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15 Fast-Talking Facts About Moonlighting

Moonlighting, which aired from 1985 to '89, was a groundbreaking TV show for its time. Movie star Cybill Shepherd played an ice queen against a working-class free spirit played by newcomer Bruce Willis at a private detective agency. They solved cases, but they also bent the concept of a detective show by adding comedy, breaking the fourth wall, and building episodes around themes. The power struggle between the two leads was magic, but it didn’t make for an easy production.

2. THE SHOW’S BIG INFLUENCE WAS THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

Caron said the William Shakespeare play was “the emotional inspiration” of Moonlighting; he had seen his wife perform in a production of it in college eight times. “Moonlighting was sort of a rip-off of Taming of the Shrew, and always was," Caron said. "I've been trying to keep that a secret, you know." The play was specifically parodied in the third season episode, “Atomic Shakespeare.”

4. THOUSANDS OF ACTORS WERE CONSIDERED BEFORE BRUCE WILLIS.

Bruce Willis (whose lone TV credit before 1985 was as "Tony Amato" in an episode of Miami Vice) arrived to his audition with a “punk hairdo and earrings.” Shepherd remembered that Willis was wearing army fatigues, and unlike the other men who auditioned with her that day, he didn’t go out of his way to flatter her. He avoided eye contact with her and mostly talked with Caron. After he left the room, Shepherd says she told Caron that Willis was the one they needed to play David. Caron later said ABC executives “vigorously” didn’t want Willis, and were willing to pay him and Shepherd off to “go away” because they felt the David role was un-castable.

That’s just a taste of the trivia about Moonlighting you’ll find at mental_floss.   


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