Dan Castellaneta, Jasmine Guy, John McDaniel, and Linda Lavin on their favorite TV characters.
When it comes to TV characters, I'm proud to proclaim that I'm a Rhoda man myself. Maybe it was the scarf wrapped jauntily around her head. Maybe it was because she opened a plant store named "Rhoda's Dendron." Could be I was drawn to the tough-talkin' Bronx gal who moved to Minneapolis, where she figured she'd keep better, because I yearned to be a wise-cracking New Yorker myself. I liked the whole Morgenstern family, actually; Rhoda's mother, Ida, was a red-haired munchkin with a widow's peak that could put someone's eye out. The two of them had a rapport that was witty, smart, and crisp as lettuce--exactly what I thought family conversations should be, but never really were.
I talked to some TV-types and asked who turned them into couch potato-patooties:
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE TELEVISION CHARACTER?
(Where Did Vincent Van Gogh? at The Chelsea Playhouse, and the voice of Homer Simpson)
"I think Homer Simpson is the most brilliant character on TV, mostly because he has afforded me the opportunity to do theater in New York! One writer said that Homer is 'a dog trapped in a man's body,' which is probably why everyone loves him so much. He has absolutely no shame, and he loves his food.
"Homer's voice started out as kind of a Walter Matthau impression; it was hard to change emotions quickly in a half-hour show, though. His voice sort of found its natural place over time. I love ordering pizzas over the phone as Homer. I also have a big future in answering machine messages. It's nice to know I have something to fall back on!"
(Chicago at the Shubert Theater)
"I think Archie Bunker is my all time favorite character from television. What a great creation! Carroll O'Connor was so brilliant to be able to make such an unlikable person become so loveable. There was some real brilliance involved there.
"For its time, All in the Family was controversial, but I found the character very funny and refreshing. Archie brought up so many social topics and taboos that were never discussed, and so--for social and political reasons--I really appreciated him. That was a show my family watched together.
"Archie Bunker brought a whole new flavor and dimension to television."
(The Rosie O'Donnell Show, musical director)
"I love Lucy Ricardo!
"That show, I Love Lucy, is really the only one that stops me from channel surfing. I love the fact that Lucy was totally fearless and would do anything to get onstage. Just like me!"
(The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, upcoming at the Barrymore Theater, and star of the '70s TV series Alice)
"How can I not say Alice Hyatt from Alice? Who did you think I'd say? I knew her intimately! She was the real thing, and a great person. She spoke to over 80% of the women in this country, who were blue-collar or pink-collar working women or single mothers. She was plucky and fun and didn't even know she was being so strong. She had to be strong. People identified with her and loved her. And so did I."
Click here to visit Jim Caruso's website.