Having more than one actor portray the same character happens more often than you'd think on many popular TV series. The reason behind the switcheroo is not always explained to the viewing public, which means of course that we automatically assume the actor asked for a raise. But that's not always the case.
1. Yo, Janet, smell ya later!
Janet Hubert-Whitten portrayed Will Smith's Aunt Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1990 until 1993. Her real-life pregnancy wasn't an issue, as it was written into the script. So why was she replaced by Daphne Reid for the series' last three seasons? The official explanation at the time was that she'd gained 60 pounds and had become "hormonally difficult," but in a revealing interview in Jet magazine, Will Smith stated, "I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show. She said once, "˜I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.'"
2. Poor Durwood... er, Darrin
An even more famous example of the old actor switcheroo is Dick York, the original (and to many fans, the definitive) Darrin on Bewitched. York started his professional acting career in 1943 and found steady work both on TV and in films. While filming They Came to Cordoba with Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth in 1959,
a mishap aboard a railroad handcar caused York to tear most of the muscles in the right side of his back, an injury that would plague him the rest of his life.
During his tenure on Bewitched, the pain became increasingly worse, despite the studio doctors loading him up with painkillers. Eventually, he was only able to stand upright for 30 minutes at a time, so he retired his role to Dick Sargent.
More switches after the jump.
3. "They say she's the same, but she isn't the same..."
The role of eldest daughter Becky on Roseanne was something of a revolving door. Alicia "Lecy" Goranson played Becky from 1988 until 1992, when she graduated from high school and enrolled at Vassar College. At first, she was able to make occasional cameo appearances on the show, so the writers developed the Becky-elopes-with-Mark storyline to explain her absence. But soon her studies took priority, and Sarah Chalke was hired as Becky #2. By 1997, Goranson was again able to schedule some Roseanne time, temporarily bumping Chalke out of the role. Personal circumstances forced her to miss a few episodes, leaving Chalke to pinch-hit for her occasionally.
The show's producers never tried to conceal the actress switch and actually poked fun at it in several episodes.
4. Who shot my career in the neck?
Barbara Bel Geddes originated the role of Southfork matriarch Miss Ellie on Dallas. She exuded a quiet strength that enabled her to stand up to J.R. while also nurturing Jock and letting him think that he ran the ranch. In 1984, Bel Geddes took a break from the show for heart bypass surgery, and during her post-operative recovery she decided that she'd worked long enough and it was time to retire. Donna Reed was brought in as the new Miss Ellie, but Dallas fans openly expressed their displeasure with Reed's glamour versus Bel Geddes' earth mother persona. More to the point, Larry Hagman disliked her. So when the show's ratings dipped, he made a personal appeal to Bel Geddes to return to the series. Reed was dismissed despite having signed a three-year contract.
5. A pair of Partridges
Jeremy Gelbwaks was originally cast as the youngest son, Chris, on The Partridge Family. Of course, the best lines on PF went to Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, and Danny Bonaduce. The youngest kids were pretty much just there to fill out the family band and occasionally look cute during close-ups. Gelbwaks left after the first season; the official party line was that his father's job had transferred the family out of state. However, Danny Bonaduce has since revealed that
Jeremy had been something of a terror on-set, known for pranks such as kicking his fellow actors viciously in the shins just before the director yelled "Action!"
He was replaced by blond, blue-eyed Brian Forster, who looked nothing like his predecessor. Nevertheless, producers reported only receiving one fan letter questioning the change.As always, now is the time to weigh in with your opinion "“ real Becky or fake Becky? York or Sargent? Do you even remember the first Chris Partridge? Enquiring flossy minds want to know!