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Famous sitcom moms who moved to soaps

Beloved Family Ties mom Meredith Baxter (with all due apologies to the now-divorced Ms. Baxter, the weaned-on-TV kid in me will never be able to stop thinking of her as Meredith Baxter Birney) is joining the cast of The Young & the Restless on September 8. And while official press releases won’t admit to her being anything more than a drinking buddy for Nikki, savvy soap fans are already betting on her turning out to be the long-lost mama of Stitch and Kelly. You know, the one they’ve been talking about endlessly for months?

In a casting coincidence, Baxter’s Family Ties hubby, Michael Gross, also did a Y&R stint in 2008 as a former hippie who assumed a fake identity and went underground to avoid a murder rap. (As Steve Keaton, mild-mannered public television station manager, perhaps? Remember how he and Elyse were always rhapsodizing about their flower-power days?)

However, Meredith Baxter is hardly the first primetime sitcom mom to make the switch to daytime—and playing a character much less respectable than her earlier incarnation.

Y&R sister soap The Bold & the Beautiful pulled off a sitcom two-fer from 2006 to 2009, when, in a recurring series of short-term guest-appearances, the legendary Betty White played abusive mom Anne, with The Wonder Years’ Alley Mills as her browbeaten, timid, vaguely-unstable-so-think-twice-before-crossing-her daughter, Pam. While White got to die dramatically on-camera, finally forgiven by the daughters she’d bullied and belittled for most of their lives, Mills is still on the show today, playing Pam as a little less timid and a little less crazy. But you should still watch what you say around her. Or about anyone she loves.

On Days of our Lives, John Black has had so many backstories, long-lost parents and mysterious siblings that viewers can be forgiven for losing track (and, periodically, interest). But in 2008, the truth was finally exposed once for all (that is, until the next writing regime change): John Black is a member of The Partridge Family! Well, not exactly. Technically, he’s the son of Stefano DiMera’s philandering father, and Shawn Brady’s novice nun sister, Colleen. But, seeing as Colleen was played by Mrs. Partridge herself, Shirley Jones, don’t be surprised if John suddenly breaks into a medley of “I Woke Up in Love This Morning” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” (Jones also played Laurie in the movie version of Oklahoma.)

Longtime ABC soap fan Roseanne Arnold (this would be after Barr but before just Roseanne) didn’t merely invite actors from One Life to Live and General Hospital to appear on her sitcom, in character. She returned the favor by guest-starring (along with Tom) on General Hospital as a boozy, floozy, mafia princess in 1994. In 2002, when Roseanne wasn’t available to reprise the part, another sitcom star, All in the Family’s Sally Struthers, stepped in.

Meanwhile, over on As the World Turns, That 70s Show’s Debra Jo Rupp played a ditzy camp counselor in 2008, and Anne Meara—who may not technically have been a sitcom mom, but she is a sitcom veteran, plus she’s the real-life mom of actor/director Ben Stiller—spent five years on All My Children as Wildwind maid Peggy.

Perhaps the most awesome sitcom mom to grace daytime with her presence, though, came in 1982. When Capitol premiered, it was the story of two political dynasties: the McCandlesses, who were good and noble and upstanding and deadly dull, and the Cleggs, who were rich and scheming and ruthless and actually entertaining. The role of matriarch Myrna Clegg—the most scheming, ruthless and entertaining of them all—was originated by Carolyn Jones, a.k.a. Morticia from The Adams Family. Can you think of anyone more appropriate to run a swath of destruction through Washington, DC..?

Got a favorite soap sitcom mom that we didn’t mention here? Tell us in the comments!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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