Howard Weston Bessell Jr. was born in Flushing on March 20, 1935, the son of Howard Sr., a toy manufacturing executive, and the former Matilde “Jo” Dainese.
He was raised at 29-63 215 Place in Bayside.
Bessell considered the priesthood at one time. But he decided to go to acting school, where he could play different characters to help find himself. He married sexy model Janeen Darrah in 1963, but the marriage was brief. In 1966, he landed the role of Donald Hollinger, the ever-adoring boyfriend of Marlo Thomas in the hit TV Show “That Girl.” At 31, Ted Bessell became a household name. The show ran until 1971.
Typecast and trapped in a nice guy image, in the era of Woodstock he never grew out his hair or loosed his necktie. In 1976, in the last days of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” he became the boyfriend of Mary Richards. The public was upset, wanting her character to stay single and independent.
In 1987, he went behind the camera and directed “The Tracy Ullman Show” on Fox and was responsible for many of the hilarious sketches on the program.
Bessell passed away at age 61 in October 1996, of an aortic aneurysm.