I love watching re-runs of shows from the late ’80s and early ’90s and trying to spot as many future (at the time of original airing) child stars as possible. A vast majority haven’t been heard from since the last episode of Full House, but it’s still a fun game to play.
When shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Family Matters first came on, sure, there were some actors you had already seen before. But a lot of the time, these youngsters didn’t blossom into stars for awhile, so there was no way to know who you were looking at when the show aired. That’s why I always get excited when I see someone from before they were famous: for example, I squealed with delight during a recent Wonder Years when a tween Mark-Paul Gosselaar showed up for about 20 seconds. This was pre-Saved by the Bell, but you could totally tell that it was a young Zack Morris.
Usually, I can instantly recognize the actors – for instance, also on the Wonder Years, it was easy to spot young Giovanni Ribisi, Lindsay Sloane, and Breckin Meyer. Sometimes, though, the child actors didn’t quite turn into the big stars of tomorrow, so I have to run to my laptop and hit up Google, because I know I’ve seen that face before, but I just can’t place it. This can be easy when the character’s name is given, difficult if it’s not.
The other day, I had to look up the actor who played Kirk McCray, Winnie Cooper’s eighth grade boyfriend who looked so familiar (and, fun fact, during the episode I watched there was also an appearance by Donnie Jeffcoat, who hosted the show I always wanted to be on, Wild and Crazy Kids). Thanks to the wonders of Google and IMDB, I discovered Kirk McCray was played by an actor named Michael Landes. While he was no JTT, I did recognize him once I read that he played Riley Roberts, the neighbor that Dorothy Jane had a crush on on The Torkelsons (I loved that show!). See how fun it is when you connect the dots?
So, what familiar faces have you been surprised to see on re-runs lately? Do you have to immediately run to your computer for info, too?