James Caan Dies at 82: Looking Back at His Most Memorable TV Roles

by Alex Falls

The entertainment world is reeling from the passing of veteran screen actor, James Caan. His family confirmed the news in an official statement on the actor’s verified Twitter page.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” the statement read. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

He leaves behind an immense body of work that any actor could aspire to achieve. He’ll always be remembered for the iconic roles he portrayed in films such as The Godfather, The Gambler, and Elf. But Caan also played many characters on TV in addition to his work in film.

Let’s take a look back at some of James Caan’s most memorable roles on TV.

James Caan on TV

While getting his start in the acting world in the 60s, Caan appeared in multiple small roles in classic TV. He guested as Dr. Dick Harris in an episode of The Doctors and the Nurses in 1962. He also appeared in two episodes of Death Valley Days featuring true accounts of western stories. Caan then acted in two episodes of the seminal 60s spy show, Get Smart. This would be his last role in a TV series for some time before he broke into movies.

That big break came in the form of the TV movie, Brian’s Song. Upon release, the film received huge critical acclaim and is now often cited as one of the greatest television movies ever made. Caan went on to receive an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Two years later, he landed his famous role of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and Caan officially became a movie star.

It took nearly 30 years for Caan to return to the world of TV. In 1996, Caan appeared in a memorable guest spot on the hit comedy, NewsRadio. He acted as a fictionalized version of himself preparing for a new movie where he plays a radio broadcaster.

After some sporadic appearances in television films, Caan finally signed on for his first starring role in a TV series in 2003. Las Vegas aired on NBC for five seasons with Caan playing the role of Ed Deline, the head of security for a fictional Las Vegas hotel. The show was a rating success for the network and Caan appeared in nearly every episode. His character departed the show early on in the final season.

In one of his final TV roles, he acted alongside his son, Scott Caan, in an episode of Hawaii Five-O. He guest-starred as a retired bomb expert and private investigator. It was the only time the late actor had a chance to share the screen with his son. His final television role starred opposite Jon Voight in the Hallmark drama, JL Ranch.

The world will remember Caan as an iconic film actor, but his roles on TV helped define his legacy.