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15 Fun Facts About Married... with Children

Former Laverne & Shirley and Diff’rent Strokes writers Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt were tired of the saccharine family sitcoms of the '80s. So when given the opportunity to create a brand-new show for the then-brand-new Fox network, the two conceived of a series that went against everything they'd been working on up until then. What began with a working title of Not the Cosbys became Married... with Children. Here are 15 things you might not know about the classic dysfunctional family comedy, which aired it final episode 20 years ago today.

1. IT WAS FOX'S FIRST PRIME TIME SHOW.

On Sunday, April 5, 1987, Fox made its primetime debut at 7 p.m. EST with the pilot episode of Married... with Children, which was followed by the series premiere of The Tracey Ullman Show. At 8 p.m., the same two episodes repeated again. And then again at 9 p.m.

2. IT'S THE LONGEST-RUNNING LIVE ACTION SHOW IN FOX HISTORY.

There were 259 original installments of Married... with Children. The final episode was unceremoniously aired 20 years ago today, on June 9, 1997.

3. KELLY AND BUD WERE PLAYED BY DIFFERENT ACTORS IN THE PILOT.

Tina Caspary and Hunter Carson played Kelly and Bud Bundy, respectively, in the unaired pilot, but were replaced by Christina Applegate and David Faustino by the time the series went to air.

4. THE SHOW WAS PITCHED WITH SAM KINISON AS AL AND ROSEANNE BARR AS PEGGY.

Both Kinison and Barr’s managers told Moye, Leavitt, and the other producers that their clients were shooting for the movies, not television.

5. MICHAEL RICHARDS AUDITIONED TO PLAY AL.

Two years before he landed the career-making role of Kramer on Seinfeld, Michael Richards auditioned to play the Bundy family patriarch. Moye estimated that out of the many people who auditioned for the role, “80 percent” played Al like Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden and “five percent” went the Jack Nicholson in The Shining route.

6. ED O’NEILL GOT THE AUDITION FROM PLAYING LENNY IN OF MICE AND MEN.

A Fox executive happened to see Ed O'Neill play Lenny at a performance in Hartford, Connecticut and remembered it when they were casting for Al. He won the role at the audition simply by taking a deep breath and slumping his shoulders before he entered the front door, something nobody else did.

7. O’NEILL BASED AL ON SOME FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS.

Specifically, he based his performance on some uncles and a “crude high school pal.” None of those people were probably able to see his performance at first, because O’Neill’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio didn’t get the Fox network when the show debuted.

8. THE SHOW BRIEFLY RUINED O'NEILL'S MOVIE CAREER.

O’Neill had to be recast long after the 1991 war film Flight of the Intruder had finished shooting because test audiences kept laughing whenever he appeared on screen, even though he was playing a Navy captain involved in a court-martial.

9. KATEY SAGAL CAME UP WITH PEGGY BUNDY’S STYLE ON HER OWN.

Katey Sagal came into her audition believing Peggy would dress like a former cocktail waitress.

10. THE BUDGET FOR THE FIRST FEW SEASONS WAS TINY.

The budget in the series' early days was so small that when Buck the dog went on a credit card shopping spree, the big items he purchased were brought in from the homes of the show's cast and crew. It wasn’t until season three that Katey Sagal got to wear a wig.

11. FOX REFUSED TO AIR ONE EPISODE, AND IT DIDN’T SHOW UP ON AMERICAN TELEVISION UNTIL 2002.

The season three episode “I’ll See You in Court” was deemed too racy to air by Fox in 1989, and it didn’t see the light of day until June 18, 2002 on FX (in edited form). The show was under scrutiny at the time after Michigan housewife (and Mitt Romney's former sister-in-law) Terry Rakolta started a letter-writing campaign regarding television and decency that got some advertisers to pull their ads from the show.

12. THE WRITERS MADE JEFFERSON D’ARCY INTO A SECRET AGENT AFTER TED MCGINLEY COMPLAINED.

McGinley was upset that he was turned into “such a wuss.”

13. DAVID GARRISON LEFT THE SHOW AFTER SEASON FOUR TO RETURN TO LIVE THEATER.

Garrison, who played neighbor Steve Rhoades, would pop up in the series four more times after his official departure, always in a different profession.

14. THERE WERE TWO FAILED SPINOFFS.

Garrison’s last appearance as Steve Rhoades was in the season nine finale “Radio Free Trumaine,” where Steve was suddenly a college dean who makes a mistake expelling some school DJs. It was shopped as a pilot but Fox didn’t pick up the series (despite it co-starring Keri Russell). The season 10 episode “Enemies,” featuring Nicole Eggert, was a low-brow version of Friends that Fox also declined to pick up to series. The spinoff Top of the Heap, starring Matt LeBlanc as one-time Kelly Bundy boyfriend Vinnie Verducci, lasted for six episodes on its own on Fox before being turned into Vinnie & Bobby, which ran for seven episodes in the summer of 1992.

15. ED O’NEILL’S STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME IS IN FRONT OF A SHOE STORE.

He was honored on August 30, 2011 with a star in front of the DSW shoe store on Hollywood Boulevard.

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Mister Rogers Is Now a Funko Pop! and It’s Such a Good Feeling, a Very Good Feeling
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It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood for fans of Mister Rogers, as Funko has announced that, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the kindest soul to ever grace a television screen will be honored with a series of Funko toys, some of them limited-edition versions.

The news broke at the New York Toy Fair, where the pop culture-loving toy company revealed a new Pop Funko! in Fred Rogers’s likeness—he’ll be holding onto the Neighborhood Trolley—plus a Mister Rogers Pop! keychain and a SuperCute Plush.

In addition to the standard Pop! figurine, there will also be a Funko Shop exclusive version, in which everyone’s favorite neighbor will be wearing a special blue sweater. Barnes & Noble will also carry its own special edition, which will see Fred wearing a red cardigan and holding a King Friday puppet instead of the Neighborhood Trolley.

 

Barnes & Noble's special edition Mister Rogers Funko Pop!
Funko

Mister Rogers’s seemingly endless supply of colored cardigans was an integral part of the show, and a sweet tribute to his mom (who knitted all of them). But don’t go running out to snatch up the whole collection just yet; Funko won’t release these sure-to-sell-out items until June 1, but you can pre-order your Pop! on Amazon right now.

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10 People Who Have Misplaced Their Oscars
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Winning an Oscar is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Unless you’re Walt Disney, who won 22. Nevertheless, owning a little gold guy is such a rarity that you’d think their owners would be a little more careful with them. Now, not all of these losses are the winners' fault—but some of them certainly are, Colin Firth.

1. ANGELINA JOLIE

After Angelina Jolie planted a kiss on her brother and made the world wrinkle their noses, she went onstage and collected a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted. She later presented the trophy to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. The statuette may have been boxed up and put into storage with the rest of Marcheline’s belongings when she died in 2007, but it hasn’t yet surfaced. “I didn’t actually lose it,” Jolie said, “but nobody knows where it is at the moment.”

2. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg sent her Ghost Best Supporting Actress Oscar back to the Academy to have it cleaned and detailed, because apparently you can do that. The Academy then sent the Oscar on to R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that manufactures the trophies. When it arrived in the Windy City, however, the package was empty. It appeared that someone had opened the UPS package, removed the Oscar, then neatly sealed it all back up and sent it on its way. It was later found in a trash can at an airport in Ontario, California. The Oscar was returned to the Academy, who returned it to Whoopi without cleaning it. “Oscar will never leave my house again,” Goldberg said.

3. OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

When Olympia Dukakis’s Moonstruck Oscar was stolen from her home in 1989, she called the Academy to see if it could be replaced. “For $78,” they said, and she agreed that it seemed like a fair price. It was the only thing taken from the house.

4. MARLON BRANDO

“I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.” He also didn't know what happened to the Oscar that he had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him in 1973. “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”

5. JEFF BRIDGES

Jeff Bridges had just won his Oscar in 2010 for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it was already missing by the next year’s ceremony, where he was up for another one. He lost to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. “It’s been in a few places since last year but I haven’t seen it for a while now,” the actor admitted. “I’m hoping it will turn up, especially now that I haven’t won a spare! But Colin deserves it. I just hope he looks after it better.” Which brings us to ...

6. COLIN FIRTH

Perhaps Jeff Bridges secretly cursed the British actor as he said those words, because Firth nearly left his new trophy on a toilet tank the very night he received it. After a night of cocktails at the Oscar after-parties in 2011, Firth allegedly had to be chased down by a bathroom attendant, who had found the eight-pound statuette in the bathroom stall. Notice we said allegedly: Shortly after those reports surfaced, Firth's rep issued a statement saying the "story is completely untrue. Though it did give us a good laugh."

7. MATT DAMON

When newbie writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took home Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, it was one of those amazing Academy Award moments. Now, though, Damon isn’t sure where his award went. “I know it ended up at my apartment in New York, but unfortunately, we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town and that was the last I saw of it,” Damon said in 2007.

8. MARGARET O'BRIEN

In 1945, seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien was presented with a Juvenile Academy Award for being the outstanding child actress of the year. About 10 years later, the O’Briens’ maid took the award home to polish, as she had done before, but never came back to work. The missing Oscar was forgotten about when O’Brien’s mother died shortly thereafter, and when Margaret finally remembered to call the maid, the number had been disconnected. She ended up receiving a replacement from the Academy.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. In 1995, a couple of guys were picking their way through a flea market when they happened upon the Oscar. They put it up for auction, which is when word got back to the Academy that the missing trophy had resurfaced. The guys who found the Oscar pulled it from auction and presented it, in person, to Margaret O’Brien. “I’ll never give it to anyone to polish again,” she said.

9. BING CROSBY

For years, Bing Crosby's Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way had been on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. In 1972, students walked into the school’s library to find that the 13-inch statuette had been replaced with a three-inch Mickey Mouse figurine instead. A week later, the award was found, unharmed, in the university chapel. “I wanted to make people laugh,” the anonymous thief later told the school newspaper.

10. HATTIE MCDANIEL

Hattie McDaniel, famous for her Supporting Actress win as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, donated her Best Actress Oscar to Howard University. It was displayed in the fine arts complex for a time, but went missing sometime in the 1960s. No one seems to know exactly when or how, but there are rumors that the Oscar was unceremoniously dumped into the Potomac by students angered by racial stereotypes such as the one she portrayed in the film.

An earlier version of this post ran in 2013.

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