Night Court was one of the most popular American sitcoms of the 1980s. Created by Reinhold Weege, it followed the exploits of an unconventional judge and the Manhattan court he presided over, the NBC show picked up 11 Emmy nominations and four wins during its nine-season run. But what happened to the cast once the courtroom closed?
20. Brent Spiner (Bob Wheeler)
Brent Spiner enjoyed a seven-episode stint as Bob Wheeler, the continually hapless country bumpkin who would often end up in court alongside his wife June. Of course, the actor would go on to achieve a much wider level of fame when he joined the Star Trek universe in 1987. Spiner spent seven years as Data in The Next Generation.
Spiner has since further cemented himself as a sci-fi icon with roles in Independence Day (1996) and TV series Warehouse 13. The actor also showcased his comedy chops in Dude, Where’s My Car (2000), Superhero Movie (2008) and Fresh Hell, a meta web series in which he played himself. But Spiner has always had one foot in the Star Trek world and in 2020 he reprised his most famous role for Picard.
19. Ray Abruzzo (Tony Giuliano)
Ray Abruzzo appeared in the middle of Night Court’s nine-season run for a seven-episode stint as detective Tony Giuliano. The actor had previously played authority figures in Dynasty and CBS Summer Playhouse. And he’d also appeared on the other side of the law as a defendant in L.A. Law.
After his Night Court stint came to an end, Abruzzo guested on countless other hit TV shows and in 1998 bagged the recurring role of Detective Michael McGuire on The Practice. He also went on to grace the big screen in 2003’s House of Sand and Fog and Last Vegas (2013). But the star is best-known for playing mobster Carmine Lupertazzi in The Sopranos.
18. Mel Torme (himself)
Night Court’s lead, Judge Harry T. Stone (Harry Anderson) was obsessed with Mel Tormé, the jazz singer perhaps best known for “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” — which he co-wrote. And it appears as though the show’s producers were too. Since they invited the man nicknamed The Velvet Fog to appear as himself in no fewer than 10 episodes of the hit sitcom.
Tormé went on to play himself in several other shows following the sitcom’s cancelation in 1992 including Seinfeld, Sliders and Dave’s World. The latter, of course, also starred Night Court’s Harry Anderson. Sadly, Tormé died from a stroke in Los Angeles in 1999 at the age of 73.
17. John Astin (Buddy Ryan)
The man who played Harry’s pop Buddy, John Astin, was one of the most familiar faces of the Night Court regulars. Astin shot to fame in the 1960s thanks to his portrayal of Gomez in The Addams Family. And the actor went on to land memorable roles in Freaky Friday (1976) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985).
After departing Night Court, Astin appeared regularly in the Killer Tomatoes franchise as Dr. Gangreen. He also embraced his The Addams Family past by voicing Gomez in the early ‘90s animation and taking on the role of Grandpa Addams in the late ‘90s live-action TV revival. Even as he approached his 90th birthday in 2020 Astin was still a working actor.
16. Paula Kelly (Liz Williams)
Paula Kelly played the first of Night Court’s three main public defenders, Liz Williams. In the sitcom’s second season, the actress was replaced by Ellen Foley as Harry’s love interest Billie Young, who was then replaced herself by Markie Post’s character, Christie Sullivan. But Kelly used the opportunity to display her multiple talents elsewhere.
Yes, Kelly went on to guest on several other TV comedies such as Baby Talk, The Golden Girls and Room for Two. She also appeared in the films Bank Robber, Drop Squad and Once Upon a Time… When We Were Colored between 1993 and ‘95. Sadly, the actress died in early 2020 aged 77.
15. Karen Austin (Lana Wagner)
Latecomers to the Night Court party can be forgiven for not remembering Karen Austin ever appearing in court. The actress was only in the first season as court clerk Lana Wagner. But this early departure gave the star the freedom to take on roles in several other high-profile projects.
In 1985 Austin played opposite John Candy in comedy Summer Rental and bagged the part of Dr. Mary Woodley in TV drama St. Elsewhere. The star went on to rack up dozens of other credits over the next 30 years. She enjoyed recurring stints in The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, Live Shot and Murder One and more recently showed up in 2015 horror movie The Wicked Within.
14. Denice Kumagai (Quon Le Robinson)
Intermittent is one way of describing Denice Kumagai’s stint on Night Court. Although she appeared in 17 episodes of the NBC comedy, they were spread across all nine seasons. So, Kumagai had plenty of time to take a role in the 1991 Hulk Hogan vehicle Suburban Commando, as well as providing voice work for The Simpsons and King of the Hill.
Kumagai has continued to showcase her comic timing since bidding farewell to Night Court. The actress has guested on the likes of Caroline in the City, Living Single and Veronica’s Closet. Her last notable credit came in the mid-2000s with the part of Aunt June in the hit comedy drama Gilmore Girls.
13. Ellen Foley (Billie Young)
Ellen Foley was only given a single season to showcase her talents as public defender Billie Young in Night Court. Harry’s love interest was replaced after just 19 episodes by Markie Post as the sitcom’s most prominent denfense counsel. But Foley soon proved that she could flourish outside the hit NBC sitcom.
Yes, Foley landed supporting roles in several box office hits including Fatal Attraction (1987), while Cocktail, Married to the Mob both followed in 1988 as well as roles in numerous Broadway productions. Things went relatively quiet in the ‘90s. But since the turn of the century she’s been busy teaching vocal lessons at Manhattan’s Paul Green School of Rock Music. And in 2013 she resumed her recording career with a fourth studio effort, About Time.
12. S. Marc Jordan (Jack Griffin)
S. Marc Jordan came late to the crazy world of Night Court. He only joined the hit sitcom in its eighth season as Jack Griffin, a blind newsstand owner with a gift for sarcasm. The actor had previously enjoyed a recurring stint as Eli Jacobs in daytime soap Days of Our Lives.
In the wake of Night Court’s cancelation, Jordan guested on Doogie Howser M.D., Perfect Strangers and Seinfeld. He also later lent his voice to animations The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and Cow and Chicken, too. Sadly, in 2014 Jordan passed away at the age of 83.
11. Florence Halop (Flo Kleiner)
Florence Halop brought a rougher edge to her Night Court character than her predecessor as bailiff, Selma Diamond. Yes, Flo Kleiner may have been a 60-something with frizzy hair and slightly unflattering glasses. But she was also an unlikely lover of the motorcycling world and the headbanging sounds of heavy metal music.
Halop, who began her screen career way back in 1939, had previously appeared in St. Elsewhere, Barney Miller and The Betty White Show. Sadly, her time on Night Court was cut short when she lost her battle with cancer in 1986. Halop was only aged 63 when she died just before the sitcom’s fourth season.
10. William Utay (Will and Phil Sanders)
William Utay pulled double duty during his stint on Night Court. The actor played both Phil Sanders and the wealthy eccentric’s dastardly twin sibling Will in the hit sitcom. Of course, daytime soap opera viewers will know him best for his long-running stint in Days of Our Lives as Dr. Wilhelm Rolf.
Utay has played the medic since 1998 but has continued to rack up the roles elsewhere, too. He’s guested on high-profile shows such as Star Trek: Enterprise, Angel and Modern Family. And the actor has also shown up on the big screen in the cop drama Dark Blue (2002) and the 2001 Will Smith biopic of Muhammad Ali.
9. Selma Diamond (Selma Hacker)
Selma Diamond, who played bailiff Selma Hacker, had previously enjoyed success as a writer. In fact, she picked up an Emmy nomination in the 1950s thanks to her work on Sid Caesar comedy show Caesar’s Hour. And the star was also rumored to have inspired the Sally Rogers character on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
But it was on Night Court that the multi-faceted Diamond became a famous face. Sadly, just like her successor, Florence Halop, Diamond also passed away while the sitcom was still on the air. In 1985, the same year she also lent her voice to The Jetsons, the actress lost her battle with lung cancer aged 64.
8. Mike Finneran (Art Fensterman)
One of Night Court’s key supporting players, Mike Finneran played bumbling handyman Art Fensterman on 37 episodes of the NBC sitcom. Before landing the role, the actor had appeared on series such as Remington Steele, Hill Street Blues and Cagney and Lacey. And during his stint as Fensterman, Finneran also showed up in the 1991 superhero movie The Rocketeer.
But things appear to have gone pretty quiet for Finneran since Night Court came to an end. The actor did play a promoter in TV movie Percy and Thunder. He also guested on sitcoms Married… with Children and Can’t Hurry Love. But he hasn’t been seen on screen since 1995.
7. Joleen Lutz (Lisette Hocheiser)
Joleen Lutz only joined the cast of Night Court in its eighth season. But she still wound up with the seventh highest number of appearances in the sitcom’s history as scatterbrained court reporter Lisette Hocheiser. The former Chicago Bulls cheerleader continued to rack up the credits once the show ended, too.
Lutz went on to guest on series like The New Adventures of Superman, Living Single and Boston Legal. She also landed the recurring role of Iris Demarco on General Hospital spinoff Port Charles. But Lutz hasn’t been seen on screen since the 2016 French comedy Les Tuche 2: The American Dream — which went on to become the biggest box-office hit in its native country that year.
6. Marsha Warfield (Roz Russell)
Thankfully, Night Court’s third female bailiff managed to bring the sitcom’s apparent curse to an end. For after joining the cast for the fourth season, Marsha Warfield — aka the no-holds-barred Roz — remained a regular on the show until it ended in 1992. And she’s still very much alive and kicking, too.
Since then Warfield has graced several other TV comedies including Empty Nest, Living Single and Mad About You. But she’s been absent from our screens since a one-off appearance in Veronica’s Closet in 1999. Instead, Warfield has focused her efforts on LGBTQ activism and a stand-up career in Las Vegas.
5. Markie Post (Christie Sullivan)
Markie Post succeeded Paula Kelly and Ellen Foley when she became Night Court’s third public defender for its third season. And her squabbles with Dan — and romance with Harry — ensured that she was a regular fixture until the show drew to a close. Post also didn’t hang about finding a new job, either.
Yes, in the same year Night Court wrapped up, Post landed a co-starring gig opposite John Ritter in another TV comedy, Hearts Afire. Since then, the actress has guested on series such as The District, Scrubs and The Kids Are All Right. Post also enjoyed a recurring slot on Chicago P.D. as Barbara ‘Bunny’ Fletcher.
4. Charles Robinson (Mac Robinson)
Charles Robinson added a much-needed sense of decorum when he joined the Night Court cast in season two. Since waving goodbye to his relaxed court clerk Mac, the actor has continued to display his comedy chops. He’s shown up in numerous other sitcoms such as My Wife and Kids, My Name is Earl and How I Met Your Mother.
But Robinson’s talents extend far beyond the world of TV comedy. He’s also an esteemed figure within the Oregon theater community. In fact, the star has regularly proved that his dramatic chops are just as impressive as his funny bones with appearances at the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
3. Richard Moll (Bull Shannon)
It’s hard to imagine Richard Moll playing a character that’s anything but patient, kind and generally lovable. The actor often stole the Night Court show as gentle giant Aristotle Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon. Yet following the NBC sitcom’s end in 1992, Moll has built a career in portraying bad guys.
Of course, you may not have been aware that you were watching Moll embracing his dark side. His most famous baddies have been in the animated world, including the Batman villain Two Face, Hulk nemesis The Abomination and Spidey-Man foe The Scorpion. But Moll has also shown his face in live-action features such as 1996’s Jingle All the Way, But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) and Scary Movie 2 in 2001.
2. John Laroquette (Dan Fielding)
John Larroquette was undoubtedly the critical darling of Night Court. The actor was responsible for all four of the Emmy Awards that the sitcom won over the years, thanks to his portrayal of smooth-talking lawyer Dan Fielding. So it was probably no surprise when he landed his very own sitcom.
The John Larroquette Show enjoyed a four-season run and was followed by starring roles in the various series such as Payne a short-lived remake of British sitcom Fawlty Towers and Boston Legal. Larroquette has also appeared on the big screen in films such as 2006’s Kill Your Darlings and Southland Tales. And more recently he’s bagged recurring roles in The Librarians, Blood and Treasure and The Good Fight.
1. Harry Anderson (Judge Harry Stone)
Star of the show, Harry Anderson provided much of the Night Court’s comedy as wacky judge Harry T. Stone. The baby-faced funnyman first caught the eye on Saturday Night Live for his magic skills. And Anderson continued to pursue his two passions after the show wrapped up.
That’s right: Anderson went on to open up both a comedy club and magic shop after moving to New Orleans. The star decided to slow his screen career down after another sitcom he took the lead in, Dave’s World, came to an end. Sadly, Anderson passed away from a stroke aged just 65 in 2018.