The Show “Coach”, Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This series is about the life of Coach Hayden Fox, (Craig T. Nelson) his family, friends and football team.
He is the head coach of the (fictional) Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles football team. He is joined by his defensive coordinator, Luther Van Dam (Jerry Van Dyke) and his special team’s coach, Michael Dybinski or “Dauber” (Bill Fagerbakke) as he is known to nearly everyone.
In addition to his coaching staff, there is Hayden’s girlfriend and love interest, newswoman Christine Armstrong, (Shelley Fabares) his daughter, Kelly (Clare Carey) and her boyfriend, Stuart Rosebrock (Kris Kamm). There is also athletic director of Minnesota State, Howard Burleigh, (Kenneth Kimmins) his wife, Shirley, (Georgia Engel) and another one of coach’s least favorite people, ladies’ basketball coach, Judy Watkins (Pam Stone). This is the group of characters who will keep you laughing and bring you back again and again to see just what they are up to next.
Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson)-Hayden is the head coach of the Screaming Eagles football team, a divorced father with one daughter, Kelly, who has recently moved to Minnesota and enrolled at the university, in order to be nearer to the father she barely knows. And though he is glad of the chance to get to know his daughter, it is also difficult for him to let go of the fact that she is no longer a little girl and is now a woman, with all of the difficulties that go along with that. He has a particular problem with the man who becomes her longtime boyfriend, Stuart Rosebrock, as he is not the type of man that Hayden has much respect for and to make things more difficult, he also despises him. His girlfriend is Christine Armstrong, who definitely does not share Hayden’s love of football, sports or coaching. Despite this, they do seem right for one another, although disagreements seem to be a constant part of their relationship. Hayden’s best friend is Luther Van Dam who is always by his side (even at times when he sometimes wishes he wasn’t!).
Christine Armstrong (Shelley Fabares)-Christine is a television news anchor and the complete opposite of Hayden Fox. Although they at first do not seem right for each other, there is some force that seems to keep bringing them back to one another. Pretty, intelligent and full of charm, Christine is a woman for whom halfway will never be enough; she wants to have a husband, children and also a career. She is kind to his friends and helps him to forge a relationship with Kelly. She also assists him with other relationships in his life where he needs to have just a little bit more “finesse”. Her love for him deepens as time goes by, surprising not only Hayden but herself as well. Not your typical couple, but definitely one who will outlast whatever life decides to throw at them.
Luther Van Dam (Jerry Van Dyke)-Luther is the defensive coordinator for the Screaming Eagles and Hayden’s best friend. An older gentleman, who at times has moments where he seems rather unintelligent but is really just suffering from a lifelong struggle with self-confidence. Luther is kind and gentle and has been a bachelor for his entire life, although he does have a few relationships along the way. Beloved by all who know him, Luther Van Dam is definitely a unique individual.
Kelly Fox (Clare Clarey)-Kelly is the only child of Hayden Fox and spent most of her life, until recently, only seeing her father briefly now and then, after her parents divorced when she was only a young girl. Now, she has enrolled at Minnesota State and sees her father nearly every day. As happy as both Hayden and Kelly are about being close to one another, their new relationship is far from easy. Hayden has trouble dealing with his daughter as a young woman and Kelly has difficulty letting her father be a “dad” after all these years but they muddle their way through and eventually end up being a true father and daughter.
Michael “Dauber” Dybinski (Bill Fagerbakke)-Dauber, as he is called by everyone, (with the exception of his girlfriend, Judy Watkins) is a former player for the Screaming Eagles who ends up becoming the special teams coach. A very tall, kind and sometimes not so bright kind of guy, he no longer plays for the team, but is still attending classes, as he has still not managed to graduate yet. Dauber is the type of man who would do anything for someone he cares for, whether it’s family, friend or someone in between. Handsome, caring and dedicated, Dauber Dybinski is one of a kind.
Stuart Rosebrock (Kris Kamm)-Stuart is the boyfriend of Kelly Fox, a theater mime who has a very gentle soul and also a rather feminine sort of nature, things which tend to annoy the manly, sports-loving Hayden Fox. Not long after they start dating, Kelly and Stuart get married, a fact which truly seems to drive her father crazy every time he is forced to spend any amount of time with her new husband. And although Stuart does try to do things to make Hayden like and respect him, he is never really able to achieve this goal.
Howard Burleigh (Kenneth Kimmins)-Howard is the Athletic Director at Minnesota State and a source of constant frustration to Coach Fox, especially in the beginning. He is rather strict about adhering to the rules and is a rather uptight and odd sort of man. Later, however, he starts to mellow somewhat, and he and his wife, Shirley, get to be close friends with Hayden and Christine.
Shirley Burleigh (Georgia Engel)-Shirley is the gentle, sweet and soft-spoken wife of Howard Burleigh. A woman who is a little bit on the ‘crazy’ side at times, but who is also kind, thoughtful and caring all of the time.
Judy Watkins (Pam Stone)-Judy is the ladies’ basketball coach at Minnesota State and much like Stuart Rosebrock, is someone whom Hayden Fox would be much happier not having in his life. Unfortunately, their paths are constantly crossing with regards to the sports department and on top of that, she and Dauber Dybinski, Hayden’s special teams coach and close friend, begin dating. Judy is tall, intelligent and from the South, a combination which Hayden can never let go of and also part of the reasons for his many, many pranks on her. But never let it be said that she takes them lying down, because Judy not only gives as good as she gets, she often is the one who comes out the winner!
Doris Sherman (Katherine Helmond)-Doris comes on to the show towards the final seasons. She is a recent widow who is now the owner of an (fictional) NFL expansion team called, “The Orlando Breakers”. She offers Hayden the opportunity to fulfill his lifetime dream of coaching a team in the NFL. The only problem is that Doris doesn’t care as much about winning, as she does about making money, which creates some friction between the two. She is, however, a kind, attractive older woman who also has an eye for Luther.
This series is not only full of laughs, with great actors; it also has many endearing moments as well. Plus, you get the opportunity to see many sports stars and legends doing guest spots. This was a great show and I give it an 8 out of 10.
Hayden Fox-Craig T. Nelson
Christine Armstrong-Shelley Fabares
Luther Van Dam-Jerry Van Dyke
Kelly Fox-Clare Carey
Michael “Dauber” Dybinski-Bill Fagerbakke
Stuart Rosebrock-Kris Kamm
Howard Burleigh-Kenneth Kimmins
Shirley Burleigh-Georgia Engel
Doris Sherman-Katherine Helmond
Judy Watkins-Pam Stone
Mrs. Thorkelson-Pat Crawford Brown
Nick-Earl Houston Bullock
Martin-Julio Oscar Mechoso
Fred Webb-Travis McKenna
Bob Clifton-Joe Fowler
Walter Dybinski-Jim Boeke
Riley Pringle-Raye Birk
Baby V.O.-Tom Williams
Bo Whitley-Christopher B. Duncan
Al Michaels as himself
Assistant Coach-Ross Manarchy
Susan Miller-Jessica Walter
Beth Fox-Lenore Kasdorf
Mrs. Rizzendough-Priscilla Morrill
Mr. Rosebrock-James Staley
Mrs. Rosebrock-Charlotte Stewart
Shari-Karen M. Waldron
Dr. Art Hibke-Tom Poston
Clapper-Jason Grant Smith
Elaine Tewksbury-Robin Strasser
Doctor #1-James McDonnell
Craig T. Nelson added the “T” as a middle initial to avoid confusion between himself and actor Craig Richard Nelson, who had been the first one of them to register with the Screen Actors Guild.
Shelley Fabares’s husband, Mike Farrell of “M*A*S*H” fame, appeared on one episode.
When Jerry Van Dyke (Luther Van Dam) first started his stand-up comedy routines, it was usually at some strip club or dive in the Deep South. At one point in time, he was a regular on the Playboy club circuit, gradually working toward getting into the top showrooms in places like Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe.
Craig T. Nelson (Hayden Fox) had another career in mind before he finally chose to become an actor and that was Hydroplane racing. Nelson’s father, however, had some doubt that this would work out and told him it would be impossible, like becoming an actor.
Bill Fagerbakke (Dauber Dybinski) is the voice of “Patrick Star” on “SpongeBob SquarePants”.
Georgia Engel’s (Shirley Burleigh) most famous role is as Georgette, on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.
Clare Carey’s (Kelly Fox) birthplace is not known for certain. Some information shows it as being Rhodesia, which is now called Zimbabwe and other information shows it as being Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Katherine Helmond, (Doris Sherman) who despite being brought up by her mother and grandmother, who were both Irish Catholics, as well as going to Catholic school and attending the strict fundamentalist Christian college, Bob Jones University, ended up making a name for herself with her ability to deliver lines with sexual innuendo.
Pam Stone, (Judy Watkins) in addition to being an actress, talk radio host and writer, is also a stand-up comedian. And she has been one of a very few comedians to have actually been given the privilege of being invited to perform at The White House.
Shelley Fabares (Christine Armstrong) had a number one Billboard hit in 1962, with the song, “Johnny Angel”.
Kenneth Kimmins (Howard Burleigh) enjoys practicing the Japanese martial art of Shorinji Kempo.
The theme song to the series was performed by the Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band, after they won a national contest for the opportunity to play it. Also, the character Hayden Fox was named after Iowa football coach, Hayden Fry, as it was Barry Kemp’s (creator and producer of Coach) alma mater. And the outside shots of “Minnesota State” were actually filmed at the University of Iowa.
In 1952, Jerry Van Dyke joined the Air Force and also managed to keep his career as a comedian going at the same time, by performing in Special Services shows for the troops. He won a military talent contest and earned a few spots on “The Ed Sullivan Show” as well.
Shelley Fabares was a co-star of Elvis Presley in three of his films in the late 1960’s.
Georgia Engel has had a regular role on five different sitcoms. They were: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “The Betty White Show”, “Goodtime Girls”, “Jennifer Slept Here” and of course, Coach. She has also had recurring roles on several shows, some of them shorter but some have started out small and grown longer, for example, “Everybody Loves Raymond“. A few other shows she has had recurring roles on are, “Rhoda”, “Passions”, “The Office”, “Hot in Cleveland” and “Two and a Half Men”.
Katherine Helmond, whose main career has been on television, has also starred on Broadway, as well as other stage productions, such as “The Vagina Monologues” in the 2000’s, for which she was highly praised.
Bill Fagerbakke does the voice of “Broadway” on the animated series, “Gargoyles”.
Originally, the series was meant to reflect the University of Minnesota, as well as their football team the Golden Gophers but they later withdrew their approval.
Jerry Van Dyke was offered the title role on the series, “Gilligan’s Island”, but turned it down because he thought it was “the worst thing” he had ever read. Instead he chose a role on the series, “My Mother the Car”, (which was equally inane) which turned out to be detrimental to his career. The reason being, that Gilligan’s Island became a huge hit that is still shown in syndication today, whereas My Mother the Car, is one of the most criticized sitcoms in TV history. In addition, after Don Knotts left the “The Andy Griffith Show”, Van Dyke was offered the opportunity to replace him and turned that down as well.
Shelley Fabares has been married twice. The first time was to record producer Lou Adler, and although they were married for a total of sixteen years, they were separated for fourteen of them. Her second marriage to M*A*S*H actor, Mike Farrell, has been much more fulfilling and has lasted for thirty years.
Craig T. Nelson has a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Shelley Fabares’s aunt, Nanette Fabares, played her character’s (Christine Armstrong) mother in four episodes.
Jerry Van Dyke won four Emmy nominations in a row for his role as Luther Van Dam.
Katherine Helmond has been married two times but never had children. She has been married to her second husband, David Christian, for more than fifty years.
Craig T. Nelson’s son, Noah Nelson, appeared on several episodes of the series, but not as the same
Georgia Engel’s father, Benjamin Franklin Engel, was in the United States Coast Guard and eventually achieved the rank of Vice Admiral.
Bill Fagerbakke, who played high school football among other things, had many offers to play college football and this included some Pac-8 schools as well, but decided to stay in the state where he had grown up and go to school, Idaho. In 1976, during his sophomore football season at the University of Idaho, despite being ticketed to “redshirt”, he was called into play during the fourth game. The Vandals (Idaho University’s football team) ended up going 7-4 in 1976, which was their first winning season in five years. Of the seven games that Fagerbakke started in, they were 5 and 2, which had Coach Ed Troxel planning on moving him to the offensive line in 1977. Unfortunately, a knee injury during the spring drills ended Fagerbakke’s football career forever.
Jerry Van Dyke’s brother, Dick Van Dyke, appeared in one episode on the series, but as an uncredited extra.
In 1998, Shelley Fabares had several ribs broken in a home accident, which she recovered completely from. However, following her recovery, she was diagnosed with a severe auto-immune disease for which she ended up needing a liver transplant in 2000. She thankfully survived, but with the exception of supplying the voice of “Martha Kent” on the animated “Superman” series, she has done no acting work since.
Craig T. Nelson’s first major film role was in the 1982 horror film, “Poltergeist”. A film which is still seen by many to be one of the best made and scariest movies ever.
In 1991, Jerry Van Dyke’s daughter, Kelly Jean Van Dyke, committed suicide by hanging. Just before, she had been speaking to her husband, the late Jack Nance, on the telephone and had apparently been threatening suicide to him. He tried to console her but a lightning storm knocked out the telephones and by the time he and his director, Bobby Logan, were able to find a deputy sheriff who contacted the L.A. Police Department as well as the apartment manager to check on her, she was gone. She was known to have difficulties with substance abuse and also worked in the adult film industry under the name of Nancee Kelly.
Katherine Helmond is best known for her role as Mona Robinson on the popular series, “Who’s the Boss?”
Shelley Fabares was the best friend of actress, Annette Funicello, from the time they met in a 7th grade catechism class until her death in 2013.
Georgia Engel got her college degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Also, in 1967, Engel’s sister, Robin Ruth Engel, became “Miss Hawaii”.
Kris Kamm left Coach in order to pursue other acting opportunities. He did, however, return for the series final episode.
Oddly enough, Bill Fagerbakke’s character on Coach was actually based on a former assistant coach at Idaho nicknamed “Tuna”.
At the time of the series, there was no school in Minnesota named Minnesota State University. Since the show’s ending, however, two schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System have renamed themselves. The first was in 1999 and was Mankato State University, now known as Minnesota State University Mankato. The second was in 2000, and was Moorhead State University, now known as Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Katherine Helmond despite being brought up Catholic is along with her husband, a practicing Buddhist.
Shelley Fabares starred on the long-running series, “The Donna Reed Show”.
Pam Stone won an American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand-Up in 1992.
Jerry Van Dyke is an ardent poker player and has even been in ESPN tournaments.
Clare Carey is married with two children.
Craig T. Nelson was the quarterback of his football team in high school.
The NFL expansion team’s name, the Orlando Breakers, that Hayden gets the opportunity to coach, is based on the defunct USFL and the Portland Breakers, Boston Breakers and New Orleans Breakers. The team itself is actually a parody of the Florida-based Jacksonville Jaguars, who, like the Breakers, also joined the NFL in 1995 as an expansion team.
Craig T. Nelson has been married twice. His first marriage to Robin McCarthy resulted in divorce but also in his three children, Tiffany, Chris and Noah. He has been married to his second wife, Doria Cook Nelson, for the past 27 years.
Thirty-five years after The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended, Georgia Engel was reunited with one of her former cast mates, Betty White, when she had a recurring role on Hot in Cleveland.
Shelley Fabares has never had children of her own, but is the stepmother to her second husband’s children from a previous marriage, Erin and Michael Farrell.
Jerry Van Dyke and his second wife, Shirley, spend most of their time on his ranch in Arkansas where they raise cattle.
After being married for 23 years, Bill Fagerbakke filed for separation from his wife, Catherine, in 2012.
Craig T. Nelson is a devoted racer and motorsports fan. In 1991, he entered the “Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix” for the first time and came in third place.
Kris Kamm has been in several films including, “The Heroes of Desert Storm”, “Wyatt Earp” and “When the Party’s Over”.