you think of TV dads as Father's Day approaches,
a handful come to mind -- deadly dads like Tony
Soprano, goofy dads like Hal on Malcolm In The Middle,
cartoon dads like Homer Simpson.
can wear plaid like Red Forman, the hardcase head
of the family from That '70s Show (Global, Fox,
Tuesdays at 8).
get a lot of, 'My dad was just like that,' "
says Kurtwood Smith, who is heading into his fifth
season as straight-arrow Red.
was in Toronto a few weeks ago to guest on Open
Mike With Mike Bullard. The well travelled-character
actor last visited the city to appear in the Nicole
Kidman movie To Die For. "She's done all right
since then," he says.
found quite a few Red fans in Canada. One guy told
him his 80-year-old father never missed the show
and thought Red was just like his dad. "He
must have been from the 19th century," says
58-year-old actor is thrilled to be bridging all
those generations with this character. "I think
it has more to do with the way Red is trying to
raise his kid in the best way he knows," says
the Wisconsin native. "The irony is he is trying
to raise his son Eric (played by Topher Grace) for
the world he grew up in. I think that's kind of
what all dads do."
says his own stepfather, who passed away just before
That '70s Show premiered in 1998, was a lot like
Red. "In terms of the way he talks and stuff,
I really hear his voice a lot."
never knew his real father. A pilot in World War
II, he was shot down over Germany towards the end
of the war, when Smith was just an infant.
says his own grown children, both recently married,
get a kick out of Red. " I don't think any
of them have accused me of being like him,"
while ol' Red can get kinda cranky on the show from
time to time, Smith sees him as a good example of
a father "because of the values he is trying
to pass on to his son. I think we've probably seen
the past couple of generations trying to be friends
to the kids, which is essentially what I did."
retro Red be more understanding of his son's feelings?
"Sure he could, but from his point of view,
that's what his mother (played by Debra Jo Rupp)
says '70s Show producers Bonnie and Terry Turner
and Mark Brazill modeled Red after their own fathers
rather than any past TV dads. There's not a lot
of Ozzie And Harriet or Father Knows Best in Red,
does he stack up with other father figures on TV?
"Peter Boyle on Everybody Loves Raymond is
more of an insane Dad," says Smith. "Stacy
Keach on Titus was a psychotic father. Jerry Stiller
(King Of Queens), he's pretty funny. But I think
in a lot of ways, Red is the most realistic dad
of all. That's what they were shooting for."