Facts and tidbits from Perfect Strangers you may not have known . . . a new one every week!

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Did you know . . .
. . .
that for some time Bronson Pinchot was a struggling actor fighting for roles and recognition?  In one interview for TV Guide he explained one of the best things about his newfound fame while working on the series Sara: "For years, I had such small roles, I had to fight to get lunch on movie sets.  Now I love signing autographs at the supermarket."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Melanie Wilson was married to her carpenter husband Joey while Perfect Strangers was on the air?  But this fact kept them from having a honeymoon until the middle of 1989, since Melanie was busy working on the show.  She was quoted in one print article as saying, "So much for this business being glamorous."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that according to one print article, the identity of the actor who voiced Griffin Dunne’s "little friend" in the movie Me and Him was a closely guarded secret in Hollywood.  As Mark’s then-agent, Judy Schoen, explained, "everybody was vying for that role."  The article revealed Mark was indeed voicing "the part," although a spokesman from Columbia would only say, "the talking (part) is not Jack Nicholson."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson Pinchot, like Mark Linn-Baker, feel very strongly about the misconceptions about comedy versus drama.  As Bronson explained in one print interview, "You know, it’s ridiculous that some people consider comedy a lesser art form than drama.  Not only is comedy usually more difficult to play, but the audience prefers it . . . and so do I.  When I think about which movie I want to go see, I almost always pick a comedy or fantasy.  Obviously, so does the public.  I loved the movie ‘Ironweed,’ but I felt really miserable for 24 hours afterwards and I sure didn’t see a lot of other people in that theater.  But you literally have to fight your way in to see an Eddie Murphy movie."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Perfect Strangers was a very unique television comedy for its time?  As Bronson explained in one print article, "It’s not what I call ‘Family Ties’ comedy, which is basically just a lot of people talking.  Our show gets into behaviorial humor."

Did you know . . .
. . . that in his early career, Bronson was far from being solely a comedic actor.  As he explained in one print interview, "When I was in college, I was the guy they came to for all the heavy dramatic parts.  I enjoyed doing them and I think I played them well.  But now that I’m known for Balki on ‘Perfect Strangers,’ I don’t have this great urge to show the audience my versatility.  I mean, I think I show a lot of versatility on ‘Perfect Strangers.’"

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson appeared in a "blink-and-you’ll-miss-him" scene in the dark comedy film After Hours?  Bronson explained that he took the small role just for the opportunity to work with director Martin Scorsese.

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson and Mark often made each other laugh on the set?  If you’ve watched the many bloopers from the series on our YouTube Channel you can see what we mean!  But during the filming of The Rent Strike an incident happened which made them both burst out laughing.  It happened during the scene when Larry is running around the cold apartment panicking because he realizes he can’t make coffee.  He has a blanket over his head and as he goes to sit down the blanket falls off.  As Bronson explained in one print article, "I put it back on, and when I wrapped it back around his head, for a minute he looked like an Eastern European woman.  I looked at his little round face sticking out of this blanket and I said, ‘Mama?  Uh, Cousin?’  He looked at me for a second and then sprayed me with spit because he laughed so hard."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Mark credits his college experience with really helping to shape both his life and career.  As he explained, "The college experience was certainly right for me.  I think it helped me in many ways.  I learned a lot both academically and just in terms of experiencing life."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Mark is a very strong advocate of college education and even participated in a series of posters which were made for high schools in which he offered advice for graduating seniors?  In one of these posters, Mark suggested that college applicants consider both facts and feelings: "If you’re thinking of going to college, just get as much information as you can and pick the one that’s right for you.  But make sure you’re right for it, too.  It’s important to try to get a sense of what the college community is about, what kinds of people are there, and whether you’ll really be comfortable."

Did you know . . .
. . . that while Bronson was working on The Trouble With Larry there was some talk about him stepping outside of his acting shoes to offer some directing advice as well?  According to one print article, actress Marianne Muellerleile was given directions by both Bronson and the director of an episode, Linda Day.  Bronson was quoted as saying, "Some might call what I’m doing directing.  I call it tweaking."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Belita Moreno played the role of Popeye Jackson in the same production of The Miss Firecracker Contest which featured Mark Linn-Baker as Delmount Williams?  If you keep up with the Articles we post each week, you do!  But you may not know that Belita originated that same role in the premiere of the play in Los Angeles!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Mark Linn-Baker appeared in the now-classic play Waiting for Godot?  It’s true!  He played Vladamir in Robert Brustrein’s ART production in Boston which ended up winning the Boston Circle Award for Best Production 1983!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson was not exactly a social butterfly in high school?  He was too busy studying to earn straight A’s and win a scholarship to college!  But he did have outside pursuits which included collecting Wizard of Oz posters and rare books.  As he explained in one print article, "I didn't go to parties and dances.  I used to go to conventions of rare book collectors, which I was.  I would regale people who were twice my age.  Those were my friends.  I was like their little mascot."

Did you know . . .
. . . that many people compared Bronson’s character of Balki with that of a former Miller-Boyett creation, Mork (as played by Robin Williams?)  It’s a fair comparison in many ways, but what’s interesting is the fact that Bronson wasn’t really aware of Mork when the show Mork and Mindy was at the height of its popularity!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that after five years working as pretty much the sole director on Perfect Strangers, Joel Zwick made a big switch and went over to direct episode of the series Full House instead?  As he explained in one print article, the change was quite radical in many ways: "‘Perfect Strangers’ was the single most professionally run show I’ve ever been involved with.  On ‘Full House,’ we have dogs, two 4-year-old twins, an 8-year-old girl, a 13-year-old girl, two stand-up comics who have other shows and one actor.  Directing it is more like real life than a television show.  We have to stop taping because the baby has to go poop."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that there were some Perfect Strangers memorabilia items available in the early 1990's?  But of course!  You probably have seen the pages from the Warner Bros. catalogue which we added as our Photo of the Week (next week it will move to the Print Ads section.)  Most of these items did not necessarily end up at the Warner Bros. stores, which were in malls across America at that time.  But some Perfect Strangers memorabilia *was* sold at the shows themselves!  For a while, the production company would set up a cart where fans were waiting in line and hawk t-shirts, cups and other P.S. items to the fans.  Also the warm-up guy, Robert, often gave away t-shirts between takes to fans who would get up and perform a little song or something!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that even the relatives of those in the publishing industry liked Perfect Strangers?  In a May 12th article in Advertise Age entitled "Jim’s Kids Pick the Winners," senior editor James P. Forkan shared the opinions of his sons Jimmy and Johnny with the magazine’s readers.  As reported, "Flicking the dial through the highlights and lowlights of the network spring tryout season: Jimmy and Johnny’s favorite newcomer without question was ABC’s ‘Perfect Strangers,’ with Bronson Pinchot’s Balki shaping up as this year’s version of Robin Williams’ Mork (also on ABC, in the late 1970s).  Jimmy [15] pronounces this sitcom ‘a cool show, very funny, awesome,’ while Johnny [8] calls it ‘great.’  None of the other test shows really sparked their interest."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that in the original Beverly Hills Cop, Bronson's character Serge asks Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) if he can make him an espresso with a little lemon twist.  That wasn't in the original script and in fact it was a suggestion made by director Martin Brest and Bronson actually thought it sounded silly, but he obliged he director and it became a classic line.  Unfortunately for Bronson, forever afterwards waiters who thought they were being original and clever always ask him if he wants an espresso with a lemon twist.

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Mypos was not originally the name of the island country Balki was from?  As Bronson explained in one television interview, the original name of the island was Inokinos (sp?) but they decided to change the name to Mypos.  But what no one realized at the time was that mypos is actually a Greek word and, oddly enough, it means "maybe" or "possibility."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that while some critics panned Perfect Strangers, others embraced the series, finding it refreshing and funny.  Writer Michelle Scofield gave the show remarkable praise in a May 11, 1986 Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times when she wrote, "Finally a sitcom worth watching.  ‘Perfect Strangers’ is perfect.  ABC can get rid of the laugh track because I can’t hear it over my own laughter."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that not everyone thought the title Perfect Strangers was a good name for ABC’s new series?  For instance, Cecil Smith wrote in the May 11, 1986 issue of the Los Angeles Times, "Theatrical lore is full of tales of plays and films that failed under one title and succeeded under another, of worthy shows that died under the wrong title.  I would have thought that ‘Perfect Strangers,’ the funniest new show on television this season, would have died under that title, but audiences apparently found it; the ABC comedy (Tuesday nights) is a major hit."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson got the role of Balki directly because of his appearance as Serge in the film Beverly Hills Cop?  Well, sure, you probably knew that if you’ve been visiting this site for any period of time.  But what you may not know is when producers Thomas Miller and Bob Boyett saw the movie they thought Bronson could play the role of the quirky foreigner they had in mind and they wrote his name down on their parking ticket.  As Bronson explained in a 1989 interview the producers still had the parking ticket, holding onto it as a relic.

Did you know . . .
. . .
that on the week of April 14 - 20, 1986, Advertising Age reported that Perfect Strangers came in at #7 for the week of television.  The number one show that week was NBC’s The Cosby Show, followed by Family Ties, 60 Minutes, Cheers, Who’s the Boss? and Golden Girls.  Following Perfect Strangers to round out the top ten were Dream West (part 3), Newhart and Night Court.

Did you know . . .
. . . that Mark Linn-Baker has yet to reach his potential?  Or at least that’s the way one could possibly interpret this quote from a 1980's article when read today.  When asked if he thought he’d fulfilled his potential yet, Mark replied, "I hope not.  I don’t think you can feel that way if you have any artistic ambition."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that it was the producers who encouraged Bronson to make Balki come from a fictional country of origin?  As Bronson explained in one print article, "I’d just come back from a vacation in Greece when I got hired for ‘Perfect Strangers’ and I thought Balki ought to be Greek.  But the producers wanted to make him a native of a fictional southern European country.  That turned out to be good because as the show has developed, it’s obvious that Balki’s homeland has so many silly customs that it could prove insulting to a real country.  So we made up the nation of Mypos."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that like many stage veterans Mark Linn-Baker admits to indulging in some of the theater world's classic superstitions.  As he explained in one print interview, "I don’t think of myself as superstitious, however I do knock on wood every time I talk about good fortune and I do have backstage superstitions.  You don’t mention the Scottish play in the theater.  If you do there’s a ritual of stepping outside the dressing room, turning around three times, spitting, swearing and knocking to come back in.  I do observe that, but I don’t think of that as superstitious.  It’s just part of the job."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson Pinchot, while not completely happy in his role as gay lawyer Dennis Kemper in the short-lived 1985 comedy series Sara, was nonetheless surprised when it was successful.  Bronson was quoted in one print article as saying, "We were all ready to do good comedy.  We had each other in stitches.  But it never happened."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Mark Linn-Baker was all but cut from the Woody Allen film Manhattan?  You may have if you've been reading this column for any length of time.  But did you know that he was erroneously credited as Mary Linn-Baker by mistake in that film?  He did end up with one big benefit from working on the movie . . . he was able to get his Screen Actors Guild card!  And very fortunately it was not made out for Mary Linn-Baker.

Did you know . . .
. . . that Mark Linn-Baker confirmed the sentiment Bronson expressed below?  In the same print interview, Mark continued, "We’re more interested in that tradition of kind of almost coming out of a vaudeville tradition instead of this other kind of rock ‘n’ roll tradition -- that I love.  I love Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, but I don’t want to be like them.  I want to be like ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘The Honeymooners.’"

Did you know . . .
. . . that when doing Perfect Strangers, both Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker were inspired by classic comedians as opposed to modern day ones.  As Bronson explained in one print interview, "Mark and I, our idols are, like, two generations removed from us.  Most people my age that are doing what I’m doing idolize Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, and I think those guys are great, but I really idolize Lucy and Bert Lahr and people like that.  And Mark feels the same way."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Perfect Strangers was not the first buddy comedy that Thomas Miller, Bob Boyett and Dale McRaven had worked on.  "We’ve all worked on ‘partner’ shows before," Miller explained in one print article, "such as The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley and Bosom Buddies, but these guys [Bronson and Mark] have a stronger chemistry than any two actors we`ve worked with."  High praise, indeed!

Did you know . . .
. . . that Bronson and Mark attended Yale at just about the same time?  It’s true!  Mark’s last year at the school overlapped with Bronson’s first year, but they never formally met.  Although in one print article, Bronson claimed he had seen Mark perform.  As Bronson explained, "I saw him once in a performance of A Winter’s Tale, in which he wore brown tights baggier than old blue jeans, with folds in the seat that looked like a baby elephant’s behind."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Perfect Strangers moved to Wednesday nights at the beginning of its second season on ABC?  But of course!  But in May 1986 after the show finished its first season there was some speculation that the series might be given a slot on Friday night instead.  Which is, of course, where the show eventually moved to during its third season!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Perfect Strangers was originally pitched to all three networks, all of which initially gave the show a pass?  It’s true!  Even ABC turned the show down at first!  Luckily for us they finally came around, but only after Bronson had scored such a success with Beverly Hills Cop!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that during its initial six week run on ABC, Perfect Strangers often made it into the top ten of the Nielsen ratings?  This was never repeated in the show’s later run, when it was moved to Wednesday nights, but the series usually ranked respectably, often cracking the top twenty and rarely under the top thirty.

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson Pinchot was surprised by his unexpected fame he garnered from the film Beverly Hills Cop?  "It was almost laughable," Bronson explained in one print article.  "People were calling me every single day and camera crews were coming to my apartment from Australia and France.  I was living in this little hovel that used to be a housing unit for Paramount starlets in the '30s.  Now it’s a flophouse on El Cerrito Place.  I remember a reporter from Rolling Stone calling me on the phone, and I had to tell him, "‘Wait a minute, I'm talking to USA Today.  Can I call you back’?"

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson appeared in the pilot for the television series Clueless, based on the popular movie written by Amy Heckerling?  Sure!  And you probably also knew that Bronson and Amy Heckerling were dating at the time.  But what you may not know is that when ABC wasn’t sure about the casting choice!  In the October 1996 issue of Movieline magazine, Bronson explained, "ABC called five days before we were to shoot, asking why I was in it, what I looked like now, and could they see some tape on me.  It didn’t matter that I’d just finished seven years of ‘Perfect Strangers’ and brought in millions of dollars for them: ‘Can we see some tape?’"

Did you know . . .
. . .
that English is not Balki’s mother tongue?  That’s pretty obvious!  But how did Balki learn English so well when he didn’t go to college?  Bronson explained the answer in one print article, saying, "The way I figure, Balki grew up in Europe, and he learned his English by sitting through three old movies a day.  That explains why he talks the way he talks."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker both attended Yale?  But they weren’t there at the same time, so their paths really didn’t cross at school.  But that doesn’t mean Bronson wasn’t aware of Mark.  In one print article, Bronson was quoted as saying, "People used to tell me how good Mark was, and that I should see some of his shows.  But then he was at the drama school, and his picture was in the paper, so he was a star.  I was an underclassman."

Did you know . . .
. . . that
when Perfect Strangers debuted in 1986, Lucille Ball was a fan of the show!  She was quoted as saying, "Those two fellows on Perfect Strangers are wonderful.  I love them, and I love their show."  Bronson responded by saying with a big smile, "It’s like being a watercolorist and having Renoir say ‘Interesting . . .  Good work.’"

Did you know . . .
. . . that Bronson Pinchot was born in New York?  Sure, that’s common knowledge.  But in the biography written for NBC at the time he was doing the show Sara it was explained that he was born in Manhattan.

Did you know . . .
. . . that when Bronson did the ABC made-for-TV movie Jury Duty: The Comedy, he played four different roles?  But of course you did!  Don’t be ridiculous!  In one print article, Bronson was quoted as saying the experience was "a real emotional whirlwind.  I really stressed myself out.  I wanted to flesh out each character, but with the short shooting schedule and the mentality on a TV movie that goes, ‘Oh, let’s just get it done,’ it was tough.  For one character - a nerd who’s on trial for embezzlement - I used no makeup.  But the other three characters I play - a Geraldo Rivera-type, a concierge and an ugly old woman - each necessitated two to three hours of makeup work."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot were amazingly good at their jobs on Perfect Strangers?  But of course!  In one print article, producer Thomas L. Miller put it this way: "They approach their work like trained stage actors, because that’s what they are.  And that approach is what makes the difference in this TV business.  They’re inventive onstage.  They read between the lines."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Reginald Veljohnson made a name for himself as Carl Winslow on Family Matters?  But of course Perfect Strangers’ fans know that he originated that role on PS first!  He had played a number of policemen before that, including his roles in Die Hard and Turner and Hooch.  But in one print article for the Perfect Strangers’ spinoff, he explained his experience playing a policeman in the movies did him little good when his car was stolen.  "I didn’t know what to do," he explained.  "I didn’t want to call the cops.  This first thing I wanted to do was call my mother."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson Pinchot has never been married?  But has he been unlucky in love?  Back when Perfect Strangers was just starting the answer was probably yes.  As he explained in one early print article, "In the female-companionship department, I feel a little undernourished.  Once, my average relationship lasted a year.  Now that I’m enjoying some success, it’s only about three weeks.  A relationship can’t compete with a career.  Word will come that I have to go to New York or San Francisco, and the girl will ask, ‘What about me?  Aren’t I important?’  ‘Yes, you are,’ I say, ‘but my show, my show!’"

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson was a little frustrated with one aspect of fame when Perfect Strangers took off?  He was quote in one article as saying, "You can’t enjoy a meal in a restaurant without someone you don’t know coming up and treating you the way a dog treats a fire hydrant."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson played a very geeky character in his first stage role in the play Poor Little Lambs?  It’s true!  In fact he was quoted in one 1988 article as having said, "I played such a geek that (co-star) Kevin Bacon said, ‘You make Pee-wee Herman look like Tom Selleck.’"

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson did a lot of research for his role as psychic Bobby McGee in Second Sight?  This entailed visiting a number of psychics.  As he reportedly said in one print article, "If you go to a good one, they talk to you like a very wise person instead of a goon with a turban on."  But he said that he still wasn’t a full believer.

Did you know . . .
. . . that
one scene of Second Sight was filmed with Bronson before the other actors had even been cast?  Bronson worked on one scene in advance which took advantage of a building demolition in Boston.  One print article stated Bronson said it was sort of like "Gone With the Wind" -- where the burning of Atlanta was shot before the role of Scarlett O’Hara was cast.

Did you know . . .
. . .
that ice skater Brian Boitano and Bronson Pinchot were considered look-alikes back in the late 80's?  It’s true!  At one point there was even talk about Brian doing a guest spot on Perfect Strangers.  "Bronson told me there’s been talk about having me appear in Perfect Strangers as his relative," Boitano told one reporter.  "But Bronson said only he gets the accent."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Perfect Strangers was one of the hardest working shows in television during its first season?  As Mark explained in one 1987 print interview, he and Bronson were looking forward to their hiatus.  "We’ve done 50 shows in a year and eight months, a hard 22 in a row; I think we’ve come close to setting a record."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson has always been a collector of various things over the years?  Not only did he collect Wizard of Oz memorabilia and antique furniture, as well as Greek art, he also collected old books and manuscripts.  According to one print article, Bronson once paid a substantial amount for a 500-year-old manuscript of French miracle plays from Sotheby’s, which was six times the top estimate, according to the esteemed auction house.  Now that's a passionate collector!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson and Mark were fantastic at doing physical comedy?  Well, of course you did, and so did the show’s co-producer William Bickley, who was quoted in one print article as saying, "Mark and Bronson can do some amazingly difficult physical comedy.  They have such versatility we can offer a variety of comedy."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Rebeca Arthur once hosted A&E’s A Night at the Improv?  But if during that appearance people may have thought she was playing her usual Mary Anne ditzy self, they would have been mistaken.  As she explained in one print article, "I had a really bad flu and a 102-degree temperature.  I ended up talking about extremely strange things, and people laughed because they were baffled.  Sometimes I act a little too blonde for my own good."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson was one of the shining moments in the film Beverly Hills Cop?  And what about Bronson’s salary for his small role as Serge?  As Bronson put it in one print interview, "I hardly made any money for Beverly Hills Cop.  The movie made millions - I made $2,500."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson was once in Sterling Heights, Michigan, to host a fashion show at the Lakeside Mall?  While there, he stopped at the Lakeside Comedy Shop Museum to look over their collection of costumes, photos and artifacts from the history of comedy.  Bronson was quoted as saying, "I like the pictures of Charlie Chaplin.  I like to see what he looked like out of the tramp outfit.  I’m leery of people who are the same on and off camera."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson once described his character of Bobby McGee in the movie Second Sight in a very animated way.  As Bronson is quoted in one print interview, "My image for him is, you know when you turn on your garden hose, and by the time you get to it, it’s whipping around like a hyperactive snake?  This character has too much psychic energy coming through.  It turns him into a spaz.  He gets what he’s after, but he destroys buildings in the process."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Perfect Strangers did loving tributes to both The Honeymooners and Laurel and Hardy?  But of course!  As producer and writer Paula A. Roth explained about the latter in one print article, "What become apparent to us is that over the years, their relationship has become very Laurel and Hardy-esque, and this was a wonderful opportunity to address that."  Asked what might be next, Paula Roth joked, "Maybe we'll do Lucy and Ethel."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson has a unique philosophy on life?  This should be obvious to anyone who’s watched him giving interviews.  But according to the press release for Bronson at the time Sara was on television, Bronson had a specific philosophy which was stated as this: "Life is like a dollar bill at a post office machine.  No matter how many times it spits your offering out, you have to smooth out the damage and try it again."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Melanie Wilson and Rebeca Arthur both collected miniatures while working on the show?  In one print interview, when asked if she had any hobbies, Rebeca replied, "I spend hours and hours in miniature stores.  Melanie and I drive all over California looking at miniatures."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Bronson Pinchot attended Yale?  But of course you did, don’t be ridiculous!  But one print article listed these as the reasons Bronson went to Yale: to study painting -- and read books and meet girls in tweed.

Did you know . . .
. . . that when the episode See How They Run was aired on February 22, 1991, it was part of a special night of TGIF programming which focused on the value of getting an education?  Originally the plan was to have 50 teachers from around the country flown to Los Angeles to enter into a dialogue with the shows’ producers and writers.  But the outbreak of the Gulf War caused that plan to be shelved.  But the special night of TGIF education-related programming was still put together and aired.

For more fun facts, click here!