15 Fun Facts About Married... with Children

Former Laverne & Shirley and Diff’rent Strokes writers Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt were tired of the saccharine family sitcoms of the '80s. So when given the opportunity to create a brand-new show for the then-brand-new Fox network, the two conceived of a series that went against everything they'd been working on up until then. What began with a working title of Not the Cosbys became Married... with Children. Here are 15 things you might not know about the classic dysfunctional family comedy, which aired it final episode 20 years ago today.

1. IT WAS FOX'S FIRST PRIME TIME SHOW.

On Sunday, April 5, 1987, Fox made its primetime debut at 7 p.m. EST with the pilot episode of Married... with Children, which was followed by the series premiere of The Tracey Ullman Show. At 8 p.m., the same two episodes repeated again. And then again at 9 p.m.

2. IT'S THE LONGEST-RUNNING LIVE ACTION SHOW IN FOX HISTORY.

There were 259 original installments of Married... with Children. The final episode was unceremoniously aired 20 years ago today, on June 9, 1997.

3. KELLY AND BUD WERE PLAYED BY DIFFERENT ACTORS IN THE PILOT.

Tina Caspary and Hunter Carson played Kelly and Bud Bundy, respectively, in the unaired pilot, but were replaced by Christina Applegate and David Faustino by the time the series went to air.

4. THE SHOW WAS PITCHED WITH SAM KINISON AS AL AND ROSEANNE BARR AS PEGGY.

Both Kinison and Barr’s managers told Moye, Leavitt, and the other producers that their clients were shooting for the movies, not television.

5. MICHAEL RICHARDS AUDITIONED TO PLAY AL.

Two years before he landed the career-making role of Kramer on Seinfeld, Michael Richards auditioned to play the Bundy family patriarch. Moye estimated that out of the many people who auditioned for the role, “80 percent” played Al like Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden and “five percent” went the Jack Nicholson in The Shining route.

6. ED O’NEILL GOT THE AUDITION FROM PLAYING LENNY IN OF MICE AND MEN.

A Fox executive happened to see Ed O'Neill play Lenny at a performance in Hartford, Connecticut and remembered it when they were casting for Al. He won the role at the audition simply by taking a deep breath and slumping his shoulders before he entered the front door, something nobody else did.

7. O’NEILL BASED AL ON SOME FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS.

Specifically, he based his performance on some uncles and a “crude high school pal.” None of those people were probably able to see his performance at first, because O’Neill’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio didn’t get the Fox network when the show debuted.

8. THE SHOW BRIEFLY RUINED O'NEILL'S MOVIE CAREER.

O’Neill had to be recast long after the 1991 war film Flight of the Intruder had finished shooting because test audiences kept laughing whenever he appeared on screen, even though he was playing a Navy captain involved in a court-martial.

9. KATEY SAGAL CAME UP WITH PEGGY BUNDY’S STYLE ON HER OWN.

Katey Sagal came into her audition believing Peggy would dress like a former cocktail waitress.

10. THE BUDGET FOR THE FIRST FEW SEASONS WAS TINY.

The budget in the series' early days was so small that when Buck the dog went on a credit card shopping spree, the big items he purchased were brought in from the homes of the show's cast and crew. It wasn’t until season three that Katey Sagal got to wear a wig.

11. FOX REFUSED TO AIR ONE EPISODE, AND IT DIDN’T SHOW UP ON AMERICAN TELEVISION UNTIL 2002.

The season three episode “I’ll See You in Court” was deemed too racy to air by Fox in 1989, and it didn’t see the light of day until June 18, 2002 on FX (in edited form). The show was under scrutiny at the time after Michigan housewife (and Mitt Romney's former sister-in-law) Terry Rakolta started a letter-writing campaign regarding television and decency that got some advertisers to pull their ads from the show.

12. THE WRITERS MADE JEFFERSON D’ARCY INTO A SECRET AGENT AFTER TED MCGINLEY COMPLAINED.

McGinley was upset that he was turned into “such a wuss.”

13. DAVID GARRISON LEFT THE SHOW AFTER SEASON FOUR TO RETURN TO LIVE THEATER.

Garrison, who played neighbor Steve Rhoades, would pop up in the series four more times after his official departure, always in a different profession.

14. THERE WERE TWO FAILED SPINOFFS.

Garrison’s last appearance as Steve Rhoades was in the season nine finale “Radio Free Trumaine,” where Steve was suddenly a college dean who makes a mistake expelling some school DJs. It was shopped as a pilot but Fox didn’t pick up the series (despite it co-starring Keri Russell). The season 10 episode “Enemies,” featuring Nicole Eggert, was a low-brow version of Friends that Fox also declined to pick up to series. The spinoff Top of the Heap, starring Matt LeBlanc as one-time Kelly Bundy boyfriend Vinnie Verducci, lasted for six episodes on its own on Fox before being turned into Vinnie & Bobby, which ran for seven episodes in the summer of 1992.

15. ED O’NEILL’S STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME IS IN FRONT OF A SHOE STORE.

He was honored on August 30, 2011 with a star in front of the DSW shoe store on Hollywood Boulevard.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Why Steve Carell Required a Cold Set on The Office

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon

Many people know from personal experience how frustrating it can be to disagree on the ideal office temperature. Some people tend to run warm, while others keep a handy stash of blankets and scarves at their desks to keep the goosebumps at bay. If you're in the latter category, you'd probably have a tough time as an actor or crew member on the set of The Office. Though it would be a cool opportunity to see the Dunder Mifflin team in action, you'd have to work on a set that was consistently kept at 64°F.

As Insider reports, Steve Carell, who played Michael Scott, insisted the set remain at such a chilly temperature because of his very active sweat glands. As silly as it might sound, it's not a myth. Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight Schrute, revealed this behind-the-scenes secret in his 2015 book, The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy.

Insider notes that Carell's requirement was not always appreciated by his castmates, who apparently suffered through the crisp temperatures until they finally got space heaters. Though the set's frequent frigid feel was rough, it probably saved the crew from having to re-shoot scenes spoiled by sweat stains.

[h/t Insider]