The Newfoundland Herald
August 18, 1990

Bronson Pinchot: faces life as a Perfect Stranger
Written by Janice White

Picture it.  A Greek sheepherder in the thick of life in the windy American city of Chicago.

Does this picture sound unusual, slightly off-beat and somewhat familiar?  Well it should if you are a fan of the hit ABC hit series Perfect Strangers.

Although Balki (Bronson Pinchot) Bartokomous is not specifically a Greek sheepherder; he does, however, hail from a sheepherding family from the tiny Mediterranean island of Mepos (sic.)

Unlike the character he plays, Pinchot is originally from Pasadena, California.  He was an exceptionally bright child who won a scholarship to Yale, where he majored in English and theatre and began to dabble in student productions.

However, Pinchot is just as strange as the sheepherding character he portrays -- if not more unusual.


Four years after the show's success, Pinchot is still doing research for his Balki character.  He even uses some of his annual vacation time to carry out his research.

Pinchot says the Greek sheepherders never seem to believe him when he walks up in the hills and asks to observe.

"Those sheepherders," says Pinchot in a recent interview with TV Guide, "are very skeptical when you tell them you just want to hang around and observe how they handle their sheep."

He stresses that he doesn't take notes but it is an indication that -- having spent several years as a hungry, unemployed actor -- he's not about to let a good thing get away.

Balki, the more prominent half of Perfect Strangers' odd couple tends to come across as an innocent, naive and overtrusting soul.  What people may think is that Balki is a carbon copy of Pinchot -- this is not the case.

Thirty-year-old Pinchot grew up in a home that required welfare assistance to survive following desertion by their father.

Pinchot speaks frankly about his dislike and resentment of his father.

After becoming a star, Pinchot told TV Guide, he went to see his father for the first time in many years.  "He had nothing to say," recalled Pinchot.  "He just doesn't know me.  I don't see him.  If I wanted to befriend a man in his 70s, I'd do it with a man who had lived a good life and treated his family well and had something to say.  That doesn't describe my father."

Pinchot never really fit in anywhere throughout his younger years.  In an interview with TV Guide, he revealed that he got beat up all the time -- "I had a bad time with the world.  I was fat and I didn't get picked for any sports teams.  I was smart-mouthed and precocious and made teachers feel threatened, so they yelled at me and made me stand up outside the class even though I got straight A's.  I just didn't fit in anywhere."

Things changed when Pinchot headed to Yale.  He fit in.  He feels it was a good start that nobody beat him up.  He enjoyed the courses he was taking which included ancient Greece and philosophy and literature.

Throughout the first few years at Yale, professors encouraged him to head for a fine arts major where Pinchot was to devote his life to painting.

But Pinchot had different ideas than those of his professors.  He had performed in a couple of plays and decided that this is where his desire lay as opposed to painting.

But Pinchot had different ideas than those of his professors.  He had performed in a couple of plays and decided that this is where his desire lay as opposed to painting.

His professors may have been moved to utter, "Don't be ridiculous," but Pinchot pursued the acting anyway.

He had his first break in the film business with small roles in Risky Business and Flamingo Kid.

A casting agent spotted him in the latter film and suggested him for Beverly Hills Cop, which is where Pinchot's big break came.  With an outrageous accent, adapted from that of an Israeli make-up woman he met during the production of a little known film called Hot Resort and the name and pronunciation of a Swiss caterer for whom he once worked (Serge pronounced Sairge), his gallery employee character stole scenes from Eddie Murphy.

When the movie came out, Pinchot was very hot but already committed to what turned out to be a short-lived series titled Sara.

After that series folded, he was cast for his current role, that of Balki Bartokomous in Perfect Strangers.

The ratings and reviews have been great, so look to see more of that strange but loveable man from Mepos -- a man who lives in an even stranger world.

Perfect Strangers airs every Friday night: 8:00 on NTV and 10:30 on ABC.