19 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 19 things you might not know about the classic dysfunctional family comedy.
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 on June 9, 1997.
3. THE THEME SONG WAS ORIGINALLY PERFORMED BY FRANK SINATRA FOR A TV PRODUCTION OF OUR TOWN.
“Love and Marriage” was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen and performed by Ol' Blue Eyes in the 1955 broadcast. In addition to singing the song, he played the Stage Manager in the production, starring alongside Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint. The recorded version that ended up as Married... with Children's theme song was released on 1956’s This Is Sinatra!
4. 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.
5. THE SHOW WAS PITCHED WITH SAM KINISON AS AL AND ROSEANNE BARR AS PEGGY.
6. MICHAEL RICHARDS AUDITIONED TO PLAY AL.
Two years before he landed the career-making role of Kramer on Seinfeld, 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 Cramden and “five percent” went the Jack Nicholson in The Shining route.
7. ED O’NEILL GOT THE AUDITION FROM PLAYING LENNY IN OF MICE AND MEN.
A Fox executive happened to see 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. KATEY SAGAL CAME UP WITH PEGGY BUNDY’S STYLE ON HER OWN.
She came into her audition believing Peggy would dress like a former cocktail waitress.
11. 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.
12. 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 for 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.
13. THE WRITERS WROTE DAVID FAUSTINO’S LOVE OF HIP HOP INTO THE SHOW.
Bud Bundy’s nom de rap, Grandmaster B, came about after the writers noticed Faustino inviting his DJ friends to the set, and from knowing that the actor had aspirations to be a rap artist himself. In 1992, Faustino released an album as D’Lil titled Balistyx. Faustino himself was responsible for Bud’s bedroom posters of hip hop artists Nas and Ice Cube. Nas knew he was popular when he first saw his poster in Bud’s room.
14. 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.”
15. DAVID GARRISON LEFT THE SHOW AFTER SEASON FOUR TO RETURN TO LIVE THEATER.
Garrison, who played neighbord Steve Rhoades, would pop up in the series four more times after his official departure, always in a different profession.
16. GEORGE PLIMPTON HOSTED THE 200TH EPISODE SPECIAL.
The author did so in a “mock-pompous manner.”
17. 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.
18. A BUD BUNDY SPINOFF MAY BE IN THE WORKS.
On September 12, 2014 it was reported that Sony is shopping a Bud-centric series.
19. 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.