Blame our culture, the combination of our celebrity obsession, the soulless paparazzi who feed it, and the current delusion that reality tv is even remotely interesting. Celebrities whose day was done used to retire and golf. Sometimes they opened up other businesses. Victor Mature did all of the above, came back years later for laughs, and then got some bit parts. Never seemed to bother him. He was just having fun, and got to make some money while he was at it.
Then there's Scott Baio.
We wouldn't be reading about him at all if it weren't for Happy Days. Damn show got so popular they could do anything, for awhile, stick in an alien or have a guy in a leather jacket water-ski over a shark. So they stuck in a poster boy from another era, said he was Fonzie's cousin, and hilarity ensued, I guess.
I'm not sure why they came up with Chachi, exactly. The Fonz already had a cool younger cousin with the hots for Joanie. Well, first they said he was Fonzie's nephew, but then they remembered that Fonzie was an only child, so they made the lad his cousin. His name was Spike, and he was a pint-sized replica of the Fonz. Joanie's first date. He was played by Danny Butch, who was much cooler than Chachi. Certainly more butch. What kind of cool guy is named "Chachi?" Korean for penis, i'n't it? Anyway, Danny did it old school. When his career didn't take, he became a landscape designer. I'd like to think he's probably pretty happy with that. Maybe happier than Scott Baio.
Yeah. Right. Scott Baio. So for some reason, the Happy Days people threw over Spike for this Chachi character. Maybe it was because Baio had a starring role opposite Jody Foster in a film called Bugsy Malone. Pretty cool start, that, and he shows some sense of comedy timing. Probably his finest moment.
Chachi was this cousin of Fonzie's whose hair had traveled through time from the 1970s. He wore shirts with no sleeves and said, "waa waa waa" a good deal, because Happy Days was in this phase where everyone had to have a marketable catchphrase. Yeah, I'd think some kid who said "waa waa waa" was the coolest kid ever, if he turned up in my neighbourhood with what should have seemed a really weird haircut.
They dropped the "waa waa waa" after a bit, because not even Happy Days could make that fly.
Baio also appeared in a short-lived Happy Days-related show, Blansky's Beauties, playing basically, Chachi, but named "Anthony Deluca." That's a really weird one that supports the time travel theory, because it was set in the 1970s but characters crossed over with Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.
Then they spun him off into a really bad show called Joanie Loves Chachi, which lasted only a few episodes longer than Blansky's Beauties and, according to the folks at Snopes, was not really popular in Korea because "Chachi" is Korean for "penis," even though Scott Baio loves to repeat that story.
Baio appeared in a lot of other tv shows during his run on the Days, Afterschool Specials and Fantasy Island and stuff, and in 1982 he got another biggish movie, Zapped! As a bonus, he got to work with Jody Foster again in probably her worst movie, Foxes, but still, Jody Foster and Cherie Currie. How bad could that have been?
Then he got another show of his own, Charles in Charge, which had the limited premise of him being a nanny, but its run meant that Baio wasn't just a former child star. Then he had more small parts, and if he had any sense of dignity, would have followed Victor Mature's steps, retirement, golf, and occasional jobs because it's fun and he gets him pin money. He even got a few eps of Arrested Development. How bad can that be? The rest of us have to work.
Enter reality tv. Scott Baio decided to market himself as a famous has-been. He connected with other former stars on Confessions of a Teen Idol, as big a trainwreck as VH1 has ever run. Then he did Scott Baio is 45... And Single, a reality dating show trying to get the former star into a relationship with, as it turned out, his real-life longtime girlfriend. It was successful enough, god help us, to be followed by Scott Baio is 46... And Pregnant.
Of course, he also Twitters. In January of 2010, the long-time Republican posted an unflattering piccy of Michelle Obama with the caption, "WOW He wakes up to this every morning." This bit of side-splitting, knee-slapping wit at least got him more former star publicity; numerous threats poured in, including many against his family. As a bonus, Perez Hilton called Baio an "idiot."
I don't mean to sound catty. He had his day, a few good roles and a good many mediocre ones. I'm told he started a medical charity foundation. That's really nice. But I hate the fact that I've had to reference Twitter, and I don't want to see Scott Baio is 75... And Choosing a Casket.
And if there are people out there who do, I'm not certain they should want to.