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SNL's all-time top 10 presidential portrayals

The late Gerald Ford just happened to be president when Saturday Night Live came crashing onto the scene in October 1975.

So it wasn't his fault that Chevy Chase became famous by portraying him as a dense bumbler/stumbler. Ford took it all in stride and even taped an opening for a 1976 show hosted by his press secretary, Ron Nessen. Some argue, though, that Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, combined with the merciless lampooning on SNL, were enough to cost him the presidency in a very close election with Democrat Jimmy Carter.

We'll never really know how big a role SNL played in Ford's defeat. But we do know that impressions of presidents and presidential candidates continue to play key roles on a show that's now spanned six administrations.

Chase, for one, never bothered trying to look like Ford. Nor did Dan Aykroyd in his mockeries of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon. The surviving half of The Blues Brothers even wore a mustache at times.

Perhaps the least-remembered impression came from Randy Quaid, who gamely tried to do Ronald Reagan during his lone SNL season (1985-86). Fellow cast member Terry Sweeney fared better as Nancy Reagan.

As Ford's sendoff unfolds in several stages, here's a Top 10 countdown of SNL's presidential sendups. Losing candidates are fair game, too.

10. Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis -- He makes the cut based on a single lasting impression. In a 1988 presidential debate sketch, Lovitz's deadpan reaction to a George Bush non-answer put the campaign in a crystal clear light. "I can't believe I'm losin' to this guy," said "The Duke" after a noisy hydraulic lift gave him an embarrassing boost at his podium.

9. Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter -- He had the goofy grin down to a science, gifting viewers with a foolproof sight gag that regularly redeemed whatever had been written for him. Honorable mention: Aykroyd's Bob Dole, in which his scowl closed the deal.

8. Norm Macdonald as Bob Dole -- A classic Real World sketch had a trigger-tempered Dole booting roommates out of his cherished chair and also chastizing them for eating his peanut butter. Big Mac also scored with a Dole Halloween sketch in which he reluctantly dispensed candy.

7. Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford -- Mostly it was history-making. But imagine if Darrell Hammond had done Ford without as many pratfalls and with ample makeup.

6. Phil Hartman as Ronald Reagan -- Remember the time Hartman played the Great Communicator as an all-business, clandestine world mastermind who hated the idea of putting on an act for your basic Oval Office photo op? It's still an all-timer.

5. Darrell Hammond as Al Gore -- His condescending, stiff-as-a-board demeanor in a "lock box" sketch later was shown to the real-life candidate in hopes of making him see what others had seen during Gore's first TV faceoff with George W. Bush. Hysterical from start to finish.

4. (tie) Hartman and Hammond as Bill Clinton -- Darrell looked more the part and better-nailed the sing-song voice inflections. But Hartman had the funnier sketch when he overloaded himself with junk food during a Clinton campaign stop at McDonald's.

3. Dana Carvey as George Bush Sr. -- Wouldn't be prudent to put him anywhere but near the top. Carvey's exaggerated hand mannerisms and wimpified voice fully captured a very difficult president to imitate.

2. Will Ferrell as George W. Bush -- Say no more than "strategery." Then add a letter-perfect smirk and a reliably befuddled demeanor. Daddy Bush was an SNL tour de force, but Dubya topped 'im.

1. Dana Carvey as Ross Perot -- His world class sendup of the pontificating Texas billionaire clicked like a bourbon 'n' branch toast at the Cattleman's Ball. Carvey had it all -- the makeup, the deep-fried voice patterns, the cock-o'-the walk body language. A highways and byways sketch co-starring Hartman as dazed running mate James Stockdale is still a five-star hoot and howl. Carvey met his perfect match, and knew exactly what to do with him.

TV's all-time top 10 sourballs

The late, great Peter Boyle's death leaves us to mostly remember him by his superb work as Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. The character clearly ranks among TV's all-time sourballs, grumps and curmudgeons -- or Grinches since it's the holidays. In memory of Boyle, we'll put him in the company of other storied TV gripers in this latest Top 10 countdown. Tell Uncle Barky who he missed, ya buncha crum-bums.

10. Saturday Night Live's Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) -- An instant buzz-killer at any and all social events, Debbie always let a grimace be her umbrella. In response, fellow cast members invariably cracked up.

9.Sanford and Son's Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) -- NBC's irascible junkyard dog gave son Lamont a year's worth of grief every episode. He regularly faked a heart attack and invoked his deceased wife whenever Lamont tried to wash his hands of him. "I'm comin', Elizabeth! I'm comin'!" That's cold -- and hysterical.

8. Cheers' Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) -- Her acid tongue made every drink order an adventure. Unlucky in love and unlikely to ever get a tip, she bellyached up to the bar with impunity.

7. Taxi's Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) -- The pint-sized dispatcher scaled the heights of indignity from his cage above the put-upon drivers of New York's Sunshine Cab Company. King Louie the Louse wasn't one to believe in fare play.

6. The Simpsons' Charles Montgomery Burns (voiced by Harry Shearer) -- The despotic owner of Springfield's polluting nuclear power plant never met a man he didn't yearn to exploit. Malevolent and never benevolent, he'd put the screws to Raggedy Ann.

5. Everybody Loves Raymond's Frank Barone (Peter Boyle) -- Chock full o' bile and proud of it, Frank reveled in being an old-school brow-beater. His sense of entitlement reigned supreme, whether arguing with long-suffering wife, Marie, or finding fault with his two grown but oft-infantile sons.

4.Buffalo Bill's Bill Bittinger (Dabney Coleman) -- Vain, pompous and immensely insecure, "Bufffalo Bill" zealously guarded his turf as host of Buffalo's reigning local TV talk show. A self-perceived God's gift to the pretty ladies, he had fewer social graces than a pre-meltdown Ebenezer Scrooge.

3. Mama's Family's "Mama" Thelma Harper (Vicki Lawrence) -- Her jaw set in concrete, her tongue a lethal weapon, Mama rode roughshod over a mostly dim-witted brood. Daughter Eunice was especially frazzled and beaten-down, a bundle of insecurities with a lunkhead husband. But Mama just kept sneerin' and dissin', comfortable in her sandpaper skin.

2. All in the Family's Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) -- Bigoted, boorish and blustery, Archie had strong opinions on everything, and a stronger opinion of himself. He warred with his son-in-law ("Meathead"), demeaned his wife ("Dingbat"), relished his cigars and railed against the world at large. Other than that he was a sentimental fool.

1. 60 Minutes' Andy Rooney (as himself) -- Bitch, bitch, bitch. He's been doing it for almost three decades now, regularly getting into trouble and not really caring all that much anymore. Andy simply speaks his uncluttered mind, certain that he's making sense of a world that he'd just as soon wind back to the 1950s. He's earned his independence and cantankerous bent. And Andy damned well knows it.

"Yabba dabba do!" "D'oh!" "Aaay!"

Gomer Pyle, "Flo" Castleberry and Mr. T: All had somethin' to say

TV Land's countdown of the 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases begins Monday and will unfold throughout the week. But the cable channel already has released the complete list, so let's quibble.

It's all-time topper, which Uncle Barky certainly can live with, is Ed McMahon's halcyon "H-e-e-e-re's Johnny!" from The Tonight Show. But his fallback "Hi yo-h-h-h!" isn't listed at all. Wrong-o-h-h-h!

Fred Flintstone's "Yabba dabba do!", Homer Simpson's "D'oh!" and Arnold Jackson's "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" richly deserve their spots in TV Land's Top 10.

How did Donald Trump's "You're fired" get the No. 3 spot, though, while Fonzie's "Aaay!" and J.J. Evans' "Dy-no-mite" placed 11th and 12th? And isn't Theo Kojak's "Who loves you, baby?" ranked way too low at No. 64?

Also getting little respect: Sgt. Phil Esterhaus's "Let's be careful out there" from Hill Street Blues (No. 72) and Regis Philbin's climactic "Is that your final answer?" (No. 46).

Six Saturday Night Live catchphrases made the list, with "We are two wild and crazy guys" topping this subset at No. 13. But left out are "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not" and the show's weekly call to arms -- "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"

Uncle B could go on and on, but will settle for listing the Top 10 catchphrases not included anywhere in TV Land's 100 Greatest. You're cordially invited to look at their list and this list before submitting your own lists -- or omissions. So "away we go!" which Jackie Gleason used to say on his old variety show. That didn't make the TV Land list either.

10. "Well, kiss mah grits" -- Flo Castleberry on Alice

9. "Go-l-l-l-ly!!" -- Gomer Pyle

8. "Chee-burger, chee-burger, chee-burger" -- Saturday Night Live

7. "Hello, Newman" -- Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld

6. "Tell 'em Groucho sent you" -- Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life

5. "The devil made me do it" -- Flip Wilson on The Flip Wilson Show

4. "L-o-o-o-sie, I'm home." -- Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy

3. "You bet your sweep bippy" -- usually Dick Martin on Laugh-In

2. "Beam me up, Scotty" -- Capt. James T. Kirk on Star Trek

1. "I pity the fool!" -- Mr. T on The A-Team

Bad scenes: Top 10 train wreck marriages between athletes and show biz stars

Tony Parker and Eva Longoria cuddle; Willa Ford shows off her sparkler from Mike Modano after sidestepping a supposedly hot afffair with Dancing with the Stars partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Big-time athletes and show biz celebs often make scenes together. But the track record for long-term co-existence is decidedly star-crossed.

Even so, two more weddings are in the works after the recent engagements of actress Eva Longoria to NBA star Tony Parker, and rocker/dancer Willa Ford to hockey puckerer Mike Modano.

Some of these proposals never make it down the aisle. Former New York Jets star defensive end Mark Gastineau and actress Brigitte Nielsen had a son together and a stormy two-year engagement before breaking it off. She earlier had been married to fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, also known as Sylvester Stallone

Blonde bombshell Mamie Van Doren and former playboy pitcher Bo Belinsky also announced their intention to marry, but then fell apart. And of course there's also the recent failure to launch of Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow.

Before getting to our Top 10 list of marriages that dropped the ball, let's salute the still going partnership of ex-NFL QB Rodney Peete and actress Holly Robinson Peete. They tied the knot in 1995 and are still on the same team. Now to the wreckage, with readers as always encouraged to cite any errors of omission.

10. Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields (1997-'99) -- It just didn't take. The star tennis player was still into a different racquet when he met the cover girl actress who'd been in show biz almost since birth. Their worlds kept turning in opposite directions.

9. Johnny Weismuller and Lupe Velez (1933-'39) -- The five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist had just started playing Tarzan when he thought he'd met his Jane. But the tempestuous actress and the hard-drinking he-man proved to be a volatile mix, regularly making tabloid headlines during their oft rough-and-tumble time together. She went on to make a series of seven Mexican Spitfire movies before taking her life in 1944. He died in 1984, with three subsequent marriages under his belt.

8. Leo Durocher and Laraine Day (1947-'60) -- "The Lip" loved the Hollywood crowd, and for a good while lived in relative wedded bliss with an actress who once was dubbed the "First Lady of Baseball." But Leo's temper and vagabond lifestyle eventually found him thrown out at home. He wound up in the Hall of Fame and she last acted in 1986 as sleuth Jessica Fletcher's sister on Murder, She Wrote.

7. Ahmad Rashad and Phylicia Rashad (1985 to 2001) -- At the height of her fame as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, the then Phylicia Allen heard him propose marriage during the halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day game between the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. She accepted, but the marriage was birthed under a bad sign when O.J. Simpson acted as the former pro footballer's best man.

6. Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield (1958-'64) -- The ex-Mr. Universe flexed awesome physiques with Hollywood's then Avis of sex symbols in a tempestuous double-team that lasted six years and produced three children. The youngest, Mariska Hargitay, is an Emmy-winning actress for her work on NBC's Law & Order: SVU.

5. David Justice and Halle Berry (1992-'97) -- He was a star slugger for the Atlanta Braves when the future Catwoman and Oscar-winner became his bride. His alleged wandering eye on road trips and her career ambitions eventually waylaid them. He's since remarried and she's gone through another husband.

4. Mike Tyson and Robin Givens (1988-'89) -- The onetime heavyweight champ turned palooka lasted a year and a week with the former Head of the Class co-star. They fittingly ended their marriage on Valentine's Day after dooming it during a Barbara Walters interview in which she professed to be afraid of him while he sat next to her.

3. John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal (1986-'94) -- The hot-tempered tennis champ and the Oscar-winning actress (as the child star of Paper Moon) hooked up for love, set and then a very bitter end-game. They had a prolonged battle over child custody, which he won. She then wrote a tell-all book, A Paper Life, that portrayed him as an all-around creep. He's lately been the host of both a failed talk show and game show while she went down for the count early in the second edition of Dancing with the Stars.

2. Chuck Finley and Tawny Kitaen (1997-2002) -- He had a gainful major league pitching career, winning exactly 200 games with three major league teams. But its twilight was shadowed by an embarrassingly public spat with his actress wife, whom he accused of physical abuse. Kitaen was charged with domestic violence after she allegedly kicked Finley with her high-heeled shoes and literally bent his ear. She previously dated O.J. Simpson. Enough said.

1. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe (Jan. 14, 1954 to Oct. 27, 1954) -- The ultimate pairing of sports and show biz giants. No wonder it didn't last. Joltin' Joe's consuming jealousies and Marilyn's still ripe Hollywood career sent them to divorce court after less than 10 months of matrimony. He reportedly pined for her until death, never remarrying. She rebounded to famed playwright Arthur Miller, with their marriage lasting five years. Books about Joe and Marilyn will be written forevermore. The End.