20 Years On, Here’s How The Cast Of Married… With Children Have Changed

The often rude, often outrageous Married… with Children detailed the misadventures of the dysfunctional Bundy family, and it made a huge impact on the world of TV. After all, the show ran for an incredible 11 seasons – from 1987 to 1997 – and is Fox’s longest-running non-animated sitcom. Married… with Children also made stars of its massively popular cast – including the likes of Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal and Christina Applegate. But in the years since the sitcom’s cancelation, what have its much-loved ensemble been up to?

10. Matt LeBlanc (Vinnie Verducci)

Yes, once upon a time Matt LeBlanc played Vinnie Verducci on Married… with Children. His character was introduced in the fifth season – and even managed to appear in not one but two failed spin-offs. Of course, LeBlanc was later cast in Friends, and the rest is history.

For his work in Friends, Matt LeBlanc earned three Emmy nominations. And even though the beloved sitcom came to an end in 2004, Friends is still what LeBlanc is best known for. He has got plenty of other credits, though. He played a version of himself in Episodes, for instance, and hosted the popular British car show Top Gear.

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9. David Faustino (Bud Bundy)

David Faustino had been a child actor for many years before being cast as teenager Bud Bundy. But as he played Bud for all 259 episodes of Married… with Children, he practically grew up on the set of the show. And, fortunately for the young actor, it didn’t result in any of the stereotypical, tearway antics associated with other child stars. Well, not really…

You see, Faustino continued to be pretty successful in his acting career once the show was over. This is despite a May 2007 arrest for marijuana possession and a stint in rehab. And while a proposed Married… with Children spin-off centering on his character hasn’t worked out, Faustino is these days a DJ for Dash Radio.

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8. Amanda Bearse (Marcy D’Arcy)

Next-door neighbor Marcy was twice married to men on the show, but in real life actress Amanda Bearse – who also directed 31 episodes of the show – is a lesbian. And when she revealed this in 1993, Bearse was the only out LGBT appearing on a primetime network show.

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Despite appearing in all 259 episodes of Married… with Children, though, Bearse has acted only sporadically since. She has, however, directed plenty of TV – including 2007’s The Big Gay Sketch Show. Plus, she’s done valuable work to raise awareness of AIDS.

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7. David Garrison (Steve Rhoades)

Broadway actor David Garrison played Steve Rhoades, Marcy’s first husband. However, Garrison only stuck around for four seasons of Married… before leaving to return to the stage. And while he left the show amicably and even came back a few times, rumors persisted that he was unhappy with the show’s raunchiness.

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Still, Garrison came very close to eventually reprising his role as Steve in a Married… with Children spinoff titled Radio Free Trumaine. And while this was never picked up, Garrison has not exactly been short of work. He was even the first actor to play the role of the Wizard in the touring version of the smash hit show Wicked.

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6. Ted McGinley (Jefferson D’Arcy)

After David Garrison’s exit, poor Marcy needed a new husband. This role was filled by Happy Days actor Ted McGinley, who played the ditzy Jefferson. But, at that point, McGinley was known as “the sitcom killer” due to a spate of bad luck. After he joined the Married… cast, though, the curse seemed to have lifted, as the show went on to run for seven more seasons.

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While McGinley has dropped off the radar in recent years, he’s still working steadily in TV movies and voice-over roles. And he has fond memories of his sitcom days. In 2012 he told AV Club that Married… with Children had been “a great, great gig” with an “amazing cast.”

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5. Harold Sylvester (Griff)

From season nine, Harold Sylvester played Al’s friend Griff. Yet before Sylvester rose to fame through his parts in films such as An Officer and a Gentleman, he’d already made history. Specifically, in 1968 he received the first athletic scholarship ever given to a black student at Tulane University.

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After Married… finished, Sylvester continued to work, and he has subsequently shown up in shows such as CSI: Miami and Malcolm in the Middle. The star also made the New Orleans news in 2014 when he donated some of his acting memorabilia to Tulane University.

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4. Tim Conway (Ephraim Wanker)

Tim Conway played Peggy’s father, the magnificently named Ephraim Wanker, in Married… with Children. And before that, he had been popular enough to have not one but two shows called The Tim Conway Show: one in 1970 and one in 1980.

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Conway continues to this day to be a star of comedy television. He’s made appearances in everything from The Simpsons to Glee and also lends his voice to Barnacle Boy in SpongeBob SquarePants. In 2002 he even made it into the Television Hall of Fame.

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3. Katey Sagal (Peggy Bundy)

Katey Sagal followed in the footsteps of her showbiz parents when she enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts to pursue a career in acting. And after a couple of small side roles, she was cast as Peggy Bundy in Married… Interestingly, it was the actress herself who came up with Peggy’s iconic red hairdo.

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Sagal became an in-demand comedy actress after Married… with Children finished. She’s since appeared on sitcoms such as 8 Simple Rules… for Dating My Teenage Daughter and The Big Bang Theory as well as having taken on the role of voicing Futurama’s Leela. Sagal also picked up a Golden Globe award for her awesome performance in Sons of Anarchy.

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2. Christina Applegate (Kelly Bundy)

Christina Applegate became a sex symbol during her time as Kelly Bundy – but the actress never intended to be known for comedy roles. “I always thought serious projects were going to be my jam,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2016. “But the show really helped me to let go of being so serious all the time.”

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In fact, since the end of the sitcom, Applegate hasn’t done a lot of “serious” stuff at all. That’s probably because she has carved out a successful career playing funny women in movies such as Anchorman and Bad Moms. The actress was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 – but after undergoing a double mastectomy she emerged from it victorious.

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1. Ed O’Neill (Al Bundy)

Before Married…, Ed O’Neill had a shot with the Pittsburgh Steelers – but he didn’t make the cut. This led him to acting and to the role of Al Bundy, though. O’Neill earned two Golden Globe nominations – and a place in sitcom history – for his work, too.

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A couple of years after Married… with Children was canceled, O’Neill was cast in another family sitcom: Modern Family. That was, of course, also a big success. And in 2011 O’Neill was duly given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – one situated right in front of a shoe store.

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But even if you’re a fan of Married… with Children, it’s unlikely that you’ll have heard all of the off-screen secrets. Yes, covering everything from banned episodes to off-screen feuds, these facts about the much-loved Fox sitcom may surprise even the biggest Al Bundy fans.

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30. The opening credits borrowed from National Lampoon’s Vacation

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Eagle-eyed viewers of early ’80s screwball comedies may well have noticed that Married… with Children’s opening credits weren’t entirely original. The shot featuring cars on the interstate was lifted from the Chevy Chase classic National Lampoon’s Vacation, with the Griswolds’ station wagon itself also in full view.

29. The pilot had a different Kelly and Bud

Christina Applegate and David Faustino shot to fame as Bundy kids Kelly and Bud, respectively, but they weren’t the first choice for the roles. No, Tina Caspary and Hunter Carson portrayed the characters in the pilot before being replaced in time for the first aired episode.

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28. Sam Kinison and Roseanne Barr were offered the lead roles

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Al and Peggy Bundy could have also looked completely different had producers managed to get their first choices on board. In fact, comedians Sam Kinison and Roseanne Barr were initially offered the parts of the Bundy parents. The pair both turned them down, however, in favor of pursuing their respective film careers.

27. It has two Cosby Show connections

It’s a little-known fact that the Bundy family’s next door neighbor Marcy D’Arcy – played by Amanda Bearse – was named after The Cosby Show executive producer Marcy Carsey. However, that isn’t Married… with Children’s only connection with the Huxtables: the sitcom was originally titled Not the Cosbys.

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26. Ed O’Neill was given the job on the spot

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Ed O’Neill was given his first recurring role as the famously misanthropic Al Bundy without uttering a single word during his audition. In fact, the way that O’Neill walked through the front door of the Bundy family home, with a slump of the shoulders and a defeated sigh, was enough to win him the part.

25. Michael Richards auditioned to play Al

O’Neill’s perfect portrayal of downtrodden Bundy saw him triumph over a future sitcom favorite in the casting process. Yes, Michael Richards, who two years later would land the memorable role of Kramer on Seinfeld, was just one of many actors who unsuccessfully auditioned to play the Bundy family patriarch.

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24. The show briefly ruined Ed O’Neill’s film career

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However, O’Neill may have started to rue the day he won the part after being dropped from a film because of it. You see, the actor had become so synonymous with Al Bundy that test audiences of war movie Flight of the Intruder erupted into laughter whenever he appeared on the screen.

23. Ted McGinley begged producers to make his character more macho

The man responsible for giving Marcy her rhyming surname, second husband Jefferson D’Arcy, arrived in the third season. However, Ted McGinley – the man who played the show’s resident dimwit – complained to producers about how much of a “wuss” his character was. Later, then, references were dropped into Jefferson’s macho secret agent past.

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22. David Garrison quit the show to act on Broadway

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After playing Marcy’s first husband, Steve Rhoades, for four seasons, David Garrison bought his way out of his Married… with Children contract to resurrect his theater career. However, Garrison did return to the show on four separate occasions, with his character appearing in a different profession each time.

21. Ed O’Neill and Amanda Bearse didn’t get along

Marcy and Al were arch nemeses on the show, and the two actors who played them were just as unfriendly once the cameras stopped rolling. Yes, in an interview following the show’s 1997 cancelation, Ed O’Neill revealed that he and Amanda Bearse’s relationship was often strained.

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20. Katey Sagal fell pregnant three times during the show

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Producers had to get creative when Katey Sagal fell pregnant on three occasions during Married… with Children’s run. Her first pregnancy, for instance, was written into the storyline – before being envisioned as a dream when the actress’ baby was tragically stillborn in real life. Thankfully, her next two pregnancies, the signs of which were obscured in the show, each resulted in a healthy baby.

19. It was a family affair

Each one of the four main cast members invited one of their family members to appear on the show at various points throughout its 11-season run. The guest stars in question were Ed O’Neill’s wife Catherine Rusoff, Christina Applegate’s mother Nancy Priddy, Katey Sagal’s brother Joey and David Faustino’s brother Michael.

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18. David Faustino was a rapper in real life

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Art started to imitate life when producers found out that David Faustino – who played Bud Bundy – had a real-life rap alias, D’Lil. In fact, the actor released an album titled Balistyx in 1992 and was subsequently given the chance to showcase his lyrical flow in front of millions of viewers through his on-screen rap alter ego, Grandmaster B.

17. Ed O’Neill would call fans while pretending to be Al

Some Married… with Children fans were lucky enough to receive a birthday or holiday phone call from Ed O’Neill while in character as Al Bundy. However, in typical tight-fisted Bundy fashion, O’Neill only did so by using call collect.

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16. The cast weren’t told when the show was canceled

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Despite helping Fox score its first prime-time hit, the cast weren’t given the courtesy of a phone call when the show was canceled. In fact, Ed O’Neill only found out that the sitcom had been axed when he overheard a couple discussing it while on vacation.

15. Ed O’Neill wanted to end the show in dramatic style

After eventually coming to grips with the show’s demise, O’Neill gave producers a rather dramatic pitch as to how the Bundys should exit the screen. Strangely, the actor suggested that the family should win the lottery, only to be immediately hit by a tornado during their celebrations.

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14. Fox refused to air one particular episode

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A 1989 episode of the show was considered so risque that Fox banned it from airing until 2002. “I’ll See You in Court” saw both the Bundys and the Rhoades sue the owners of an inn after learning that the establishment had secretly taped each couple in their bedrooms.

13. There were numerous failed spinoffs

The “Radio Free Trumaine” and “Enemies” episodes were both pitched as pilots for brand new spinoff shows that were ultimately rejected by Fox. Nevertheless, Kelly’s one-time boyfriend Vinnie Verducci – played by Matt LeBlanc – later landed two spinoffs; both Top of the Heap and Vinnie & Bobby failed to make it past seven episodes, however.

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12. A U.K. remake lasted just seven weeks

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The show was given the international remake treatment, but it didn’t always translate particularly well. For example, a U.K. version starring comedian Russ Abbott called Married for Life was launched in 1996. However, thanks to a mixture of scathing reviews and low ratings, it was canned after just seven episodes.

11. Not everyone was a fan

Surprisingly for a show that lasted 11 seasons, Married… with Children’s ratings were never particularly high. This was largely because Fox was a relatively new network back then. However, incurring the wrath of the Parents Television Council did little to attract viewers; the conservative organization labeled it the “crudest comedy on primetime TV.”

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10. Peggy’s maiden name is very rude across the pond

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It’s a good thing that Peggy’s maiden name was hardly mentioned during the show’s run, as it might have proved problematic in selling the show to Britain. Why? Well, although the word is often considered to simply mean an idiot in the States, over in the U.K. it’s a fairly strong curse word. Yikes.

9. David Faustino used embarrassing measures to be recognized in public

A young David Faustino so desperately wanted to be recognized when the show first started airing that he did something both bold and a little foolhardy. Specifically, he wore a shirt emblazoned with the Married… with Children logo during a trip to a crowded mall. Rather humiliatingly, though, not one person showed that they had a clue who he was.

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8. The Bundy family were named after a wrestler

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Despite rumors to the contrary, Married… with Children’s main family weren’t named for notorious murderer Ted Bundy. Instead, inspiration came from professional wrestler King Kong Bundy. And to repay the favor, the sportsman also known as Chris Pallies turned up in the show twice: once playing himself, and the other time portraying Peggy’s Uncle Irwin.

7. The Bundys have two different addresses

Eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted that the Bundy family’s home address changes ever so slightly from episode to episode. In some, it’s listed as 9764 Jeopardy Lane, Chicago, Illinois, while in others the house number appears instead as 9674. We pity the poor mailman who serves their street.

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6. Divine could have appeared in the show

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Believe it or not, but Harris Glenn Milstead, a.k.a. world-famous drag queen Divine, was cast to play Uncle Otto in the final episode of the show’s second season. Tragically, though, the flamboyant star passed away from a heart condition shortly before he was due to make his first appearance on set.

5. The show’s early budget was tiny

The Married… with Children team had to be resourceful during the show’s early days due to its extremely limited budget. In fact, for one storyline, the cast and crew were forced to bring items in from their very own homes. If you’re the nosy type, then, watch season two episode “Master the Possibilities” and see what things the family buy after receiving a credit card addressed to their dog Buck.

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4. Al’s shoe store was the travel agent set from One Day at a Time

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And along with making spending sprees work on a shoestring, Married… with Children’s producers were similarly shrewd when it came to the show’s locations. In particular, fans of One Day at a Time may well have spotted that Al’s beloved shoe store was the same set used for Barbara and Max’s travel agency in the final season of the CBS sitcom.

3. Ed O’Neill took his inspiration from close to home

Youngstown, Ohio, couldn’t pick up the Fox network during Married… with Children’s early days. And it’s probably a good job, too, since some of its residents may have recognized themselves somewhat in hometown boy Ed O’Neill’s portrayal of Al Bundy. Yes, the actor based his grouchy central character on several of his uncles and a high school friend he has described as “crude.”

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2. We could have seen more of Kelly Bundy

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Unfortunately for some, Christina Applegate turned down the chance to appear in a spin-off based on her Married… with Children character Kelly Bundy. But she did so to broaden her career horizons. And as she’s since starred in numerous hit Hollywood comedies over the past two decades, her gamble well and truly paid off.

1. Christina Applegate didn’t always sport her real hair

Christina Applegate did pursue some outside ventures when filming the sitcom – in particular, Gregg Araki’s indie movie Nowhere. Somewhat trickily, though, the role required that Applegate color her hair red. And as a result, when she returned to the Married… with Children set in the fall of 1995, the star was forced to wear a blonde wig to hide her brightly hued real locks.

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