All during Newhart’s eight-year run on CBS, the show’s one surefire audience pleaser was an appearance by Larry, Darryl and Darryl, the three backwoods bumpkin brothers with a less than nodding acquaintance with such civilized froufrou as soap and water. What distinguished the trio was its mode of communication. Larry did all the talking. Darryl didn’t say a word. Neither did Darryl. But Newhart is gone, and so is the Darryl code of silence. In a recent Saturday ceremony held in Gadsden, Ala., John Voldstad, 39, who played the chubby, blond-haired Darryl, managed to utter a tearful, heartfelt “I do.” His vows were pledged to recent high school grad and Gadsden native Kellye Fowler, 20, and were heard by 700 guests, including Voldstad’s friend Linda (Beauty and the Beast) Hamilton and his TV brethren William Sanderson (Larry) and Tony Papenfuss (the other Darryl).
A happy occasion, to be sure, but one not without some misgivings. After all, John met Kellye only last August and had known her just two months before popping the question. Then there’s that 19-year age gap. “John’s 25 mentally anyway,” shrugs Kellye. As for their relationship, Kellye believes ardor tells the tale. “We make my grandparents sick,” she says. “My granna threatens to get the water hose after us to break it up.”
Things have indeed been steamy—or as steamy as they can get between a shy actor and a devout Methodist who goes almost nowhere without Mom. Last August, Voldstad was taking part in a celeb tennis tournament in Macon, Ga., when the star-struck Fowler asked for an autograph. “She was spelling Kellye with a ye, and I thought, ‘Umm, that’s very pretty,’ ” says Voldstad. Later that day, at a posttournament charity auction, he made his bid for her. “When I saw her again I said, ‘Kellye with a ye,’ and she smiled.” And the rest is, well, historye.
In the relationship’s early days, Voldstad was under stern surveillance by Kellye’s mother. Perhaps believing everything she had ever heard about Hollywood men, Annette Fowler went along on most of the couple’s dates. In October, when Kellye flew out to visit her beau’s two-bedroom, English-style cottage in the San Fernando Valley, her mother followed a week later. “They both slept right here on the couch,” says John firmly.
Kellye Fowler represents the first marriage, and one of the few romances, in the life of John Voldstad, who was born in Oslo, Norway. His parents split before John was a year old, and he and his mother, Edith, relocated to the U.S., moving from city to city as Edith tried various occupations. At age 8, John landed his first part in a play and found his vocation: “I knew I wanted to act.” After graduating from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif., Voldstad studied drama in London, then returned to L.A., where he appeared in the movies 1941 and Stripes. Then, in 1982, came Newhart.
Fowler’s upbringing has been considerably less peripatetic than her new husband’s, but she too was a baby when her mother, an elementary school teacher, split with her father. And like John, Kellye wanted to act at an early age but was too shy to try out for school plays. Instead, she would retreat to her bedroom with a friend and act out scenes from movies.
To those dark souls who suspect she might be marrying Voldstad just to satisfy her acting aspirations, Fowler has this to say: “I am not marrying John for his money or because he is an actor. This is not the reason I am marrying him. No one would ever say that to me. If they did I would say, ‘I love John and he loves me, and if you can’t sec that you must be blind.’ ”
Nonetheless, there’s no denying that Kellye does aspire to being more than simply Mrs. John Voldstad. “I want to act and model and sing,” she says. Kellye got her first taste of showbiz this year, when John arranged for her to be an extra on several episodes of Newhart. “I almost fainted, I loved it,” she says. “I knew I wanted to be an actress.” In fact, she already knows what she wants her first part to be. “I want to try out for the part of Pebbles in the new Flintstones movie,” Kellye says animatedly.
Wisely, should Pebbles or other roles not pan out, the couple has a fallback plan. “We would like two children,” says Kellye. “We have names picked out too,” adds John. “The boy will be Sean Christaan. The girl, Katherine Annette—Katye for short, and we’d spell it with aye.” Of course.
—Joanne Kaufman, Vicki Sheff in Gadsden and Los Angeles