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10 Memorable Celebrity Cameos in '90s TV Shows – MovieWeb

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Stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Brooke Shields, and Elton John popped in the decade’s most popular series.
The 1990s were quite prolific in both long-term and short-lived comedy, romance, and action shows, and networks often encouraged crossovers, special episodes, and guest appearances to boost ratings and attract a wider demographic, seeing as it was such a competitive industry. Highly rated sitcoms included The Nanny, Friends, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, while Law & Order, ER, The X-Files, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman appealed to a different type of audience.
These shows often featured memorable cameos from film directors, actors, musicians, politicians, and athletes, but that trope has always been common in the entertainment world. Alfred Hitchcock, for instance, made it a point to pop in his own movies in the most discrete and unanticipated manner; he is seen leaving a train with a cello case in The Paradine Case, playing cards in Shadow of a Doubt, and walking a horse in Suspicion. Other brief celebrity appearances, however, are more noticeable and meant to boost the film or show in question by providing comic relief or shock value: Bill Murray in the Zombieland movies, Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder, and Matt Damon in Thor: Ragnarok come to mind.
While popular '90s movies like Home Alone 2, Hook, and Scream, featured cameos from Donald Trump, Glenn Close, and Drew Barrymore, the following TV shows boasted stunts by the likes of James Earl Jones, Naomi Campbell, and Elton John.
The beloved sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which won a total of 15 Primetime Emmy Awards over nine seasons from 1996 to 2005, stars Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, and Peter Boyle. It revolves around Ray Barone, an Italian-American sports columnist; Debra, his stay-at-home wife; and the intrusive and highly insensitive in-laws. Since Ray gets to meet a lot of sports celebrities in his line of work, he asks basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to come home with him to meet Debra and sign her copy of his book. Unfortunately, Debra is exhausted from all the chores and is half asleep on the couch, so she doesn’t give Kareem the welcome he deserves.
Kareem: Jeez, maybe I should just leave a signed basketball.
Ray: Who's your favorite basketball player of all time?
Debra: Michael Jordan.
Ray: No, no, no, retired. Retired basketball player.
Debra: Oh, Larry Bird.
Ray: This isn't my house. That's what it is.
Kareem: I want my book back.
Abdul-Jabbar also appeared on Full House's final season.
The Nanny is a witty sitcom that aired from 1993 to 1999 on CBS and starred Fran Drescher as Fran Fine, the street-smart Jewish nanny to the three children of a well-off British Broadway producer. In the first episode of season 4, The Tart with Heart, Fran is out at a bar with her best friend, Val, and they’re complaining about their disastrous dating life. Enter Jason Alexander as Jack, a blind man sporting sunglasses and a suit, who charms his way into Fran’s life, mainly because she likes the idea of a man being attracted to her personality, and not her beautiful face and skimpy outfits. While they’re taking a walk with his guide dog, Fran catches a small ball and throws it on the other side of the street, causing the dog to drag Jack into an accident. She has been dumped before, but never by a blind man.
Related: 14 Fun Facts About The Nanny to Impress Your Friends With
The family sitcom Full House, which spawned the Netflix sequel Fuller House, follows widower Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) and his three daughters, Donna Jo Margaret, Stephanie, and Michelle, in their San Francisco home. In season 5’s episode 16, Crushed, singer-songwriter and teenage heartthrob Tommy Page is invited by Danny to perform at Stephanie’s 10th birthday party. Both Steph and DJ swoon over him and fight for his attention. Sadly, the singer took his own life in 2017, at the age of 46; he is survived by his husband Charlie and their three children.
Candace Cameron Bure, who played D.J., recalls to Glamour, “Most of the adults were making fun of us for getting so excited over Tommy Page. I remember the producers asking us which singers were really exciting and hot at the time. Some of our requests were really ridiculous. We requested George Michael, and they were like, ‘No, um, can't get him!’”
Set in Detroit, the highly rated sitcom Home Improvement centers on Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), the host of a TV show on power tools, and his dynamic with his wife, three boys, elderly next-door neighbor, and flannel-wearing co-host. In an episode of season three titled Swing Time, Tim and his boys remove the house’s swing set to make room for a hot tub, as a gift for Mother’s Day. Best-selling beauty and fitness author Victoria Principal, who will always be remembered for her portrayal of Pamela Barnes Ewing on the soap opera Dallas and for her All I Have to Do Is Dream duet with Andy Gibb, plays Les Thompson, the new foreman of K&B Construction.
The superhero drama Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which aired on ABC from 1993 to 1997, focused on the will-they / won’t-they romantic narrative between Clark Kent (played by Dean Cain) and Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). In The House of Luthor, the season 1 finale, Star Wars veteran James Earl Jones portrays Franklin Stern, a potential investor in the Daily Planet newspaper, whose headquarters have just been bombed.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell made a sultry appearance on the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which stars Will Smith as a street-smart, teenage womanizer from Philadelphia who goes to live with his uncle’s family in their Beverly Hills mansion. In the tenth episode of the first season, Will sets the butler Geoffrey on a date with a sophisticated woman from London, Helen (Campbell), but he also crushes hard on her.
The long-running sitcom Friends was the recipient of six Primetime Emmy Awards and featured numerous guest stars like Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Winona Ryder, and Danny DeVito. The Pretty Baby and The Blue Lagoon star Brooke Shields appeared in the two-part chapter The One After the Super Bowl as Erika, a delusional groupie of Joey’s (Matt LeBlanc), the struggling actor. Erika stalks Joey because she truly believes he is the latest soap character he’s been playing, Dr. Drake Ramoray.
According to The New Yorker, Shields took creative liberties with her character, recalling, “In the first take, they didn’t want me to do the crazy laugh and the licking of his fingers. We had done it in rehearsal, and they said, ‘It’s too crazy. Don’t do it.’ And I begged for it. ‘It’s so funny. It just makes her crazier.’ We did the first take, and it was fine. And then the second take, they scream, ‘Shields! Put it back in!’ All of a sudden, the energy changed, and all these men in suits started coming into the studio. The next day, I was asked if I wanted to do my own television show.” She took them up on their offer and starred in the sitcom Suddenly Susan (1996-2000).
Other celebrities who appeared on The Nanny include Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor, and Celine Dion, but it was a much more difficult matter to convince Fran Drescher’s close friend, Sir Elton John, to come on board. The pop-rock star finally said yes in the season 5-episode First Date, namely because his publicist thought it would be a good opportunity to promote his 1997 music documentary Elton John: Tantrums & Tiaras. When Fran and Max (Charles Shaughnessy) attend the exclusive premiere party of the aforementioned movie, she desperately and hilariously tries to hide her identity from the artist because she was responsible for a past “tantrum.”
Related: 17 Famous People You Probably Forgot Were on Everybody Loves Raymond
One of the most memorable and unscripted cameos from the '90s occurs on Friends’ episode The One with The Ultimate Fighting Champion. Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, who were visiting a neighboring set, barge into the iconic Central Perk coffee shop and sit on the gang’s orange couch. They call themselves and Tim; Tomas is tearfully complaining that his wife is cheating on him, and Tim blurs out that he’s the culprit. Tomas then storms out and declares their friendship over, and Tim makes an equally dramatic exit begging for his forgiveness. The whole skit is as brief as it is hilarious.
Michael Mckean is an actor, screenwriter, composer, singer, and musician who will mostly be remembered for playing David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, Lenny Kosnowski on Laverne & Shirley, and Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul. The Star Trek franchise has featured quite a few unsettling episodes, and Voyager’s The Thaw, season 2’s 23d episode, ranks among the scariest. The crew is trapped in a spooky, holographic circus phantasmagoria, under the control of a sadistic clown (Mckean) with telepathic and fear-inducing abilities. The actor appeared on many TV shows in the 1990s, namely The Simpsons, Boy Meets World, Murder, She Wrote, Murphy Brown, Friends, and The X-Files.

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Lebanese multilingual voice-over artist, copywriter, author/poet, and TV director. 

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