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Where Are They Now: Perfect Strangers

by Geoffrey May

August 28th, 2012

Running for 8 seasons from 1986 to 1993, Perfect Strangers was a buddy comedy gem, combining the uptight, neurotic Larry Appleton with his bubbly and naive cousin Balki, who hailed from the fictional Greek island of Mypos. The show’s premise, that a backwoods hick immigrates to the USA and comedically adapts to North American culture, was a hit. (On a side note, if you like 90s sitcoms, you’ll enjoy this)
Despite being off the air for well over a decade, people still reference catchphrases from the show (“Don’t be ree-deek-you-loes,” “Now we do the dance of joy”), and sing the very catchy theme song. Go ahead, have a watch of their epic opening credits, which tell you everything you need to know about the show. Don’t be shy, have a look, sing along, enjoy the scene with the revolving door. We’ll wait.
So what happened to these awesome dudes?

Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot)

Bronson got his start appearing in feature films such as Beverley Hills Cop and Risky Business, where his over-the-top, accented characters put him on the radar for his role as Balki in Perfect Strangers. For better or worse, he did so well in the long-running sitcom that he got a bit typecast, and never really had any major roles thereafter. In 1993, following the finale of Perfect Strangers, Pinchot starred in a CBS sitcom called The Trouble with Larry, which co-starred Courtney Cox, who would later find fame in the sitcom Friends. The show lasted three weeks. Here’s another funky role: in 1994–1995, he appeared as a villain called The Prankster in two episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Returning to ABC in 1996, Pinchot was added to the sitcom Step by Step, where he stayed a part of the cast for one season. Over the years he popped up in a couple of notable sitcoms, including a guest spot on 3rd Rock From the Sun. In 2004, Pinchot took the leap to broadway, performing in a production of Sly Fox on Broadway, alongside Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws). He picked up a guest role in Law & Order: Criminal Intent that year as well. In 2005 he was a part of the fifth season of the VH1 series The Surreal Life, where he generally acted like a creepy jerk, and alienated a lot of fans from his Perfect Strangers days.
His latest work is a reality-TV show about home restoration on the DIY Network. It’s called The Bronson Pinchot Project and focuses on his hobby of restoring old homes with salvaged materials.

Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker)

Mark Linn-Baker started his acting career focusing mainly on theatre stages and film. Before Perfect Strangers, he performed with Lewis Black in a two-man comedy show called The Laundry Hour in the early 1980s. Also, fun fact, he was in a Broadway version of Doonesbury, that comic strip that no one reads but has been around forever. Other theatre credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Flea in Her Ear and A Year With Frog and Toad. Post Perfect Strangers, he was a regular cast member on the WB Network in a sitcom called Twins, which was cancelled after a season. Bummer for you, Cousin Larry. Most recently he returned to stage in his sixth Broadway part, a role in a one-act play by Woody Allen in 2011.

Jennifer Lyons (Melanie Wilson)

Melanie Wilson, who played Larry’s longtime girlfriend/fiancee, didn’t do much before or after Perfect Strangers. She had a series of small guest roles in Family Matters, Step by Step, Simon & Simon and The A-Team. Her most recent work includes a role in the film Prayers for Bobby, which aired on the Lifetime Television Network.

Mary-Ann Spencer (Rebeca Arthur)

Like Wilson, Rebeca Arthur hasn’t exactly had a sterling career. After Perfect Strangers she had a string of small roles, in television shows such as The Crew and Grace Under Fire. Film credits include small roles in Men Seeking Women, Daycare and Get Shorty. She also provided a voice in the video game Afterlife.

Harriette Winslow (Jo Marie Payton)

Payton actually struck paydirt with her character Harriette the elevator operator at Larry and Balki’s workplace The Chicago Chronicle. Her character was spun-off into another show called Family Matters, maybe you’ve heard of it? Family Matters, thanks to an annoying kid named Urkel, stayed on the air for even longer than Perfect Strangers’ 8 seasons. Since then, she appeared on the “TV Moms” episode of the Anne Robinson version of The Weakest Link, where she was pretty quickly voted off. the third one voted off. In 2005, Jo Marie Payton provided the voice of Suga Mama in The Proud Family Movie. She has also appeared on Desperate Housewives, Reba, Girlfriends, Wanda at Large, Judging Amy, The Parkers, Will & Grace, The Hughleys, 7th Heaven, Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, 227, Silver Spoons, Small Wonder and The New Odd Couple. Her most recent credit was in August 2009, when she played a roll on Meet the Browns.

Mr. Gorpley (Sam Anderson)

Mr. Gorpley, the low-level villain of the series who constantly schemes to get Balki fired, and makes smart-ass comments about everything was a pretty fun cast member. Played with the perfect amount of smarm by Sam Anderson, Gorpley is probably the most well-remembered supporting character after Jennifer and Mary Ann. Anderson has had a pretty decent career since Strangers, appearing in many big television shows such as The X-Files, Friends, Ally McBeal, Angel, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Lost and Malcolm in the Middle. His films credits are just as impressive, including La Bamba, forrest Gump, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and Water for Elephants. Way to go, Gorpley, you smug S.O.B.!

Lydia Markham (Belita Moreno)

Lydia was a pretty annoying character on Perfect Strangers, no doubt about it. As the gossip columnist, she basically enabled a bunch of episodes where Balki got to interact with Chicago’s upper crust (and make a fool of himself, of course). Actress Belita Moreno went on to appear in television shows such as Murphy Brown, Roseanne, Melrose Place, Zoey 101, Law and Order Special Victims Unit and Fairly Legal. Film credits include Clear and Present Danger, Grosse Point Blank and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. So that’s how life treated the cast of one of the best shows television ever created. Still feeling nostalgic for Perfect Strangers? Well then tuck into this bizarre flash-based game that somebody made and live it up! *WARNING* It’s very addictive.