DEAR STACY: Do my ears deceive me? My son was watching a Thomas the Tank Engine show at a friend's and I am just sure I heard the voice of Robert Crawley of "Downton Abbey" as an engine named Merlin. Am I right? And please let me know what he has been up to otherwise. -- Donna B., Rancho Cucamonga, California
DEAR DONNA: Yes, Hugh Bonneville, known to "Downton" fans as Robert, Earl of Grantham, supplies the voice for experimental engine Merlin in in the musical "Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor," released this past August. He's a busy bee, having just recently seen the release of "Paddington 2," another children's favorite, which reunited him with one-time "Notting Hill" castmate, Hugh Grant. Bonnevile will host "Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2018" on PBS's Great Performances Jan. 1, taking over from previious host Julie Andrews. After that, he has a feature in his sights. It was announced at this year's Cannes Film Festival that Bonnevile would play author Roald Dahl in a bio pic focusing on the 1960s when Dahl was struggling to complete such works as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" while wife Patricia Neal was garnering Oscar attention for her work in "Hud." When the Dahl film will be made -- and who will play Patricia Neal -- are yet to be determined.
DEAR STACY: Mae Whitman was my favorite actor in "Parenthood." What is she up to lately? -- S.K., Phoenix, Arizona
DEAR S.K.: Whitman is part of the midseason NBC series "Good Girls," set for Feb. 26 premiere. It has her as one of a group of struggling suburban women who decide to rob a supermarket, which changes their lives in unexpected ways.
DEAR STACY: It was so touching to read Shaun Cassidy's recollections of his childhood with half brother David after David's death. That made me realize I haven't seen Shaun in a long time. What is he doing? -- Dianna_Me
DEAR Dianna_Me: Since the 1980s, the onetime "Hardy Boys" teen heartthrob has worked behind the cameras, as a producer and writer. His credits include "Emerald City," "Invasion," "Cold Case," "American Gothic" and "Ruby & The Rockits," which starred his brother Patrick and late half brother, David.
DEAR STACY: The actor who played Tonto on the "Lone Ranger" series of the 1950s -- was he actually Native American? My friend says he was a Jewish guy who changed his name. -- CaBro17
DEAR CaBro17: "The Lone Ranger's" Jay Silverheels did change his name, from Harold Smith. But he wasn't a Jewish guy. He was a Mohawk, born on Canada's Six Nation's Reserve. His father was Major George Smith, who is noted as the most decorated Native Canadian soldier in WWI. Silverheels, a gifted athlete, first ventured to Hollywood as a stuntman. His acting break came as the Osceola brother in Humphrey Bogart's 1948 film, "Key Largo." In addition to his many film and television credits, Silverheels was a champion of Native actors and founded the Indian Actors Workshop in Hollywood. He died in 1980 at age 62 after suffering a stroke and pneumonia.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.