15 Fighting Facts About Coach

ABC Television
ABC Television

Before Parenthood, Craig T. Nelson starred as college football coach Hayden Fox on Coach, a sitcom that most people would be surprised to realize ran for nine seasons and 197 episodes, from 1989 through 1997. On the 20th anniversary of the series' finale, we're taking a look back at the original show that started it all.

1. MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY WAS ACTUALLY THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA.

Even though the first seven seasons of Coach were set at the fictitious Minnesota State University, series creator Barry Kemp graduated from the University of Iowa's Department of Theatre Arts, and paid homage to his alma mater by giving his main character a similar name as legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry. The exterior shots of the show were from the Iowa campus as well.

2. IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY’S MARCHING BAND PLAYED THE SHOW’S THEME SONG.

John Morris composed the opening number for Coach, which doubled as Minnesota State’s theme song. Iowa State University’s football marching band won a 1995 college marching band contest to have their version of the theme song play on the show, which ran during the opening credits until the end of the series.

3. TWO REAL-LIFE MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITIES POPPED UP AFTER THE SHOW BEGAN.

When Coach premiered on February 28, 1989, Minnesota State University was a fictitious college. In 1998, Mankato State University became Minnesota State University, Mankato. On July 1, 2000, Moorhead State University became Minnesota State University Moorhead.

4. CRAIG T. NELSON THOUGHT ABC HATED HIM.

Craig T. Nelson was persuaded by Barry Kemp to audition for the network. The actor was so convinced that ABC wasn’t enjoying his efforts in their initial meeting that he left early. To his surprise, they offered him the part the very next day.

5. JERRY VAN DYKE AND NELSON HAD TO WORK ON THEIR CHEMISTRY.

In an interview with Popdose, Jerry Van Dyke, who played defensive coordinator Luther Van Dam, said that he and Nelson had to work on finding their chemistry when the show began. Though he says that they've remained friends and talk all the time, Van Dyke admitted that Nelson was "not easy to get along with" and that "he's pretty much a loner."

6. IT WAS JERRY VAN DYKE’S FIRST SUCCESSFUL TV SHOW, AT THE AGE OF 57.

Van Dyke had previously—and infamously—starred on the one-season sitcom My Mother the Car in 1965, which TV Guide ranked as the second worst television show of all-time in 2002. Kemp specifically wrote the part of Luther Van Dam for the actor because of his “everyman quality.”

7. DICK VAN DYKE MADE AN UNCREDITED APPEARANCE ON THE SHOW.

It had to happen sooner or later. In 1993, during the show's sixth season, Jerry Van Dyke's brother, Dick, appeared on the show as a partygoer who walks across the screen when Luther insists that he can’t be related to anyone at his family reunion in “Christmas of the Van Damned.”

8. CHRISTINE ARMSTRONG WAS A REGULAR IN ELVIS PRESLEY MOVIES.

Actress Shelley Fabares, who played Hayden Fox’s girlfriend-turned-wife on the series, co-starred with The King in Girl Happy, Spinout, and Clambake.

9. CHRISTINE ARMSTRONG ALSO SANG A NUMBER ONE SONG.

Fabares sang “Johnny Angel,” which was the number one song for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1962.

10. CLARE CAREY GOT THE ROLE OF COACH’S DAUGHTER BECAUSE SHE WAS THE MOST BELIEVABLE MIDWESTERNER.

Clare Carey, who played Hayden's daughter Kelly, was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in Santa Barbara, California. But in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carey said that what got her the role was that, "They thought I was the most believable Midwesterner!"

11. DAUBER’S FIRST NAME WAS MICHAEL.

Coach's Michael Daubinksy was usually only referred to by his nickname, "Dauber." In one episode, even Hayden didn’t know who Michael Daubinsky’s girlfriend was speaking of when she referred to him by his given name.

12. DAUBER IS THE VOICE OF PATRICK ON SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.

Bill Fagerbakke’s run as Offensive Coordinator Dauber ended in 1997, the same year that he successfully auditioned to voice Patrick Star on SpongeBob SquarePants. For the first few years of SpongeBob, he referred to Patrick as “AquaDauber.”

13. SHOWRUNNERS BEGRUDGINGLY AGREED TO TAKE PART IN AN ABC CROSSOVER STUNT IN ITS FINAL SEASON.

Competing with the 39th Annual Grammy Awards on February 26, 1997, ABC had characters from The Drew Carey Show, Ellen, Grace Under Fire, and Coach meet each other in Las Vegas on a night called “Viva Las Vegas.” Craig T. Nelson refused to take part, so Luther ended up on The Drew Carey Show getting into a bidding war with Mimi in Sin City. (For what it’s worth, Ellen DeGeneres also refused to take part.) The title of that night’s installment of Coach was “Viva Las Ratings.”

14. THE SERIES FINALE OF COACH REFERRED TO A CLASSIC SHOW WITH ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS SERIES ENDINGS OF ALL TIME.

In “Leaving Orlando,” Hayden return to Minnesota to find three brothers—Larry, Darryl, and Darryl—in his cabin. Yes, the same Larry, Darryl, and Darryl from Newhart, which was also created by Barry Kemp.

15. NELSON, VAN DYKE, AND FAGERBAKKE REUNITED ON TV IN 2004.

Nelson played police chief Jack Mannion on the CBS drama The District, which was on the air from 2000 to 2004. In “The Black Widow Maker,” Van Dyke played what he described as a “cranky and brusque” small-town judge, while Fagerbakke played a kindly officer who was described in the script as “better suited to being a florist.” Though, in 2015, it was announced that a reboot of the show would be coming back to screens, plans to resurrect Coach were eventually scrapped.

Jim Henson's Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Is Returning to Theaters

The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events
The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events

For anyone who grew up with HBO in the 1980s, the holiday season meant two things: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and The Bells of Fraggle Rock. Though the beloved Jim Henson classics have been largely confined to home video-only screenings over the years, they’re making their way back to the big screen for the first time via Fathom Events when the Jim Henson Holiday Special arrives in theaters nationwide for a limited, two-day engagement.

More than 600 theaters across the country will host screenings of the Jim Henson Holiday Special on Monday, December 10 (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Sunday, December 16 (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.), which will pair the two specials—both of which have recently been remastered—alongside an all-new featurette, Memories of the Jug-Band.

"Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas was a favorite project for my dad since it included such sweet characters, Paul Williams’s delightful music, and a timeless holiday message,” Cheryl Henson—Jim Henson’s daughter and president of the Jim Henson Foundation—said in a statement about the special, which is a music-filled twist on The Gift of the Magi.

“Also, the special was a great opportunity for him to experiment with puppetry techniques and effects that would be seen in his later works," Henson continued. "[It] is exciting for families to share this holiday classic along with the special episode The Bells of Fraggle Rock, a rare opportunity to see the Fraggles on the big screen, and to introduce these beloved characters to a whole new audience."

On December 18, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Blu-ray for the first time ever so that you can make the special a permanent part of your regular holiday movie marathon. This news comes on the heels of Emmet Otter's first-ever official soundtrack release, more than 40 years after its original premiere.

Click here to find out the Jim Henson Holiday Special is playing near you, and to pre-order your tickets today.

10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for 45 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guaraldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s quasi-nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother Linus, however, is a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGGH.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of the holiday. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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