Before Fridays meant a bottle of grownup grape juice on the couch with the hubs and Netflix…
Before Fridays meant dorm parties or the bar scene… Before Fridays meant house parties, dates, or driving around with friends in search of mischief… They meant something else quite familiar to many people who grew up in America in that very special – and currently fashionably revived – time known as the 1990s.
Either at home on your own after a long day at school and an afternoon of playing at your best friend’s house or as part of your tween sleepover, do you remember what it was that you gathered around eagerly to see?
Which stars graced the covers – and removable posters – of your TigerBeat magazines?
Which teenage romances had you glued to the screen, and where were such fashions propagated as the choker necklace, chunky platform heels, and those yummy high-waisted jeans?
Yes, before Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and 7th Heaven had us obsessed over on the WB, it was a little block of programming on ABC that really exploded in popularity during this exciting, confusing prepubescent time for many of us who are becoming parents or expanding our families today.
No matter what day of the week it is when you’re reading this – and no matter where life has now taken you – "It's Friday night / And the mood is right / Gonna have some fun / Show you how it's done: TGIF," as the classic theme from the 1989 - 2000 block of shows went.
Relive your crushes and faves from back in the day and marvel at what they look like now as you check out 22 surprising pics of TGIF stars – then and now.
22 Sabrina’s Melissa Joan Hart
First, we must of course start with a little Nickelodeon show called Clarissa Explains It All.
I personally suspect that the major networks out there knew at the time that we (the viewers) were growing up and might just be interested in watching the girl we had followed as young kids as she ventured into the teenage years.
And so, in a series inspired by the earlier comic and series of the same name, Sabrina the Teenage Witch came to our TV sets every Friday night, along with her aunts, her gal pals, and of course her very special black kitty-cat.
To even further glory in that exciting and magical time known as the 1990s, how about a shot of not only Melissa Joan Hart from those days but also Britney Fricking Spears?
You have to love it. At least if you were bopping along to Britney’s earlier hits and taking in the TGIF programming back in the day.
For a show that considers things such as high school being hard, crushes being crazy, and magic being real, maybe you, too, turned to Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
After all, it’s what was on!
Blonde, bubbly, and decked out in a witchy flavor of the day’s popular fashions, she had young viewers – wait for it – spellbound…
21 ‘Sabrina’ All Grown Up
She’s still been in the spotlight now and again. She’s made pregnant appearances, had some widely publicized makeup malfunctions, and posed for magazines as is apparent after a quick googling.
She’s gone on with life after her Clarissa and Sabrina days.
She’s been married to former Force of Nature lead singer and guitarist Mark Wilkerson since 2003, and she has three children, Tucker McFadden Wilkerson, Braydon Hart Wilkerson, and Mason Walter Wilkerson.
She’s been in TV movies, a Britney Spears music video, and a few films, and has had roles on plenty of shows.
The show Melissa & Joey made it big enough to run for five entire years – from 2010 until 2015!
She’s an actress whom I’m not personally surprised has still stayed in the spotlight.
Fame has been the name of her game for, like, her entire life!
IMDB says that the star began her acting career in a commercial for a bathtub toy when she was only 4 years old.
She’s a petite 5 feet, 2 inches tall, according to that same site, which also includes the trivia that the actress “[has] a lazy eyelid that causes her right eye not to open as wide as her left eye,” that she owns three Picasso paintings, and that she co-runs a production company with family members.
20 Boy Meets World’s Danielle Fishel
For some, the name of an exit they pass on the L.A. freeway… For so many more, the character in Boy Meets World who shared a loooooongtime romance with main character Cory Matthews.
That hair! For a while, it was really, really long. I think it was actually kind of a big deal when she finally cut it.
With bright eyes and a very ’90s, very captivating look, she had young fans hooked from the get-go.
The show ran from 1993 until the year 2000 (as found easily at Google.com).
The cast seemed to be just babies when it all began, and then they grew up before our very eyes, with plenty of heartache and drama along the way, all the way into the college years…
Fishel began her famous role for the TGIF show when she was only 12 years old, according to TheList.com.
The same site also reports that in a later memoir, the actress revealed that she had actually at first been passed up for the role of the main love interest on Boy Meets World.
She “initially got passed over for the role of Topanga,” the site says, “but later landed the job because the actress who got the part was unable to follow the director's notes. That's right, Fishel was plan B.”
She also revealed that her very first kiss took place during filming for the long-running sitcom. Awwww.
19 ‘Topanga’ All Grown Up
Have you caught glimpses of the actress who played Topanga in Boy Meets World time again since that show las airs, say, hosting something you flipped by on TV or gift-wrapping your Christmas gift purchases at the department store?
Reportedly, both of these and more would have been entirely possible in Danielle Fishel’s post-BMW days.
TheList.com takes us through a general play-by-play of what the actress has been up to since that famous show stopped running.
In case you’re a bit curious, that site says that the actress then had time to explore new projects… “What she found, however, was mostly unexciting TV cameos, made for TV movies, and straight-to-DVD films,” they say.
She made brief appearances on Nikki, Yes, Dear, and Longshot (about boy bands, and featuring many other teen stars of the ’90s).
She also played main characters in National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze, two movies “showing a raunchier side that we hadn't seen before,” says the same site.
Then she got into hosting, first as a correspondent for The Tyra Banks Show back in 2007 and then as a host of The Dish in 2008.
And yes, she really did work at a department store: "For the last two years from October to December I worked at Bloomingdale's wrapping presents," the actress shared with LAist in 2008. "I worked on Christmas Eve for the last two years. I wrapped so many presents — it was so fun. People come in and say, 'you know what's so funny, you look so much like that girl from…'"
A marriage, going back to school, and the short-lived series Girl Meets World were also part of her journey.
18 Boy Meets World’s Rider Strong
Someone had to play the best friend and sidekick to the “boy” in question in Boy Meets World, and Cory’s bud Shawn was played by none other than Rider Strong.
It was hard to avoid his famous face as a girl growing up in the 1990s. He had that super ’90s hairstyle, with the long, parted bangs…
I guess he just had that perfect look for his young fans at the time: part boyish, part bad boy, and all the stuff that made him the ideal subject of centerfolds for magazines such as Teen Beat.
Even that character’s name was just SO much the cool kid of the time: Shawn…
The Wikipedia page about the character Shawn Hunter says that there were 158 episodes of the hit TGIF show, and guess who was in all 158 (well, besides Cory, of course)…
Yep, this guy.
The young character Strong played was from a family that moved around a lot. He and Cory had been best friends forever. Shawn was riskier than his bestie, and at the start of the show he wasn’t doing well in school and was just starting to be into girls (cue the laugh track’s “Wooooo!”).
He is the ladies’ man of the show, and also develops an artistic and sensitive side.
17 ‘Shawn Hunter’ All Grown Up
This one really trips me out – probably more so than anyone else featured in this fun little list for you dear readers today.
Okay, okay, I may be slowly remembering that some of those Tiger Beat pinup posters were in fact on my own bedroom wall and under the plastic protective covers of my own three-ring binders.
And I mean, whether or not you were crushin’ a bit at the time, you can definitely still see that it’s him! Look at those eyes!
And yet, he also sort of reminds me quite a bit of many men I pass daily on the street, or who work in nearby restaurants and grocery stores. You know the look… normal.
Although that full beard certainly gives him a much more grown-up look than young fans became accustomed to back in the Boy Meets World day, the face is clearly the same one that they came (quickly and for many years thereafter) to love.
Wikipedia notes that he was quite heavily involved in the later spinoff Girl Meets World, both as an actor and behind the scenes.
I never personally caught any of that one when it was airing.
And so to me, he’ll always be that attention-grabbing bad boy of TGIF.
16 Full House’s Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
I grew up alongside some friends who watched Full House quite obsessively, although I must confess that I did not watch it myself. I mean, of course I must have caught a glimpse here and there, but it did not have me tuning in at the scheduled time each week or anything like that. I think I was close enough to junior high when I started watching TGIF that I wanted something with a little more drama and romance (LOL!).
But many of my generation grew up alongside it, and I know for a fact that some of my old pals can recite cheesy jokes, famous lines, and nicknames from the long-running TGIF show. Board games were created based on it that are still stowed carefully away in family hall closets. And of course it’s recently been revived with a new series.
Now even if you weren’t a regular watcher of the sitcom, you probably could easily recognize that cute little girl of the family who was played by very similar looking and very blonde twin sisters.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had their own movies and ventures going on from a very, very early age, keeping young female fans riveted and spending (or getting mom and dad to spend, anyway) to see more and more of them.
15 ‘Michelle Tanner(s)’ All Grown Up
For a while somewhere around the turn of the millennium, you could not pass by a tabloid in the grocery store without seeing pictures of these two sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashely Olsen, all grown up.
They were often looking much less smiley and much more couture than they did back in their days of playing the littlest member of the Full House in question in that mega-famous sitcom.
As I recall, they’ve been famously associated with other young-ish celebrities and their associated trials, tribulations, and dramas.
And their business pursuits have continued, as well.
It had been a while since I’d seen their famous faces at all, and it was quite jarring for me to see the two after another decade or thereabouts had passed.
As reported at EOnline.com, “They became 10-year-old millionaires together, then went to high school and were cheerleaders together. They both missed the prom because they were co-hosting Saturday Night Live.”
And then what happened?
After going to college together and purchasing an N.Y.C. high rise, there were the high-fashion pursuits, and then, life went on.
They are now in their early thirties, and Mary-Kate is married to a French banker named Olivier Sarkozy.
Their fashion pursuits continue, and they’re still known for their “swimming-in-fabric style, a look that's easy to poke fun at but which they've also made impossibly chic,” according to EOnline.com.
14 Full House’s Bob Saget
Even the name of the actor “Bob Saget” is enough to make many people I know from my generation laugh.
What a time. What a show! Sitcom cheesiness galore, and at the head of it all, this guy.
What was the name of the character? None other than Danny Tanner. A quick googling will remind you that he’s a sportscaster in San Francisco who gains two new roomies: his bro-in-law, Jesse, and of course Joey, a stand-up comedian.
And the household comes together to bring up the three young daughters of the main character: D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle – some of the most 1980s names I have ever heard in my life, by the way.
The themes song was “Everywhere You Look,” which I immediately start humming in my head, though I, as I’ve mentioned, never regularly watched the show at all.
It was inescapable, and it was a huuuuge hit of ABC’s TGIF lineup.
It ran from 1987 until 1995, and you can apparently now catch reruns on Nickelodeon, as the Google results say. (I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, it was I Love Lucy and Bewitched marathons on the late-night version of that famous kiddie cable network.)
Check him out, in all his ’90s dad glory – and maybe have a good laugh at a Jesse joke while you’re at it.
13 ‘Danny Tanner’ Later In Life
You can still tell that it’s him – that’s for sure!
It’s not so much of a shock to see the transition this age group has made over the last 25 years as it is to check out what the kiddies of TGIF have grown up to look like, but it’s still kind of a wild ride, I think, to look back at the “before” and then flash forward to the “after.”
Along with the parents of the TGIF viewers themselves, he has aged into his sixties. And hey – get this – he has three children… ALL GIRLS!
They’re named Aubrey (love it, by the way), Laura, and Jennifer.
Speaking of surprises, I have heard that his stand-up comedy can be quite a change for viewers who are used to his comedy stylings from the long-running family sitcom they grew up loving. (I’ve never yet seen it myself, that I recall.)
The beloved actor and comedian was in the news quite recently, on Aril 7, 2018, at USMagazine.com, in relation to info regarding his engagement and upcoming wedding to one Kelly Rizzo, a blogger.
Will he have more kids with his new bride?
“No, no. I mean, Kelly and my daughters love each other, so it really is some magical thing that happened. … And we want to enjoy the love of each other…,” he told the mag. “I’ve been the dad a lot. Maybe I’ll be a grandfather one day. My daughter has a boyfriend. I’m not rushing it.”
12 Full House’s Jodie Sweetin
Stephanie Tanner was her name, and playing the middle child in Full House was her crazy big role when she was growing up.
If you check out Wikipedia.org, you’ll reminisce that she was “witty” and “sarcastic” in the world of the sitcom’s family, and that like midway through the run of the series, the character developed what have been described as some sort of tomboyish traits.
Here’s what I remember as I read through the description of the character: She used to always sneakily spy on her big sister’s goings-on by reading through her diary. Reading that gave me a mental image of the super ’90s bed and the room it was in…
She would also sometimes listen in on her older sibling’s phone calls.
She is said to have dealt with some of the tougher issues presented to any of the kids of the family, such as peer pressure to smoke and going to a make-out party… (Again, cue the laugh track featuring wooooooo!).
The little girl with the blonde hair and the bangs… such a memorable part of the sitcom that so many grew up watching.
Looks like the actress was 5 years old when she started work on the show.
11 ‘Stephanie Tanner’ All Grown Up
The real-life gal, according to Wikipedia, has two children.
She has also had three husbands, all of whom she has been divorced from.
She has degree as a drug and alcohol counselor, and Wiki also covers her past with substance abuse, noting that she is “a recovering drug addict. She started drinking alcohol when she was 14, shortly after Full House wrapped. During some parts of the next decade and a half, she is said to have used many substances, and she stated “that she turned to drugs because she was ‘bored.’” She reportedly wrote a book about the whole experience back in 2009. The memoir is titled unSweetined, and it tells of the “downward spiral of alcohol and drug abuse that began with the ending of Full House,” according to Wikipedia.
What a lot to have gone through!
The actress and mother is currently 36 years old, and she has had plenty of acting gigs since the wrap of the famous TGIF sitcom, including, of course, her recent role on the revival / spinoff of the show, Fuller House.
In 2016, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars (as, of course, have other ’90s-tastic stars included in this list).
10 Family Matters’ Jaleel White
Well, obviously no discussion of the stars of TGIF would be complete without bringing up in some significant way Steve Urkel of the beloved sitcom Family Matters.
Back then, shows could do things like have one actor play the dorkiest, most cartoonish nerd ever in some scenes and then Mr. Suave in others.
He had the suspenders. He had the glasses. And were the pants high? Oh yes. They were as high as they come.
His love for the daughter of the family was the stuff of classic sitcoms. A crush like that isn’t something viewers easily forget… or maybe it was just the quite memorable quality of that nasally voice.
Ask people alive today to name a famous sitcom nerd, and I bet you’re bound to get lots of fingers pointing straight toward none other than this guy.
I never, ever could have told you that his name was Jaleel White in real life, but – even though I was not at all a regular watcher of this show either – I without a doubt knew his character’s first and last name, the main role he played on the show, and JUST what he looked and sounded like in his famously dorky portrayal.
There was just something loveable – and culturally explosive – about the guy.
9 ‘Urkel’ All Grown Up
Yeah, this is the same guy.
This, my friends, is your beloved and nerd-tastic Urkel of TGIF’s Family Matters. Seriously.
I can certainly tell that it’s him when the picture is labeled accordingly… but I really don’t know that I’d recognize him on the street.
But then I’ve never been very good at that. (Marc Summers was talking to me for like 5 minutes in a hamburger joint once before my husband caught my eye and then whispered to me that I was talking to Nickelodeon royalty.)
Brags and obliviousness about encounters with super ’90s famous guys aside, though, isn’t it a trip to catch a glimpse of little Urkel all grown up?
This is purely my opinion, of course, but I’m not seeing anything scrawny or classically dorky going on here…
Want some fun facts about the guy? I went ahead and googled it. Results from Wikipedia show that he has a child by the name of Samaya White. He went to South Pasadena High School.
Also, when he was originally cast for Family Matters in 1989, it was supposed to be for a one-time appearance. Ha!
He’s been in sitcoms and played voice roles (such as Sonic the Hedgehog) since. He has also hosted a gameshow on the Syfy channel and competed on the 14th season of Dancing with the Stars.
8 Family Matters’ Kellie Shanygne Williams
In this trip down memory lane, we really must also bring up the then young woman who played Laura Winslow on ABC’s Family Matters, which was also of course featured in that glorious block of youth programming known as TGIF.
The fan page FamilyMatters.Wikia.com has helped to fill me in on all the deets of this beloved character, who Urkel famously tried (and tried again and again and again) to woo:
She was the middle child of the family. She was the show’s smart-aleck and know-it-all, too. (Hey, that sounds kind of like Stephanie Tanner over on Full House, also the middle child… Food for thought.)
The character was also very smart in school, as well as being a cheerleader. Multiple episodes apparently centered around that hip-hip-hooray pursuit.
The most bizarre thing, which I do remember, actually, was the whole dual role played by her longtime suitor’s actor, Jaleel White.
At first, he’s just Steve Urkel.
But then – THEN – sometimes, he’s Stefan… Stefan Urquelle, to be exact. OMG.
Did you keep watching with eyes glued to find out who she chose in the end?
Hint: The nerd with the heart of gold always wins, in classic TV sitcoms, in any case.
7 ‘Laura Winslow’ All Grown Up
That actress who we all know as Laura Winslow is around and still appearing for some reunions and things, to be sure!
Wikipedia.org lists that the 42-year-old has two children, Hannah Belle, who was born in 2010, and John Ervin Jackson, who was born in 2012.
Zimbio.com features her in a sort of “where are they now?” list of actors and actresses, and that site says that star who became so famous on her longtime regular TGIF role “never lost her love of acting.”
The same site says that she started the Kellie Williams Program in Washington, D.C., in 2006 to encourage young people to produce their own television.
Wikipedia lists that same city as the actress’s birthplace.
What else did Kellie Shanygne Williams do besides play the sought-after teen in Family Matters? She acted on the show Moesha for a couple years during the same time, toward the end of her time as Laura Winslow, from 1996 until 1998.
Other acting credits listed on IMDB.com include being in the 1999 TV movie After All, the TV show What About Joan, from 2000 to 2001, the TV shows Girlfriends, The Parkers, and Eve, as well as a few other roles stretching through the first decade of the 2000s, primarily.
6 Sabrina’s Soleil Moon Frye
What would any teenage witch (named Sabrina) be without her best friends?
And, dude, I actually somehow had no idea (in fact, I grew up without cable and watching very little TV until I was nearly a teen, so that’s the “somehow”... that and the fact that even if I did see the show, I wasn’t old enough to remember it) that this actress, for many probable parents and readers out there, is none other than Punky Brewster.
IMDB.com also lists the fun fact that she was actually a childhood friend of Melissa Joan Hart… and so it all begins to come together more clearly…
Does anyone remember her clearly in her role on TGIF show Sabrina?
If I’m honest, although she looks very familiar, I mainly recall Melissa Joan Hart and that cat, along with her two aunts, who I know I’d seen in other stuff on TV around the same time.
I therefore did some digging on Wikipedia.org and found that it was during Sabrina’s college years that this cast member played the role of roommate, along with some other young women.
Her character, Roxie, was a feminist.
I’m pretty sure I’d, if I’m honest, stopped watching by then, having been lured over to the WB for the teenage dramas offered up there.
5 Sabrina’s Pal ‘Roxie’ All Grown Up
The star has done all sorts of work, including, even, some writing and directing. So she has quite a history in the biz.
From playing Punky, something that came before my TV watching time, to plenty of voice acting roles (including for Robot Chicken) and more, she’s done a lot, to be sure, even if not all of it is exactly as well-known as her early childhood primetime TV role from the ’80s.
And here’s something many readers out there may identify with or even already know about the actress: She’s a mom – big time! She has four children, says Google’s main search-result info as well as IMDB.com and BabyCenter.com.
She said, according to IMDB.com, “I know there are parents who are very structured and organized and are certainly far more together than I am, it's just not me.”
She’s a “Mommy Ambassador” for Target, says that same site, and IMDB also says that she owns an “eco-friendly” baby boutique in Los Angeles, California, called The Little Seed.
Google lists that she’s a petite 5 feet 1 inch tall!
The actress and entrepreneur is now 41 years old, and has been married to the father of her children, Jason Goldberg, since 1998.
4 Clueless’s Stacey Dash
Everyone knows about Clueless the movie, or at least I would hope they do, because it was a hugely popular film of the mid ’90s that imagined a hilarious and ultra-hip teen world in Beverly Hills. Yes, although it satirized the life of teens with a world of riches handed to them before they could even drive, it also helped to spread an obsession over it.
The exaggerated fashions, lingo, and hairstyles of the movie caught on, and before we knew it, knee socks, plaid miniskirts, and pens with poofy toppers were… EVERYWHERE.
The success of the movie was so great, and the cultural obsession so far-reached, that even ABC wanted to get in on the action, and so let’s revisit the fact that a sitcom spinoff was created: Clueless — the show.
Cher was of course replaced by some other blonde. But certain characters remained played by the same actors and actresses, including Cher’s bestie, Dionne, played by the beautiful Stacey Dash.
When I first started to think about this era of programming, which I thought I remembered somewhat well – and certainly fondly – I honestly didn’t even remember that Clueless was eventually introduced as part of the lineup, but it sure was, and sassy Dione was along for the ride.
3 ‘Dionne’ All Grown Up
Stacey Dash was closer to 30 than 16 when she played that learning-to-drive age in the movie that then served as inspiration for the TGIF show.
Today, she’s 51 years old and has been married three times.
She has two children, named Lola Lovell and Austin Williams.
And her career has apparently taken her to some interesting places!
My research for this article only took me over to CNN.com once, and it was to see what the actress has been up to in more recent years.
She reportedly entered into none other than that crazy world called politics!
Just this year, on March 31, 2018, CNN’s Saba Hamedy wrote that the star (who played the Clueless character known for her bold hat choices and nose ring – that she should really take out when her allergies act up) had withdrawn from a California congressional race.
It was only a month after she had filed the paperwork to run
She had apparently stayed in the spotlight in recent years as none other than a commentator for that big TV network known to lean very far to the Right.
Her post-Clueless acting work has included some additional TV series, movies, and made-for-TV movies, as listed on IMDB.com.
Honestly, the only title I recognized, not being a cable subscriber during the last decade, was American Dad, for which she apparently played a voice role in 2008.
2 Boy Meets World’s Ben Savage
He was a little boy who was a little bit of everywhere in the ’80s and ’90s, including in movies and on TV.
His incredibly famous role, of course, was playing main character Cory Matthews in none other than TGIF’s Boy Meets World on ABC.
Viewers tuned in and followed along through all sorts of life lessons, friendship trials and tribulations, and of course romantic ups and downs.
Would he end up with his longtime GF Topanga in the end? Only time would tell.
With a famous boyish face and curly hair, he played the endearing and relatable character that so many children of the 1990s loved to watch as he grew up from elementary school to high school and beyond.
There was his older principal mentor, who always seemed to be there offering sage advice, even when the gang later went off to college, somehow. Remember Mr. Feeney??
IMDB.com includes in the description of the show’s storyline that Cory and his best bud aren’t popular at school with the girls, and have a certain set of sitcom enemies.
Viewers could follow along with the “adventures” and “goofs” of this boy and his best friend and girlfriend, as he grew from a boy into a man.
1 ‘Cory Matthews’ All Grown Up
This guy’s TV work is pretty darn extensive, and he has acting credits going all the way up through 2017 at IMDB.com.
With a famous face and a famous name, so many people of my generation are familiar with this man, and most especially so with his work for Boy Meets World on TGIF.
Girl Meets World was, again, of course the show’s recent revival / spinoff / reincarnation.
And it all started, says IMDB, for the little boy actor at the age of just 5 years old. That’s when the tiny rising star got his first acting gig in a TV commercial.
In 1993, it was on from some other TV and movie work to Boy Meets World, and that’s when he really became ridiculously famous.
IMDB also includes that although he had his acting career going on, he still graduated from college, as well – from none other than Stanford University, in fact. His degree was reportedly in political science.
Back closer to the turn of the millennium in 2003, IMDB says that he had gotten an internship for the office of a U.S. senator, Arlen Specter, and seemed to be “well on his way to another chapter in his life.”
Of course, more TV movies, sitcoms, and beyond have featured the famous face since then, making it clear that Savage’s business is still show-business.
References: CNN.com, Blogs.BabyCenter.com, EW.com, USMagazine.com, TMZ.com, EOnline.com, Cosmopolitan.com, TheBestOfTheNineties.com, Wikipedia.org, IMDB.com, TheList.com, Wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Hunter, USMagazine.com/celebrity-moms, BabyCenter.com, IMDB.com
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