6 NSFW Moments From The Making of Family-Friendly Shows
The family-friendly TV shows of our youth seemed to be set in a universe where most adults are wise parental figures, and all acts of dickishness are swiftly dealt with within 23 minutes. Surely, some of that wholesomeness must have rubbed off on the people making these things, right? Nope! It was pretty much a carousel of maniacs, as evidenced by the following 100-percent-real, 200-percent-demented backstage stories:
Patrick Stewart Asked Wil Wheaton To Blow Him On The Set Of Star Trek
You might imagine the downtime on the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation would be a nerd's fantasy of chess matches, D&D sessions running into the wee hours, or prog-rock roundtable discussions. But no, as everything else in life, it all boils down to blowjobs.
"How do you think I went blind?"
Enter young Wil Wheaton, who had grown up a bit from his role in Stand By Me, but was still a teenager. As related by Wheaton on various conventions and on the Nerdist podcast (starting at 48:50 in that link), the legendary Patrick Stewart, who of course played Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard, liked to goof around on set, and, uh ... we'll just let Wheaton tell the story:
Chris Hardwick: Patrick Stewart, when you were shooting the scene, said something like "Ensign Crusher--"
Wil Wheaton: Oh, oh, I know. [Imitating Patrick Stewart] "You know Wesley, in old nautical days, Ensigns performed certain favors for their captains ..." He's really disarming, you know?
CH: Didn't it go on to something as blatant as, he said: "Ensign Crusher, set a course for Rigel IV, then c'mere and give me a blow."
WW: Yes, yes. Oh my god, I'd forgotten that. Yes, yes.
That's one way to shut him up, we guess.
It's a small consolation that this probably didn't happen during Season 1, when Wheaton was only 15, since Stewart was by his own admission a bit of an uptight dick at that point and didn't joke on the set. He credits his fellow cast members with teaching him how to relax ... perhaps a wincy bit too much. Wheaton himself seems unsure of when this happened, having clearly relegated the sexual trauma to the dank back corners of his subconscious. However old he was, we're pretty sure no one would have faulted him for boldly heading down to Human Resources.
The Outtakes From ThunderCats Are Hilariously Foul-Mouthed
ThunderCats, the '80s cartoon about muscular space cats fighting a steroids-using mummy, has managed to remain a beloved franchise despite seeing less action this century than Corey Feldman. Of course, a big part of that might be due to the historic unearthing of outtakes videos like this one:
And if you think that's the product of some internet smartypants dubbing over the cartoon, here's Lion-O's original voice actor confirming that the foul-mouthed outtakes are completely real. When you have to utter lines about a "Sword of Omens," suspension capsules, the "Eye of Thundera," and other nonsensical mumbo-jumbo, it's only natural for voice actors to fuck up and let a little blue language fly during sessions. Of course, at the time, they didn't think these lines would be heard by anyone except the engineers and whoever attended their Christmas parties.
If you're somehow still not convinced, behold, the voice of Mumm-Ra saying "motherfucker."
The Creator Of Nickelodeon's You Can't Do That On Television Pulled A Gun On His Crew
You Can't Do That On Television, the kids' variety show that put Nickelodeon on the map, was a pioneer in all the wrong ways. Whereas today's regulations require a parental guardian of some sort to always accompany a child actor who's working on set, back in the '80s, it was like a Nesquik-snorting free-for-all. Parents couldn't so much as review their children's lines -- the kids were forbidden from taking scripts home for that very reason. Show creator Roger Price assured everyone this wasn't a big deal, as "kids do not talk to parents much anyway."
Don't worry, Price did look after his cast. Why, one time, he told the members of the crew that if they ever gave drugs to any of the kids ... he'd fucking shoot them. Oh, yeah: He was holding a gun as he said this. In an interview, adult cast member Les Lye confirmed that Price was fond of keeping real guns in the studio, for some reason. Yes, that's plural.
You can't do that in most workplaces.
Another staple of You Can't Do That On Television was the green slime that would cascade down on some poor schmo's head whenever they uttered the phrase "I don't know." Many of the cast were less than thrilled when it was their turn to get gunked on, which is even more understandable when you find out what was in the original recipe. It all began as a request for the prop guy to take a bucket down to the cafeteria and fill it with all the shit that was leftover on people's used plates. Once they mixed water into the foul slop, they were supposed to dump it on some poor kid.
Fortunately, they didn't have time to shoot the scene that week. Un-fortunately, they just picked up where they left off the following week, at which point the goop had sat around long enough to get a good eight-inch layer of unidentifiable and positively ungodly green "crud" on top of it. Their solution? "Dump it on the kid anyway." The rest is television history.
The kids got their revenge after they turned into a mutant rhino and a warthog.
Captain Kangaroo Apparently Whipped His Dick Out On Set
You might recognize the mustachioed, Dutch-boy-coiffed Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo, host of the classic children's show of the same name. The crew who helped put on said show, on the other hand, knew him better as "holy hell don't anger the dick-swinging madman."
We probably should have seen this coming based on the bangs alone.
Stage manager Daniel Morgan worked behind the scenes on many such shows during his 50-year career, including Captain Kangaroo. In his memoirs, Morgan revealed the Captain as a "miserable bastard " who was extremely pissy and would get agitated at almost any little thing. Some of the Captain's frustration may have stemmed from his being fired from The Howdy Doody Show, where he played Clarabell the Clown, because parents had the very 1950s complaint of "children getting too excited by seltzer squirtings from a clown." He harbored this resentment in his giant-ass coat pockets for years, eventually unloading that anger on the poor saps who had the misfortune of working on his show.
Before each episode started, an announcer named Mr. Green Jeans would get the crowd ready from backstage. According to Morgan, Keeshan would use his time outside the sight of the audience to de-pants, slide a pencil under his dick, and feverishly wave it at Mr. Jeans. Don't feel too bad for him: While Captain Kangaroo did his end-of-show voiceover from backstage on his final episode, Mr. Green Jeans finally got his revenge by sliding down his Green Jeans and taking a piss on Keeshan's leg. Appalling children's TV, but we'd definitely watch an HBO mockumentary with this exact premise.
Hands where we can see them, please.
The Little House On The Prairie Set Was Surprisingly Booze-Fueled
Little House On The Prairie is the least exciting western of all time, but we all had at least one grandparent who loved that shit and forced us to sit through it. Yes, '70s audiences just plum loved Little House's earthy, down-home depictions of Minnesota life prior to combustion. Behind the scenes, though, things weren't quite so innocent.
Melissa Gilbert, who played one of the daughters in the family, pretty much grew up on the set. During her time on the show, her father passed, and actor Michael Landon (the show's patriarch) helped her through the ordeal, but not without a little bit of hard liquor in his tummy. Gilbert claims that he often sipped vodka from a coffee mug -- which she credits for her predilection for men who reeked of alcohol later in life.
It's the same reason why the Olsen twins only date men who smell like Dave Coulier's farts.
To be fair, Gilbert says she never even realized Landon was hitting the bottle (or coffee mug, we guess) when she was a kid. Unfortunately, not all of her co-stars were so blissfully oblivious. Alison Arngrim, who played the part of Nellie "little shit" Oleson, remembers a time she was taking a nap on the set, when she heard Landon bark "hit me" to a member of the crew.
Presumably expecting to see a fistfight or something, she peeked out and instead witnessed a prop department member whipping out a bottle of Wild Turkey and filling Landon's cup. At 10 a.m. The crew would reportedly tear through two cases of Coors each day on set. If reshoots had to take place, or if someone couldn't nail their lines, they'd up it to a "three-case day." And that was before they'd wrap up for the day, set up a makeshift bar on a sawhorse, and start the real drinking. More like Little Souse On The Prairie.
"Anybody seen daddy's sippy cup?"
Jim Henson's Christmas Presents Were Heartfelt (But Completely Insane)
Perhaps the most beautifully deranged moment in the history of Sesame Street came from none other than the man who designed the puppets: Jim Henson. One time, Henson approached Frank Oz (aka one of Muppetdom's most recognizable voices and puppeteers, see: Miss Piggy, Bert, Grover, too many to list here) and casually asked if Oz would duck into a dressing room so Henson could photograph him naked.
A nonplussed Oz agreed to the impromptu photoshoot, even assuming the shocked-but-sultry, hands-covering-his-junk posture Henson requested. (We're guessing the "shocked" part wasn't too hard to pull off.)
It's also funnier if you imagine Henson broached the topic while this was going on.
And instead of never, ever, ever speaking to each other again, Oz received a package from Henson around Christmas. It was a sculpture of the Bert, full of the kind of loving detail and craftsmanship for which Henson was renowned. Something was off, though -- Bert's pupils were hollowed. And when Oz peered inside, he saw the nude photos of himself staring right back.
So how do we know this story? Well, Oz told it to an audience of hundreds at Henson's public memorial service, a mere five days after the beloved puppeteer's passing. You can watch it below, but be forewarned that tears are inevitable.
If only we could all be so lucky to receive such a eulogy.
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