It seems very strange now, but in 1987, the Fox Network debuted. Until then, there were just four other networks, and if you had cable, your last name could’ve been Rockefeller. The Fox Network sought to offer a huge amount of alternative programming to the other networks. The very first primetime sitcom the network offered was the now iconic Married...With Children. Codenamed “Not The Cosbys,” the show was definitely an alternative. It was a show for the working class that might identify more with down-on-his-luck Al Bundy than the saccharine "lessons need to be learned every week" TV dads that permeated the eighties sitcom landscape.
The show was a tremendous risk for its time and had plenty of detractors who thought it was too lewd and crude for prime time. But the naysayers only made people more interested in watching the antics of the Bundys and their patriarch. He was identifiable in a way not seen since shows like All In The Family and Sanford And Son. While all of the Bundys, Rhodes, and D’arcys all had their favorites, every fab bows to Al “The King” Bundy, and Ed O’Neill. Here are 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Al Bundy.
10 Who Else Could’ve Played Al?
It is pretty near impossible to picture anyone else other than Ed O’Neill as the head of the Bundy household. But there were two other well-known actors who might have been Al Bundy.
When the show was considering Roseanne Barr to play Peggy, the writers were eyeing the equally loud, obnoxious, and funny Sam Kinison for Al. Thankfully, someone realized the two of them yelling at each other every week wasn’t going to work out. The other audition was none other than the future Kramer himself, Michael Richards.
9 He Might Have Called You Collect
For the people old enough to remember, the fandom for Al Bundy was akin to early versions of social media. A lot of fans now love to take pictures with their favorite celebrities and post them on their social media sites.
But in the nineties, when people met Ed O’Neill, they’d love for him to give a ring to their friends and wish them a happy birthday, but do it as Al. He’d more than happy to oblige a fan, but he’d call their friend collect, which is exactly what Al would do.
8 Appeared In Every Episode
To this day, Married...With Children is still Fox’s longest running live-action sitcom. That’s an impressive feat, considering the show ended over twenty years ago and nothing has come close to breaking that record since.
The show lasted eleven seasons, most of which were pretty rock-solid overall (we won’t mention Seven here). For 259 episodes, the Bundys ruled and Al Bundy was in every single episode, including spin-off pilots like “Top Of The Heap” or “Radio Fred Tremaine.”
7 Ed O’Neill Cast Because Of The Slump
Besides Sam Kinison and Michael Richards being up for the role, plenty of actors auditioned to play Al Bundy. Even if the show lasted the minimal amount Ed O’Neill thought that it would’ve, it was at least a paying gig.
But everyone trying out for the role were doing either their best Archie Bunker impression or acting like a man on the edge of madness. According to O’Neill himself, no one was getting it. He nailed his audition and Al the moment he came home from work and let out a defeated sigh. It was exactly what creators Ron Leavitt and Michael Moye were looking for.
6 Ed O’Neill’s Walk Of Fame Star
To an actor, getting your star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame is a high honor. Ed O’Neill got his star too in back in 2011.
He brought both his Modern Family and Married...With Children co-stars to help him celebrate his much-deserved star. His star is right on Hollywood Boulevard for the world to see, appropriately right in front of the shoe store DSW.
5 His (Not-So) Trusty Dodge’s True Identity
The head of the Bundy household loves his beloved Dodge. His kids were at the very least conceived in it. Kelly once said she felt like she was born in it. Al had driven the thing for so long that the Dodge company was going to give him a brand-new Viper once the car’s odometer hit all nines, crossing over to a million miles.
The Bundy-mobile has been held together by gum, twigs, and willpower. Al’s had the car for so long, though, that he must’ve forgotten that he doesn’t actually own a Dodge—the car’s a Plymouth.
4 Named After A King, Not A Killer
One of the reasons that some of the actors who auditioned for Al played the part like they were a madman was because some people thought that he was named after a madman. Despite assumptions that Al was named after Ted Bundy, he was named for someone far less notable for being a criminal, but no less menacing.
Moye and Leavitt were huge wrestling fans and liked King Kong Bundy. Bundy even guest-starred as one of Peg’s Uncles in the episode “All In The Family.”
3 Played More Baseball Than Football
For a guy who constantly claimed to have scored four touchdowns in a single game of high school football, Al has seemingly taken more to baseball in his adult life. Aside from a few scrambles, Al has really only partaken in one game of football during the show against the Jackie Onassis First Ladies.
Meanwhile, Al has been part of the New Market Mallers for years and has even had his family be a part of the Mall’s baseball team in more than one episode, most notably in “The Unnatural.”
2 Based On Hometown Friends
One of the reasons that Ed O’Neill was so good at playing Al Bundy was that he derived his take on the Bundy patriarch by basing him off people he knew. Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio meant seeing a lot of working-class men who might have been able to make something more for themselves, but, for whatever the reason, couldn’t do it.
That’s definitely not just a Youngstown thing, but it is where O’Neill grew up. Thankfully and according to him, since the neighborhood didn’t get Fox at the time, no one he knew would be able to get mad at him.
1 Al Bundy Ruined Ed O’Neill’s Dramatic Chops
Before Married...With Children, Ed O’Neill had actually been going more of the dramatic actor route. He had bit parts in films starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. He even started in a stage production, Of Mice And Men.
But after embodying Al Bundy, he sort of had to kiss the dramatic roles goodbye. He still had some here and there (most notably, The Bone Collector and Dragnet), but tear audiences would just crack up whenever he was on screen, no matter the lines or subject matter of the film.