The Star of The Show

I’ve always fan a huge fan of TV, mainly when I was growing up. I recently thought about breakout stars from various TV shows. The series was not created to revolve around them, but they became the fan favorite, literally overnight. The star of the show. Here are a few classic, unforgettable examples-

The Fonz (Happy Days)- Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli was initially a brooding tough guy who rode a motorcycle. He didn’t talk much, which to me made him even more cool. However by the fall of 1975, he had jumped to number two in the opening credits, and become the surrogate son of the Cunninghams, phasing out older brother Chuck in the process. “Aaaayyyy” was a catchphrase, and producers toyed with the idea of changing the name of the show to “Fonzie’s Happy Days”. The rest of the cast balked at the idea. Pretty soon, more storylines were revolving around The Fonz than Richie, who left the show in 1980.

J.J. (Good Times) – Eldest child James Evans Jr got the best punchlines and dialogue from the start. “Dyn-O-Mite” was one of the biggest catchphrases of the day, while Jimmie Walker was featured in Time magazine. Before long, J.J. was garnering the lion’s share of attention. More episodes focused on J.J.’s life, while the rest of the Evans family was in the background. The jokes and comedy began to drive the show, to the intense dismay of both Esther Rolle and John Amos. Both would leave the series, although Esther would later return. Among her stipulations- J.J. be toned down a bit.

Jill Munroe (Charlie’s Angels)- Kate Jackson, fresh from another Spelling/Goldberg show on ABC, “The Rookies”, was the first angel to be cast. The show was intended to be a vehicle for her, as she would be the leader of the trio, the “smart” angel. This was still the case, but Kate was not to be the star after all. Athletic blonde Farrah Fawcett-Majors stole the show from the first episode, with her bright, ivory smile and thick mane of feathered hair. Not only were women flocking to salons in droves to get their own version of “The Farrah”, but men were buying her red swimsuit posters by the dozens. It remains the top-selling poster in history. To this day, when the average person thinks of “Charlie’s Angels”, Farrah is the angel that comes to mind first.

J.R. Ewing (Dallas)- “Dallas” was a modern story of Romeo and Juliet. Two lovebirds marry, despite the intense hatred their families have for one another. Pamela Barnes and Bobby Ewing were to be the central focus of the show when it made its debut in 1978 as a miniseries on CBS. However, it was big brother J.R., initially intended to be a supporting character, who gradually eased into the forefront. Larry Hagman shot to superstardom, and J.R. Ewing became the man everyone loved to hate. The “Who Shot J.R.?” storyline was a ratings smash, and “Dallas” would became an obsession around the globe. As a classmate told me in third grade, forget about the alphabetized opening credits. J.R. was THE star of the show. “Dallas” and J.R. will forever go hand in hand.

Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties)- Children of the ’60s Steven and Elise Keaton and their three kids were intended to be on equal footing on “Family Ties”. Over time, Michael J. Fox became the breakout star of the show, mainly due to his successful movie career. Before long, it was all about Alex, and less about the rest of the Keatons. Even when another family member was the focus of an episode, Alex was always the funniest. He would be the only member of the cast to win an Emmy for his role.

Sandra (227)- Similar to Mae West, man-hungry Sandra Clark was to simply be one of the neighbors in the building, while the Jenkins family was to be the primary focus of the show. From the jump, she was the scene-stealer with her sexy walk and provocative fashions. At the height of the success of the series, Jackee’ would win an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. Word has it she was not congratulated by any of her fellow cast members. When she left the show in the final season, it was almost unwatchable.

Had each of these breakouts had never happened, I wonder how differently each show would have been. Who knows.

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~ by kmnnz on September 3, 2013.

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