Every body has a story.
Every body has a story.
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May 17, 1956 – January 9, 2022
Content warning: this article contains potentially disturbing content, including references to death, divorce, serious health/medical issues, war, allusions to naughty language, and a brief mention of a murderer (with no details of any crimes). Please use your best judgment as to whether you wish to read this content. Language is PG-13.
Robert Lane Saget was born on May 17, 1956, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to supermarket “meat executive” Benjamin and hospital administrator Rosalyn “Dolly” Saget. He had two older sisters, Gay, born in 1947, and Andrea, born in 1950. (Saget’s parents lost twins, a boy named Robert and a girl possibly named Faith, who died at birth in or around 1954.) When Saget was seven or eight years old, he moved with his parents and two sisters to Norfolk, Virginia. That was where he developed an interest in filmmaking, and at the age of nine, began making eight-millimeter movies using his friends as cast and crew.
In the middle of his ninth grade year of high school, the family moved to Los Angeles, California. Rumor says that during the time Saget lived there, one of his neighbors was Larry Fine, the “Larry” of Three Stooges fame. Saget enjoyed visiting the former Stooge, likely to talk about Fine’s “good old days.” There’s a strong possibility that Fine passed along a veritable goldmine of movie-making advice as well.
Between Saget’s 11th and 12th grade years, the family moved full circle, back to the Philadelphia area. After graduating from Philadelphia-adjacent Abington High School, Saget enrolled in Philadelphia-central Temple University. A few sources (two iffy, one not-so-much) claim that Saget planned on pursuing a career in medicine. That plan was derailed, either because one of his high school teachers thought he had what it took to be a star and encouraged him to follow that career path (according to the iffy sources), or he just wasn’t deemed med school material, grades-wise (per the other source). No matter how much or little of the story is true, Saget ended up going to Temple’s film school, not its medical school.
Saget claimed that during the course of his education, he created “60 hours of really bad student movies.” It’s unlikely he included in that count his 1977 11-minute student documentary titled Through Adam’s Eyes, which chronicled his seven-year-old nephew’s journey through the physical and emotional trauma of undergoing reconstructive facial surgery. That project earned Saget his only major award, a Student Academy Award “Merit Award.” Hey, if you’re only going to win one award in show business, an Oscar’s not a bad one to get.
During his college years, he devoted much of his free time to doing stand-up comedy in New York City. After graduating from Temple, he moved back to the Los Angeles area to in order to pursue a graduate degree from the University of Southern California’s prestigious film school. Three days into his first semester, he decided that he didn’t really need to know any more about filmmaking than he already did, so he quit USC to pursue stand-up comedy full time. He performed at The Improv and The Comedy Store (where allegedly you have/had to pay to perform) and participated in the Groundlings improvisational workshop for a year (where allegedly you have/had to pay to perform). Two of his fellow Groundlings were Kevin Costner and Barbi Benton. Fortunately for Saget he got steady side work as a comedian, so he was able to support his pay-to-work habit.
Saget had a near near-death experience on July 4, 1978, when he suffered an appendicitis attack. When the fine doctors at the UCLA Medical Center removed the organ, they found out it had become gangrenous.
Also when he was 22 Saget was on the—game show? quiz show? comedy show?—The Dating Game. (The producers liked funny contestants; Saget liked the fact that one appearance on the show made any contestant with an actors’ union card eligible to sign up for a year of health insurance.) He actually appeared on the show twice; one time he wasn’t selected by the “bachelorette,” the other time he was. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go on the trip he won to Guatemala because. according to him, civil war broke out there the week after he won. Per PBS.org, Guatemala had been engaged in a civil war on and off from 1960 to 1996, so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact date of his win. It definitely wasn’t September 13, 1978, though, because serial killer Rodney Alcala won on that episode. (No Dating Game drama resulted from Alcala’s win—the lady backed out on the date because she found him “creepy.” She wasn’t the only one.)
Saget’s first credited television appearance was a 1979 gig on the game show Make Me Laugh. It featured three or four different comedians a week, each doing a short comedy routine. The contestants’ objective was to keep from laughing until the routine was over, or a buzzer went off, or…something. There is no clear information about how many times he appeared on the show. At least once. Just a few of the other comedians featured on the show were Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari, Richard Belzer, Howie Mandel, and Garry Shandling.
In 1981 Saget had a role in the short film Devices (I have no idea what it’s about), and he directed and starred in Moving (I have no idea what it’s about). Also in 1981, Saget appeared in one episode of ABC’s Tom Hanks/Peter Scolari television situation comedy series Bosom Buddies (affiliate link), as Bob the Comic. Saget was already employed by the show as their warm-up comic, whose job it was to work the audience members into a mirthful frenzy so their reactions to the episodes’ jokes would be as enthusiastic as possible. Basically, “Bob the Comic” was Saget just doing his day job but getting paid more for it because he was on camera. A writer/producer who worked on the show, Jeff Franklin, told Saget he hoped they would have a chance to work together again, and he meant it. Totally off-topic: Franklin lives/lived in the house located where the Roman Polanski/Sharon Tate marital home once stood.
In 1982 Saget married his high school sweetheart, Sherri Kramer.
Over the next few years, he guest-starred on a handful of television shows, such as The Greatest American Hero; Love, American Style; and It’s a Living. At the same time, he continued his stand-up comedy career. His routines were known to be low-brow (in other words, he had quite the potty-mouth—a fact of which he seemed rather proud).
In 1984 Saget suffered a blow in his personal life when his 34-year-old sister, Andrea, died from a brain aneurysm. Many sources state that she was 32 at the time of her death, but in an interview Saget himself said she was 34 when she died.
Out of the blue in the mid-1980’s Saget was asked to participate in a “Cool Comedy-Hot Cuisine” benefit to raise money for scleroderma research. (The Mayo Clinic’s definition of scleroderma: a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues.) Other celebrities contributing to the cause that year included Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres (although none of the three had yet achieved “celebrity” status at that point). Saget went on to host more than 20 “Cool Comedy-Hot Cuisine” events.
In 1987 Saget appeared in the Richard Pryor film Critical Condition, which he called, “the first thing I ever did of consequence.” I’m sure he was referring to his on-screen career, and if so, then, yes. Also in 1987 Saget’s first child, a daughter named Aubrey, was born. Also in 1987 Saget was hired to co-anchor CBS’s The Morning Program alongside Mariette Hartley, Mark McEwen, and Rolland Smith. Because he had signed on the dotted line for CBS, he was unavailable to enter into discussions when former boss Jeff Franklin came knocking with a new sitcom proposal. Saget was Franklin’s first choice, and Paul Reiser (Mad About You, My Two Dads) his second, to fill the role. No dice, as both of them were contractually obligated to do other projects. Flash forward five months, and CBS closed down the whole Morning Program operation. Saget claimed he was fired from the show, but the situation seemed more similar to being laid off.
With that unexpected (or, more likely, expected) turn of events, Jeff Franklin quickly seized the opportunity to re-approach the now contractually-unencumbered Saget. The show, titled Full House, centered around the character Danny Tanner, a recently widowed dad-of-three-little-girls—whose fictional job was, ironically, co-hosting a morning television talk show. Saget and Franklin came to an equitable agreement, and the rest is sitcom history, except: since ABC had already hired actor John Posey (a prolific character actor, if not exactly a household name) for the role and filmed the show’s pilot episode with him, they re-shot the pilot with Saget, gave Posey the old “it’s not you, it’s us” line, and then ghosted him until he gave up trying to find out why he was dumped. He eventually learned the reason from other sources, but knowing why probably didn’t help to ease the sting much.
Allegedly Saget didn’t love the show and wished he could step away after the first season, but with a hefty new mortgage and a baby on the way, he decided to stick it out.
Full House (affiliate link) ran from 1987-1995, and in his spare time (from 1989-1997) Saget hosted the reality show America’s Funniest Home Videos (affiliate link)—another full-time job. In his other spare time during the same period, he acted in a handful of smaller guest starring roles, made the rounds of talk shows—The David Letterman Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, among others—and appeared on many awards shows, including The Peoples Choice Awards, The Primetime Emmy Awards, and The Golden Globe Awards. He also made a fair amount of “self” appearances (including a 1995 hosting gig on late-night comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live), and performed plenty of stand-up comedy jobs.
In 1989 he and his wife welcomed their second child, a daughter they named Lara Melanie, and in 1992 they welcomed their third and last child, a daughter they named Jennifer Belle. Apparently he had time to get home once in a while.
In 1994 a second major tragedy occurred in Saget’s life: his last living sibling, Gay, died. She had been diagnosed with scleroderma at age 43 (after receiving numerous misdiagnoses) and passed away from it at 47. Although Saget had already been involved significantly in fundraising efforts for scleroderma research for years, after Gay was correctly diagnosed Saget redoubled his efforts for the cause—including becoming a board member of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, a position he held until his death.
After Full House wrapped, Saget spearheaded and directed the made-for-television movie For Hope, which was based on Gay’s later-life story.
Saget and his wife divorced in 1997, and for the next few years he took on more directing jobs, guest starring roles, talk show/television special/documentary appearances, and as usual, stand-up comedy gigs. In 2001 he was hired for another widowed-dad-of-daughters role (two this time, played by Kat Dennings—in her first part besides a one-episode appearance on another show—and Brie Larson, who had already amassed a fair number of acting credits to her name by then). The show, titled Raising Dad, didn’t take off with the viewing public and was canceled after one season. Perhaps audiences were expecting Full House 2.0, and this show wasn’t it.
For the next few years, Saget continued working (of course), pretty much continuing with his pre-Raising Dad schedule.
In 2004, the regular cast of Full House was nominated for the TV Land Award for Quintessential Non-Traditional Family. They lost to the peculiar-entry-for-the-category The Odd Couple.
In 2005 he landed a recurring role as himself(?) in the television show Entourage (four episodes) and a voice-only role as the narrator in the television situation comedy How I Met Your Mother (eight seasons). Also that year, from April 5 through April 24 in previews and in “official” performances through the pre-planned closing date of May 15, Saget appeared in Paul Weitz’s play “Privilege” at the off-Broadway Second Stage Theatre. Saget said it was possibly his favorite role to-date.
Saget also appeared in the 2005 not-rated documentary The Aristocrats (please do not confuse it with the G-rated Disney cartoon The AristoCATS). In the Saget “For Mature Audiences” project, a bunch of famous comedians tell the same dirty joke, each one trying to out-dirty the last. Some sources say Saget was considered the “winner.”
In 2006 he signed on to do the hosting duties for the game show 1 vs. 100. The show ran for two seasons/28 episodes with Saget at the helm. Saget also appeared in the 2006 Jamie Kennedy/Stu Stone music video, “Rollin’ with Saget.” Yet another one of Saget’s 2006 projects was the R-rated Farce of the Penguins, a not-safe-for-work-or-anywhere-there-are-children “mockumentary” based on the G-rated and perfectly-fine-for-children (although you probably still shouldn’t watch it at work) March of the Penguins.
Also in 2006 it was revealed that Saget was a/the Commissioner of Chikara. I have no idea what that means except that Chikara is a branch of professional wrestling, and a commissioner is a commissioner. I expect that people who know something about pro wrestling could find his involvement interesting. Or not.
Early in 2007 Saget lost his father to congestive heart failure. Mid-2007 he had his own “Mature Audiences” special, a one-hour television comedy show titled Bob Saget: That Ain’t Right, which he dedicated to his father’s memory. Late in 2007 (October 19-December 30) he appeared as Man in Chair in the Broadway play “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The play closed on December 30, but undoubtedly Saget’s performances had nothing to do with that.
Saget also confessed to having acted in a string of unsold sitcom pilots during the early to mid-2000’s.
Some of the highlights of his busy career over the next few years included:
—starring in the 2009 television show Surviving Suburbia. Another fan non-favorite, it lasted only 13 episodes.
—filming six episodes of 2010’s Strange Days with Bob Saget for A&E (Arts & Entertainment Network). In the “real-life series,” Saget spent time with, among others, pro wrestlers (no big surprise there), bikers, Bigfoot hunters, and kid campers (not all at the same time) and reported on the experiences.
—a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for Best Comedy Album for “That’s What I’m Talkin’ About.” The winning album was “Calm Down Gurrl,” by Kathy Griffin (who was one of the mourners at his funeral).
—the 2014 publication of his autobiographical book, titled Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. He went on a short comedy tour to promote the show, which included his first Australian stand-up dates. That same year, his mother passed away from abdominal cancer.
From November 3, 2015 through January 3, 2016, Saget was back on Broadway, this time playing Pastor Greg in the dark comedy “Hand to God.” Again, Saget’s last day in the play was the last day of its run. Later in 2016 Saget reprised his role as Danny Tanner in the Netflix original series Fuller House. In this rendition of the show, Saget’s three TV daughters are all grown up and dealing with pint-sized rapscallions of their own. The show lasted a respectable five seasons, perhaps because it was the Full House 2.0 many viewers were longing for.
Some of the many activities on Saget’s post-age-60 work schedule included four 2017 projects: the television special Bob Saget: Zero to Sixty, which touted itself as “a warm embrace in these troubling times,” with Saget declaring that he was “the last TV father viewers can trust,” and then going on to include decidedly kid-unfriendly material. He also participated in documentaries about comedian Gilbert Gottfried (rated “For Mature Audiences”) and comedian Sam Kinison (unrated, but it would probably be smart to assume it is also “MA”). Saget was also on one episode of Hiking with Kevin, hosted by former Saturday Night Live regular Kevin Nealon. Apparently, each episode featured Nealon hiking with that episode’s featured celebrity. He waited until his guest was so tired he/she/they couldn’t think straight and then interviewed them. (Honestly, I only included the Nealon project because it got the lowest Internet Movie Database star rating I think I’ve ever seen, 1.4 out of 10. But I’m sure it had its charms.)
In 2018, Saget married Kelly Rizzo.
In 2019, Saget accepted hosting duties for Videos After Dark, which, as you might have guessed, is an America’s Funniest Home Videos-type show for the over-18 crowd. Apparently only one episode aired; maybe the over-18ers had something better to do that night. Possibly the fact that the most salacious bits were “blurred for your protection” had something to do with it.
From 2019 through 2021 he appeared (one time each year) as a guest panelist on the game show To Tell the Truth, and in 2020 he made appearances as a guest panelist on game shows I Can See Your Voice and Match Game.
In 2020 Saget started his own podcast, Bob Saget’s Here for You, a mix of advice column fodder, radio comedy skits, and celebrity talk show banter. At best count he made a total of 131 episodes, and no doubt more were planned for 2022.
His 2021 projects included the television series documentary History of the Sitcom and the film Killing Daniel. Daniel doesn’t seem to have been released yet, but it sounds like it could be a worth watching—if only to see the performances of Saget and Iggy Pop.
On Saturday, January 8, 2022 Saget performed at the second stop of his “I Don’t Do Negative” comedy tour (yes, some people give names to their comedy tours these days) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, which is on the east coast, just south of Jacksonville Beach. After his performance, he traveled the 150 or so miles (241 km) south to Orlando and checked into the Ritz–Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, which has to be a great hotel, based on the rates they charge.
In the early hours of January 9 Saget tweeted about the two-hour-long Ponte Vedra Beach show and how much he enjoyed it. Also sometime in the morning of that day, the Scleroderma Research Foundation tweeted a message from Saget, in which he mentioned that the day would have been his sister Gay’s 75th birthday.
Sometime that afternoon Saget’s family contacted the Ritz-Carlton because they had been unable to reach him. At around 4 pm a member of the hotel security staff entered his room and found him lying on his back on the bed, unresponsive. Emergency medical responders were called, and they determined that he was deceased. Later statements released stated that they had found no evidence of foul play, trauma, or drug use; an autopsy had been performed (on Monday); and it could take up to 12 weeks to determine his cause of death.
In a very interesting and informative interview published in the April/May 2011 issue of Ability Magazine (https://abilitymagazine.com/bob-saget-interview/), Saget mentions that he had a “heart doctor.” Maybe it was just a precaution because his father died from heart issues, and maybe not.
Condolences poured in from around the world. Saget seemed to have personally known 80% of the celebrity-type people currently living, and they all loved him. His “besties” included musician John Mayer, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, cooking show pro Guy Fieri, actress and comedian Aisha Tyler, actor and comedian Pete Davidson, and, of course, virtually everyone he had worked with throughout his entire career.
Even people who never met him were brokenhearted. Fans of his comedy, including ticket-holders for the 27 or so remaining shows of his stand-up tour as well as television viewers of all ages, shared fond memories of watching him perform in the past. Many people commented that “Danny Tanner” provided the only stable father figure they’d had during their own turbulent real-life childhoods.
When more information becomes available, this article will be updated.