10 great sitcoms featuring New Jersey actors
If you're a fan of sitcoms like I am, you've got to be watching History Of the Sitcom on CNN.
Among the many personalities who comment on the shows is our own Bob Lesczcak, better known as Bob O'Brien who along with writing several books on the genre does weekends on New Jersey 101.5.
Bob came on my show and explained his passion for sitcoms
"Have been into sitcoms since I was a little boy. Used to watch THE ANN SOTHERN SHOW and OH SUSANNA (The Gale Storm Show) every day in reruns before walking to school in the 60s. When I was homesick or on summer vacation I got to watch reruns of THE DONNA REED SHOW, FARMER'S DAUGHTER, PEOPLE'S CHOICE, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, DENNIS THE MENACE, LOVE THAT BOB, PETE & GLADYS, THE JACK BENNY SHOW, I LOVE LUCY etc."
Bob also explained what makes "History of the Sitcom" so different from the other type of shows.
"This sitcom salute is different because of how it's divided up — into 8 distinct categories. With 75 years of sitcoms and 184 interviewees involved (and each episode, with commercials being about 44 minutes total) there had to be a logical way of doing this, and this was the way."
Bob adds, "Also, instead of doing it chronologically and having several episodes of all black-and-white shows, the topics help to show the old and the new and the color. Also, the inclusion of streaming shows is new. Most documentaries have only delved into network shows in the past. Being a cable show, language and topics not allowed on the networks are allowed in this documentary".
Watching "History of the Sitcom" got me to thinking about all of the great New Jersey actors who helped make some of the greatest sitcoms in television history.
Here are some.
If you're going alphabetically, which we're not, and if you're starting from the beginning, which we are not, then you'd have to go with "Abbot and Costello," which ran from 1952-57, starring the comedy duo of Budd Abbot, who hailed from Asbury Park, and Lou Costello who's immortalized with a statue in his home town of Paterson. This is the show Jerry Seinfeld has said he patterned his show after.
"Seinfeld" —1989-1998 —Jason Alexander who plays George Costanza was born in Newark.
"Who's the Boss?" — This popular sitcom which ran from 1984-92 featured Trenton's own Judith Light as Angela Robinson Bower, a divorced advertising executive who owned the house that Tony Danza's Tony Michelli worked at.
"Cheers" — 1982-1993 — Bebe Neuwirth from Newark as Frazier's wife Lilith a role she would reprise for "Frazier"1993-2004.
"Scrubs" — 2001-2010 — Zack Braff from South Orange as Dr John Dorian
"Taxi" — 1978-82 — Asbury Park's Danny DeVito as the immortal Louie DePalma.
"GoodTimes" — 1974-79 — Newark's John Amos as James Evans Sr. Amos was only 8 years older than Jimmie Walker who played his son JJ and 19 years younger than Ester Rolle who played his wife on the show
"M*A*S*H" — 1972-83 — Alan Alda as "Hawkeye Pierce" lived in Leonia during filming and would commute from Los Angeles on weekends during the 11 years the show ran.
Also Loretta Swit, who played Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan was born in Passaic in 1937.
"Welcome Back Kotter"— 1975-79 — Englewood's John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino