The small screen has seen its fair share of misfits over the years, from MTV's Jesse Camp to Charo

By A.J. Jacobs
February 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

To quote the Addams Family theme, ”They’re altogether ooky.” We speak of the vast collection of real-life oddballs and misfits who have popped up on our tube over the years. Who knows why TV attracts the likes of ranting prophet Brother Theodore, who showed up on Late Night With David Letterman? Maybe it’s the box’s vaudeville roots. Maybe it’s TV’s insatiable appetite for programming that forces network execs to call up the last resort. Whatever the reason, here are some awards to our favorite eccentrics of all time.

Best Substitute for Xanax Bob Ross, the soothing, velvet-voiced host of PBS’ art instruction program, The Joy of Painting. (”Let’s add a happy little tree here…”)

Most Deserving of Xanax Pianist Oscar Levant, the neurotic General Electric Guest House panelist with famously high therapy bills.

Best Reason to Fear for the Future of the Race, Female Division Debbie Matenopoulos, recently ousted, clue-challenged cohostess on ABC’s The View.

Best Reason to Fear for the Future of the Race, Male Division Jesse Camp, MTV’s prefab, prelingual VJ.

Best Live-Action Animated Character Charles Nelson Reilly, the high-decibel, over-the-top game-show mainstay.

Best Monotone Larry ”Bud” Melman, a.k.a. Calvert DeForest, David Letterman’s bespectacled, pudgy walking punchline.

Best Confirmed Bachelor Paul Lynde, the nasal wit of Hollywood Squares.

Most Deserving of Anonimity The Unknown Comic, the paper-bag-cloaked hack on The Gong Show.

Best Attendance Record Mrs. Miller, the ever-present Merv Griffin Show audience member who occasionally got the chance to prattle on about her life.

Best Pioneer of the Single Name Charo, ubiquitous shimmying hot tamale.

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