From crazy love triangles to ice hockey fan mobs and even a Jay Leno cameo, the show was filled with laughs.
A Real Funny Bunch
The show featured a bunch of hilarious outcasts who worked on the island's airline, "Wings." From the quarreling brothers to the ditsy airline workers of the Nantucket Island, "Wings" caught the eye of viewers across America as well as some surprising critical attention.
But there's a lot more to the show than meets the eye and there are many juicy facts behind the creation of the series. The show was responsible for the success of some of Hollywood's greatest actors and even a beautiful marriage between two cast members. In fact "Wings" made a huge contribution to the TV world, as well as the personal lives of its actors.
It Was Part of The Greater TV Universe
"Wings" was the brainchild from the same creative team that gave us "Cheers." It goes without saying that the big-time TV execs figured that it'd likely be a major hit. Series creators David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee were all showrunners on the classic 80s show about hilarious barflies.
They were also all heavily involved in "Frasier." In fact, many actors crisscrossed between these shows and we even see Norm, Cliff, Frasier, Lilith, and Rebecca at some point or another, end up at Tom Nevers Field in Nantucket. It's not very far away from Boston after all.
It Was The TV Underdog
Perhaps not as witty and edgy as its sitcom counterparts, the show made its mark. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find people from the 90s sitcom era who had never heard of the show. While the creators didn't necessarily break any molds or raise controversial topics, "Wings" was the fun and simple show of the 90s, the TV comfort food if you will.
The leads, Tim Daly and Steven Webber who portrayed Joe and Brian Hackett had a great dynamic, a little competitive, but mostly complementary, it was the older brother younger brother relationship as old as time itself. Of course, in addition to them, there was a gang of funny and adorable characters, as well as some beautiful love interests.
The Show Made Some Stars
While "Seinfeld" was the hottest of the show of the era, many of us witnessed the terrible "Seinfeld" curse, where most of the cast saw their careers pretty much plummet the moment it ended. "Wings" on the other hand, definitely put some of Hollywood's talent on the map.
Thomas Haden Church, star of the HBO series "Divorce" started out as the hilarious idiot savant mechanic. And everyone now knows Antonio the cab driver as the iconic Emmy award-winning "Monk" as well as the hilarious and beleaguered patriarch, Abe Weisman. As for the rest of the cast, they've continued to pop up our screens pretty consistently. Its been over 25 years since the eight-season show came to an end, let's see what the rest of the cast is up to.
Tim Daly Then
The role of Joe Hackett in Wings was played by none other than Tim Daly. His character, who was at the center of the show, was a co-owner of the small airline company named Sandpiper. We see him making his childhood dreams come true, well, sort of. Sandpiper may have not been the airline he envisioned for himself, but with his mature and hardworking nature, he does the best he can. As for the actor, his life looked pretty different from his TV character.
Daly was actually born in Manhattan to a family of entertainers, so naturally, he pursued. Starting out at the Putney School, Daly dove into literature and theatre. He started out his career at the ripe age of 10 where he starred in “An Enemy of the People.”
Tim Daly Today
When Daly was younger he wanted to be an athlete, musician or even a budding actor. He took the professional acting route and has not looked back since. When he was working in theatre he appeared in a Broadway show called “Coastal Disturbances.”
Since then he had a background in voice acting, he played Superman and Clark Kent's voice in the animated series that spanned for 4 years. He has two children now with previous wife Amy Van Nostrand and is currently seeing Téa Leoni for the past 6 years.
Steven Weber Then
Steven Weber starred as Joe's smart but pretty reckless younger brother Brian Hacket. This is a character who seriously bungled his scholarship to Princeton and even a NASA astronaut training opportunity. Nevertheless, as Joe's brother, he's safe at Sandpiper. Weber nailed this role and beat out some serious big deal contenders.
The actor was born in New York to a family of entertainers. Fran his mother was a singer while his dad managed a nightclub that also hosted comedians. It comes as no surprise that the High School he'd later on attend would be a performing arts school under the guise of his parents
Steven Weber Today
Steven Weber's role as Brian Hackett on Wings was so legendary that he teamed up with his co-actor Tony for a quick appearance in Monk. In the same year, good things were heading his way when he played the role of a network boss in "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."
Besides acting Steven also enjoys narrating books and at some point narrated Stephen King's "It". He has also voiced several characters in the "Ultimate Spider-Man." Steven eventually married in 1985 but his marriage with Finn Carter was short-lived and only lasted for 7 years.
Crystal Bernard Then
Crystal Bernard's role in the show Wings was as Helen Chapel, a Texan lady that runs the counter at the airport. She has big-time dreams of being a musician but instead, she spends her days daydreaming at work, and of course, falling in love with her boss.
The actress grew up in Texas in a predominantly religious background where her father was a televangelist and her mother was a teacher. She started out acting at Alley Theatre and later went on to pursue it more seriously, along with a degree in international relations studies. Her first big appearance was in the sitcom H'appy Days" where she showed up on their 10th season.
Crystal Bernard Today
Crystal Bernard isn't just an actress, she also dabbles with songwriting and singing. In the beginning stages of her acting career, she appeared in “Young Doctors in Love.” After the end of her role in Wings, she moved to the stage and landed a gig in three major productions: “Crimes of the Heart”, “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Barbra's Wedding.”
Her career didn’t end there, she then dipped her toe in music and ended up producing two albums! Her music was influenced by her Baptist upbringing and she also had a song made with her dad.
David Schramm Then
David Schramm's character in "Wings" was Roy Biggins who was the head of Aeromass, a competitor to Sandpiper's airline. As the only other airline head, he was the grouchy and ill-tempered nemesis on the show. Everyone's gotta have their Biggins. And Schramm was the perfect one. The actor was born on August 14, 1946, in Kentucky. He grew up attending outdoor drama clubs in Kentucky and even became an actor at a playhouse.
At some point, he had a job scrubbing toilets for little to no money but his passion for acting in a drama pushed him to work harder. He moved on to playing Bellerophon's voice in Hercules in 1988, but since then his appearances on the big screen have been limited.
David Schramm Today
After starring in Wings, David decided to play in more broadway themed roles such as "King Lear" and "A Chorus of Disapproval." This happened after rekindled his love for drama and acting and in 2003, he also appeared in New York Theatre's Workshop production of the Bard of Avon.
In 2015, he experienced crushing vocal issues and had to take a break from his role in the production of Butler. Despite his family's history with substance abuse and alcohol, he confesses that he never got that gene and was pretty sober most of his life.
Amy Yasbeck Then
This Cincinnati native, born in 1962 played Casey Davenport, Helen’s 'slightly' more stuck-up and aristocratic older sister. Her character ends up back in Nantucket when Stuart Davenport, her rich husband leaves her. Antonio falls for, but of course, she would never give him the time of day. Not with her kind of background! Things get superheated between Brian and Casey, even more so when Casey accidentally burns down her sister's house during a passionate embrace with Brian.
After being thrown into the spotlight as Casey, Yasbeck certainly made her mark on "Wings" She went to star in a string of films during the 90s, "The Mask", "Pretty Woman", and even "Dracula: Dead and Loving It," but perhaps her biggest claim to fame was marrying, one of her costars, the late John Ritter.
Amy Yasbeck Today
Ritter who was already married to his first wife at the time met Yasbeck on the set of "Problem Child." After working together on "Wings," it was clearly true love. They got married on September 18, 1999, at the Murphy Theatre in Ohio. While Ritter did have three children with his first wife, when he remarried Yasbeck, he ended up having one more! Their marriage lasted up until his tragic end.
Ritter was suffering from a heart condition and had several complications that lead up to his passing away. Yasbeck and his children were devastated, but she braved a strong face and continued juggling her life both at home, raising her child, and showbiz.
Tony Shalhoub Then
Anthony Marcus Shalhoub, also known as Tony was born on October 9. 1953 to a Lebanese family. Tony's older sister sparked his love for acting and his first role was in the movie King and I during his high school years. When the actor landed a role on "Wings" it was only up from there on out. Shalhoub made his mark as Antonio Scarpacci, the Italian ex-pat driver who owned his own taxi service that brought people to the airport. His character was a sweet and hopeless romantic who falls desperately in love with Casey.
After the show, Tony moved onto bigger and better roles. He got one of his big breaks in the highly acclaimed and long-running series "Monk" for which he was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor eight times!
Tony Shalhoub Today
Today, you can seem him in the stellar role of Abe Weissman, Miriam's uptight father in "The Marvelous Mrs. Masiel." A show about a 1950s housewife who becomes a standup comedian. The Amazon series has bagged up countless nominations and awards. He himself has been nominated twice and in 2019 won the Emmy.
The 67-year-old actor has also worked hard to not stray away from his Lebanese roots even created the first Arab-American Filmmaker Award Competition to pay homage to his people with a similar background. In 1992 he married fellow actor Brooke Adams. They have two children together.
Thomas Haden Church Then
Thomas Haden Church was one of the heartthrobs on "Wings" as his role caught the hearts and attention of all the ladies across the nation, making them swoon over his dashing looks and smile. The handsome airport mechanic's role was to take care of all the aircraft at the Nantucket Island airport. Unfortunately, he was about as handsome as he was dumb.
Church was born for this role and things majorly turned around for him after his stint on the show. Which is lucky because things weren't great before.
Thomas Haden Church Today
Since "Wings" Church has had major success and starred in many films such as "George of the jungle" "Sideways" and "Demon Knight" just to name a few. But he is probably most recognizable as the Marvel character Sandman and as Robert in the HBO series "Divorce" in which he stars alongside Sarah Jessica Parker.
After many years of acting, Thomas pushed on to develop his skills in directing. He directed the movie "Rolling Kansas" where he made his big directorial debut. Thomas lives in Texas currently and he has two kids with his ex-girlfriend Mia Zottoli.
Rebecca Schull Then
Rebecca Schull was born on February 22, 1929, and was most popularly known for her role as Fay Cochran in Wings. Her character was a sweet and lovable woman who took people's tickets at the airport. She took the role of the strong mother figure of people at the airport.
As an acting pioneer, she owned that role! While it was Schull’s acting skills that got her noticed, the talented actress actually. grew up in a family of writers.
Rebecca Schull Today
Rebecca Schull is now 91 years old - despite her age, she's been regularly appearing on series including Chasing Life, an ABC Family Series. She grew up in the United States but studied in Ireland at one point and went on to act in The Odd Couple II, as well as the Analyze This and That movies in 1999-2000.
She even appeared in numerous soap operas and made a few debut appearances in the serious yet hilarious show Suits. She's a living testament to the phrase "age is but a number."
Concetta Tomei Then
Concetta Tomei played Sylvia Biggins, Roy's ex-wife. Throughout the series, Roy claims that his wife had in fact, died, but eventually the truth is revealed that she left him for a more lavish life with her new surgeon lover. When Sylvia comes back for Roy the whole thing gets blown out the water.
The incredibly talented Tomei has us fooled momentarily, but then Roy figures out that she was probably only crawling back to him because things fell through with the fancy surgeon!
Concetta Tomei Today
Concetta Tomei now goes by the name Holly. While she certainly gained some well-deserved attention, she is probably best known for her ABC role on" China Beach." Among her impressive TV roles, you can also find her on a host of memorable TV shows such as "Providence", "The Burden of Proof", "The King of Queens, and "The Clean House."
The actress proved to be unstoppable and continued on in shows like " Weeds", "Numb3rs", and "Star Trek: Voyager."
Gretchen German Then
One of Joe's love interests, the beautiful Gail Scott cozies up to Joe after Helen drops him for her music career in the dazzling New York. But then she comes back and discovers Gail as his new love. Of course, she does the Helen thing and rams her Jeep right into her office.
This makes her Gail's number one enemy. Attempting to find some peace, Joe and the two women decide that it's best to just get along. That works for some time but then Gail soon discovers that Joe is just not over Helen in the first place, needless to say, she dumps him.
Gretchen German Today
While you may know Gretchen from "Wings", you might also recognize her from a certain little show called "Seinfeld." Yup, this actress starred in one of the most memorable episodes of the series "The Phone Message."
The actress has consistently appeared in TV shows in roles both big and small. Some of the shows include "Will & Grace" and "Family Tree" and more recent productions like "Modern Family and "Criminal Minds."
Kim Johnston Ulrich Then
If there was one woman who could play queen bee it was Kim Johnston. The talented actress who played Carol Hackett was the center of the two brothers' attention for a long time. While we only saw her for two episodes, her presence was strong in the back story of the Hackett brothers. These guys have been fighting for her love since high school.
Having had bounced between the two of them over the years, she ends up creating some serious sibling rivalry between Joe and Brian. The brothers eventually vow to rid their lives of Carol and stick to each other. From then it's so long, Carol!
Kim Johnston Ulrich Today
The actress has stuck to the small screen for most of her career, appearing in shows like "Castle", " NCIS" and "The Highlander Series." Though recently she has entered into film production for the movie "The Chain."
But that's not the only thing Kim has stuck to for a long time. She's also been with her casting director husband Robert J. Ulrich since 1981. The couple has two kids, Coopper and Tierney.
Brian Haley Then
Nothing like an ex U.S marine plane mechanic who accidentally caused a plane to crash into a whole town. That was Budd! Budd had some trouble getting over his past, which is a little worrying since he's Sandpiper's new mechanic.
At least he still feels guilty about it and has some serious PTSD.
Brian Haley Today
Only a real funny guy can make such a tragic story somehow so comical. No wonder he's also a stand-up comedian. But Haley isn't only funny. Over the course of his career, the actor has had some serious dramatic roles in top-notch films such as Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino," The Coen Brothers' "The Man Who Wasn't There" and even Scorsese's "The Departed."
Outside of acting, the entertainer is a big supporter of the NGO The World Vision Organization. As a sports fan, Haley also works as a commentator on NFL Blitz and even as his own production company.
Jay Leno Then
If you're Jay Leno you can't really be anything that isn't...well...Jay Leno. Of course, that explains why the iconic TV personality played a cameo role, portraying no one other but himself in a 1996 episode. In the episode, Joe and Brian go to Boston for the Bruins hockey game and leave Sandpiper Air in Antonio's hands.
Things go awry when Antonio snatches up the Bruins star player's ticket, causing the team to end up losing. The player then goes on TV and blames Sandpiper Air. The brothers then hilariously find themselves on the run from angry mobs of hockey fans. We then see the great Jay Leno making fun of the little airline company on the "Jay Leno Show."
Jay Leno Today
Everybody knows Jay Leno for his world-famous talk-show "NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" which ran for a total 22 years. He then went on to host "The Jay Leno Show" once he left "The Tonight Show." While Leno hasn't exactly been popping up on our TV or movie screens for some time, there's no doubt that he has made his mark on the late-night talk shows.
Inducted in Television Hall of Fame in 2014, the entertainer has also won Primetime Emmy Award, People’s Choice Awards, and many more awards for his exceptional role as a talk show host and comedian. He's also been married to his wife Mavis Leno since 1980.
Farrah Forke Then
Impressive as she was beautiful, Farah Forke, who plays Alex Lambert in the show, moves to Nantucket to start her own helicopter tour business. Naturally, the Hackett boys are eager to win her attention but its Brian's boyish charms that ultimately win her over.
Brian typically messes it up and after a wild night in New York City and Alex wisely kicks him to the curb.
Farrah Forke Today
The gorgeous actress is probably best known for her role as Alex, though she has garnered attention on other shows such as "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Batman Beyond, and Justice League Unlimited" in which she plays the one of the superhero's love interest.
Forke fell in love with acting when she discovered the rush of the stage in the " The Rocky Horror Show." The actress has sporadically appeared in some small-time roles too such as "Barry Levinson’s'" "Disclosure," "Dweebs," "Mr. Rhodes," and "Ned and Stacey". Sadly, the actress passed away February 2022.
The Club Car Actually Exists
Generally, TV show restaurants, bars, or coffee shops are fictional places where the characters gather and hang out with each other. We saw this on "Friends" with Central Perk, Monk's Cafe on "Seinfeld", "Frasier's" Cafe Nervosa, and of course many, many more.
But this was not the case with the Club Car. The "Wings" hangout was a favorite for the characters and is still is a very real spot many people visit today. While the actual Club Car portrayed in the show was built on a set, you can hang out at the famous bar and grill on your next trip to Nantucket.
The Truth About Tom Nevers
When making a TV show, sometimes you have to take a little "poetic license" in order to create a believable universe. And that pretty much means making some minor tweaks here and there. When it comes to the actual airport depicted in the show, there is some grey area when it comes to the existence of Tom Nevers Field.
While Tom Nevers is an actual place in Nantucket, it's really more of a park than an airport. If you want to actually fly in and out of the island, then Nantucket Memorial Airport is where you would actually go.
You Can Really Fly a Sandpiper's Plane
Talk about a never-ending career. This plane might eventually out-live the cast members. That's right, the Sandpiper plane that appears in the series opening and closing credits is a fully working plane that is still part of Cape Air's fleet.
And what's the airline slogan? “We’re Your Wings.” It looks like this plane will forever be tied in with the show.
Helen Chapel Wasn't Going To Be Helen Chapel
A lot of debate surrounded the character of Helen. Was she going to be a mysterious dark beauty or a cheeky little southern bell? Creators could not decide what form she would take and even had some trouble picking out a name.
In fact, she was initially going to be called Helen Trionkis. It's hard to imagine Crystal Bernard playing a Helen Trionkis, which is why it actually wasn't meant for her in the first place.
Peri or Crystal?
The role of Helen Trionkis was meant to for the Greek-American actress Peri Gilpin. She was already a favorite of the creators and even starred in "Frasier" as the Frasier's psychiatrist as well as "Make it or Break it."
Creator David Lee shared in 2010 “Our first choice was Peri Gilpin. [NBC President Brandon] Tartikoff thought she wasn't ready to head a series yet.” Turns out Crystal Bernard was!
Lowell Was Written For Thomas Haden Church
Interestingly enough, the character Lowell was created with Thomas Haden Church already in mind. When the creators saw his one-time appearance in "Cheers" as Gordie Brown they were sold on his idiot savant persona.
Unfortunately, Church left in 1995 because he didn't want the typecast curse. Guess he made a good move since now he's a highly sought-after Hollywood star.
The Airport version of Cheers
If you watched Cheers back in the 80s and early 90s, you'll remember how successful their run was. The show told the story about a bunch of troubled folks who took refuge from the outside world in their local bar.
When "Wings" was first conceptualized, it was compared to the "Cheers," except set in an airport. While it certainly wasn't a spin-off, it did still have strong ties to "Cheers", and "Frasier." In fact, Rebecca Howe, Lilith Crane, and Frasier all made appearances throughout the years.
Brian Hackett's Role Was Coveted
The role of one of the main brothers Brian Hackett was meant to be played by George Clooney. Producers initially mentioned how they felt he was the perfect actor for the role of the reckless lover boy.
A few other big names also popped up around the time of casting, names like David Duchovny and Hank Azaria were some serious contenders but when Steven Weber walked into the picture, everyone knew this was their guy.
Bryan Cranston Wanted to be in Wings
If you're a fan of" Breaking Bad," you can't overlook Bryan Cranston's crazy role as Walter White. Bryan auditioned to play Joe Hackett in Wings but ultimately lost the part. Daniel Stern and Nick Cassavetes who were also famous actors didn't make the cut.
Clearly, it was Tim Daly and Tim Daly alone who could play Joe Hackett. The actor embodied his maturity and kind eyes to a tee.
Tim Daly Wasn't Initially a Fan of Wings
Despite Tim Daly was one of the main characters of the series, he had never shown interest in watching "Wings." He confesses that the show brought a lot of great things into his life including meeting super-skilled actors who turned into friends. But one of the reasons he didn't appreciate Wings was because it wasn't as big of a name as “Seinfeld” or “Friends.”
That is the kind of popularity that an actor can only dream of, so when Daly witnessed the success of these shows, it was a slight reminder that "Wings" just wasn't on that level. Eventually, after some time had passed, Daly relented and watched the show. The actor was actually surprised to discover that it was a lot funnier than he thought! Guess he just needed a little distance.
Oldie But Goodie
When asked about the show the actor said" I look back at it, and that show was really great! It’s hilarious! And we were very good. We were really fun. I don’t know why we didn’t get the credit we deserved at the time."
While "Wings" was reasonably successful in its day, fans might be a little disappointed to learn that their favorite show flew under the radar. The 90s was a time filled with fantastic sitcoms. It took quite a lot to stand out.
Tyne Daly Was One of the Highlights
Despite the show being a decent success amongst audiences, it did garner a surprising amount of critical acclaim. It was nominated for 3 Emmy awards including one for Outstanding Makeup in 1996, and the others for guest stars on that appeared on the show. One in particular caught everyone's eye.
Tyne Daly, Tim's sister, was one of the few people who were recognized for the role. This might sound strange at first, especially since most of the actors and actresses played a pivotal role. She even only had one appearance as Mimsy Borogroves and that was enough for her to be noticed!
The Lowdown on Helen Chapel's Accent
Crystal was surprisingly awesome at playing the adorable Helen Chapel but her accent may have been a little hard to find. As a Texan, Crystal’s accent had that southern twang, but her character was a native of Nantucket Island. Her thick southern accent proved a little harder to shed.
Producers tried to create a convoluted backstory to justify it, but after the airing of the pilot, no one even cared. Everyone was smitten with Helen Chapel.
Gilpin’s Hidden Talent
The 90s were filled with hit sitcoms and"Frasier" was another one of those gems. That wasn't the only thing the two shows had in common. The other was this little factoid connected to actress Peri Gilpin who played the psychiatrist Roz Doyle.
The name Roz Doyle was actually the name of one of the producers from "Wings." Sadly the producer passed away from breast cancer in 1991 and naming the character was a heartwarming way to honor her memory.
John Ritter Makes an Appearance
John Ritter who plays Stuart Davenport is the ex-husband of Helen's sister, Casey - his real-life wife - Amy Yasbeck. And you can guess where he met. That's right, on the set of "Wings," the two actors had an instant connection. So basically, Ritter played the ex-husband of his future wife! Now that's serendipity.
Three years later, the two were married. While Ritter tragically suffered a fatal heart attack, he and Amy were in love until the very end.
Tony Shalhoub Played Two Characters on the Same Show
They say that there's no such thing as small parts, only small actors. Nothing could be truer for Tony Shalhoub who, at first, made a super short appearance as an unnamed waited in an earlier episode of the show. Something clicked because the next moment he joined the cast as Antonio.
When asked what he did when he first arrived on the Island, he said he was a waiter. Well, looks like both Shalhoub and Antonio got promoted.
Batman Almost Played Joe
The voice of the legendary 90s Batman series Kevin Conroy was in the running to be Joe Hackett. Can you imagine a Batman running a tiny airline on a Massachusetts island? No? Well, neither could the producers.
On top of that, in a surprising twist and mixing of worlds, Tim Daly, who ultimately played Joe would actually go on to voice Superman in a crossover/companion series.