Jack Bannon, cool-headed assistant city editor on ‘Lou Grant,’ dies at 77

Jack Bannon and his actress wife, Ellen Travolta Bannon, in Los Angeles in 1980.
Jack Bannon and his actress wife, Ellen Travolta Bannon, in Los Angeles in 1980.
(Donaldson Collection / Getty Images)
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Jack Bannon, a familiar face on prime-time television and best known as the genial and raffish assistant city editor Art Donovan on “Lou Grant,” has died at age 77.

Bannon died Wednesday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he had lived with his wife, Ellen Travolta Bannon — the sister of John Travolta — since the mid-1990s. No cause of death was immediately given.

He was a regular on the acclaimed newspaper drama, which starred Ed Asner in the title role and aired on CBS from 1977 to 1982.


The crusading journalists of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune were mostly high-spirited and sometimes volatile. But Art Donovan stood out as a calming, fastidious presence (as displayed in the opening titles as he carefully arranges his suit jacket on a hanger, which he hooks on the coat stand).

Before “Lou Grant,” Bannon appeared in such series as “Here’s Lucy,” ’’Daniel Boone,” ’’Mannix,” ’’Kojak” and “The Rockford Files.”

He later co-starred on the short-lived 1983 ABC medical drama “Trauma Center.”

Both Bannon’s parents were actors. His mother, Bea Benaderet, was a regular on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which she left to star in another long-running sitcom, “Petticoat Junction.” His father, Jim Bannon, played the cowboy Red Ryder in several films.

He had long been involved in the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, as was his wife, also an actor and best known from the sitcoms “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Charles in Charge.” She survives him.

A Times staff writer contributed to this report