List of Perfect Strangers characters
This article contains character information for the American television sitcom Perfect Strangers.
- 1 Main characters
- 2 Recurring characters
- 3 References
The character of Balki Bartokomous was portrayed by Bronson Pinchot. Balki is an immigrant from the fictional Mediterranean country of Mypos, who arrives at the front door of Larry Appleton's apartment one night, and ends up becoming his roommate. Balki's original occupation was a sheepherder when he lived in Mypos, but after arriving in Chicago, he got a job at Ritz Discount Store where Larry also worked, and Balki would later get a job at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper, first in the mail room and then later helming a comic strip based on his oft-seen stuffed sheep, Dmitri. In the pilot episode, Balki explains that he is Larry's cousin and is distantly related through a step-uncle of Larry's father on his mother side.
Larry allows Balki to stay at his apartment until he got a job, but by the end of the pilot, became his permanent roommate. Balki's trademarks during the series are his vests (his regular style), the Myposian custom known as "The Dance of Joy" (a cross between a Dosado and the Hokey Pokey that Balki and Larry perform in celebration of good fortune), and his mangling of well-known American phrases. His catchprase during the series is "Don't be ridiculous" which he often says after Larry asks him a certain question. Balki has a good sense of humor which, after telling a joke often says, "Where do I come with them?". Larry tries to teach Balki about American life, but it is often that Balki is the one who teaches Larry important life lessons. Initially, he develops a crush on Larry's platonic friend Susan Campbell, but later went on to date Mary Anne Spencer, a flight attendant who is roommates with fellow flight attendant Jennifer Lyons, who dates and later marries Larry. In season seven, after Larry and Jennifer marry and move into a large Victorian house, they discover they cannot afford rent and utilities without additional roommates, after which Balki and Mary Anne move in with them. He and Mary Anne had a fairly ambiguous relationship, but they eventually married by season seven and became parents in the series finale in season eight.
The character of Larry Appleton was portrayed by Mark Linn-Baker. Larry Appleton was born in Madison, Wisconsin and is part of a very large family, of which he has eight other siblings. Larry, an aspiring photographer, gets his first taste of living alone when he moves to Chicago at age 24. However, this is soon quickly changed when Myposian immigrant Balki Bartokomous arrives at his apartment in the pilot episode, claiming to be his distant cousin. Although initially hesitant at having Balki stay with him because he was just getting used to living alone, Larry decides to let Balki stay until he got a job. Larry ends up taking Balki under his wing and tries to teach him about life in America. His catchphrase is "Oh, my Lord!", which he says often, mainly after something shocking happens. He also frequently says, "I have a plan!", much to the chagrin of the others involved. Whenever Balki makes a mistake, Larry often says, "Don't ever, ever, do that again!". And when trying to show Balki how to do something, he says, "Watch and Learn!".
Very often though, the neurotic Larry proves to be just as inept if not more so in this respect than Balki is. Frequently, it is Balki who ends up being the one who teaches Larry life lessons. Originally employed at Ritz Discount Store, Larry would eventually get a job at the Chicago Chronicle in season three. By season four, Larry joins the investigative reporting team of Marshall & Walpole (loosely based on the famed Washington Post duo of Woodward and Bernstein, who broke the story of the Watergate scandal), though he physically remains at his typewriter in the basement. His only serious relationship during the series was with Jennifer Lyons, a flight attendant who arrived at Ritz Discount Store and who Larry fell for at first sight. They would later marry by season six and become parents by season eight in the series finale.
The character of Jennifer Lyons was portrayed by Melanie Wilson. The character was initially introduced as a recurring character in season two, and became a series regular by season four. Jennifer is Larry's love interest for the remainder of the series, and she is introduced in the season two episode "Hunks Like Us" along with her friend and roommate Mary Anne Spencer. Like Mary Anne, Jennifer had worked as an airline flight attendant. In the episode in which she is introduced, although Larry did not think that a woman like Jennifer would notice a guy like him, he had attempted to impress Jennifer by going to the gym she went to in order to try and impress her with his workout skills, which only landed both him and Balki in pain. They later admitted to Jennifer and Mary Anne that they did not think that they would be impressed with them the way they are and tried to bulk up with disastrous results. Both Larry and Jennifer started dating, and their relationship began to mature and grow as the series progressed. The two became engaged to be married in season six, got married in season seven, and announced they were about to become first-time parents by the end of the season. The series finale featured Larry, Balki, and Jennifer taking off in a hot-air balloon to try to induce Jennifer into labor after Mary Anne had already given birth to her and Balki's first child. Jennifer gave birth to a baby boy, which they named Tucker.
Mary Anne Spencer
The character of Mary Anne Spencer was portrayed by Rebeca Arthur. The character was initially introduced as a recurring character in season two, and became a series regular by season five. Mary Anne is Balki's love interest for much of the series, and she is introduced in the season two episode "Hunks Like Us" along with her friend and roommate Jennifer Lyons. Like Jennifer, Mary Anne had worked as a flight attendant. She was written as being somewhat of the "dumb blonde" stereotype, and her funniest lines were statements that betrayed her comical ignorance. In season seven, after Larry and Jennifer buy a large Victorian house, they discover they cannot afford rent and utilities without additional roommates, which prompt Balki and Mary Anne to move in with them. In the last few episodes of season seven, Mary Anne and Balki break up and she moves out of the house. But they would resolve their differences and Balki and Mary Anne got married in a whirlwind ceremony in the seventh season finale. In the season eight premiere, the newlyweds returned from an extended honeymoon in Balki's home country of Mypos and Mary Anne was revealed to be well into a pregnancy as Jennifer was. In part one of the series finale, Balki and Mary Anne decide to go a fair, and Mary Anne suddenly goes into labor and has her baby in the driveway, a boy, who they named Robespierre.
The character of Donald Twinkacetti was portrayed by Ernie Sabella. The character was as a series regular in seasons one and two. Donald Twinkacetti is the owner of Ritz Discount Store, which Larry and Balki worked during the show's first and second seasons, and was the guys' landlord. He is depicted as being very rude and often takes shots at either Balki, Larry or both, so much so than he often refers to Balki as "Turnip". Mr. Twinkacetti is a ruthless miser who cares more about making a buck, than heeding to the phrase "The customer is always right".
The character of Susan Campbell was portrayed by Lise Cutter. The character was introduced as a regular character in season one, and made two appearances in season two, after which she is never seen again. Susan was the red-headed neighbor and platonic friend of Larry Appleton. In a few early episodes of the series, Balki is shown as having a crush on Susan, and he would throw himself at her feet almost in worship of her, which Susan didn't necessarily seem to mind and she seemed to find Balki to be a sweet person. Not much was known about her, and her character wasn't as developed as the other main characters on the series.
Edwina Twinkacetti (seasons 1-2)
The character of Edwina Twinkacetti was portrayed by Belita Moreno, who also played the role of Lydia Markham from seasons three through seven. Mrs. Twinkacetti often stood up for Larry and Balki against Mr. Twinkacetti, making sure they got their Christmas bonuses, and forcing Twinkacetti to rehire them after he drove them to quit. The Twinkacettis were married for 16 years as of season 2, and had two children named Donnie and Marie.
Harry Burns (season 3)
The character of Harry Burns was portrayed by Eugene Roche. He was Larry's boss when Larry first began working at the Chronicle in season 3. Despite having high expectations of Larry, he has difficulty remembering Larry's name. After he introduces Larry to Mr. Wainwright in a season 3 episode, Wainright becomes Larry's boss, and Burns disappears from the show.
Harriette Winslow (seasons 3-4)
The character of Harriette Winslow was portrayed by Jo Marie Payton. Harriette worked as an elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle. Her policeman husband Carl (played by Reginald VelJohnson) is introduced in the fourth season episode "Crimebusters", and the couple eventually moves into Larry and Balki's apartment building. Harriette's character was spun off into her own series, Family Matters, in 1989, and was not seen again on Perfect Strangers (in turn, none of the Perfect Strangers characters appeared on Family Matters), although it was explained on an early Family Matters episode that she was fired as elevator operator, and later rehired as chief of security at the Chronicle.
The character of Carl Winslow, Harriette's husband, was portrayed by Reginald VelJohnson. Carl's character was likewise, spun off into another series, Family Matters. Carl was constantly trying to avoid his wife Harriette's questions and at the same time had a sweet tooth, in particular jam filled doughnuts. Carl was on a strict diet and always managed to find a way to eat a few or several doughnuts and at the same time liying to his wife about it with little success. He was always giving wanted posters to Balki for his collection.
Lydia Markham (seasons 3-7)
The character of Lydia Markham was portrayed by Belita Moreno. While suffering from a variety of phobias, and making some very dubious choices in her love life, Lydia was the Chronicle advice columnist. She often got into verbal conflicts with Harriet. She was introduced as a regular character in season three, and was a recurring character until the end of season seven, when the Chronicle storylines were phased out in favor of focusing on the main characters' home life.
Sam Gorpley (seasons 3-7)
The character of Sam Gorpley was portrayed by Sam Anderson. Mr. Gorpley is the head of the mailroom and is Balki's supervisor at the Chronicle. Gorpley never warms to Balki (like Balki's former boss Mr. Twinkacetti before him), who he refers to as "the Mypiot", and Gorpley ends up constantly plotting ways to get Balki fired, which prove unsuccessful. It is interesting to note, Sam Anderson had appeared on the show before as bank employee Mr. Harper in the season one episode "Check This".
Mr. Wainwright (seasons 3-7)
The character of Mr. Wainwright was portrayed by F.J. O'Neil. Mr. Wainwright was the publisher of the Chicago Chronicle, and became Larry's boss during season 3. His position and somewhat abrupt manner often caused Larry to become flustered to the point of being unable to speak properly around him. Despite this, Mr. Wainwright did eventually promote both Larry and Balki to editor positions, finally taking them out of the basement mailroom in season 7.