ronny Cox, Henry Darrow, Steve Landesberg

Supporting Cast
Sarah Jane Smith: Cindy Williams
Harry Sullivan: Ken Howard
Hilda Winters: Diana Muldaur

Barry Newman‘s breakout performance as the brash, gonzo attorney Tony Petrocelli in The Lawyer (with Doctor Who costar Diana Muldaur) won him the role of the fourth Doctor. Newman was set to reprise his role for the 1974 television series Petrocelli, but was replaced at the last minute by Tom Baker, a construction worker and personal friend of show consultant F. Lee Bailey. Disappointed, Sidney J. Furie (who directed The Lawyer) strongly encouraged Newman to audition for Doctor Who. Newman won the role with his unique combination of madness, humor and conviction.

Cindy Williams seemed born to play Sarah Jane Smith, but it almost didn’t happen. In 1973, producers originally cast Gretchen Corbett when Elaine Giftos left the role of Jo Grant. Allegedly the pairing of Garner’s Doctor and Corbett’s Sarah Jane didn’t work. (Williams’ close friend Elisabeth Sladen said that Garner “likes to impose himself physically on smaller women“.) Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from American Graffiti producer Francis Ford Coppola, the role was quickly re-cast to Williams.

Ken Howard won the regular role of Captain Mike Yates in 1971, but couldn’t accept due to a prior commitment. (That role eventually went to British actor Ian Marter.) Producers remembered Howard, giving him a supporting role in 1973’s “Carnival of Monsters“. The following year, Howard won the role of Harry Sullivan, a character developed when it looked like the fourth Doctor would be played by an older actor who couldn’t handle action scenes. When the 36-year-old Barry Newman was cast, Harry was written out of the show after only one season.

Diana Muldaur was a busy character actor, juggling various movie and television roles. Doctor Who co-creator Gene Roddenberry personally encouraged her to audition. Muldaur worked well with Barry Newman a few years earlier in The Lawyer, but was heavily in demand and could only commit to a single episode. The role of Hilda Winters, leader of the Scientific Reform Society, was tailored for Muldaur’s desire to play a “modern, sympathetic but thoroughly evil villain”. Muldaur based part of her performance on Patricia Maynard‘s portrayal of Cora Munro in The Last of the Mohicans.

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