For Danica McKellar, They Were ‘Wonder Years’

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 31: THE WONDER YEARS - Season One - 1/31/88, Pre-teens Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar, left) and Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) learned about life and love growing up in suburban America in the late 1960s.,
ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

She’s a TV star, mathematics whiz (and author of cool math books for kids), Dancing With the Stars fave and perennial in holiday movies on the Great American Family network. But we first fell for Danica McKellar on The Wonder Years (1988-93). Here, she takes us back to those wonderful days.

What’s the best thing you recall about your experience playing Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years? 

Danica McKellar: The best part is how enduring people’s feelings about the show have been. I’m so blown away that over 30 years later, people still love the show so much. It’s all the nostalgia and good feelings. I love that I get to still make people feel good, and they can watch my movies on Great American Family.

WONDER YEARS, Danica McKellar, 1988-1993

Is there a favorite episode or memory from the show? 

I love the episode where Winnie gets in a car accident. She’s been riding with the wrong crowd in literally fast cars. And there’s that scene where Kevin climbs the side of Winnie’s house to look in and I’ve got cuts on my face. And he says, “I love you,” and I say, “I love you too.”

That show taught us all such great lessons about young love and finding your person. 

Yes; it’s the universal theme, right? Kids going through heartache and confusion, no matter what era or what decade we’re in, it’s all the same.

WONDER YEARS, 1988-93, Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, 1991

Everett Collection

Were you aware of how much you stood out on the show? 

It wasn’t until near the end of the show when somebody on set referred to me as “America’s Sweetheart.” I was like, “What?” It didn’t resonate with me at all. I knew the show was popular, but I just didn’t have that perspective, which is just as well. I like being a grounded person.

THE WONDER YEARS, from left: Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, (1989), 1988-1993.

Tony Costa/TV Guide/ABC/courtesy Everett Collection

When fans come up to you, what’s the first thing they mention? 

It’s mostly people telling me how much it meant to them and their families. And people talk about how it was a simpler time, something that I think people long for. Plus, I guess we were very accurate to the 1960s and ’70s. I just didn’t like having to wear pants with flowers on them. Everyone was like, “Oh, no, this is exactly what it was like!” And I thought, “Oh, good. I’m glad you’re enjoying this because I hate these pants!”

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March 2023

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