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Family Ties (TV Series 1982–1989) Poster

(1982–1989)

Trivia

The cast wanted to end the show with the entire Keaton family dying in a plane crash. They absolutely didn't want to do a reunion show in the future.
According to Michael J. Fox's last Spin City (1996) episode, Alex P. Keaton became a Junior Congressman from Ohio.
The black Labrador that appeared after the closing credits with the voice over 'Sit Ubu, sit' was producer Gary David Goldberg's dog, Ubu.
In one of his autobiographies, Michael J. Fox said that for at least ten years after his marriage to Tracy Pollan, the two couldn't get on a dance floor anywhere in the country without someone starting to play the 1981 song "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and The Beaters because of its strong association with the romance storyline between Fox's and Pollan's characters Alex and Ellen.
Tom Hanks played Elise Keaton's brother Ned.
Michael J. Fox added the P. in Alex P. Keaton as an ad-lib in his audition, the writers loved it and kept it. Michael J. Fox almost didn't get the role of Alex - due to the fact that NBC exec Brandon Tartikoff didn't find it believable that Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross would have a son that was so short.
Alex was born in Africa when Elyse and Steven were serving in the Peace Corps.
Tracy Pollan, who played Alex Keaton's girlfriend Ellen, later married Michael J. Fox in real life.
The show was modeled after producer Gary David Goldberg and wife Diane's real-life experiences as former 'hippies' transforming into suburban family life.
Michael J. Fox's first audition was deemed terrible by 'Gary Goldberg' because Fox came off too smart-aleck. Casting director 'Judith Wiener' really liked Fox and begged Goldberg to see him a second time. Fox took a different approach, the audition went great, and Fox was offered the part.
Mallory's boyfriend Nick was only intended to be a "One Shot" character. Scott Valentine made a strong impression on both the show's audience and producers resulting in Nick becoming a recurring character on the series. Nick proved to be so popular that Producers tried to spin him off into his own series, though the pilot never sold.
When Meredith Baxter became pregnant during the hiatus between the second and third seasons, her pregnancy was written into the show. However, she still was written out of several episodes after giving birth to twins in real life.
Alex and Ellen's Love Theme was At This Moment by Billy Vera and The Beaters. The song was originally recorded and released in 1981 and went largely unnoticed. After being featured on the series, the single was re-released in the Fall of 1986, and reached Number One on the Billboard Top 100 Pop Chart in early 1987.
Michael Gross once stated in an interview that he didn't feel that Steven Keaton had much dimension or depth until the character of Nick was added. He cited this addition as a major reason for staying on the show,
President Ronald Reagan's declaration of Family Ties being his favorite TV show lead to rumors of talks for him to make a cameo, or perhaps guest starring role, on the series.
Gary David Goldberg named the family Keaton after Actress Diane Keaton.
US President Ronald Reagan declared Family Ties (1982) his favorite TV show during the 1980s.
Skippy was adopted as a baby.
The show was a long-time staple of NBC's "Must See TV" Thursday night lineup. After season 5, the show moved from Thursday night following The Cosby Show (1984) to Saturday night. The show dropped from second place in the ratings to #17 due to move. The ratings declined even further in season 7 and the show was canceled.
One year before playing Michael J. Fox's father in Back to the Future (1985), Crispin Glover played Alex P. Keaton's friend in the episode Family Ties: Birthday Boy (1984).
Michael J. Fox was approached during the second season about starring in Back to the Future (1985). But executive producer Gary David Goldberg would not allow Fox the time off to make the film. Because of delays in the film, Fox was approached again during the third season. This time, Goldberg and the film's producers worked out a schedule that would allow Fox to work on both projects simultaneously. Mondays to Thursdays, Fox would rehearse for the series during the day and work on the film all night. On Friday nights, the series would tape their episodes. As soon taping finished, he would go to the film's set and work all weekend.
Stars Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter share the same birthday: 21 June 1947. Gross was born in Chicago, Illinois and Baxter was born in Los Angeles, California.
The producers originally wanted Matthew Broderick to play Alex P. Keaton, but the actor had to decline the role when his father became terminally ill. Coincidentally, Broderick's father James Broderick played Meredith Baxter's father on the drama Family (1976).
Ed O'Neill was considered for the role of Steven Keaton.
The political themes were heavily emphasized in early seasons of the series. However, as the show progressed and the focus moved on Alex and the children, the political themes were downplayed or used in a more light hearted manner in later seasons.
Meredith Baxter at times was rumored to have wanted to leave the series. This was said to be due over tensions between her and Michael J. Fox, as Fox had largely usurped the show's intended focus away from Baxter and Michael Gross. Baxter and Fox have indicated that there was nothing to the reports over any feuds or tension between them.
On some days during the shoot of the first season, Fox would often hitchhike from Brentwood to Hollywood because he had no car.
The series was intended to be a starring vehicle for Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross. As a result, the show's initial focus was more on the parents, with the kids more as background characters. The kids, Alex in particular, quickly came to gain a more equal, and eventually greater focus as Michael J. Fox established himself as the series break out star.
Alex's hero is Richard Nixon. Skippy (the perpetual Alex wanna-be) admired Gerald Ford.
Alex attended Leland University, a play on Stanford University (sometimes referred to as the conservative Harvard or Harvard of the west coast), which was named for Leland Stanford.
An episode set to air shortly before the 1988 Presidential Election was to have featured a scene showing Alex's bedroom full of George Bush campaign posters and related items. The scene was dropped as NBC felt it could be viewed as overtly political and potentially violated Equal Time laws. Instead a scene was shown after the election where Alex hung up and admired a poster of Bush in the living room to celebrate his victory.
Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross, each born on June 21, 1947, are only 14 years older than Michael J. Fox, born June 9, 1961.
Throughout the series' run, exterior establishment shots of the Keaton home were never used in any of the episodes, which is very unusual for a family sitcom. The vast majority of all scenes were played out in the kitchen.
The name 'Mallory' translates to (depending on who you ask) as either 'failure, unlucky, or ill-omened' which is totally fitting with the character.
Elyse's maiden name was Donelly.
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Steven Keaton was from Buffalo, New York.
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At least two different pilots for a potential spin off series featuring Nick (Scott Valentine) were produced and aired, though neither was picked up by NBC.
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Series was set in Columbus, Ohio, USA.
The character 'Steven Keaton' was ranked #12 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue).
Jennifer was born on Election Day 1972.
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According to the memoir Lucky Man, shortly before Fox won the role of Alex Keaton, Fox's father had written him a letter and encouraged him to "pull the curtain" on his acting career in Los Angeles given his recent struggles. Weeks later he was taking a bus to work everyday to shoot the show.
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The name of the public television station that Stephen Worked for was WKS, a fictional station (no television station in the United States has those call letters).
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Mallory and Skippy attended Grant Junior College, a fictional school.
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Columbus, Ohio was selected as the setting of the series as that section of the country is viewed as being 'Middle America'.
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Michael Gross made a crossover appearance as Steven Keaton on the short lived NBC Sitcom Day by Day (1988), which like Family Ties was created and produced by Gary David Goldberg.
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Featured a young Courteney Cox as Alex's girlfriend in a few episodes .
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In March 2008, creator Gary David Goldberg wrote an essay for The New York Times speculating about what Alex Keaton's political beliefs would be now. Goldberg said that Keaton, as a "true Conservative Republican," would probably no longer feel comfortable in the Republican Party of the late 2000s, "a party whose legacy will include Terri Schiavo and Hurricane Katrina, [and]...waging war against science." Goldberg said that Keaton would have supported McCain in 2000 but no obvious candidate in the 2008 race. He also said that he and Michael J. Fox have different ideas about Keaton's current career; Goldberg thinks Keaton is a pro bono lawyer for the Children's Defense Fund, while Fox believes Keaton is finishing a prison sentence.
In the show, Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross play extreme liberal activists who show annoyance towards their son Alex's love of President Richard Nixon. However in All the President's Men (1976), Baxter portrayed Debbie Sloan, the wife of Richard Nixon White House staffer and Watergate conspirator Hugh Sloan.
Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross, each born on June 21, 1947, are only 11 years older than Scott Valentine, born on June 3, 1958.
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All the stars of "Stand By Me" appeared on "Family Ties" as friends or classmates of Jennifer Keaton, except Jerry O'Connell. River Phoenix, Will Wheaton and Corey Feldman all made cameos on the program in Jennifer-centric episodes.
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Alex, Mallory and Skippy attended Harding High School. Jennifer went to Randolph elementary. Although there are two "Harding" high schools in Ohio, both named after the 29th President of the United States Warren G. Harding, there is no school by that name in the area in and around Columbus, Ohio.
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Crispin Glover who plays Micheal J Fox's friend Doug had a recurring role in family ties also played his dad in the back to the future series
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Throughout the series, no one other than the six Keatons was ever a series regular featured in the opening credits.
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Some critics and other media observers have come to see Family Ties as a reverse parallel to All In The Family. Both shows largely centered around political or philosophical generation gaps, with Family Ties reversing All In The Family's dynamic of conservative parents and liberal kids. Gary David Goldberg has said that hadn't been his intention, calling the reverse similarities a happy accident.
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Family Ties benefited from following The Cosby Show every Thursday night on NBC. However, prior to the 1987-1988 season, Bill Cosby requested that another show focusing on African-Americans follow his due to the low number of them on TV at the time. The result was A Different World, a show he helped create and produce that focused on an African-American college. Family Ties was moved to Saturday night, where it took a big dip in the ratings. The show was cancelled in 1989 as the ratings continued to decline.
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"Goonies" stars Martha Plimpton and Corey Feldman both make appearances on Family Ties.
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Future stars of the movie "A League of Their Own", Tom Hanks and Geena Davis both guest starred on Family Ties, but in separate episodes.
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Christina Applegate makes an appearance as a member of Jennifer's band " Permanent Wave"
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Tina Yothers released a single when she was on "Family Ties," called "Baby I'm Back In Love Again". It's the song her band sings in the "Band on the Run" episode. Unfortunately it never cracked the top 40.
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In her memoir "Untied: A Memoir of Family , Fame and Floundering" , Meredith Baxter talks about tension on the set of "Family Ties". She talks about how she and Michael Gross were annoyed that Michael J Fox was getting all the attention, and their characters were basically being ignored. At one point, in a sign of protest, they walked on the set with one leg bonded together (like they were running a 3 legged race). They made a speech to everyone about how they were tied together because their characters were bland and interchangeable, one boring " uni-parent" creature. Series Executive Producer Gary David Goldberg ignored their protests.
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For the record, Michael J Fox's Back To The Future co-star Crispin Glover made his only Family Ties appearance in the episode Birthday Boy. Glover's guest starring role as Alex's friend Doug was not a recurring or semi regular role as some falsely believe.
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Scott Valentine wore a long shaggy wig for the role of Mallory's boyfriend Nick Moore. Valentine's real hair can be seen in the episode Mr. Right from season four when Nick gives himself a clean cut makeover to impress Mallory's parents.
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Daphne Zuniga whom played Alex Keaton's date Rachel Miller in Series 1 later starred opposite Eric Stoltz in "The Fly II". Michael J. Fox replaced Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in "Back to the Future".
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Meredith Baxter Birney went from being the kid on one show (Family, 1976) to the Mom on a show right after (Family Ties, 1982)
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Tina Yothers is half-Mexican.
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Corey Feldman makes an appearance in "The Disciple". Weirdly enough, even though Corey was a big star at this point, this is only a very small cameo; he only has a couple lines and does not interact at all with any of the principals.
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Was Ronald Reagan's favorite show-which says a lot! Certainly that it made it popular and cool for awhile to be a business major, GQ clothed, neo-con Republican; teased by your family but still the coolest most impressive and well-dressed person in the house.
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Spawned many clones and ripoffs like ABC's Growing Pains.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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