Appleton will soon be the setting on a new show on Disney+
The news made the rounds today that the online service is developing The Biggest Star in Appleton, a half hour comedy that’ll star Kristin Chenoweth.
It’s an exciting opportunity to bring some name recognition to a place we love, though it isn’t going to be the first time that the Fox Valley gets a nod from boob tube writers.
In spring, Valley Review assembled a rundown of the fictional film and screen characters in Wisconsin. The latest news seemed like the right time to pull it back to the top of the site.
Appleton’s forthcoming role as a comedy setting will be its biggest, but we are the childhood home to one memorable character.
Edna Garrett entered our lives as housekeeper to Phillip Drummond and a key adult figure in the lives of Arnold, Willis and Kimberly in “Diff’rent Strokes.” She moved on to become housemother on “The Facts of Life.” It’s there she regaled the girls with tales from her childhood on a farm near Appleton.
We here can take pride knowing that Appleton taught the wise Mrs. Garrett how to take the good, take the bad, take them all … basically, the facts of life.
Little Chute’s most famous fictional resident was shot into space to endure bad films.
Fictional Mike Nelson, portrayed by real life Michael Nelson, arrived in the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to endure cinematic torment aside Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. Nelson, a temp worker who came to work for the mad scientists behind the plot, hailed from the Heart of the Valley.
Wisconsin had a number of characters beyond the Fox Valley.
Weird things are known to happen in Sheboygan, so it’s appropriate that instead of a person, it gets poultry. Chicken Joe, the stoner surfing bird from the 2007 computer animated film, “Surf’s Up,” hails from the shores of Lake Michigan.
Port Washington would have to go to the Lambert family of “Step by Step,” a new wave “Brady Bunch” that aired in ABC’s TGIF lineup with the likes of “Full House.” Patriarch Frank Lambert was portrayed by Patrick Duffy while matriarch Carol Foster-Lambert brought Suzanne Somers back to our small screens.
The northwoods of Wisconsin has been crucial in saving the fictional world from the forces of Cobra. Grand Slam, G.I. Joe’s laser artillery soldier, hails from Chippewa Falls while Recondo arrived from Wheaton.
Speaking of saving the world …
Ethan Hunt, portrayed by Tom Cruise and protagonist in the “Mission: Impossible” films, hails from Madison. Perhaps the next edition could focus on getting some bipartisan action rolling in the capitol building.
For Genoa City, feel free to take your favorite Newman or Abbott, though based on longevity and role in storyline, we’ll go with Jack Abbott of the Young and the Restless to be the most famous fictional character from the fictional version of the real life Wisconsin locale.
As for Milwaukee? Oh so many options, but it has to go to the Fonz.
Home to both Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, Milwaukee puts the rest of the state to shame for notable characters. Though as a bronze statue of Henry Winkler’s ode to cool stands tall in downtown Milwaukee, the Fonz stands tall above the rest.
If you’re going to go with fictional people in fictional places within the Dairyland, nods would go to everyone in Picket Fences and That 70s Show as well as Norm McDonald’s Stan Hooper.