Saturday, February 8, 2014

Unseen TV Characters

Yesterday, my friend Lynn told me that "Carlton" is the name of ..... and I interrupted her and said "your doorman?"  Luckily she knew what I was referring to and got the joke.  (Ok, I didn't say it was a GOOD joke).

Anyway, it got me to thinking about TV Characters, like Charlton, the door man (from the TV Show Rhoda) - that you heard (or heard about) but never saw.

I guess the first one I recall is Juanita Beasley from the Andy Griffith Show.  She was a waitress that worked at the Mayberry Diner and she and Barney Fife had a little thing going on.  Whenever Thelma Lou wasn't around, Barney would ring up Juanita and sometimes he would sing to her.  Remember the song that he would sing to her?  ♪ Nita...Juaaaa-neeta ♪

Speaking of The Andy Griffith show, they had another un-seen character, Sarah, who I don't think even had a last name.  We never heard her voice but we knew she was a busy-body who often got caught listening in on conversations or wanting to know why Barney or Andy needed to call a particular person.  I bet Sarah could have told us some good stories.

I recall a few other un-seen characters in the 1970s - in fact.  I think there were quite a few.  I already mentioned, Carlton the Doorman from the TV Show Rhoda.  Either Rhoda or her sister Brenda would call down to the lobby and say "Carlton" and every time he would respond as if it was the first time they ever contacted him by saying "Hi, this is Carlton, your doorman".  Later, the actor that voiced Carlton, also voice Garfield, the cat.  I imagined Carlton to be a short little guy whose uniform was always a little too tight.

Rhoda was actually a spin-off of the Mary Tyler Moore show, which also had an un-seen character, Dr. Lars Lindstrom, who was married to Phyllis, Mary and Rhoda's friend and landlord. I always imagined Lars as sort of a little heavy-set, kind of bald-ish and glasses wearing kind of looking guy.

Another show that featured a famous "un-seen" was Charlie's Angels, you saw plenty of angels but you only heard, but never saw...Charlie Townsend.

Still yet another 70s show with a character we heard a lot about, but never saw was "The Gooch" from Diff'rent Strokes.  I loved that show! Remember when Janet Jackson was on there - she was Willis' girlfriend!  Although you never saw The Gooch, they would never have a character like "The Gooch" on TV now, since he actually was a school bully.

Now this last one is a HALF un-seen character..Happy Days started airing in 1974 and the youngest character, Joanie, would often talk about her friend, Jenny Piccolo.  Mostly it was something that Jenny Piccolo told Joanie and the majority of the time, it lead us to believe that Jenny Piccolo was a bit on the mature side - same age as Joanie but perhaps more experienced, particularly when it came to boys.  I loved that Jenny was talked about but never seen - you could imagine this teeny bopper girl, with the poodle skirt and pony tail giving Joanie the lessons of life in the hallways at school.  But....6 years later in 1980, that all changed when Cathy Silvers (daughter of Phil Silvers) appeared as Jenny Piccolo herself.  No offense to Ms. Silvers, she played Jenny wonderfully, but I wished they would have left her a mystery.

Then came the 80s, which brought us more un-seen characters, but not many (that I can recall).

The first one I can think of is Vera Peterson from Cheers.  Vera was Norm's wife and he was constantly making remarks about her, which pretty much made us believe she was not such a joy to be around - kind of a battle-axe wife.  Once and a while we heard her voice (like when she called Cheers at 3 am and left a message on the machine) or we'd see her legs/feet but in one episode, we almost saw her.  It was a Thanksgiving episode and the whole Cheers gang was at Carla's - a food fight started and Vera was in another room - just as she was about to walk in the room, her face was hit with a pie so we didn't get to see her

These next two BARELY make into the 80s since both started in 1989.

First up...Family Matters, it started out about a police officer and his family but then they introduced the character of Steve Urkel, the nosy, geeky but well-meaning next door neighbor.  That character became hugely famous and the show pretty much centered on him and the police officer after that.  The family was still there but not the focus - anyway.  There were 2 un-seen characters - Steve Urkel's parents.  They lived right next door, Steve was a big part of this family's life, yet the parent never took the time to come over and have a cup of coffee (guess they were glad Steve was out of the house)

The other show, barely squeaking into the 80s is Seinfeld, one of the main characters, Kramer, had a friend who was always helping him come up with his cockamamie get-rich-quick schemes - you often heard Kramer mention, Bob Sacamano, but you never saw him.

Now onto the 90s.  The first and most famous one that comes to mind is Maris Crane, from Frasier. She was married to Frasier's brother, Niles for the majority of the series' run.  From the way they all talked about her, she was a very petite (perhaps anorexic/bulimic) woman, who dressed in designer clothing and jewelry.  She came from money and was quite fru-fru.  She was a bit of shrew and kept her husband, Niles, on a pretty tight leash.  If I recall, we never saw a glimpse of her or even heard her voice.  Maris is, perhaps, my very favorite un-seen character.

And...who can forget Will & Grace's Karen Walker's husband - Stan Walker ? Karen seemed to be with Stan because he had money - he didn't seem her type at all - he was describe to be a whale of a man - tall, very heavy.  Even though she made fun of him and fussed about him, deep down, she was crazy about the guy.

Now onto the 2000s - there is only one show I can think of that had (still has) a recurring un-seen character and that is Howard's Mom from The Big Bang Theory.  She is most often heard yelling at Howard while he is in his bedroom upstairs and she appears to be yelling from the downstairs living room.  I picture her as a heavy-set woman, with messy curly hair sitting on the couch, eating chips and wearing a mu-muu.

There are a few re-curring characters that are not really what I would call "un-seen" since we have seen them, just not their faces.  I guess Vera Peterson could fall into this category but I felt she deserved to be with the others.

Some characters we have seen but not seen are:

Wilson Wilson, Jr.- from Home Improvement

George Steinbrenner from Seinfeld

Ugly Naked Guy from Friends

Kenny from South Park

Speaking of Kenny from South Park - there are LOTS of Cartoons with Un-Seen (or only Partially Seen) Characters ... including

Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget

Ms. Sara Bellum from Power Puff Girls

Nanny from Muppet Babies

Darling and Jim Dear from Lady and The Tramp

The owner of Marc Anthony from Looney Tunes

Mrs. Othmar (Charlie Brown's teacher)

I am sure there are more that I didn't even know of (from shows I have never seen) or perhaps forgotten about.  Can you think of any others ?

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  1. Ahhhh - Juanita (I love when Barney sings to her) and "This is Carlton your doorman" - cracks me up everytime.
    Fun post!

  2. tito from my so-called life (90s show)

  3. Wilson Wilson from Home Improvement was seen only from behind a tall fence, a hanging basket, etc.