- “The Wonder Years” aired from 1988 to 1993, and focused on the Arnold family in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
- The show’s immediate success turned the whole cast into stars, especially Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.
- Savage took a break from acting to become a popular TV director, though in recent years, he has returned to TV with shows like “The Grinder” and “Friends From College.”
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Nothing says nostalgia quite like “The Wonder Years.” At the time, it was nostalgic for the ’60s and ’70s â€” and now, in 2020, thinking about the show’s cast brings us right back the ’80s and early ’90s.
The show focused on the life and times of the Arnold family, your average family living in an unnamed American suburb who dealt with the Vietnam War, the rise of feminism, the counterculture movement, and more. It was an instant hit from the day it premiered, January 31, 1988. Over the course of six seasons,it was nominated for 28 Emmys, winning four.
In light of the news that a “Wonder Years” reboot is coming â€” this time focused on a Black family in the same time period, living in Montgomery, Alabama â€” we took a look at what the stars of “The Wonder Years” are up to today, 32 years since it premiered.
Keep scrolling to see what the Arnold family and their friends are up to in 2020.
Fred Savage’s Kevin Arnold was the main focus of “The Wonder Years.” The show started when Savage was just 12 years old.
Savage was 12 when he was cast as Kevin, the focus of “The Wonder Years,” which was about the Arnold family and their friends dealing with the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s, all narrated by an adult version of Kevin. The show lasted six seasons and 115 episodes – and Kevin was the at the heart of it all.
Savage became the youngest person to ever receive an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series when he was 13.
The year before “The Wonder Years” was released, Savage got a taste of fame when he appeared in “The Princess Bride” as the grandson who was homesick and listening to his grandfather tell the story of the film. He was also in “The Twilight Zone.”
Savage has made quite the career for himself as a TV director, though he does occasionally act as well.
Savage, 44, took a break from acting after the show ended to attend high school and college. When he graduated, he appeared in various TV shows for one-episode parts, like “Boy Meets World” (which starred his younger brother, Ben), “The Outer Limits,” and “Law & Order: SVU.” He also voiced the animated octopus Oswald for the Nick Jr. show of the same name.
But mainly, he focused on directing and producing. Savage has directed episodes for dozens of TV shows, including “Phil of the Future,” “Unfabulous,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (which he also produces), “Modern Family,” “Casual,” “Black-ish,” and more. He also directed the feature film “Daddy Day Camp.”
Savage returned to acting more frequently in 2015 when he co-starred on “The Grinder,” alongside Rob Lowe. He also starred in the 2017 Netflix series “Friends From College” and 2019’s parody after-show “What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage.”
Dan Lauria played Kevin’s straitlaced father, Jack Arnold.
Jack was a Korean War vet and, generally speaking, a conservative man. Much of the show’s conflicts were between Jack and his daughter, Karen, a hippie. He worked for the military (at first), but later started his own business building custom furniture. The show’s epilogue revealed that Jack died two years after the series finale, when Kevin was a freshman in college.
Lauria was also a veteran in real life, albeit of the Vietnam War. Before “The Wonder Years,” he had appeared in ’80s shows like “LA Law,” “Growing Pains,” and “Cagney & Lacey,” but his big break was playing Jack.
Lauria is still steadily acting. He appeared in “The Way Back” this year.
Lauria, 73, has continued to play gruff father figures and leaders throughout his career, from “Party of Five” to “Law & Order” to “This Is Us,” in which he played Toby’s father. He also had a recurring role in “Blue Bloods” as the FDNY commissioner, and starred in the three-season sitcom, “Sullivan & Son” alongside Steve Byrne. Most recently, he appeared in the 2020 Ben Affleck film, “The Way Back.”
He also appeared on Broadway in the musical adaptation of “A Christmas Story.”
Alley Mills played Kevin’s mum, Norma Arnold, who yearned to be more than a housewife.
Norma was the sweeter and friendlier counterpart to Jack’s gruffness. Over the course of the series, she goes back to school to get her college degree and begins working at a software start-up, because she wasn’t content as a housewife, reflecting the rise of feminism in the ’60s.
Pre-“The Wonder Years,” Mills was in plenty of TV movies and sitcoms like “Newhart,” “Moonlighting,” and “Punky Brewster,” among others.
Mills has been on soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” since 2006.
Right after “The Wonder Years,” Mills, now 69, had a recurring role on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” However, her most famous role of the last 20 years has been Pam Douglas on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” She played Pam from 2006 through 2019.
In 2019, she also appeared on two episodes of “Teachers.”
Olivia d’Abo played Kevin’s older sister Karen, a hippie.
Karen was the prototypical free-spirited hippie during her run on the show, which was the first four seasons. Her character was written off the show when she moved in with her boyfriend during freshman year of college (played by a pre-“Friends” David Schwimmer). The two eventually got married and moved to Alaska, ending her time on the show.
D’Abo, appeared in major films like “Conan the Destroyer” and “Bolero” before joining “The Wonder Years.”
Olivia d’Abo has become a popular voice actor.
D’Abo, 51, has continued acting in films and on TV, but she’s most famous now for her voice acting. She voiced Jane in “The Legend of Tarzan,” Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and Black Widow in multiple Avengers cartoons. She reprised the role of Luminara in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
She’s also appeared in shows like “Law & Order,” “Elementary,” and “Psych.” D’Abo is also a musician and released an album in 2008. She co-hosted the podcast “Every Friday with Dan and Olivia” from 2015 to 2018.
Jason Hervey played Kevin’s older brother Wayne, who frequently bullied Kevin and his friend Paul.
Wayne was your prototypical obnoxious older brother who constantly bullied his younger brother. As the show went on, he gradually matured, and in the last season he gets into a serious relationship with a divorced woman named Bonnie, but she eventually leaves him to go back to her ex-husband, leaving him heartbroken. It’s revealed he takes over his father’s furniture store after Jack dies.
Before he starred on “The Wonder Years,” Hervey had recurring roles in “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Fast Times,” and “Wildside.”
Jason Hervey is now best known for his appearances as himself in shows like “I Love the ’80s.”
Hervey, 48, sporadically acted until 2004. However, he has appeared as himself many times on shows that capitalise on ’80s nostalgia like “Battle of the Network Stars,” “Confessions of a Teen Idol,” “Scott Baio is 45… And Single,” and “Whatever Happened To?”
He also was in public relations for a few years, and he founded a production company, Bischoff Hervey Entertainment, in 2003. It closed in 2019.
Josh Saviano played Kevin’s nerdy and loyal best friend, Paul Pfeiffer.
They were best friends in the show, but Kevin and Paul grew apart. Paul was shown to be extremely smart, and the finale revealed that Paul attended Harvard and became a lawyer.
“The Wonder Years” was Saviano’s first role, and during the show he didn’t do much other acting. One of his only other credits is the 1990 TV movie “Camp Cucamonga.”
Paul’s career choice was a nod to Saviano, who retired from acting in real life to pursue a law career.
Much like Paul, Saviano, 44, attended an Ivy League school (Yale, not Harvard), and became a lawyer. “The Wonder Years” was his first and last big role.
After a 21-year break, Saviano returned to acting for a three-episode stint on “Law & Order: SVU” as, you guessed it, a lawyer named Don Taft.
Saviano and Savage are still friends today, as seen on Instagram.
Danica McKellar played the girl next door and Kevin’s longtime crush, Winnie Cooper.
Forget Cory and Topanga, the original teen relationship goals were Kevin and Winnie. From the show’s first episode when Kevin comforts Winnie after her brother dies in Vietnam, fans were obsessed with their young love – which is why many fans were distraught when adult Kevin revealed he married someone else, though he kept in touch with Winnie his whole life.
McKellar’s big break was “The Wonder Years.” Her only credits before the show were two episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” She appeared alongside Saviano in “Camp Cucamonga.”
In addition to acting, McKellar is also a published mathematician.
McKellar, 45, has said she found it difficult to switch from child to adult acting roles. Today, she’s best known for her Hallmark and Lifetime movies. She also starred in Netflix’s educational children’s series “Project Mc2” as the Quail, an intelligence agent for a fictional government agency called NOV8.
But even cooler is McKellar’s career as a mathematician. She’s written several maths books targeted towards young girls to help encourage them to pursue STEM and other maths-related careers. Her books include “Maths Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Maths without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail,” “Kiss My Maths: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss,” and “Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.”
The unseen voice of adult Kevin is the voice of Daniel Stern.
Stern voiced adult Kevin all throughout the show, though he was uncredited. He did, however, direct 10 episodes of the show, as well.
He’s best known for his role as Marv, one of the dimwitted home invaders in Christmas classic “Home Alone” and its sequel, but he had been a working actor for years prior to his voiceover gig. His role as Phil in both “City Slickers” films is also widely known.
Stern and his on-screen younger counterpart Fred Savage co-starred in the 1989 film “Little Monsters” together, this time as father and son.
Now Stern is an actor, writer, and sculptor.
Stern, 63, most recently appeared in the first season of “Shrill.” He’s also popped up in the Netflix series “Love,” the Netflix film “Game Over, Man!,” “Workaholics,” “Angie Tribeca,” and more.
Stern is also an accomplished sculptor. You can learn more about his art on his website.
- Read more:
- WHERE ARE THEY NOW: The biggest child stars of the ’80s
- I tried to live like I was in the ’80s for a day. Here’s what happened.
- This artist uses Photoshop to re-imagine your favourite celebrities as ’80s and ’90s stars
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