Question: Who was the narrator on The Wonder Years? Thank you. Lou P., Toledo, Ohio
Televisionary: That was actor Daniel Stern (Breaking Away, Home Alone) narrating the series, which ran on ABC from March 1988 to September 1993. But you didn't know he was the voice of the adult Kevin Arnold because he was uncredited and liked it that way.
"It's the perfect incognito part," Stern told TV Guide in 1990. "The main thing I do is movie acting. I don't want people listening to me in my movies thinking about me in The Wonder Years." It was also good for the show, he added, because "people really think it's Kevin's brain talking or Kevin in the future looking back."
It was a fun gig for Stern, who even got to parody himself as the voice of an adult Bart on The Simpsons, but it wasn't always as easy as it, well... sounded.
Take the time the actor was on location in New Mexico shooting City Slickers, and Years executive producer Bob Brush called to ask him to work some of his magic. Stern ended up drafting the movie's sound engineer into service. "He came over to a house [I was] renting and set up the microphone, but he didn't have a wind screen to block out the background noise," the actor recalled. Luckily, quick thinking and improvising saved the day. And there was no way for viewers to know that the adult Kevin in that particular episode recited his lines through a sock.
Savage, who was but 12 when the show first made its mark on a nostalgia-loving America, had to do some improvising of his own early on, but it was more about pretending to not be mortified when called on to shoot some of the show's less flattering sequences. There was the time he had to do "one of my least favorite things," appearing in a dream sequence in his underwear. Then there was his first kiss with costar Danica McKellar, who played love interest Winnie Cooper.
"[T]here was no escaping... the show must go on," Savage said of the moment in 1990. "They didn't make a whole big deal out of it. In the rehearsals and stuff, they skipped over it. Then we just did it."
For costar Jason Hervey, who played bullying big brother Wayne, the role of tormentor was a little new. After all, as the younger of two boys in real life, he was the one usually on the receiving end. "He's dislocated my arm, he's given me a concussion, he's pushed me through the shower door," the then-17-year-old Hervey said of his own older sibling in 1989. "But of course I love him. I mean, he's my brother."
Hervey loved the benefits of the job, too, which allowed him to lavish more expensive gifts on his girlfriend than the typical teen could afford. "For our one-year anniversary I bought her a carat-and-a-half worth of diamonds and a carat-and-a-half worth of rubies," he said. "Let's face it, I'm ridiculously well paid, just like all the other people in Hollywood."
And being ridiculously well paid meant he was free to indulge in big thinking big thinking for a 17-year-old, that is. Asked to describe his idea of heaven on earth, Hervey made it clear why he was the perfect choice to play the none-too-deep Wayne:
"I'd wake up on the beach in the Grand Cayman Islands and all of a sudden a 19-foot Bayliner ski boat just happens to pull up on shore with a tag that says, 'Hey, Jay, this belongs to you.' I'm driving the ski boat and there's a CD player in the boat so I pop in a CD and it says go to the other side of the island.... I drive to the dock and lo and behold there is a 1990 Porsche and it says, 'Hey, Jay, this belongs to you.' I go to the car and look in the trunk, and there's a check for $10 million with a note saying, 'You never have to work again and $2 million is already invested, and you'll be getting an annual annuity of $100,000 dollars each year. Then I drive to this huge house with two Jacuzzis in the bedroom, and I look in the closet and wouldn't you know it, there are 40 Giorgio Armani suits. You gotta figure, if I have this kind of boat and car, I gotta have the wardrobe to go with it. Oh, yeah, did I mention the plane fare is paid for...?"
To answer your next question, no, it's not clear that he knew he was on The Wonder Years and not Fantasy Island.