Relics from ‘Wonder Years’ given to Smithsonian
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kevin Arnold’s green New York Jets jacket that he wore in “The Wonder Years” became a piece of history Tuesday along with other items from the popular TV show that were donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Costumes, studio tapes, scripts and Polaroid photos from the show have been donated to the National Museum of American History by several people, including Fred Savage (who played Arnold), his real-life mother and other cast members. “The Wonder Years” ran from 1988 to 1993 on ABC and was recently released on DVD.
Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers said the show was “meticulously designed” to recall the American experience in a turbulent time of the 1960s through the simple moments of growing up in a suburban town.
Savage said his mom, Joanne Savage, likes to keep everything and held onto the green and white jacket since the show ended. When her children joked she was a hoarder, she would quip that the Smithsonian might want their things one day. So Fred Savage said he was surprised when the museum actually wanted his old jacket.
He said “The Wonder Years” was special because it was about everyone.
“The show celebrated the achievements and the heroism of everyday life — your first day of junior high, the first time you call a girl, your first kiss,” Savage said. “That’s where the beauty lies — in the simplicity of the everyday, the seemingly mundane. That’s what makes up our memories.”
Here’s a look at where “The Wonder Years” actors are now.
Savage, 38, who played the lead character Kevin Arnold, now has two young children and directs TV shows, mostly comedies, including the hit, “Modern Family.” As a child actor from the age of 6, Savage said he was fascinated with the cameras and always wanted to direct TV shows.
Savage said he sees some parallels between “The Wonder Years” throwback to 1960s suburbia and “Modern Family’s” take on life now as minds have opened to different ways families come together.
He said there are “still those universal experiences of parents trying to have a date when they have three young kids or a child’s first kiss or going away to college. There’s still a universality, no matter how a family is put together.”
Jason Hervey, 42, who played Savage’s bully big brother Wayne Arnold, is now a dad who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He runs his own TV production company in Los Angeles, producing reality shows and sitcoms. He said he still has a bond with Savage after they acted together as brothers for six years.
“Fred always wanted to be a director, and I always wanted to be a producer,” he said. “We always saw ourselves in the roles that we’re in today and said it would be so back then.”
Josh Saviano, 38, who played Kevin Arnold’s friend Paul Pfeiffer on “The Wonder Years,” is now an attorney and father living in New York City. He lost most of his memorabilia from the show during Hurricane Sandy when his storage unit was flooded but was able to salvage his studio tapes and original scripts and donated them to the Smithsonian. He called the donation to the history museum “the highest honor you can get because it’s an acknowledgement that this is a small fiber in the fabric of America.”
He’s now a law firm partner focused on corporate transactions and celebrity and corporate brands, bringing him back to the entertainment world at times.
Danica McKellar, 39, who played Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years,” went on to earn a degree in mathematics. She is still acting and recently married. She has also published a series of entertaining math books primarily for girls that have been best sellers.
McKellar and Savage’s mothers have kept them in touch over the years. Savage said he’s not surprised some members of “The Wonder Years” cast moved beyond acting because they were smart and talented beyond entertainment.