There are actors who are so good at what they do until even a “minor role” becomes a “big deal.” Those of you who remember the hit comedy “Happy Days” know that it was originally about a teenager played by Ron Howard and his typical 50s family. Henry Winkler had a minor role as “The Fonz/Fonzie” but the role became so popular that he eventually receives top billing. Not to mention the fact that Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy plus Joanie loves Chachi are spinoffs from this one sitcom.
Can you remember other minor roles that evolved into big deals?
A similar thing happened with "Welcome Back Kotter." It was about a teacher, Gabe Kaplan as Mr. Kotter, returning to the school he had attended as a student. It was supposed to be a vehicle for Kaplan, but ended up launching the career of one of the students, John Travolta, who played Vinnie Barbarino.
Yes, Taxi had a lot. Judd Hirsch, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd.
Tom Hanks was in Bosom Buddies, in a major role, admittedly, but it was a short-lived show.
Meg Ryan had a part in the soap opera, As the World Turns with a story arc that caught on, I think because of her charisma.
Johnny Depp got started on 21 Jump Street, but I don't recall if it was a bit or major role.
A Different World had Sinbad, Marisa Tomei, and Jada Pinkett.
Almost everyone on the cast of Cheers made it big.
Many from the improv show, In Living Color, made it big. Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier.
I think TV was the primary point of entry for movie star wannabes, way back when.
Oh, and Kevin Spacey was Mel Proffitt on Wiseguy. He also had a bit part lunging drunkenly at Melanie Griffith in Working Girl before that.
I seem to be moving into pseudo-cameos here...anyone remember this unintentional cameo in Working Girl: Before the Alien movies and Mad About You, Paul Reiser played a guy sitting on the commute ferry.
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