I just did a gig at Treasure Island Casino,” says Pat Harrington, reminiscing in his Brentwood, Calif., apartment. “I didn’t have groupies, I had AAR Pies [American Association of Retired Persons]. They don’t throw panties onstage…they give you a good mutual fund or a mustard plaster.” But seriously, folks, since he stopped taking life One Day at a Time in 1984, after nearly nine years it hasn’t been all prunes and branflakes for the 65-year-old comedian. As gravel-voiced handyman Dwayne Schneider, dispensing schmaltzy wisdom and sticky punch lines, Harrington was a tube icon for nearly a decade. “It wasn’t hammers and nails, it was advice that Schneider was all about,” he recalls fondly. He won a Best-Supporting Actor Emmy in 1984 and, he says, after the show was canceled, “I thought I’d be on the air in six or seven minutes. But it’s been 10 years.” Harrington isn’t hurting, though. Syndication residual checks still roll in, and he has done guest shots on such programs as Empty Nest and The George Carlin Show, as well as regional theater. His former costar Bonnie Franklin owns a small stage in the San Fernando Valley, where he occasionally performs. Five mornings a week he lifts weights and runs three miles on the track at UCLA. And he sees his four grown children and three grandchildren often (Harrington and his wife of 30 years, Marge, divorced in 1985).
He also spends quality time with “Yarmy’s Army,” a group of over-50 top bananas who gather once a month at Hollywood’s Provencia restaurant to discuss old times and new-opportunities. Named after comedian Dick Yarmy who died of lung cancer in. 1992, members include small-screen funnymen Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Don Adams and Pat McCormick. “We face life together,” says Harrington. “We support one another. These guys have a lot to give, and we’re looking to market that. It’s just a tougher assignment now.”