Fun Facts About America’s Favorite Coming Of Age Sitcom: The Wonder Years
Quite simply, it made life look wonderful.
The television show The Wonder Years was an endearing presentation of a time gone by, an homage to innocence long gone yet still longed for. Stories that centered on the day-to-day life of the Arnold family were as entertaining as they were thought-provoking, as silly as they were solemn. The combination of comedy and pathos proved to be a hit, and The Wonder Years became a sitcom classic as well as an award-winning show that ran for six seasons.
Here are some anecdotes, tales, and little-known facts about the series, the characters, and the actors that made The Wonder Years one for the ages.
How The Series Broke New Ground
The Wonder Years was inspired by the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. The show’s creators were inspired by the movie’s charming coming-of-age story and decided to create a TV series that would reflect the same qualities. In a twist of fate, the actor Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, makes an appearance in the last two episodes of The Wonder Years as Kevin’s roommate.
The Wonder Years broke new ground in the television industry owing to the fact it employed a narrator rather than a laugh track, a technique essentially unheard of at that time. In addition, it was the first sitcom to use a single-camera setup for filming; before that, a three-camera structure was the industry standard.
In the very first episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin Arnold and his love interest, Winnie Cooper, share a tender kiss. Truth be told, it was the first kiss ever for both of the actors: Fred Savage was only 11 years old, and Danica McKellar was just 12 when the infamous scene was filmed. In later years, Savage described the scene as “terrifying.” McKellar explained that both she and Savage “…were both really scared and nervous and didn’t know what was gonna happen or if we were gonna do it right.”
Danica McKellar and her sister, Crystal McKellar, both auditioned for the part of Winnie Cooper; Danica was chosen for the role just one day before filming on the series began. Because Crystal had lighter hair, Danica was chosen for the role because her hair color better complimented Savage’s dark hair. Crystal appeared in several episodes of the series in the recurring role of Becky Slater.
And The Emmy Goes To…
After only one season, which consisted of only six episodes, The Wonder Years became a fan fave and a huge hit, earning an Emmy for Most Outstanding Comedy Series in 1988. At the age of 13, Savage would go on to become the youngest actor nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category; he would be nominated again in 1990.
Jack Arnold As A Veteran
Actor Dan Lauria, who played Jack Arnold, suggested the idea that his character be a Korean War veteran. Because he himself was a vet, Lauria was able to bring more dimension to this aspect of his role. His character’s wartime experience is mentioned several times throughout the series, and when his on-screen daughter Karen leaves for college, he presents her with his duffle bag from his years in the service.
Wonderful Celebrity Appearances
They might not have been megastars or well-known celebrities at the time, but many actors appeared in The Wonder Years and went on to make their mark in the entertainment industry. Those who made guest appearances in the series include Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Schwimmer, Jim Caviezel, Giovanni Ribisi, Alicia Silverstone, Robin Thicke, John Corbett, and Juliette Lewis. Fred Savage’s younger brother, Ben, also snagged a role on the show, long before the premiere of his own series, Boy Meets World.
In Real Life, Mr. And Mrs. Arnold Didn’t Have Kids
Neither of the actors who played Kevin’s parents – Dan Lauria and Alley Mills – had children of their own. Many of the child actors on the show, however, considered them parental figures, which allowed the cast to work together as a tight family unit.