Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How Old Are You Now? 2016 Television Edition

The Honeymooners was centered on Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason). On a few occasions, he mentioned that he'd been driving a bus for 15 or 16 years. Since the show aired in 1955 and '56, that means he started in 1940. It's unlikely he would have been allowed to drive a bus (or "brive a dus," or even "dus a brive") before turning 21.

So, presuming he was 21 in 1940, and got married to Alice Gibson (Audrey Meadows) the next year (they were said to be married for 14 years, and then 15) at 22, if he's still alive (unlikely, given his lifestyle, especially his diet), he'd now be 97 years old. (That would still make him younger than his portrayer: Gleason would have been 100 this year.)


M*A*S*H really did a number on continuity. I'll spare you the details. But the ages of the characters weren't always clear.

Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan) admitted to being 62 years old in an episode that would have taken place in 1952 or '53, but had previously said he lied about his age to enlist in the Army in World War I, which would have made him about 10 years younger.

Major Charles Winchester claimed to be a Harvard University graduate, Class of 1943; this would have made him 31 or 32 in the episode in question. His portrayer, David Ogden Stiers, was 40 at the time, and 35 when the character debuted, so there's no way Charles was just 31 at the time.

But none of the show's surgeons, save for the much older Potter and possibly his predecessor, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), were mentioned as having served in World War II. If they were 31 in 1951 and 32 in 1952, this would give them a birthdate of 1920 -- prime draft age during World War II, but possibly with deferments, as they would have been in college and then medical school, and the Army would certainly have said, "Okay, you can train as doctors, but if the war is still going on when you get out, you're going to be Army doctors." At any rate, if 1920 is reliable as a birthdate, and if they're still alive, they'd be 96 years old.

Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff) was supposedly 19 in 1951, making him 84 now. Yes, Radar is in his 80s.


Happy Days was set 19 years before the show's episodes aired: 1955 to 1965. Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), Warren "Potsie" Weber (Anson Williams) and Ralph Malph (Don Most) graduated from Jefferson High School in 1957. This suggests a birthdate of 1938. This makes Richie, Potsie and Ralph 78. (We can presume that Howard's other major character, Opie Taylor, is the same age that he is, since The Andy Griffith Show took place in what was then the present day. So Opie is about to turn 62.)

Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran) and Chachi Arcold (Scott Baio) would be 76, and Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) probably around 82. Da Fonz would not, however, be in a rest home. He would still be too cool for that. And Richie Cunningham Jr. would be 52.

In The Wonder Years, set 20 years before, 1968 to 1973, Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper are said to start out at 12. This means they were born in 1956, and turned 60 this year.

And on another nostalgia program, That '70s Show, the gang graduates from high school in 1978, giving them a birth year of (or around) 1960. So Eric, Donna and the rest are 56.


If we presume the "meddling kids" on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? were about 18 when the show first aired in 1969 (certainly, they were old enough to have driver's licenses), that makes them 65 now. Of course, dogs don't usually live past the age of 20, no matter how well you take care of them, and big dogs, such as Great Danes like Scooby, tend not to live as long as smaller dogs.

But if the gang is now 65, I can imagine Fred saying, "Now, where did I put my glasses," and remembering his long-ago dog, and saying, "Well, Scoob, it looks like we've got another mystery on our hands!"

When Gloria Bunker (Sally Struthers) and Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner) met on All In the Family, Mike was in college, and Gloria was probably the same age, maybe a year or two younger. If Mike was 20, and a flashback showed that they met in 1969, then they'd be 67 or so now. (For the record, Reiner and Struthers are both 69.) Their son Joey Stivic is 41 -- just 7 years younger than Archie was when the show started.

Can you imagine Gloria Bunker and Charles Emerson Winchester III as coming from the same place? Believe it or now, Struthers was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and Stiers spent his teenage years in the same State, in Eugene. (While his real voice is rather refined, it does not have a Boston Brahmin accent.)

The Odd Couple made several mentions of the fact that Felix Unger (Tony Randall) and Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman) served in World War II. Felix had 2 teenaged children, and while Oscar had no children (although he did in the play and movie versions), he did have a niece who was 18, married and having a baby in an episode.

So, when the show aired from 1970 to 1975, they weren't just "two divorced men," they were divorced middle-aged men. Randall was born in 1920, Klugman in 1922 (and both are dead now), although it's possible that both enlisted as early as age 18. But while Felix was in great shape for a man in his 40s, he did have a little gray hair, suggesting that he might have been closer to 50 (as Randall was when the show first aired).

If (as I did for my "obituary" of Oscar a while back, which I wrote after Klugman died), I kept the characters' ages matched up with the actors', if they were now still alive, Felix would be 96, Oscar 94. "Odd"? Say what you want about the way Oscar lived his life, but Jack made it to 90, 6 years older than Tony was when he died!

Barney Miller revealed he was 15 years old on V-E Day, May 8, 1945, so he was born in 1930. So, if he's still alive -- his portrayer Hal Linden is -- he'd be 86.


Desi Arnaz Jr. was born on January 19, 1953, the same day that the I Love Lucy episode featuring the birth of his analogue, "Little Ricky" Ricardo, aired. This makes Little Ricky 63.

Theodore Cleaver was said to be 7, almost 8, when Leave It to Beaver first aired in 1957. That means he was born in late 1949. His brother Wally was 13, so he as born in 1944. That makes the Beaver 66 now, and Wally 72.

Dobie Gillis graduated high school in his show's 2nd season, in 1961, meaning he was born in 1943. This makes Dobie 73.

Tabitha Stephens was born in Bewitched's 2nd season, 1966. But in the 1977-78 spinoff series Tabitha, she is said to be in her 20s already. If the 1966 date is correct, she's 50.

The Brady Bunch kids? The series began in 1969, at which point Greg and Marcia Marcia Marcia were in high school. So they were probably born in 1953, which makes them 63, and their siblings a little younger.

I'd like to think things were better for the characters on Diff'rent Strokes than for their portrayers. Arnold Jackson's birthdate was definitively given as July 19, 1970. Willis Jackson's was April 27, 1965, and Kimberly Drummond's was October 22, 1964. If they managed to avoid the troubles that the actors had, Kimberly is now 52, Willis is 51, and Arnold is 47. And the girls on the spinoff series The Facts of Life were supposedly 13 when that show premiered in 1979, making them now 47.


Let's move up a bit. From The Cosby Show, based on the ages the kids were at the start, Cliff Huxtable is 78, his wife Claire is 72, Sondra Tibideaux is 51, Denise Kendall is 47, Theo Huxtable is 45, Vanessa Huxtable is 42, and Rudy Huxtable is 36. (This, of course, ignores the fact that we don't know if Vanessa and Rudy got married and, if so, whether they took their husbands' last names like Sondra and Denise did.)

Bob Saget is 60, so it's safe to presume his Full House character, Danny Tanner, is the same age. Dave Coulier is 56, but since his character Joey Gladstone and Danny are supposed to be the same age, Joey is also 60. John Stamos is 52, which makes him 8 years younger than Saget. If we presume Pam, Danny's late wife, was the same age as Danny, that probably makes her brother, Jesse Katsopolis, a couple of years younger, so he's probably now 58. Lori Loughlin, who played Rebecca Donaldson, Danny's TV morning-show co-host and later Jesse's wife, is 51, but there's no reason her character's age couldn't be her own.

As we can now see on Fuller House, D.J., now Donna Jo Tanner-Fuller (taking the Danny role), is 38. Most likely, so is her best friend Kimmy Gibler (taking the Joey role). Sister Stephanie Tanner (taking the Joey role) is 34, and sister Michelle, whom we apparently won't see in Fuller House, is 28. Jesse and Rebecca's twins, Nicky and Alex, are 23. There's some additional characters in the Fuller House cast photo above, but I don't know who they are.

On Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza were said to have graduated from high school in 1971. This suggests they were born in 1953. But real Jerry was actually born in 1954. Regardless, they'd now be 62. I get the idea that Elaine Benes was a little younger, and Cosmo Kramer a little older. Kramer on Social Security? It's possible.

On Mad About You, it was stated that Paul Buchman was born in early 1959, Jamie Stemple Buchman in late 1963, and their daughter Mabel was born in mid-1997. So, today, Paul is 57, Jamie is 52, and Mabel is 19. Holy cow, Mabel Buchman is in college.

On Friends, Monica Geller turned 27 in 1995. Rachel Green graduated from high school with her, so they're the same age. Monica met Phoebe Buffay in college, so they're probably the same age. Ross Geller is 2 years older than his sister, and he met Chandler Bing in college, so those 2 are probably the same age. And Joey Tribbiani... we know he turned 30 at some point during the show. Let's presume he's the same age as the ladies. This makes Ross and Chandler 50 this year, and the rest of them 48. Ross' son Ben is 21, Ross & Rachel's daughter Emma Geller is 13, and Monica and Chandler's twins, Erica and Jack Bing, are 12.

Fast fact that may blow your mind: Ben Geller could legitimately be dating Mabel Buchman. Or Alexis Castle.

If we presume the characters on Living Single were the same ages as their portrayers... Well, that won't work, since Kim Coles, who played Synclaire James, is 8 years older than Queen Latifah, who played her cousin Khadijah James. Okay, let's presume they're all around Khadijah's age. Therefore, Khadijah, Synclaire, Regine Hunter (played by Kim Fields, who, of course, also played Tootie Ramsey on The Facts of Life), Maxine Shaw (Erika Alexander), Overton Jones (John Henton) and Kyle Barker (T.C. Carson) are 47. And the Shaw-Barker baby we never got to see is 18.

Girlfriends was so much of a ripoff of Living Single that Michael Warren -- Sgt. Bobby Hill on Hill Street Blues -- was cast as the fathers of both Khadijah and Tracee Ellis Ross' character Joan Clayton. Joan was born in 1972, Persia White's Lynn Searcy and Jill Marie Jones' Toni Childs in 1971, and Golden Brooks' Maya Wilkes in 1978. So, this year, Lynn and Toni turned 46, Joan 45, Maya 38, Maya's son Jabari 22, and Toni's daughter Morgan is 11.

Michael Landon Jr. was 29 when he appeared as Benj Cartwright -- son of Little Joe and grandson of "Pa" Ben -- in Bonanza: The Return, which was set in 1905. He did not yet have any children. If we presume that he got married and had a son within 5 years, 1910, and presume a new generation every 25 years, that means the youngest generation of Cartwrights would now be small children, and the great-great-great-great-grandchildren of Ben.

In the other direction, if we presume that Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk was born in 2233, as seems to be accepted in the myth's canon, and we presume a new generation every 25 years, then Kirk's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather would have been born in 2008.

No comments: