With the Roseanne reboot riding high in the ratings, it seems viewers still adore the Conner family and all of their foibles. Roseanne-lovers are aplenty, then, but there are many strange secrets and stories about the old show that fans might not be familiar with! Here we discuss some of the most interesting behind-the-scenes tales that shine a light on what things were really like on set. All the juicy tidbits are included, from George Clooney getting violent with a cake, to Roseanne’s secret crush on John Goodman.
20. It was originally called Life and Stuff
Seems hard to believe now, but the show was not originally conceived as a vehicle for Roseanne Barr. The sitcom’s creator, Matt Williams, envisioned it as more of a collective piece called Life and Stuff. But once Barr was brought on board, her bold personality took over and the show became hers.
19. Michael Fishman was not the original DJ
It’s hard to picture anyone other than Michael Fishman in the role of little bro D.J., but believe it or not, the part originally went to a boy named Sal Barone. Alas, Barone grew too tall after the original pilot was shot, and the role was handed over to Fishman instead. Even funnier to imagine is that a certain Macaulay Culkin was also considered for the character!
18. There was a Roseanne cartoon
Yes, back in the day when TV execs gave stand-ups the Saturday morning cartoon treatment (like Life with Louie and Bobby’s World), they also made a cartoon version of Roseanne. In this animated version, Roseanne was aged eight, and together with her little sister and her buddy (a character modeled on Dan) they dealt with typical kids’ issues and growing pains. Ah, the ’90s…
17. A lot of now-famous writers worked on the show
Many well-known writers cut their teeth on the original Roseanne. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) and Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) all got their start working on Roseanne. Which may explain why it was such a brilliant and funny show!
16. The Conner House is real
Roseanne might be set in Lanford, Illinois, but of course it’s actually shot on a studio lot in Hollywood. That little yellow house at the beginning, though? Well, that actually exists. It can be found in Evansville, Indiana, where the show’s creator Matt Williams grew up.
15. Sara Gilbert was attending Yale while also on the show
We all know that Lecy Goranson (Becky) famously left the show to go to college, and that Sarah Chalke was brought in to replace her. But fans might not know that Sara Gilbert also continued with her education, too. And she didn’t just attend any old college, either. She went to Yale! However, Gilbert was able to stay on the show while going to classes. She filmed many solo scenes on a New York soundstage.
14. Roseanne once cut off Becky’s hair
Roseanne was often at odds with the show’s producers, and one dramatic stand-off actually involved Becky’s hairstyle. In the ’90s, when Lecy Goranson wanted to cut her hair in keeping with the style at the time, the producers told her she couldn’t. Roseanne, of course, soon heard about this and proceeded to chop away at Goranson’s hair herself!
13. The show was almost canceled in 1995
While Roseanne was wildly successful, it was known for being very tumultuous behind the scenes. And during the show’s eighth season, the whole production almost went belly-up when John Goodman threatened to leave. The network coaxed him into staying, but the show came very close to being canned.
12. It blazed a trail in giving prominence to gay characters
Roseanne Barr has a gay brother and sister in real life, so it was important to her to have gay people represented on the show. Despite pushback from the network, Roseanne wrote in a boss who was openly gay, and also had her TV mom come out of the closet. The show even featured a gay marriage which, for the time, was groundbreaking. In fact, the move was considered so controversial that the network chose to air it at a later time!
11. Roseanne had some wonky plastic surgery after season five
File this under one of the more bizarre Roseanne Barr stories: following season five, the star decided to get a total face overhaul. She had a nose job, a facelift, cheek implants, and also got her eyes done. And according to Barr, the surgeon actually left a scalpel inside her and had to open her face back up to get it out! Moreover, Roseanne still hadn’t healed completely by the time the show started shooting again, hence the heavy makeup she’s seen wearing in season six.
10. Roseanne made a lot of dough
While Roseanne Conner was scraping by and struggling to make ends meet, Roseanne Barr was living the high life. The actress received a whopping $650,000 per episode in the show’s final season before the reboot. That’s a large amount now – and was a huge amount back then!
9. Corn is referenced in every episode
Yup, though only diehard fans might notice this, corn is either mentioned or featured (often via corn flakes) in every episode of the original show. One can only assume this is a corny nod to the Midwest?
8. Roseanne had a huge crush on John Goodman
The show always painted a very affectionate relationship between Roseanne and Dan, and it appears Roseanne Barr had the hots for John Goodman in real life as well! It was apparently a well-kept secret on set, though the cat is out of the bag now. And when you think about it, it’s really not that surprising, considering the wonderful chemistry the pair have onscreen.
7. Roseanne and George Clooney once destroyed a cake with a baseball bat
Remember how megastar George Clooney used to play Jackie’s love interest? Well, one of the weirder behind-the-scenes stories from the original show involves Clooney and a cake. You see, when Roseanne broke records in the ratings, the network sent the cast a cake in the shape of a number one. However, Roseanne thought the network was poking fun at her weight. So naturally she and Clooney grabbed some baseball bats and smashed the cake to bits. Then the pair took a picture of the carnage and sent it to ABC.
6. Roseanne took a serious stand on lines that she found offensive
Barr is known for being, shall we say, headstrong. And she could be particularly stubborn when it came to her character’s dialogue. In fact, there was one episode where she outright refused to utter a line she found offensive. She was supposed to say to Dan, “You’re my equal in bed, but that’s it.” Roseanne wouldn’t do it, and ABC lawyers were brought in to mediate. And though she was eventually forced to say the line, it never made it on air. So, the star got her way in the end!
5. Roseanne suffered a nervous breakdown after season one
When Roseanne first started on the show, she had never worked in television before. Sure, she had time onstage as a stand-up, but she was in no way prepared for the on-set politics, pressure from producers, and sheer stress of starring in her own show. In fact, she was so overwhelmed that she actually suffered a nervous breakdown after the curtain dropped on season one.
4. Roseanne’s real-life children suffered as a result of her success
At the height of her fame, Roseanne was one of America’s favorite moms. But in real life, her own children weren’t faring so well. Roseanne’s kids say their mom’s success greatly impacted their family, as Roseanne was largely absent from home. At one point, Roseanne had to actually stop shooting an episode in order to look for her real-life daughter, who had run away from home.
3. Roseanne helped John Goodman get sober
John Goodman also felt the pressure of being on such a popular TV show. Goodman struggled with alcohol and addiction, and he even began to drink on the job. What’s more, he actually credits Barr with helping him to finally get clean.
2. They pay tribute to Glenn Quinn
In the original show, Irish actor Glenn Quinn played Mark Healy, Becky’s handsome loser of a husband. Sadly, Quinn died of a drug overdose in 2002, and he is the only main cast member who is absent from the new revival. But while he is gone, he is not forgotten: in the show’s reboot, Darlene’s son is named Mark as a tribute to the late actor.
1. Roseanne had three different husbands during the course of the show
It seems Roseanne Barr’s love life is as unpredictable as her political leanings. During the course of the initial seasons of Roseanne, which ran from 1988 to 1997, Roseanne had a total of three different husbands. The first was Bill Pentland, who was an executive consultant on the show. The second was Tom Arnold, who worked on the show as a writer, producer and actor. And the third was Ben Thomas, Barr’s former bodyguard who appeared in two episodes of the show.
And if laugh-out-loud nineties sitcoms are your niche, you will likely have tuned in to an episode or two of Frasier. While the infamous onscreen story of radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane is all too familiar, more than a few behind-the-scenes secrets managed to slip under the radar during the show’s stellar 11-year run. Here we unearth 20 obscure facts from one of the decade’s defining comedies.
20. Good evening… Los Angeles?
Despite featuring prominently in the opening credits, being the focal point of many of the storylines and coming alive almost as another character on the show, Seattle, Washington, isn’t actually where the show was put together. In fact, most filming was done on set in Los Angeles, California, with just one episode – “The 1000th Show” – shot in the famous city.
19. Dog treat
Any fan of the show knows that the way to Eddie’s heart is through his stomach. And it turns out that that Moose, who played Eddie, is no different. Whenever there was a scene requirement for the lovable canine to lick the face of Martin Crane, played by John Mahoney, the crew would put some liver pate behind Mahoney’s ears.
18. A 9/11 connection
September 11, 2001 will forever go down as one of the darkest days in America’s history. And it was a particularly dark one for the cast and crew of Frasier after it came to light that creator and producer of the show David Angell had been on American Airlines Flight 11 when it was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.
17. Niles gotta have it!
Fans know just how crucial a role Frasier’s brother Niles played in the show, but what they might not know is that the character was never originally written into the show. In fact, the casting director saw such a startling similarity between David Hyde Pierce (Niles) and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) that he put the relatively unknown actor forward to play the role of Niles. And the rest is comedic history.
16. Puppy love
You might be surprised to learn that Eddie received more fan mail than any of his human cast-mates on the show, but that’s exactly what John Mahoney has said in an interview. Seems that the lovable Jack Russell terrier not only had the privilege of gracing many magazine covers, but that he also had adoring fans sending their praises through mail.
15. Celebrity phone-ins
Frasier’s radio show on KACL produced a plethora of classic moments, but did you know that a lot of those who call in for the good doctor’s help are real-life celebrities? The likes of Elijah Wood, Helen Mirren, Ben Stiller and Kevin Bacon, for example, provided voice cameos.
14. Move over, Seinfeld
The 1990s were something of a golden era in terms of producing great sitcoms. Indeed, two titans came into direct contact, with Frasier being moved to a time slot that was home to Seinfeld for years. And, cleverly, Frasier’s writers didn’t ignore the fact. Instead, they weaved it into the opening scene of the sixth season, with Frasier referencing it in a TV show audition. He says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say how honored I am to be taking over this slot. Obviously, I have some rather big shoes to fill – my predecessor here was much beloved.”
13. Cheers reunions
Being the spin-off of a show as popular as Cheers comes with a lot of responsibility. Somehow, though, Frasier’s creators still managed to forge their own path while simultaneously embracing Frasier’s heritage. Indeed, his past comes back to please – and haunt – him, with the likes of Cheers favorites Cliff, Diane, Lilith, Norm and many more turning up in episodes. Oh, and “The Show Where Woody Shows Up” is pure comedy gold.
12. Four actors played one character
Frasier’s only son Frederick appears in four different guises throughout the years. He first appeared in Cheers as a baby and was played by two twins. In Frasier, he was then played by Luke Tarsitano before, finally, being portrayed by Trevor Einhorn. And after all of those radical actor changes, it’s perhaps little wonder that Freddie turned goth towards the end.
11. Maris was due to show her face
One of the longest-running jokes throughout the show’s 11-season run is Niles’ wife Maris. The elusive eccentric is never seen, only described in many different grotesque ways. And while she was actually meant to appear in the show, the writers found more humor in simply letting the cast describe her instead. Plus, few actresses could live up to a description like, “She’s very exotic, only eats every other day and she’s so white, she’s almost blue!”
10. Thanks for the memories
Any devoted fan of the show will tell you how heart-wrenching the series finale is. As Frasier moves onto greener pastures and a new job, he has to say goodbye to those who mean the most to him. For his dad Martin, though, a thank you was all that needed to be said. What’s interesting about this is that the pilot episode was actually based around Frasier not hearing those two simple words from his father. It was a great way to bring the show full circle, then, as well as provide some closure.
9. First to last
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed this, but it’s subtle nonetheless: the delivery guy who brings Martin’s beloved chair in during the pilot is the same person who wheels it out again in the series finale. In fact, he’s the only cast member outside of the main group that had a part in both the pilot and the final episode.
8. No expense spared
The lavish home of Frasier almost became a character itself, mainly because of how accurately it reflected its owner. Martin’s battered La-Z-Boy aside, the apartment was filled with expensive ornaments and ornate materials. In fact, it is estimated that costs for the furnishing were in excess of half a million dollars. The Crane brothers, then, would surely approve.
7. Creative differences
Kelsey Grammer is someone who takes his craft seriously – which could explain his eccentric methods. In particular, during Frasier he used a technique he dubbed “requisite disrespect,” which involved only rehearsing his scenes once and leaving it to the last minute to memorize lines. According to the actor, it helped to give his screen time some spontaneity. But while the core group of actors became accustomed to it, special guests were not fans of it.
6. Are you sitting comfortably?
While the show often embraced the impact Cheers had on it, that doesn’t mean that the producers wanted to evoke it all the time. This goes for the appearance of the coffee shop Cafe Nervosa, where even stools were banned in case the set looked too similar to the bar from the 1980s classic.
5. Daphne’s “binge eating” explained
Some may remember the odd period on the seventh season where Daphne developed a habit of binge eating. This was in fact to cover up the fact that Jane Leeves, who played Daphne, was actually pregnant.
4. Rumors of Martin’s death…
In his autobiography, Kelsey Grammer points out a glaring error in the fictional history of Frasier Crane. Before the Frasier spin-off was created, in Cheers the irritable Crane made clear that he didn’t have a sibling and that his father was dead. Of course, fast forward a few years and voila – Martin and Niles are very much alive. Hilariously, Martin mentions this very fact on a few occasions when he’s arguing with Frasier.
3. It could have been so different
Ready to move on with his career and away from the Frasier character, Kelsey Grammer and the writers put forth a rather different idea for a show after Cheers had concluded. It was based around a media mogul who was bedridden and tended to by a nurse. It wasn’t given the green light by Paramount, however, probably due to its somber nature. So, interestingly, the original ideas had nothing to do with Frasier. Sorry, doc!
2. Filling in for Frasier
One episode from the show that feels oddly out of place is the season four episode “Head Game.” It saw Niles take over his brother’s radio show – a storyline that was written in after Kelsey Grammer made clear that he wasn’t available to shoot. Why, you ask? The seasoned performer was actually being treated for substance abuse issues.
1. Two decades of cranium-splitting hilarity…
One of the biggest laughs in the series happened when one cast-mate hit a real-life fact on the head. Frasier’s first wife Nanette said to him, “Do you know what it’s like to play the same character for 20 years?” Of course, Kelsey Grammer knew this all too well, as his portrayal of the good doctor was approaching its 20-year anniversary. And what a 20 years it was.