R.I.P. Charlie Robinson, who played Mac on 'Night Court'
Charlie Robinson had the rare distinction of changing sitcoms without changing time slots. Having honed his acting skills in Houston theater and smaller television roles, Robinson landed his first major recurring role in Buffalo Bill. The comedy was a vehicle for Dabney Coleman, who played an egotistical talk show host. The mouthy "Buffalo Bill" often butt heads with his makeup artist, Newdell, portrayed by Robinson. The show lasted two short seasons, despite getting a choice slot following Cheers on NBC's stellar Thursday night lineup. When the network pulled the plug on Buffalo Bill, it moved a freshman sitcom into its place — Night Court. Robinson jumped to Night Court in its second season, meaning audiences could still find him at 9:30 PM on Thursdays, albeit in a different role.
How Robinson got his Night Court gig is interesting in itself. The courtroom comedy looked rather different in its first season. Paula Kelly was in her single season as the public defender, a position later filled most memorably by Markie Post. And the court clerk was played by Karen Austin, whose character Lana Wagner was established as a love interest for Judge Harry Stone by the writers.
Austin lost her job after just 10 episodes. At the time, her departure was explained as a lack of chemistry, but later, it was reported that she perhaps lost her role due to developing Bell's palsy. Whatever the reason, with Austin off the show, Night Court needed a new clerk. Enter Vietnam vet Macintosh "Mac" Robinson.
Robinson would play Mac for through Night Court's ninth and final season. Known for his cardigans and amiable nature, Mac was often the counterpoint to hotheaded Dan.
Following Night Court, Robinson continued to work in television until the present day. He had recurring roles on Love & War, Hart of Dixie and a short run on Home Improvement. In the past year, he appeared on the Disney sitcom Raven's Home and the Freeform rom-com Love in the Time of Corona.
On July 11, Robinson passed away in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 75.