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What Happened To The Cast Of Charles In Charge?

After "Happy Days," Scott Baio was looking to move on and found his next role in a show that had "real-life situations and real-life problems," written by playwright Michael Jacobs and produced by Al Burton (although Burton wasn't interested in "stories about teenage suicides and drugs"). In 1984, CBS turned to Baio to lead as "Charles in Charge" of the Pembrokes and their household.

Axed after a single season, the show found new life, and a new family — the Powells (only Baio, Willie Aames, and the house stayed on) — and charged on for four more seasons in syndication. While three episodes in the final season — Buddy's cousin working in Hawaii, Charles' aunt's car wash, and the Powell's cousins with a foreign exchange student – could've served as potential backdoor pilots for spin-offs, not a single one was ordered to series.

There have been a few reunions at conventions, but recent, serious accusations of abuse and bad behavior among the cast members hasn't helped the idea of a nostalgia-fueled reboot or continuation of the show. And so many roster changes, career changes, and dark clouds hovering over its legacy, there's a lot to unpack from yesterday to today. Let's examine what happened to the cast of "Charles in Charge."

Scott Baio (Charles)

Brooklynite Scott Baio's debut as Bugsy Malone the eponymous 1976 Alan Parker film (opposite Jodie Foster!) impressed producer Garry Marshall enough that he signed Baio up for "Happy Days" as the Fonz's cousin. The character proved popular enough that he got his own spin-off with his love interest in "Joanie Loves Chachi."

When Baio took charge as Charles (no last name), he knew he was taking on "a tremendous responsibility," and when the show moved into syndication, he added director to his resume, helming 36 episodes. Baio went on to direct episodes for 15 other series, and co-starred in series such as "Baby Talk," "Diagnosis Murder," and "See Dad Run," along with reuniting with the Fonz and Richie Cunningham to play attorney Bob Loblaw in "Arrested Development." 

Baio also has a long list of famous paramours, including Erin Moran, Heather Locklear, and his "Charge" Nicole Eggert. His relationship with the latter led to accusations of sexual abuse during the show's run (making his "favorite" episode quite curious), which Baio denied; charges were never filed. Long a bachelor, he chronicled his life in reality form for 2007's "Scott Baio is 45... And Single." These days, he's a father, a proud Trump supporter, an avid golfer, touring a one-man show, and still up for a "Charles in Charge" reboot ... but only with Josie Davis.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Willie Aames (Buddence 'Buddy' Lembeck)

Fifth-generation Californian Albert William Upton's agent changed his name to Willie Aames so it "would always appear high in alphabetical credit rolls," according to the Los Angeles Times. He made his debut as Felix's son on "The Odd Couple," and later hit it big as the 2nd youngest Bradford child of "Eight is Enough."

He first collaborated with fellow teen heartthrob Scott Baio on "Battle of the Network Stars IX," and then in the 1982 sex-comedy "Zapped!" — which earned a Razzie nomination for Aames' performance. They yukked it up for all 126 episodes of "Charles in Charge," with Aames playing Baio's bubbly, bumbly, best buddy Buddence "Buddy" Lembeck.

Celebrity excess eventually got the best of Aames; "Hollywood gave me a wonderful opportunity, which I chose to throw in the toilet," Aames told the Dayton Daily News in 1998. He left Southern California, turned to religion, and found a new path writing, directing, producing, and playing the lead in passion project "Bibleman." He later became a cruise ship director, before returning to Hollywood to get in shape on reality-competition series "Celebrity Fit Club" in 2005, cameo on the series "Date My Dad" in 2017, and appear in several Hallmark movies, as well as the 2020 horror feature "Bottle Monster."

Aames remains very close with fellow "CiC" alum Jennifer Runyon, with whom he co-hosted a radio show, but recently had a falling-out with a Baio over Alexander Polinksy's accusations.

Nicole Eggert (Jamie Powell)

Winner of the Miss Universe Pageant, Petite Division, at the age of 5 and a half, Nicole Eggert was an early shining star. Two years later, she landed the role of Cheryl Ladd's abused daughter in 1979's "When She Was Bad...," then played a relative on "T.J. Hooker" and helped ask "Who's The Boss?", before becoming Miss popular as eldest Powell child Jamie on "Charles in Charge" (according to People, she thinks Tony Danza would make a better babysitter than Scott Baio would).Revealing roles revealed themselves later, like being "Blown Away" by the two Coreys, running in slow-motion on "Baywatch," and gracing the cover of Sugar Ray's debut album "Lemonade and Brownies." She's also appeared as a contestant on reality shows like "Celebrity Fit Club" and "Splash."

Despite the fact that Eggert appeared to be close with former flame Baio, appearing on his 2007 reality show and was advocating for a "Charles" reunion in 2013, in 2018, she was done "protecting the legacy" of the show, and accused Baio of sexual abuse.

Eggert keeps busy raising her daughters, doing Cameos, and recently re-reported for "Baywatch" duty on "The Bachelor."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Josie Davis (Sarah Powell)

Los Angeles native Josie Davis landed her first TV gig playing the wise-beyond-her-years middle Powell child Sarah on "Charles in Charge," and found the "really sweet, funny show" a "really fun thing to be a part of" (per Best Life). As her time on the show ended, and as she grew up, so did her roles; she played vixens and vamps on "The Young and the Restless," "Beverly Hills, 90210," and Aaron Spelling's "Titans." Davis has since remained in demand, seen in the Nicolas Cage-directed "Sonny," "CSI:NY," and plenty of saucy Lifetime movies. One of those, 2016's "Backstabbed," found her playing a shady real estate agent, which actually inspired her to become a non-shady one in real life

In her free time, she rescues animals, hosts her own podcast, and doles out advice on YouTube. Although there are a lot of allegations and finger-pointing among her "Charles" family, she wants no part of it, and is still open to a revival of the show with Baio.

Alexander Polinsky (Adam Powell)

An actor since the age of 9, Alexander Polinsky's big break came when he was cast as Adam, the youngest of the Powell clan, in "Charles in Charge." However, working on the show "was no picnic, it was a toxic environment," as he came out publicly in 2018 with his own accusations against Scott Baio of verbal and sexual abuse.

After appearing in a couple of TV shows and the 1993 horror sequel "Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings," Polinksy, according to his bio, took a hiatus from acting to assist director/choreographer Vincent Patterson, and apprentice as a prop maker, which led to his making collectibles of molds of movie props. He's since returned to the industry, embarking on a healthy career as a voice actor. His voice has been heard in the "Life and times of Juniper Lee," numerous superhero cartoons — including as Control Freak on "Teen Titans" — and recently in "Blaze and the Monster Machines."

Today, Polinsky teaches voice acting, creates 3D sculptures, plays in the band Make Magic, champions the character-driven movement called "Avatarism," enjoys bad grammar and telling old Hollywood tales (like how a bald Ted Danson ruined an audition for him) on TikTok, and has even reunited with some of his "Charles" castmates.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

James T. Callahan (Walter Powell)

Young James Thomas Callahan ad-libbed a line in an eighth-grade play, impressed a teacher, and knew he "finally did something right," or so he told the Fresno Bee in 1993. He kept up with acting in the Army, then college, before embarking on an impressive five-decade career on stage and screen. Long before he was a retired Navy man turned grumpy grandfather on "Charles in Charge," Callahan had been making his mark as a regular on "Dr. Kildare," "Wendy and Me," and "The Governor & J.J."; he often played a military man, including Hawkeye's friend who meets a fatal end on "M*A*S*H."

He did not slow down after being discharged from "Charles," logging more than 30 additional credits, including "The Golden Girls," "ER," and, in his final role, the 2007 horror movie "Born." Callahan wed for the first time at age 63, and wife Peggy Cannon said his favorite film role was as the bandleader Reg Hanley in "Lady Sings the Blues."

Upon Callahan's death in 2007, at age 76, from esophageal cancer, Scott Baio told the LA Times, "As an actor, he was just an absolute pleasure. He wanted what was best for the team, and that's very rare."

Ellen Travolta (Lillian)

Having the same last name as John Travolta "may open a few doors," but for older sister Ellen, she knew she had to have the talent to back it up. After a hiatus from stage acting (once working with Ethel Merman in "Gypsy") to raise her kids, Ellen got back to work in the mid-'70s as "a character woman," even appearing in brother John's "Welcome Back, Kotter" (as Horshack's mom) and "Grease" (as a malt-shop waitress).

While the first Baio she played mom to was Jimmy, on "The Love Boat," Ellen is perhaps best-known for playing his cousin Scott's wisecracking mother in three series: "Happy Days," "Joanie Loves Chachi," and "Charles in Charge," in which she played pizza parlor owner Lillian. In 2019, Baio said, "If I didn't have my mother, I'd want Ellen to be my mom."

After "Charles," Travolta split her time between stage and screen projects, and even reunited with Scott Baio for the 2001 film "Italian Ties." A fourth chance to play his mother almost emerged for his series "See Dad Run," and Baio "felt so horrible" (via Contact Music) when he gave the role to Michelle Lee instead. The widow of actor Jack Bannon currently lives in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, where she still performs, including an annual family Christmas show, which brother John came to see in 2021.

Sandra Kerns (Ellen Powell)

Sandra Borgsmiller's first brush with fame came when she was crowned the Murphysboro Apple Festival queen by comedian Henny Youngman in 1966, followed by becoming the Fruit Queen of Illinois the following year. She acted at the University of Illinois before landing in Los Angeles in the early '70s, and married stuntman Hubie Kerns Jr. in 1975.

Sandra Kerns took her husband's name, joined his industry, and first appeared in an episode of "Marcus Welby, M.D." Later, she was featured on shows like "Sanford and Son," "Barnaby Jones," "Hart to Hart," "The Rockford Files," "The Incredible Hulk," and "Trapper John, M.D.," as well as the films "Solo" and "C.H.U.D. II."

Her most steady gig came in the role of Charles' second boss, mama Ellen Powell, appearing heavily in Seasons 2 and 3, and then sparingly in 4 and 5. She called it a wrap on her acting career after 1993's straight-to-video "Magic Kid," and has been out of the spotlight ever since she appeared at the launch of the shuttle Endeavor, and a sorta "Charles In Charge" cameo on "Family Guy."

While she is not related to actress Joanna Kerns, she is the proud mom to Zack, and daughter Kallie, who is both an actress and stuntperson. She has also reunited with her screen children from time to time.

Julie Cobb (Jill Pembroke)

Julie Cobb, daughter of actors Lee J. Cobb and Helen Beverley, carried on the family's vocation, and first took off in an episode of "Star Trek." More television work followed, including "The D.A.," "The Brady Bunch," having the "honor" to work with her father on an episode of "Gunsmoke," and playing Boom Boom Bonnie in the Stephen King TV miniseries "Salem's Lot."

She transitioned from dramas to comedies, becoming Jill Pembroke, the first mother in need on "Charles in Charge." Cobb revealed on the podcast "You May Have Seen" that the cast was "laughing at work every day," but when the show went from network to syndication, "it's about dollars and cents," and the producers jettisoned her three New York-based screen kids in lieu of local Los Angeles actors, which also precipitated her own exit (when Mrs. Pembroke appears in Season 2 to explain to Charles why they're leaving, Lisa Donovan took on the thankless one-episode role).

Cobb's career motored on, with over 90 credits in five decades, dropping in on "Family Ties," "Magnum P.I.", "Growing Pains," "Days of Our Lives," and recently on the series "Whatta Lark" and "Teenage Bounty Hunters." She has been married and divorced four times, including to actors Victor French ​and​ James Cromwell (she directed him in a 2014 short).

James Widdoes (Stan Pembroke)

Pittsburgh native James Widdoes has "done a little bit of everything and a lot of some things." One of "things" he's best-known for is for playing president of the "Animal House" in the 1978 film, and reprising his role as Robert Hoover in the TV spin-off "Delta House." He was well-suited as the "pretty easy going" Pembroke papa Stan, letting "Charles" be "in Charge," and, as co-star Julie Cobb noted, Widdoes was "shadowing the directors" while on set.

More acting roles followed after Stan's job "transferred" to Seattle, but Widdoes transferred to the opposite side of the camera, producing, and bringing into focus nearly triple the amount of credits as a director. He was at the helm (and handled John Ritter's death) on "8 Simple Rules," notching a nomination from the Director's Guild, and had to help steer "Two and a Half Men" when Charlie Sheen went rogue. Recently, he put a wrap on his "proudest" work (per Gold Derby), directing 123 episodes of "Mom," and earning his first ever Emmy nomination.

April Lerman (Lila Pembroke)

After seeing the musical "Annie," it became April Lerman's fantasy to be in it, and she landed the role of orphan Tessie in the touring production. She then played orphan Kate in the 1982 film, and a year later played opposite screen legend Sylvia Sidney in the TV movie "The Brass Ring."

She then joined the Pembroke clan as eldest child, Lila. Twenty-two episodes later, her character said, "I've got to go out and get a summer job," which turned out to be prophetic, as it marked the end of her time on the series. Appearances on "Growing Pains," "Kate & Allie," and "Parker Lewis" followed, before she gave up acting after the 1992 film "Sorority House Party" (aka "Rock and Roll Fantasy").

In the 2006 documentary "Life After Tomorrow," Lerman regretted holding onto "a dangling promise" of becoming a star, and when it never come to pass, she moved on. Lerman earned an MA in Counseling Psychology from University of Santa Monica, and a law degree from Pepperdine. April Haney (née Lerman) became a counselor, and is currently a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. She also contributed her recipe for "Mock Pecan Pie" for her sister, Dawn Lerman's book, "My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes."

Jonathan Ward (Douglas Pembroke)

By age 8, Jonathan Ward was flying high on Broadway, opposite Sandy Duncan's "Peter Pan," and by 14 he was in the charge of Charles, as eccentric Pembroke middle child Douglas. When CBS canceled the show, Ward signed on to do 1986 series "Heart of the City," and when he found out "Charles" would find new life in syndication, it was too late to rejoin — which prevented most of his castmates from doing the same, because he "was the only person working at the time, and that put me in a real spot ... because since I was working, six other people lost their jobs" (via the Cedar Rapids Gazette).

Ward later played the titular character for yet another short-lived show, "The New Adventures of Beans Baxter," and had roles in the films "Mac and Me," "Steel Magnolias," and "Fern Gully."

He then moved away from the studio lot and toward the car lot. Impressed by co-stars' rides, including "Charles" co-star William Aames' Porsche 911 Turbo, "I started restoring cars before I could drive; it's just a passion," Ward told the Los Angeles Daily News. By 1996, he was done with acting; he and his wife Jamie started the Land Cruiser restoration service company TLC. They've designed for Toyota, and their own high-end customers, creating and selling ICONs cruisers with "modern performance married to classic styling."

Michael Pearlman (Jason Pembroke)

Michael Pearlman has proven to be no "One-Trick Pony," which was the name of the 1980 movie in which he made his acting debut as Paul Simon's son. TV movies followed before he landed the role of the youngest Pembroke child, rascally little Jason. Pearlman told "Just My Show" that "the overall experience of doing the show was very positive for me at that age." While he did appear in Episode 1 of Season 2, to help explain why his family was moving out (and off the show), he believes as an actor he "could have improved my own performances," had he stuck around, "and grown with the character." His final credit came that same year, for a 1987 episode of "Kate & Allie."

Pearlman then focused on his studies, attending USC and NYU, where he got a BA in journalism. He later moved to Wyoming, and worked as a newspaper sports editor, reporter and copywriter. Since 2019, Pearlman has been the director of communications for the governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon. He enjoys the great outdoors, skiing, live music, and parenting.

Jennifer Runyon (Gwendolyn Pierce)

Jennifer Runyon had a frightful entry into the industry in the 1980 horror film "To All a Goodnight." She then achieved celebrity orbit as Sally Frame on "Another World," filmed the 1984 teen romp "Up The Creek," and shot the "Charles In Charge" pilot, before hitting her career-high mark as Peter Venkman's test subject in "Ghostbusters." In "CiC," she played Charles' girlfriend, Gwendolyn Pierce, but exited the show after a single season when her parents "moved" to California and she followed them. Gwendolyn resurfaced later in Season 2, however, and Charles proposes marriage.

Runyon kept busy for the next decade, racking up more than 30 credits, including "The In Crowd" and "18 Again!", and filling in for a honeymooning Susan Olsen as Cindy in "A Very Brady Christmas." She, Olsen, and Willie Aames later hosted a radio show called F.L.U.I.D.. When she married Todd Corman, she "left the business to raise my kids" (one of whom, Bayleyfollowed in her acting footsteps), but has been in four films since 2015, and makes the rounds at fan conventions. She remains close with Aames to this day.