With the recent passing of Gary Coleman and now, Rue McClanahan, I have been hoping to locate the pilot episodes of Diff’rent Strokes or The Golden Girls. (I haven’t come across them online, so I may have to go old school and drive over to Blockbuster.) And, who can forget that Andrew “Boner” Koenig from Growing Pains took his own life not long ago? It gets you thinking about how a character can make such an impression. It is as if we all knew Arnold Jackson, Blanche Devereaux and Boner personally. When you’re a kid, especially (as I was when these shows aired) the folks you hang out with for half an hour a week can seem as real as your neighbors. We laughed with them through their daily mishaps, and cried with them in the “very special” episodes.
So without rewatching the pilot of Diff’rent Strokes, I can still share this part from memory. When the kids arrive at Philip’s house, Arnold brings along his pet fish, which is black, and which he introduces as his goldfish. Philip says, “I’ve never seen a black goldfish before.” Arnold replies, “That’s okay, he’s never seen a rich white man before.”
Okay it’s not brilliant, but it sticks with me 30 years later. Thanks, Gary, Rue, and Andrew for the memories.