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This weekend, Sarah Jessica Parker stars in 'I Don't Know How She Does It.' In her new film, Parker -- y'know, I really have no idea what she does or how she does it in this film. What I can tell you is that 'I Don't Know How She Does It' involves Parker's character juggling work and family life. (I can also tell you Tina Fey will never see this movie. Probably.) Regardless! It's always interesting to look back at the origin of an actor because while some are inevitably embarrassing, some offer a glimpse of what is yet to come. With Parker, her origin starts on a popular PBS series not titled 'Sesame Street' or 'The Electric Company,' which eventual finds her opposite Kevin Bacon in 'Footloose' -- long before the world ever had ever heard of Carrie Bradshaw.
321 Contact (1980)
In Parker's first credited role, she played Annie the Orphan (for reasons I don't quite understand) on the popular PBS children's television show '321 Contact.' In this version of Annie, her dog, Sandy, is so cold, he needs a space heater. At other times, Sandy is so hot that he needs a fan and sunglasses. The strangest thing about this clip is that we are taught that at one point Sandy is "hibernating" -- even though Sandy has his eyes wide open and it would be considered unusual for domesticated dogs to hibernate. I wonder how many parents, following a gruesome discovery, followed suit and told their kids that their beloved pet was just "hibernating" -- and stuck a note on the poor thing about not waking it up until the spring. (Parker enters at 1:55 in the video below.)
'Somewhere, Tomorrow' (1983)
The plot here is a little convoluted: Parker plays Lori Anderson, a girl who loses her father in a plane accident. Later, two more people that she knows are in a plane accident (note: do not fly if you happen to know Lori Anderson), but -- this time -- one of the passengers survives, and it becomes Lori's mission to help this survivor. In the clip below, Parker is watching 'Topper,' which is probably a better idea than watching 'Somewhere, Tomorrow.'
'Square Pegs' (1982)
Parker's breakout role was as Patty Greene in the critically acclaimed but short-lived high school comedy 'Square Pegs.' Think of it as the 'Freaks and Geeks' of the early '80s. Fun fact: Co-star Amy Linker would go on to guest on the 1984 situation comedy, 'E/R,' starring George Clooney. Fellow co-star Jami Gertz would go on to guest on the medical drama 'ER,' also starring George Clooney.
Parker played the love of Chris Penn's life, Rusty, in the 1984 original. (I will never get used to writing "original.") For the new film, Rusty's character has been given a Latin flair -- her name is now Rusty Rodriguez and is played by Puerto Rican native Ziah Colon. Even though 'Footloose' was a massive hit, it's interesting to note that overwhelming success for Parker was still quite a few years away.
'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' (1985)
Parker plays Janey, a girl who just wants to have fun and who also loves a dance show called 'Dance USA.' Janey's dad doesn't want her to have fun and doesn't want her to dance on 'Dance USA.' (Janey's dad is not played by John Lithgow.) Not surprisingly, Janey eventually gets to dance on 'Dance USA.' Here is a clip of that dance -- which features maybe 45 seconds of Parker compared to the remainder being Parker's dance double. You know that 'Sex and the City' prequel series that is in development -- it will probably look a lot like this.
'Flight of the Navigator' (1986)
"But that's impossible!" It appears young Joey Cramer was taking his acting lessons from watching too much 'Star Wars.' To be fair, if I were the star of 'Flight of the Navigator,' I would me taking my acting lessons from 'Star Wars,' too. The plot of this movie centers on a young boy named David who is mysteriously transported into the future from 1978 to 1986. Seriously, what a lame time jump. Think back to all the great movies that came out between '78 and '85 -- 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' 'The Empire Strikes Back,' 'E.T.,' 'Back to the Future' -- and now you're living in 1986? Hope you like 'Crocodile Dundee,' kid! Oh, yeah, Parker plays an intern at an institute that is performing tests on David.
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