Confessions from TGIF Stars: 'Family Matters, Full House' & More

Some said the sets of the family-friendly sitcoms of the '80s and '90s weren't quite what you'd expect when cameras stopped rolling

01 of 11

Danielle Fishel, Boy Meets World

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Fishel initially had a smaller role in the series but wound up replacing the original actress chosen to play Topanga. But the then-12-year-old had a habit of speaking quickly. This ultimately proved to be a problem for series creator Michael Jacobs, and during a recent episode of the Pod Meets World podcast, Fishel claimed he threatened to fire her from the ABC series.

"Michael starts off the notes by saying, 'Danielle, I'm going to give you your notes all at one time, at the end and I'm going to give everyone else their notes now, because if I made everyone sit here through all of the notes I had for you, we would all be here for hours and no one would ever get to go home. So you're just going to wait for the end,' " she recalled Jacobs saying. "From that moment on, my eyes welled up because, you know, I'm now in front of everybody — all the producers, all the writers, all the cast and all eyes are on me for a second. And then he just quickly moved on."

Jacobs then proceeded to deliver his notes to everyone else before calling down Fishel's mother from the studio audience to join her at a table on set. "He went through every single one of my lines and what he wanted and what I wasn't doing right and how slow I needed to talk," she said.

"What I know specifically was said is, 'All I know is, if you don't come back tomorrow doing this entirely differently, you are also not going to be here,' referencing the girl I had replaced," she added.

She and her mother stayed up until the wee hours of the morning "going over every single line." After participating in rehearsal the next day, she recalled Jacobs standing up to say, "Let's give Danielle a round of applause, you did exactly what I asked of you. Thank you, thank you. Congratulations, it was wonderful."

02 of 11

Danielle Fishel, Boy Meets World

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel Boy Meets World
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Fishel perhaps disappointed die-hard Boy Meets World fans at 90s Con in March 2022 when she revealed that a real-life romance with costar Ben Savage never happened.

When asked if she ever had a relationship with her costar from the popular coming-of-age 1990s sitcom, Fishel said, "No, we never dated."

However, after a couple of years of playing childhood sweethearts Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence, Fishel admitted that she and Savage did try to give it a shot.

"There was literally I think one moment where Ben and I looked at each other after we had been working together for like two years and were like, 'Are there feelings there?'" she explained. "And then we went out to dinner, and we were like, 'No!' "

03 of 11

Kellie Williams, Family Matters

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Speaking to an audience at the March 2022 90s Con, Joe Marie Payton got the conversation rolling after revealing that she and costar Reginald VelJohnson — a.k.a. the heads of the Winslow family on Family Matters — took an active role in parenting their young costars as though they were their own children.

"I was older than some of their parents are, and I was due respect, and I demanded it," Payton said.

"The adults on our show…they took personal responsibility for us," Williams, who played daughter Laura, explained. "What you saw on camera, she did not play. They [Payton and VelJohnson] did not play with us. Whoever was doing what…when one of them would talk to you, you listen. And our parents backed them up."

Continued costar Darius McCrary: "They were there at our high school graduations. They were involved in our learning, our day-to-day. In our discipline, absolutely."

04 of 11

Jaleel White, Family Matters

Jaleel White
Jaleel White. Bob D'Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty

Though White amused America and became a household name as Steve Urkel on Family Matters, he claims his fellow stars weren't immediately welcoming. The actor had originally been tapped to guest star as the endearing nerd for one episode, but would ultimately sign on to appear in all nine seasons.

"I was not welcomed to the cast at all," White said in a 2021 interview with TV One's Uncensored . "They know what it was … I didn't think anything of it being cast to be on Family Matters, because it was supposed to be a guest spot, one and done."

05 of 11

Bronson Pinchot, Perfect Strangers

TGIF Shows

Pinchot played the chipper Balki Bartokomous on Perfect Strangers, but struggled to find happiness in his own personal life, due in part to an unhealthy relationship. At the height of his fame on the hit comedy, the actor told Page Six he was "very unhappy," "hyper-sensitive" and "depressed."

"I would go home and my then girlfriend wouldn't even look up from the TV," he said. "I would go home from people screaming and police barricades and then I would go home and my girlfriend at the time wouldn't even look up."

In reflection, Pinchot remembered those years of sitcom stardom as "very sad and very lonely."

"I was afraid, well maybe, accessing all that sadness makes me a better actor but I was wrong because I have a broader emotional range now than I ever had," he explained.

06 of 11

Melissa Joan Hart, Sabrina the Teenage Witch

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Hart lit up the TGIF lineup in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but doesn't regret following her heart out of Hollywood to raise a family and direct.

"When I was a young teen, I was really aware of the child-star stigma. People will hit it big for one project, and then it's really hard to work after that," she told Glamour. "I never expected this to be a lifelong job."

Hart was grateful to find success with Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All and felt certain college would be her next move — until ABC came calling.

"My career just kind of kept going when Sabrina hit," she said.

"So no, it doesn't worry me that people don't know what I'm up to currently because I know I'm working and paying my mortgage and am fulfilled creatively," Hart added of her life today.

07 of 11

Bonus: Hart Didn't Like Salem the Cat


Cat's out of the bag! Hart also revealed that she wasn't the fondest of the black cats that played Salem, the famous feline portrayed as her partner in crime on Sabrina.

"I'm a dog person," Hart told Vulture. "Being around that Salem cat too much …the set was covered in cat food. So yeah, I can't do cats anymore."

08 of 11

Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Sister Sister

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Mowry-Hardrict said that she and her twin sister Tamera Mowry-Housley were underpaid for their work during their years on Sister, Sister, wagering that their salary was less than those of their white peers.

Opening up in an episode of Tia Mowry's Quick Fix, the child star explained the connection between salary and race.

"I remember once the show became a hit, it's very normal for you to ask for a raise. That's what happens, right? People get raises," Mowry-Housley said. "But it was always so hard for my sister and I to get what we felt like we deserved and our paycheck never equaled our counterparts' that weren't of diversity."

Looking back, the Emmy winner described the situation as "very, very frustrating."

09 of 11

Trina McGee, Boy Meets World

TGIF Shows

McGee played Angela Moore on the successful sitcom, and 20 years after the series wrapped, she spoke out about her negative experience as the only Black actress in an all-white cast that included Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle, Ben Savage and Rider Strong.

McGee alleged that Friedle called her "Aunt Jemima" on set, but has since apologized, and in a conversation with Yahoo Entertainment, said that Fishel "decided to be really tight and not talk" when they worked together, though recently said she was sorry, as well.

"When we did discuss it recently, she called me to apologize," McGee said. "She was going through a lot at the time. And I kinda just gave it that."

McGee reunited with several members of the cast — including Friedle and Fishel — at the March 2022 '90s Con event.

10 of 11

Bob Saget, Full House

TGIF Shows

Some stars of Full House just couldn't stop with the raunchy jokes when the cameras weren't rolling, according to the late Saget.

"In front of the audience, we would do stuff," Saget told Entertainment Weekly in 2015 of production horseplay. "There were times where Dave [Coulier], John [Stamos] and I would just be laying on top of each other on the couch, replicating a scene from Deliverance. But we weren't doing it so graphically. You heard no pig squealing."

Costar Candace Cameron Bure, who played his daughter D.J., backed up his claims, alleging that the kids on set were savvy — but stayed silent.

"We heard everything. We knew everything," she said of the trio's buffoonery. "We just played dumb because if we let on, our moms weren't going to let us hang out with them."

11 of 11

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Full House

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Though the Olsens often stole the show as Michelle Tanner, the twins weren't interested in reprising their role on the reboot Fuller House for a few reasons, executive producer Bob Boyett told PEOPLE.

"Ashley said, 'I have not been in front of a camera since I was 17, and I don't feel comfortable acting,' " Boyett said. "Mary-Kate said, 'It would have to be me because Ash doesn't want to do it. But the timing is so bad for us.' "

The Olsens began playing Michelle at just 9 months old and shared the character on the family sitcom for eight seasons. Today, they focus on their fashion brands The Row and Elizabeth & James, winning multiple CFDA awards through the last decade.

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