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'Perfect Strangers' Turns 25! Where Is the Cast Now?

by Kim Potts, posted Mar 25th 2011 1:30PM
Bronson Pinchot, Mark Linn-Baker, Perfect StrangersThe fact that today is the 25th anniversary of the premiere of 'Perfect Strangers'? It makes us want to do the Dance of Joy!

That, of course, is the memorable full-body celebration involving leg kicks, jumping up and down and shouting "Hey!" and ending with cousin Larry (Mark Linn-Baker) leaping into the arms of his Myposian cousin Balki (Bronson Pinchot), whose "Now we are so happy, we do the dance of joy!" exclamation always launched the dance.

The Dance of Joy was one of the best reasons for tuning into the silly, but sweet entry into ABC's sadly defunct TGIF lineup of Friday night sitcoms, in fact. 'Perfect Strangers' revolved around just that: two strangers, Chicagoan Larry and his distant cousin Balki, who became roomies when Balki left his Mediterranean country home and showed up on Larry's Windy City doorstep.


The idea for the series, which ran on ABC for eight seasons, came when producers Robert Boyett and Tom Miller -- they of the prolific Miller-Boyett production company that also gave us 'Happy Days,' 'Laverne & Shirley,' 'Full House,' 'Mork & Mindy' and the Urkel-riffic 'Family Matters' -- saw Pinchot in 'Beverly Hills Cop.'

As flamboyant Los Angeles art salesman Serge, Pinchot stole the scene from costar Eddie Murphy in a totally improvised performance -- no small feat given that Murphy was at the top of his game in the flick.


Pinchot's penchant for crafting an accent and unleashing his inner kookiness led Miller and Boyett to concoct a sitcom starring the actor as a happy-go-lucky immigrant. After a trip to Greece that left him impressed with the Greek citizens, Pinchot agreed to star in the series and make Balki hail from the Greece-like Mypos.

And the inspiration for the name Balki? Pinchot's sister's dog was named Balcony, but everyone called him "Balcy."


Though Balki, the eternal optimist, with his happy dance and "Don't be ree-dic-ulous!" catchphrase, was far and away the show's most popular character, cousin Larry, the more pragmatic, and sometimes scheming, of the two, was also beloved by TGIF fans. Larry even had a few catchphrases of his own, including "Oh my Lord!" and "I have ... a plan," a phrase that meant he was about to hatch an ill-fated plot.

Check Out Our List of
Greatest '80s TV Catchphrases


The cousins' loyal friendship and determination to make it in the big city combined with physical comedy reminiscent of a Lucy and Ethel plot and quirky wordplay involving catchphrases and Balki's misspoken English, it's no wonder the show continues to resonate with viewers. One fan even recreated the 'Perfect Strangers' opening sequence, complete with that infectious theme song.

And as our homage to the show's 25th anniversary, here's a little peek at what the series cast has been up to post-'Perfect Strangers.'

Bronson PinchotBronson Pinchot (Balki Bartokomous)
Then: Sweet, malapropism-spouting, vest-wearing, happy-dancing sheepherder Balki moved from the Greece-ish Mypos to America, where he became the roommate, co-worker and, sometimes begrudgingly, best friend of his cousin Larry. Balki eventually became a comic strip creator, creating a 'toon based on his stuffed animal sheep named Dimitri. The duo even married a set of best friends and lived happily, and often zanily, ever after together.
Now: Post-'Strangers,' Pinchot played the scene-stealing interior designer Duarto in 'The First Wives Club,' guest starred on 'Law & Order: SVU' and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent,' and joined the cast of another TGIF sitcom, 'Step by Step.' He was also a cast member of the fifth season of VH1's 'The Surreal Life,' and has spent several years restoring homes in Pennsylvania. Most recently, he had a recurring role on 'The Young & the Restless,' was the voice of Max the car in a series of VW commercials and guest starred on 'Hawaii Five-0' and 'Chuck.'

Mark Linn-BakerMark Linn-Baker (Larry Appleton)
Then: Larry moved to Chicago to forge independence from his large family and to pursue his career as a photographer, but ended up living with distant cousin Balki and working as a writer instead.
Now: Linn-Baker has continued to work on the stage, on the big screen (he co-starred with Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon in the 2010 romantic comedy 'How Do You Know') and on TV, where he has guest starred on 'Law & Order,' 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' and 'Life on Mars,' and played Sigmund Scrambler on 'The Electric Company' remake. He also directed episodes of 'Hangin' With Mr. Cooper,' 'Step by Step' and 'Family Matters.'

Jo Marie PaytonJo Marie Payton (Harriette Winslow)
Then: She was the feisty elevator operator at the 'Chronicle,' and the basis of the 'Strangers' spin-off 'Family Matters.'
Now: She was the voice of Sugar Mama on 'The Proud Family,' had a recurring role as a wise-crackin' personal assistant to Will's boss on 'Will & Grace' and has guest-starred on 'Desperate Housewives,' 'Meet the Browns' and 'The Glades.'



Ernie SabellaErnie Sabella (Donald Twinkacetti)
Then: "Twinkie," as he was better known, was not only Larry and Balki's landlord, but also their obnoxious, money-grubbing boss at the Ritz Discount store.
Now: Prolific TV, movie and stage actor Sabella has guest starred on everything from 'Saved by the Bell' to 'Seinfeld' to 'That's So Raven,' and, on the big screen, is best known as the voice of Pumbaa in 'The Lion King.'



Belita MorenoBelita Moreno (Lydia Markham)
Then: She was the 'Chronicle' advice columnist who, of course, was the character most in need of advice while dealing with her own love life and many phobias. For the show's first two seasons, she was Edwina, the kinder, gentler wife of Mr. Twinkacetti.
Now: Despite the fact that she's little more than a decade older than George Lopez, she starred as his mother in the ABC sitcom 'George Lopez.' An acting coach who has worked with Lindsay Lohan, Renee Zellweger and Aaron Eckhart, Moreno most recently appeared in 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' and guest starred on the USA drama 'Fairly Legal.'


Melanie WilsonMelanie Wilson (Jennifer Lyons)
Then: Jennifer was a flight attendant who became Larry's girlfriend, despite the fact that he thought she was out of his league. The two eventually married and, after Balki and Larry took her on a hot air balloon ride to help induce labor, she gave birth to baby Tucker in season eight.
Now: Wilson, the daughter of actor Dick Wilson -- aka Mr. Whipple from the Charmin commercials -- guest starred on other TGIF series like 'Family Matters' and 'Step by Step,' co-wrote the script for the 2002 Danny Glover-directed TV movie 'Just a Dream,' and most recently co-starred in the 2009 Lifetime movie 'Prayers for Bobby.'

Rebecca ArthurRebeca Arthur (Mary Anne Spencer)
Then: Mary Anne was a flight attendant, and roommate of Jennifer's, who began dating Balki in season two. Despite a brief break up, she reunited with him to get married and have baby Robespierre before the end of the series.
Now: Arthur guest starred on 'Grace Under Fire,' but was last seen in the Keanu Reeves / James Spader thriller 'The Watcher.'



Eugene RocheEugene Roche (Harry Burns)
Then: Burns was Larry's first boss at the 'Chronicle,' and, despite the fact that he frequently forgot Larry's name, he felt Larry had a future at the paper.
Now: The actor, who'd been the Ajax Man in a series of 1970s TV commercials and had memorable roles as Archie's pal Pinky on 'All in the Family,' the landlord on 'Webster' and a fellow private investigator of Magnum's on 'Magnum P.I.,' died in 2004.



Sam Anderson (Sam Gorpley)
Then: Balki's boss in the 'Chronicle' mailroom, Mr. Gorpley was definitely not a fan -- he constantly plotted, unsuccessfully, to get Balki (who he referred to as the "Mypiot") fired.
Now: He's had recurring roles on 'Growing Pains,' 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' 'Angel' and 'ER,' and has guest starred on 'Leverage' and 'NCIS,' but TV fans know him best as Bernard, one half of beloved 'Lost' couple Rose and Bernard.

F.J. O'Neil (Mr. Wainright)
Then: As the 'Chicago Chronicle' publisher, he was Larry's gruff boss, who promoted Larry to an editor position and gave Balki his own comic strip.
Now: He went on to guest star on series like 'Wings' and 'L.A. Law' and big-screen flicks like 'The Hunt for Red October.' O'Neil, who also guest starred on the short-lived Joey Lawrence comedy 'Brotherly Love,' was most recently seen in ads supporting a universal health care plan in California.

For more 'Perfect Strangers' info, check out the wonderfully comprehensive P.S. I Love You fan Website.


Were you a 'Perfect Strangers' fan? What are your favorite moments from the show?

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Larry Appleton

Story of my life. http://larryinchicago.blogspot.com/

June 09 2014 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loretta

''GET OUT OF THE CITY!" :-)

February 08 2012 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ohslimgoody

Ahhh when people kept there clothes on and still could be funny.

January 08 2012 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeno

My favorite episode was when Larry had tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert and he came down with a cold or the flu. I even taped it. This was true comedy. What happened?

May 18 2011 at 9:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mario & Charito

That was good clean funny comedy............ hope they come back

April 17 2011 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Connie

the show when they went to the gym and woke up and could not move made me go into labor I'm not kidding I laugh that hard

April 17 2011 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Sandra

One of my most favorite shows of all time! I still watch it on DVD whenever I need a laugh! Those guys gave us that physical comedy rarely seen these days and remembered from shows like I Love Lucy. My favorite episodes? To name a few, the bowling scene when Bailki goes bowling after an eye appointment and can't see, he almost throws it at the crowd! Then, when they replaced the shower head in the girls appartment, man hilarious! The river raft ride and getting snowed in the cabin, oh my gosh, don't be ree-diculous! I think I'll go watch some now!

April 16 2011 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chester marlene

HI, I loved Prefect Strangers, I wish that TV land would show their reruns.

April 16 2011 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gloria Ann

Are you kidding? I thought it was comic genious! The acting alone was spectacular. I love the one where they were both babies with that huge crib. The show was innocent and hilarious! All I can say to anyone who says otherwise is "Don't be rediculous."

April 15 2011 at 7:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NotAnIdiot

Cousins???? Riiiiight... I always thought they were "cousins" like Bert and Ernie or the two guys down the street...I mean I always noticed how they were always falling, jumping, grabbing,etc. on each other. I guess the fact that you could call it a gay old time could mean exactly that. Either way, didn't care for this show, at all.

April 14 2011 at 9:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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