Silver Screen Artists

Tony Dow Shares a Funny Story About His Director Days On "Coach"! (VIDEO!)

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For those of us who have followed the career of Tony Dow it comes as no surprise to hear that he is loaded with fun stories and behind the scene tidbits from his days in the biz! The fun part about studying the life and career of Mr. Dow is how his journey down the showbiz road actually started reluctantly...he didn't set out to be an actor! He was a champion swimmer at a very young age and happened to go along to an audition with a lifeguard at the time and ended up landing a role! That is the "nutshell" version of Tony's entrance into the biz...too funny. And as you know Tony's career went way above and beyond Wally Cleaver!  His acting career was nothing short of sensational and he even spent a lot of time behind the camera! Well in this piece we are sharing a fun little story from Tony's days behind the camera! We had the pleasure of sitting down with Tony and getting some of the inside scoop...This video that we are sharing with you brings us back to his days when he was involved with the classic TV show "COACH"... Check out the amazing video at the bottom of this article! Classic Tony!


Coach is a sitcom that aired for nine seasons on ABC from February 28, 1989 to May 14, 1997, with a total of 197 half-hour episodes. The series stars Craig T. Nelson as Hayden Fox, head coach of the fictional Division I-A college football team the Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles. For the last two seasons, Coach Fox and the supporting characters coached the Orlando Breakers, a fictional National Football League expansion team. The program also starred Jerry Van Dyke as Luther Van Dam and Bill Fagerbakke as Michael "Dauber" Dybinski, assistant coaches under Fox. The role of Hayden's girlfriend (and later wife) Christine Armstrong, a television news anchor, was played by Shelley Fabares.

In early seasons, Coach Fox continues to come to grips with the emerging womanhood of his "little girl", Kelly, now a campus coed played by Clare Carey, who after being raised mostly by her mother, enrolled at Minnesota State mainly because she wanted to be near her father. Kelly dated (and eventually married in the second season) theater mime Stuart Rosebrock (Kris Kamm), whom Hayden could not stand. Their marriage ended in 1991 after Stuart, returning from filming his own kids TV show, Buzzy the Beaver, told Kelly that he'd met another woman. While overtly supporting Kelly with her heartbreak, Coach Fox clandestinely couldn't have been happier to have "Stu" out of both of their lives. After graduating from Minnesota State in 1993, Kelly was hired by a major ad agency in New York. She was only seen in occasional guest spots thereafter.

Much of Hayden's coaching job, besides mentoring his players, was working with his defensive coordinator Luther Van Dam (Jerry Van Dyke), a lifelong bachelor who often struggled with self-confidence, and special teams coach Michael "Dauber" Dybinski (Bill Fagerbakke), an ex-player at Minnesota State and a stereotypical "dumb jock" whose ongoing joke was that he had not yet graduated from Minnesota State despite being enrolled for several years (he would later graduate with three bachelor's degrees in physical education, business administration, and forestry without even knowing it until he got his transcript for that semester), but who would often surprisingly be of intellectual help to the team, usually learned from a class he was attending or because he was a fan of Nova. Another person Hayden could not stand was the ladies' basketball coach Judy Watkins (Comedian Pam Stone), whom Hayden often got into prank wars with. His relationship with her was complicated by the fact that Dauber dated her until 1995, when she confessed to an affair after returning from a coaching job in Romania. Also seen throughout the run was Minnesota State athletic director Howard Burleigh (Kenneth Kimmins) and his nutty wife, Shirley (Georgia Engel), who were close friends with Hayden and Christine.

At the end of season 7, Hayden is offered a job with a fictional NFL expansion team called the "Orlando Breakers". Hayden agrees and takes his coaching staff with him for the final two seasons. The Foxes adopted a baby boy named Timothy (played by twins Brennan and Brian Felker). Many season 9 episodes focused on the couple's newfound joy of parenthood, as they had been unable to conceive a child together before they decided to adopt.

(This football belongs to Tony Dow...We took this photo in his Topanga home...part of his awesome memorabilia collection!)



The creator and producer of the show, Barry Kemp, an alumnus of the University of Iowa, paid homage to his alma mater by naming the main character of Coach (Hayden Fox) after the University of Iowa's longtime football coach Hayden Fry. Many of the exterior shots of "Minnesota State" are actually of the University of Iowa, usually of students walking around the Iowa Memorial Union in downtown Iowa City. The screen shot when returning from commercial breaks is of the outside of the Hillcrest dormitory. There are also numerous shots of Quadrangle Residence Hall as well as the Field House, which once served as the venue for University of Iowa basketball.

So...back to Tony Dow...when he was directing COACH he had a little moment with Jerry Van Dyke...Check out this little story directly from Tony...CLASSIC!!


In 2015, NBC ordered a sequel series to Coach, set to focus on Hayden Fox's son, with Craig T. Nelson reprising his role as Hayden. However, on August 31, NBC scrapped its plans to air the series.

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