In the new WB sitcom Like Family (Fridays at 8:30 pm/ET beginning Sept. 19), Holly Robinson Peete plays the matriarch of an African-American family who has invited her white best friend and her 16-year-old son to move in. While Peete has no experience with this type of blended household, the For Your Love star does have fond memories of her own unconventional upbringing. Her father, the late Matt Robinson, was the original Gordon on Sesame Street and a writer for The Cosby Show.
"It was a bizarre situation because I was only 4 years old when my dad started Sesame Street," says Peete, whose father succumbed to Parkinson's disease last year. "And to most 4-year-olds, Sesame Street was — is still to this day — very real. So when I looked on TV and I saw my dad, you know, walking down the street talking to a muppet in a trash can, it was a little confusing."
Ironically, Peete's famous family ties almost brought an early halt to her acting career. "I had one line on Sesame Street, and I blew my one line," she laughs. "It was, 'Hello, Gordon.' And I just kept saying, 'Hello, Daddy!' They took my line away."
Like Family's strict mama Tanya runs a tight ship and doesn't take kindly to her new surrogate son's penchant for rule-bending. But the real-life mother of three and wife of Carolina Panthers quarterback Rodney Peete says her parenting style is a bit more "fly in the breeze." "I just came this morning from my house where there's toys all over the place, and the kids are in flour and dirty and messy," she says. "I could never see Tanya doing that. I couldn't see her having anybody [put] their feet up on her couch!"