While a wide variety of topics have been covered on Retrojunk over the years one broad topic that keeps coming back again and again is that of media. It only stands to reason that this would be a popular topic as most of us during our childhood wiled away many an hour immersed in movies, television shows and video games. Of course each of these things has many great aspects but none could be successful without a great cast of characters. Memorable characters come in all shapes and sizes and today I would like to highlight one of the most unsung heroes of American media, the fat guy. Yes, be it big screen cinematic features, small screen TV serials or interactive video games these rotund denizens have been ever present contributing to our entertainment and while they are often relegated to comic relief this article will demonstrate that they have played every role
To villainHonorable mention Francis Buxton: PeeWee's Big Adventure
From blue collarHonorable mention Ralph Kramden: The Honeymooners
To white collarHonorable mention Uncle Phil: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Given the wide range of influence they have had on entertainment over the years it is high time they were recognized in
Top 11 Retro Fat Guys
A Tribute To Yesteryear's Best In Obesity
Why eleven? Because these guys are simply too large to be contained within a top ten list.
Coming in at number eleven on the countdown is the slovenly yet amiable traveling salesman
#11 Del Griffith
"We'd have more luck playing pickup sticks with our butt cheeks than we would getting a flight out of here before day break."
With nothing to his name but a footlocker and the gift of the gab, Del Griffith (John Candy) finds himself in New York City pedaling shower curtain rings when he inadvertently steals a cab from high-strung businessman, Neal Page (Steve Martin).
However, when fate places both men on a Chicago bound flight that is rerouted to Wichita, Kansas Del makes it his personal mission to get Neal home to his family in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Despite Del's best intentions Neal finds himself in a living hell as he is propelled into a series of misadventures with a man who's sloppy living habits and go-nowhere stories drive him insane.
While the pairing of the slovenly with the fastidious is hardly a new dynamic in the comic world (Odd Couple anyone?) the reason this movie works if because you can't help but fall in love with the characters. Despite his curmudgeonly ways I never found myself disliking Neal as I empathized with him in some ways and found that his reaction to Del was not completely unjustified. I mean who hasn't at some point found themselves sitting on a plane next to someone who just won't shut up? Then there was Del's behavior in the hotel room, how is it someone spills beer on the bed and then takes the dry side for himself? Granted he later offers to trade sides with Page it seems he should have given Neal the dry side in the first place. Despite his shortcomings, however, you can't help but find Griffith's outgoing and optimistic nature infections and you have to admire his willingness to go to such lengths to help out a complete stranger.
I still remember returning from Thanksgiving weekend to my sixth grade classroom where the favorite quotes on everyone’s lips were, "Those aren't pillows!" and "You're going the wrong way!" Such was the wide impact of this movie that I still occasionally hear these lines being quoted today.
Of course it all cumulates in an ironic twist and heartwarming ending but I'll save the spoilers for those who still haven't gotten around to seeing this gem. And to those few who haven't seen it its been 25 years, time to get on that!
To find our next subject we must travel form the byways of the Mid West to the highways of Dixie where we will discuss another famous road trip that was almost curtailed by my number ten pick
#10 Buford T. Justice
"Do what I say you pile a' monkey nuts!"
This story begins when truck driver turned daredevil Bo "Bandit" Darville (Burt Reynolds) accepts a challenge from Big Enos Burnette (Pat McCormick) to travel to Texarkana, TX and return to Atlanta, GA with 400 cases of Coors beer in 28 hours. Bandit enlists the help of fellow trucker Cledus "Snowman" Snow (Jerry Reed) and the two are west bound and down with everything going according to plan until Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) roles onto the scene. This short tempered, no nonsense law man already takes offense to any sign of disrespect for the law but things take on a more personal slant when Justice's would be daughter in law hitches a ride with The Bandit in order to escape her nuptials. As the sheriff peruses Bandit across the southern states we are treated to running gags where in Buford sustains increasing amounts of damage to his squad car and uses a barrage of colorful insults to berate The Bandit, other law enforcement officials and even his own son.
As a young child in the early 1980's I watched the first two "Smokey and The Bandit" movies repeatedly on HBO. To my mind at the time Smokey was nothing more than a villain to be reviled and most of my attention went to Bandit and the many high-speed car chase scenes that this movie had to offer. It was not until I got older that learned to appreciate the comic genius that Jackie Gleason brought to the role. I mean no one could turn a phrase like Gleason as he delivered such gems as "There is no way, NO way you come from my loins. Soon as I get home the first thing I'm gonna do is punch yo mama in the mouth.” "I'm gonna barbeque yo ass in molasses." and of course the repeated use of "Sombitch!" When I watch the movie these days I barely even notice Burt Reynolds, Sally Field or Jerry Reed as I am rolling on the floor due the Buford's ever-condescending tone, facial expressions and reception of various pratfalls.
Reynolds and Reed as Bandit and Snowman
One of the most well known rumors surrounding this character concerns the original title of Smokey and The Bandit III. When the third installment of the series was proposed by the studio Reynolds decided to take a pass and agreed to no more than a cameo appearance in the film. Over the years many have claimed that to fill this gap the film was going to be called "Smokey is the Bandit" and would feature Gleason as both Smokey and The Bandit. As it turns out this idea was indeed conceived and presented to the studio however it is still unclear how far along in the creative process it was carried. Some say it was killed in the boardroom early on in process while others claim that it died as the result of a last minute decision to change the film. Some proponents of the latter theory even claim that a theatrical trailer for "Smokey is the Bandit" was made and released into theaters. Several users have uploaded clips onto YouTube that they claim to be this long lost trailer, though the authenticity of these clips is questionable. While some certainly are very well edited the fact that none show Gleason in the role of the Bandit speaks against their validity. The grand irony is that by abandoning this idea and recasting Jerry Reed as the surrogate Bandit they did nothing to save the film since "Smokey and The Bandit III" has been universally panned by critics and audiences alike and is considered a cinematic flop. Had they stuck with the original idea it would have been equally disastrous, however, I believe it would most certainly have gained a cult following because if someone told me that there was a "Smokey and the Bandit" movie featuring Jackie Gleason as both Smokey and The Bandit despite knowing it would be terrible my reaction would still be "Now this I've gotta see."
The next entrant in the count down never appeared in a feature length movie but managed to make just as big an impact through occasional skits on SNL. So bursting onto the scene at number nine is none other than motivational speaker
#9 Matt Foley
"Well, you'll have plenty of time to live in a van down by the river when YOU'RE LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!"
While Chris Farley had played Foley in prior comic troupes it was not until May 8th 1993 that he introduced him to the world via Saturday Night Live. The scene opend with a father who seemd to feel that his two wayward teens portrayed David Spade and guest host Christina Applegate would benefit from some motivational speaking. He then let loose on them the clumsy, overweight and belligerent Matt Foley who proceeds to yell and fling insults at everyone in his path, while constantly reminding them that if they do not get they're act together they could end up "living in a van down by the river!” Whenever one the kids would attempt to defend themselves by highlighting one of their accomplishment Foley would rebut by shouting "Well laddi freaking da!" Most skits featuring Foley would proceed along this same formula with Matt becoming increasingly agitated until he would eventually end up falling over and breaking some piece of furniture. The scene would typically close with the person who had hired Foley regretting his decision, as Foley would try to move in because he was tired of living in a van down by the river. Despite his negativity and ineptitude as a motivator the session would ultimately be effective, as his victim would vow to change their ways so as to never have to encounter Foley again.
While this character was conceived by comedy writer Robert Odenkirk and not by Farley himself, it was Chris' unique brand of physical comedy that made Matt Foley an overnight sensation. I still remember my 17-year-old self falling to the floor with laughter almost instantly when Foley burst upon the scene. Even my mother who liked to pretend she was not interested in such things got in a chuckle or two, and even Spade and Applegate were not immune to Farley's antics as they clearly had trouble containing themselves as Farley cavorted around the stage. Farley would eventually graduate form SNL and go on to star in several features on the big screen thus proving to the world that he was more than just a fat man in a little coat
Honorable mention Tommy Callahan Jr: Tommy Boy
Nonetheless, I believe that Matt Foley is the role for which he will be most remembered.
While the Punch Out! video game series dates back to 1984 when it premièred in arcades across America it was not until it was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment Systems in 1987 that it became a mega hit and a household name. Re-titled "Mike Tyson's Punch Out!" and featuring the eponymous real life champion as the final boss, this game like its arcade predecessors was loaded with an array of memorable fictional boxers, perhaps none quite so memorable as
#8 King Hippo
"I feel like eating, after I win let's go to lunch ha ha ha"
I still remember that fateful day in 1988 when I brought home a new game for my Nintendo Entertainment System. I remembered enjoying the Arcade version of this game a few years earlier but nothing could compare me for the VG perfection I was about to encounter. I quickly dispatched the first opponent, and felled the second almost as easily. Before I knew it I was the reigning Minor Circuit Champion and had even defeated my first challenger in the Major Circuit. It was then that I suffered my first defeat at the hands of none other than King Hippo.
First appearing in the aforementioned "Mike Tyson's Punch Out!" this immense Polynesian chief is truly the most unique opponent in this game not only because he is the only character who was guaranteed to stay down for the ten count after being felled only one time, but also because he is the only one who is not a palate swap of one of the games other boxers. Just incase you were wondering the games pallet swaps are as follows
Glass Joe/Don Flamenco
Von Kiser/Great Tiger
Piston Honda/Mike Tyson
Bald Bull/Mr. Sandman
Soda Popinski/Super Machoman
Though he does not share a palate swap with any other character in the game I always wondered if his appearance might have been based on popular 1980s WWF heel King Kong Bundy.
Honorable mention King Kong Bundy: WWF
This is, of course, mere speculation and while I have found no evidence to support this theory one cannot deny that the resemblance is there.
Another distinction that would set The King apart from the other characters in Mike Tyson's Punch Out! is that he would be the only one to step outside of the video game platform and appear in a syndicated cartoon series, Captain N: The Game Master. This show featured The Mother Brain of Metroid fame as the main villain and along with Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus King Hippo served as one of her chief henchmen.
I always found Hippo's appearance in this show rather confusing not only because he suddenly had green skin and sharp fangs but also because I never really thought of him as being evil. I mean in the game is merely a boxer and rival contender, and I always assumed that his biggest ambition in life was to obtain the World Circuit Championship and celebrate with a good meal. I never imagined him having megalomaniacal designs. In the end I suppose his inclusion in the show can be chalked up to Nintendo wanting to have a character form this top selling game pak present in the show.
King Hippo's legacy persists to this day as he has been rebooted for the Wii version of Punch Out and is now decorated with the championship gold that he always deserved by usurping Piston Honda as the Minor Circuit champion. To this I can only say "Way to go big fellow."
On Thursday nights in the 1980's you would often hear a tune eluding to a place where everybody knows your name and no one exemplified this more that barfly
# 7 Norm Peterson
"Its a dog eat dog world and I wearing milkbone underwear"
When Cheers was conceived back in the early 1980s it was intended to be a show that focused on the staff of a Boston tavern and only the staff, in the original version of Cheers no customers were intended to be part of the regular cast. When George Wendt auditioned for a role on this show he did not audition for the role of Norm Peterson, as no such character yet existed. Instead he auditioned for a one-time appearance as Diane's first customer, a role for which he beat out several other actors including future co-stars John Ratzenberger.
Norm and Cliff perched on their regular Thursday night stools
Had things stayed as planned George Wendt's only appearance in Cheers would have been to struggle against Diane's long-winded explanation of her current predicament just to make his order which resulted in his one line, "Beer!" During preproduction, however, in an ironic twist this one shot one liner would evolve into Norm Peterson the only customer to appear in all 275 episodes.
As the theme song suggested Cheers was a place where everybody knows your name and no one exemplified this better than Norm. In fact the running gag surrounding this character was the he hung around the bar so often that everyone there knew his name and he would be greeted with a chorus of "Norm!" every time he entered the tavern. As the story progressed it was revealed that it was not just Norm's love of beer that kept him coming back but also his dislike for spending time with his unseen wife, Vera. Despite this avoidance Norm did prove on several occasions that he did indeed love his wife and on one occasion he even flat out refused to cheat on her.
In later seasons after the introduction of Woody Boyd (Woody Harrison), the assistant bartender would often greet norm buy asking him something akin to "Hey Mr. Peterson how life treating you" to which he would respond with a clever reply such as
Woody: Hey Mr. Peterson there's a cold one waiting for you.
Norm: I know, if she calls I'm not here.
Woody: What's going on Mr. Peterson?
Norm: The question is what's going IN Mr. Peterson.
I guess sometimes it good when things don't go as intended. Had George Wendt's part in the hit sitcom Cheers remained just a one time deal we would have missed out on one of the most memorable Characters not only on this show but also in all of TV history.
While Norm preferred to spend all his time in familiar surroundings, next on the countdown is a rotund individual who boldly went where no man had gone before. That of course would be none other than
#6 Montgomery "Scotty" Scott
"I cannot change the laws of physics, Captain."
The inspiration for the world's most famous paraphrase "Beam me up, Scotty" Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) served as second officer and chief engineer on the USS Enterprise through three seasons and six movies of the original Star Trek franchise. Throughout his tenure aboard this ship he became known for using his considerable technical skills to pull off seemingly miraculous feats to save the Enterprise time and time again. Scotty would later go on to make a cameo appearance in the first TNG movie, "Generations" where he used his patented ingenuity to save yet another Enterprise.
Unlike the other characters on this list Scotty was never intended to be a fat guy, it just kind of happened that way. When James Doohan appeared on the Television series, Star Trek he was actually quite fit,
however, by the time they decided to continue the voyage on the big screen Doohan had put on more than a few extra pounds. Unlike many overweight characters he was never portrayed as clumsy or oafish but rather retained the competence and dexterity that had allowed him to miraculously save the USS Enterprise on so many occasions. Moreover, no issue was ever made of Scotty's weight gain in any of the Star Trek movies, no cheap jokes about him getting his uniform at the interstellar Big and Tall shop, or corny sight gags such as having him get stuck in a Jeffery's tube. While Gene Rodenberry always handled Doohan's weight gain with maturity and continued to treat the character with the respect he deserved, his weight did none the less become fodder for parody. The most notable example is the Simpsons Episode, "This the Fifteenth Season" in which the Simpson family discuss the many parodies of "A Christmas Carol" and make reference to a fictional Star Trek version were Scotty is ordered to fire photon torpedoes at The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, but responds "I can't sir he's showing me visions of my future, I'm so fat." This is too say nothing against the Simpsons as parody is what they do and everything is fair game.
Scotty as portrayed on The Simpsons
As much of an impact as Scotty has had on the Star Trek franchise it’s hard to believe that he is the character that almost never was. During the pre production period Doohan auditioned for the part of Scotty but Gene Rodenberry later decided that the show did not need an engineer character and called Doohan to tell him that he was out. It was only through the intervention of Doohan's agent that he retained his role and that beloved and oft imitated Scottish accent became synonymous with the words "Star Trek".
Just has Scotty never lost any respect from his crew mates due to his increased girth neither did he lose any respect among fans as the character's home town of Linlithgow, Scotland proudly boast their status as future birthplace of Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott.
Next on the countdown is another character who demonstrates how obesity and competence can exist within one body. So if you're wondering who this might be just let me say "Hey, hey, hey its Faaaaaat Albert!"
#5 Fat Albert
"Hey, hey, hey"
Based on his childhood friend Albert Robertson Bill Cosby first introduced Fat Albert to audiences as part of his stand up comedy routine. Later Cosby would reintroduce this character in a popular cartoon series that featured Fat Albert heading up a group of intercity youths. Fat Albert was portrayed as a child with a big belly and an ever bigger heart who was always there to offer moral support and friendly advice to his friends as they muddled through their many misadventures in the streets of north Philadelphia. Rarely the cause of the gang’s troubles Albert played the part of all round (no pun intended) good kid, and always served as the voice of reason. When he wasn't bailing his friends out of trouble Fat Albert was often seen participating in and performing well in sports and various other physical activities despite his rotund physique.
Cosby most frequently spoke of Fat Albert when telling stories of his favorite childhood game, Buck Buck in which Albert served as the gang's trump card.
I'm sure you can see where one of Albert's physique would be an asset in this game. This character was also mentioned by in the TV Drama I Spy when American spy Alexander Scott, portrayed by Cosby is captured and interrogated by enemy forces. When asked to reveal his name Scott replies, "Fat Albert, my name is Fat Albert and I walk like a duck!" Whether or not there is any truth to the assertion that Al Robertson walked like a duck, his portrayal in the cartoon as the kindly sage who was wise beyond his years reveals that Cosby must have had great respect for his childhood pal.
In the cartoon series each episode would end with the boys learning a valuable lesson, which they would reiterate in a song preformed with makeshift instruments in the local junkyard.
Such was the popularity of this cartoon that producers had attempted for several years to adapt it into a live action feature length movie, and while several screenplays were drafted none managed to gain Cosby's blessing often because it failed to reflect the family friendly tone of the television show. Finally, in 2004 the gang was brought to the big screen in an adventure that transported Fat Albert (Kenan Thompson) and the gang from their cartoon universe into the real world where they ended up helping Albert Robertson's granddaughter and Bill Cosby comes face to face with his larger than life creation.
While Fat Albert personified kindness and generosity our next subject stood in sharp contrast as he represented greed and corruption, and he is none other than ridge runner turned corrupt politician
#4 Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg
"Them Dukes them devils!"
Jefferson Davis Hogg's story began when he and his best friend Jesse Duke (Denver Pyle) decided to become partners in the ridge running game.
For those of you unfamiliar with ridge running this involved the illegal production and delivery of moonshine and often involves high-speed chases as the runners attempted to avoid revenuers. While the two friends became known as two of best runners in the south it turned out that they had very different motivations for their actions with Duke being motivated by a desire to fight the power while Hogg was merely compelled by pure greed. These differences ultimately caused friction between the two friends and also lead them along very different paths upon leaving ridge running. Jesse would leave the game when his two nephews proved to be less adept at ridge running and are caught by revenues. Jesse made a deal with the authorities in which he agreed to quit running shine in exchange for his nephews being put on probation as opposed to serving jail time. Hogg's greed, on the other hand, would lead him to become a corrupt politician and he would ultimately secure a place for himself as county commissioner of Hazard.
Living up to his surname Boss Hogg (Sorell Booke) had an insatiable appetite for nearly every luxury life has to offer be it food, money or real estate. Never satisfied with his already lavish lifestyle he made it his mission to own every square inch of property in Hazard County. Hogg was almost successful in this endeavor but in an ironic twist it seemed that the one piece of property he was unable to obtain was Jesse Duke's farm. Most episodes of "The Dukes of Hazard" involved Boss Hogg coming up with his latest scheme to steal money from innocent citizens, illegally obtaining the Duke Farm or to frame Jesse's nephews, Luke and Bo and have them thrown in jail. Each of these schemes would ultimately be foiled by The Duke Boys after a high-speed car chase with Hogg's lackey Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (James Best) in hot pursuit.
If I had to pick a favorite show from my childhood I would have to go with "The Dukes of Hazard." Sure I enjoyed other shows such as Night Rider and The A Team, but none could quite compare with The Dukes. I remember spending my entire week in anticipation of Friday night and the high-speed adventure that General Lee and his drivers had to offer. Much like Buford T. Justice I tended to see Boss Hogg and Roscoe merely as villains to be reviled. It was not until I rediscovered the show during my college years that I came to appreciate the comic genius that Booke and Best brought to the show. These two actors played off of one another so well that they possessed a chemistry not seen since the great comic duos of old including Abbot and Costello and Laurel and Hardy. Who could resist letting out a chuckle as Roscoe inadvertently insulted Hogg's weight and attempted to steal a bite of Boss's ever-present snack. To this day The Dukes of Hazard remains one of my all time favorite shows and no matter how many times I watch I can't help but let out a few belly laughs as Roscoe and his "little fat buddy" engage in their bumbling antics.
Booke and Best history's most underrated comedy duo
To find our next subject we must leave the corrupt world of politics and explore the innocence of childhood in a coming age story involving a gang of suburban misfits including
#3 Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen
"I smell ice cream."
As a ten-year-old child in 1985 I remember seen previews for a movie called "The Goonies." And despite rumors that this flick was the be a sequel to the previous summers comedy/horror hit "Gremlins" it turned out that it was about a group so suburbanite children. And frankly I just wasn't interested. For whatever reason the trailers just did not appeal to me and I had no desire to see this movie. As fate would have it, however, we went to spend two weeks with my aunt and her family that summer. One of the unfortunate facts of childhood is that sometimes decisions are just made for you and at some point my mother and her sister got together and decided that they were going to take all the kids to see The Goonies. That day I came to discover just how wrong I can be as I instantly fell in love with this movie and to this day it remains one of my all time favorites. Much like the movie itself Chunk's character is something that I did not initially appreciate. When I first saw this movie I tended to favor the levelheaded everychild, Mikey and the Inspector Gadgetesque Data. Nowadays, however, things have completely turned around, as my two favorite Goonies have become fast talking Mouth and the loveably rotund Chunk (Jeff Cohen).
As the other Goonies hang out at the Walsh home lamenting the fact that their neighborhood is being demolished to make room of a golf course which will result in the friends being relocated and separated Chuck appears upon the scene excitedly spouting what is believed to be another one of his tall tales (such as Michael Jackson stopping by his house to use the bathroom, or the local sizzler being taken over by terrorists) as he recounts witnessing a high speed police chase involving an SUV. The boys quickly dismiss Chunk's story and after castrating Ms. Walsh's favorite piece of art turn their attentions to the museum artifacts that Mr. Walsh has stored in the attic. While rummaging through these artifacts they find a treasure map and an article recounting the tale of a pirate who had hidden said treasure in the local area.
Deciding that they could use this treasure to save the neighborhood the boys embark on a quest only to find that this time Chunk's story is absolutely true as they encounter the infamous Fratelli gang.
While Chunk is mostly used for comic relief, the most well known example being his famous Truffle Shuffle
later after being separated from the other Goonies Chunk becomes the unlikely hero as he returns with new found friend, Sloth
to save the day after the others are captured by the Fratellis aboard One-eyed Willie's pirate ship. Perhaps Sloth was not exactly what Brand had in mind when he told Chunk to go get help but he certainly got the job done. Chunk and Sloth help the others to escape and ultimately defeat the Fratelli gang. All in all, not too bad for a fat kid.
While we are on the topic of seafaring adventure, let us now focus on the tale of a fateful trip that started on a tropic port aboard a tiny ship. As the story goes the mate was a mighty sailing man and this brings us to the brave and sure number two pick on the countdown, and while anyone who has ever been involved in a TV trivia contest knows that his proper name is Jonas Grumby to most he is simply known as
#2 The Skipper
"Hey little buddy."
The Skipper (Alan Hale) is a former naval officer who upon retiring from the service purchased his own ship and along with his old navy buddy and current first mate, Gilligan (Bob Denver) makes his living by taking tourists on short tours off the coast of Honolulu. While these tours typically lasted only three hours on one fateful day when the ship encountered a violent tropical storm the crew and passengers of the SS Minnow found themselves on and outing that lasted somewhat longer; approximately 14 years, 51 days and 21 hours longer. While The Skipper was able to use his maritime skills to bring his ship, crew and passengers safely to shore it also left them stranded on an uncharted desert island. Acting as defacto leader of the group The Skipper used his survival skills coupled with the scientific know how of passenger, Professor Roy Hinkely (Russell Johnson) to help the castaways survive and persist in relative peace and comfort. While Grumby and Hinkley routinely came up with ingenious methods of getting the castaways off the island these plans were always thwarted by the ineptitude of Gilligan. None the less, the group was ever forgiving of the first mate as he usually got away with no more that a bop on the head from Grumby's hat and ultimately remained The Skipper's little buddy.
Gilligan and The Professor
Gillian's Island will always hold a special place in my heart as it is the first live action show I ever remember watching, I have been a fan of this show for so long that I can't even remember seeing it for the first time. At the time I had no idea what was actually going on in the show. I didn't even realize that they were stranded and cut off form civilization and I never questioned why they lived in primitive huts. I was mostly just amused by the antics of Gilligan and the Skipper with the latter being my favorite character most likely due to the fact that my favorite color was blue. As my older brother's favorite color just happened to be red we were given to while away many an afternoon taking on the roles of The Skipper and Gilligan.
While the show's three season run simply ended with the castaways still stranded on the island, it was later revealed through two TV movies that the story did have a happy ending. The first of these, "Rescue from Gilligan's Island" is where it was first revealed that they had been stranded for 15 years. In a desperate attempt to escape the island they fashion a crude raft from their huts and attempt to sail back to Hawaii. On this voyage they are found and returned to civilization. Unfortunately, each castaway finds that the world has moved on without them and they have trouble reintegrating themselves into society. For example, The Professor is unable to keep up with the scientific advances that have occurred in his absence, Ginger dislikes the less family friendly bent that movies have taken and the Howells come to resent the snobbish attitudes of their piers. One year following their rescue the castaways reunite for a reunion cruise and once again find themselves stranded on their desert island home. In the next TV movie "The Castaways on Gilligan's Island" it is revealed that this time around they have been stranded on the island for only 12 days when they find a crashed plane that had somehow managed to elude them for the past 15 years. Of course the professor manages to get the engine working and they attempt to fly back to civilization but are forced to return to the island when Gilligan falls out. However, all is not lost as two Naval Officers appear upon the scene and report that they saw the plane go down and have come to investigate. Mr. Howell (Jim Baccus) then proposes to open a rustic resort on the island and take on the other castaways as employees. As this particular resort had no phones, no lights and no motorcars the castaways are able to live out their lives in the primitive manner to which they have become accustomed while still being connected to society. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
And speaking of having your cake and eating it too
Finally, the last but certainly not the least entrant on the countdown happens to be another individual who is accustomed to primitive living and he is none other that the boisterous and short tempered caveman
#1 Fred Flintstone
"Yabba Dabba Doo!"
Just as Gilligan's island is the first live action show I ever remember watching, The Flintstones is one of the first cartoons I recall viewing. As I said before I really don't remember seeing either of these shows for the first time, in my first memories I already loved them. Because of this Fred along with his family and friends will always be among my favorite cartoon characters. While the cast of Gilligan's island was known for living a primitive lifestyle in modern times, the Flintstone who actually lived in prehistoric times seemed to live a rather modern lifestyle enjoying there own versions of our modern amenities. While the citizens of Bedrock may have lacked modern technologies such as electricity and internal combustion engines they improvised by using stones, shells and live animals to construct vehicles and common household appliances. In short they did, in fact have phones, lights and motorcars.
While Fred's earlier adventures tended to be grounded in a Stone Age version of reality which involved his problems at work, conflicts with the wife and starting a family with the birth of pebbles. As the show progressed it tended to take on a more fantastical bent as he and his best friend, Barney Rubble encounter an alien life form, The Great Kazoo and monstrous new neighbors, the Greusomes move in next door. While the original shows run ended in 1966, Fred would go on to take another page right out of TV history as he and his pals are recast in the Saturday Morning serial, Fred Flintstone and Friends. In this show the Grusomes are replaced by another monstrous family, The Frankenstones headed by the Herman Munsteresque Frank with whom Fred shared a heated rivalry.
Much to his chagrin, Wilma shared a close friendship with Frank's wife Hidia thus forcing Frank and Fred into many tense encounters which often resulted in arguments where in the two referred to one another as "weirdo" and 'stangeo" respectively. While Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty showed little signs of aging Bam Bam and Pebbles had matured into teenagers, Fred and Barney had seemingly taken on moonlighting positions as police officers,
and Dino had developed a rivalry of his own with a pesky cave mouse.
For better or worse Fred was known to lend his image to various products for advertizing campaigns, worse being Winston Cigarettes and best being Post Fruity Pebbles. In commercials for the latter Fred and Barney take on an antagonistic relationship wherein Barney dons an array of disguises in attempt to steal Fred's cereal.
While Barney is always busted in the end he is still successful in his endeavor and each segment ends with Fred chasing Barney away in attempt to regain his breakfast. This ad campaign hit is peak with what has become one of the most iconic Christmas commercials. Among other reasons it is particularly memorable as it breaks the regular formula in that Barney is actually thwarted in is attempt to steal Fred's cereal by none other than Jolly Old Saint Nick himself, but Fred becomes filled with Christmas spirit and willingly shares his breakfast with his best friend. Just warms the cockles of your heart doesn't it?
"Santa, my pebbles!"
Fred Flintstone's creation marked a major milestone in TV history, as he was the protagonist of the first successful prime time animated show. Fred's look and personality are heavily based on Jackie Gleeson's Ralph Kramden and while Ralph must be credited as the first in a long line of loud mouthed fat guys married to disproportionately hot women, Fred is the one who perfected this role and took it to its greatest heights. While prime time cartoons would take a brief hiatus in favor of the wise and physically fit fathers, just over 20 years following the original show's cancelation they would return with a vengeance,
with the premier of The Simpsons, the flagship of modern prime time cartoons.
Thus Fred would ultimately pave the way for many other robust loudmouths to take on the protagonist role in prime time comedies both animated and live action.
Given the wide influence that Fred has had one Television over the years it is no wonder that Mr. Flintstone is my #1 pick.
This concludes my salute to the rotund individuals who have used their girth to contribute to our entertainment on so many occasion. While they may be overlooked as the magazines tend to focus on the bikini clad and the muscle bound, one can see thought this article that they have been ever present in American media filling almost every role possible and using their talents to bring quality entertainment to the masses.