Before they were famous…

But after they’d at least gotten an agent.

Last week, fellow Retroist contributor Brian Boone posted this fun piece about Matt LeBlanc in a ketchup commercial before Friends rocketed him to fame.

So, of course the first question I asked myself was, “Matt LeBlanc was on that show The Fanelli Boys, wasn’t he?”

Answer, no. And I am certain I am one in a very small handful of people who even remember that ill fated show that barely was able to pop out a full season on NBC in 1990. I don’t know, it amused me at the time. There was one episode where one of them was singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, and it was really annoying the other brothers, who then yelled at the singing brother in an overly working class Italian way. Or something. I was 12. “Songs that never end” and “being reprimanded by someone doing his best Sonny Corleone” jokes still worked on me.

Anyway, that did get me thinking about bit parts that now extremely famous people played on television before they were household names. Matt LeBlanc, for one, actually appeared on an episode of Growing Pains spin off Just the Ten of Us–about Coach Lubbock and his very Catholic inability to keep it zipped, hence his gaggle of kids, four of them adolescent daughters. Like Fiddler on the Roof. But with more football. And Matt LeBlanc.

And since I mentioned Growing Pains, that 80s kid classic that followed the follies and subsequent lessons learned by the Seaver family–but who were we kidding, the show was about Boner and Stinky. Still, this is none other than one Brad Pitt making Alan Thicke bend over so he can use his back as a flat surface. Good times.

And finally, my personal favorite. Post Facts of Life, but pre Roseanne–from the 1987 episode of The Golden Girls “To Catch a Neighbor”, George Clooney as a young cop.

Now if only I could find that clip of Andrew Dice Clay as Crazy Larry on Diff’rent Strokes, well, then this day would be complete.

Sass Wagon

Sass Wagon (or Dana, if you prefer formality) grew up in Pennsylvania in the 80s and 90s. She kinda needs a haircut.

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4 thoughts on “Before they were famous…

  1. plaidman76 says:

    Excellent topic – Matt LeBlanc was also on the ill fated Fox show “Top of the Heap” in the early 90s, a Married with Children Spinoff. And while we are talking about “Friends” alum, Courtney Cox was on Family Ties in season 6 and 7 – and while we are talking about Family Ties, Tom Hanks played Elyse’s younger brother in the first 2 seasons. And while we are talking about “Family Ties” AND “Married With Children”, Christina Applegate played Kitten, a member of Jennifer’s band in an episode of Family Ties. Other now famous actors who were on that show on one or more episodes was Joseph Gordon Levitt, Stephen Baldwin, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton, Julia Loius Dryfus, River Phoenix and Crispin Glover.

  2. dijital101 says:

    Leblanc was on a show called tv101 that came out the same year as the fanelli boys (it lasted just as long).

    PS Chris Meloni (Elliott Stabler) was on the fanelli boys, just sayin

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