MR. BELVEDERE was far from a great sitcom. It was a sitcom. And, for a while, I watched it every week. But I won’t pretend it was anything other than that.
It was actually the third incarnation of the character. He was first portrayed by Clifton Webb in a series of films in the late 40’s, and played by Victor Borge in a TV series from 1965.
In 1985, Christopher Hewett took the role. Hewett was best known for his stage work (he was the first to play Rex Harrison’s part in MY FAIR LADY).
As usual, the British Butler went to stay with a family, this time in Pittsburgh. Baseball personality, and beer spokesperson Bob Uecker was the father. Ilene Graf was the mom. There were three kids. Kevin (Rob Stone), Heather (Tracy Wells) and Wesley (Brice Beckham).
Each week, Mr. Belvedere would teach them about life. And, while it has been years since I last saw it, didn’t each episode end with him writing in his diary about what he learned that week? Like Mork? Or Doogie Howser? Wait, Doogie came later. Was Doogie paying an homage to Mr. Belvedere?
MR. BELVEDERE ran for 117 episodes, ending in 1990. It hasn’t played much in reruns, and isn’t on DVD. (Note: I wrote this last week. Yesterday, a message posted on the website of Shout Factory said to expect a DVD release in 2009!!!)
The show is remembered for a couple things.
In 1991, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE had what is still one of their funniest sketches about the show. In the sketch (that sadly isn’t online), Tom Hanks played the president of the “Guy Who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fan Club”. He and his fellow obsessives talked about the show in creepy detail, about their thoughts on him, who they called “Broctune”. Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, and Phil Hartman were all in the sketch.
The too catchy theme song is still remembered.
Especially by THE FAMILY GUY.
After the show was cancelled, it wasn’t much of a stepping stone for the cast.
As for the kids, Brice Beckham took a few years off after the show but continues to act and direct and even produce. He wrote, directed, and starred in the short lived VH1 sitcom I HATE MY 30’s last year. I had trouble recognizing him, as he looked so different.
There were rumors that Rob Stone actually became Marilyn Manson. Since he had no acting credits after 1993, rumor was they were the same person. They aren’t. It looks like he has moved into producing and directing documentaries.
Tracy Wells hasn’t acted since 1994.
Michele Matheson, who played Angela, Heather’s ditzy friend (and probably the funniest person on the show), continues to act and just wrote a well received novel about heroin addiction.
Christopher Hewett only had one acting credit after this, an episode of CALIFORNIA DREAMS. He passed away in 2001
Ilene Graf still appears in TV, but never in any roles as big as this. (NOTE: In another strange bit of timing, a week after typing this, a day before posting it, a current photo of her turned up on the front page of AOL).
Bob Ueker went back to baseball broadcasting (and MAJOR LEAGUE).