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Trivia / St. Elsewhere

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  • Actor-Shared Background: Like their characters Mark and Ellen Craig, William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett met and fell in love at college and married soon after graduation.
  • Adored by the Network: St. Elsewhere was NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff's favorite show, a fact which saved it from cancellation a couple of times.
  • Billing Displacement: Denzel Washington is front and center on the DVD box, despite being a supporting player.
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  • The Danza: In Season Three, Florence Halop plays Florence Hufnagel while Murray Rubin plays Murray Robbin (whose real name was Murray Rubin).
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Tom Hulce was 29 when he played John Doe #12 (David Stewart), who is about 16 or 17, in "Graveyard", "Release" and "Family History". Dr. Philip Chandler repeatedly refers to David as a kid. He is played by Denzel Washington, who is one year younger than Hulce.
    • Eric Stoltz was 21 or 22 when he played the 15-year-old Eddie Carson in "Under Pressure", "Entrapment" and "All About Eve".
    • The 22-year-old Lycia Naff played the 14-year-old Maddy Holmes in the Season Three episodes "Saving Face", "Give the Boy a Hand" and "Any Portrait in a Storm".
    • Robert Romanus was 29 when he played the teenager Nick Meose in the Season Four episode "The Naked and the Dead".
  • Directed by Cast Member:
    • Eric Laneuville (Luther Hawkins) directed 19 episodes from Season Two onwards.
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    • William Daniels (Mark Craig) directed the Season Three episode "The Children's Hour". This is his only credit as a director.
    • David Morse (Jack Morrison) directed the Season Six episodes "Handoff" and "A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking".
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Like his character Lee Tovan in "Hearing", Robert Daniels is deaf.
  • Executive Meddling: A rare example with positive results. NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff was a huge fan of the show. His favorite character was Dr. Morrison, and he would frequently return scripts to the writers with "More Boomer!" written across them. This led to some of the most emotionally powerful moments on the show, as explained under Butt-Monkey.
  • Fake Irish:
    • Eric Stoltz as Eddie Carson in "Under Pressure", "Entrapment" and "All About Eve".
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    • Edward Herrmann as Father Joseph McCabe in "Time Heals, Part 1", "Time Heals, Part 2" and "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby".
    • Fredd Wayne as Pat McGroyn in "Up and Down".
  • Furry Fandom: Ralph, the Birdman of St. Eligius, is probably the Ur-Example in mainstream media. Ironically, he's written with considerably more nuance and sensitivity than most people who think they're animals are written on TV today, now that furry fandom is more widely known and heavily associated with squickiness. The show still used him mostly for laughs, although it avoided making viewers look down their nose at him. When the Birdman decides he can fly away from the hospital by jumping off the roof in "Graveyard", nobody's laughing.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Only Season 1 has ever been released on DVD, and that was in 2006; for the rest, you'll have to make do with streaming. You'll also need a taping of the original NBC broadcast of "The Last One" to see the credits sequence where Mimsie dies, since the reruns and home video releases all use the regular sequence.
  • Life Imitates Art: In "Fathers and Sons", Victor Bevine, the moving man, tells Dr. Westphall, "Dad says we're on the cusp of a complete monetary disaster. The problem with the banks and corporations is they got debts up the wazoo, no way they're ever gonna pay it off. If you think '29 was a mess says Dad, wait till you see the sidewalks of Wall Street in two years tops." This episode aired on September 25, 1985. Black Monday was October 19, 1987, so he was off by less than a month.
  • The Other Marty: Josef Sommer and David Paymer were originally cast as Donald Westphall and Wayne Fiscus respectively in the unaired pilot but the roles were recast with Ed Flanders and Howie Mandel after several days. The relevant scenes were reshot.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • The real life married couple William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett played Mark and Ellen Craig on the series.
    • Sagan Lewis (Dr. Jackie Wade) was the wife of the producer Tom Fontana during the production of the series. They later divorced and remarried.
    • Blythe Danner, who played Paige Gerradeaux in "The Women", was married to the series' executive producer Bruce Paltrow. He also directed that episode, among many others.
    • Mark Harmon's niece Tracy Nelson played Jennifer Milbourne in "The Women".
    • The director David Anspaugh cast his daughter Vanessa as Dr. Auschlander's granddaughter Jessica in "Fade to White".
    • Deborah May and George DelHoyo, who played the recurring characters Terri and Ken Valere in Season Four, are married in real life.
    • Christina Pickles' then husband Victor Lobl directed six episodes in Seasons One and Two.
    • John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan, who played Harry Cragen and Sophia Pavlon in "To Tell the Truth", were married in real life.
    • The real life married couple Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows played Victor Ehrlich's parents Lech and Olga Oseransky in "Russian Roulette", "Visiting Daze" and "The Abby Singer Show".
    • Shelly Gibson, who played Chaplain Claire McCabe in the Season Six episodes "Heaven's Skate" and "Split Decision", was the then wife of the producer and writer Channing Gibson.
  • Referenced by...: In the Degrassi Junior High episode "Nothing to Fear", Doctors Donald Westphall, Annie Cavanero, Philip Chandler, Roxanne Turner, Seth Griffin, Carol Novino, David Domedion and Bruce Paltrow and Nurse Shirley Daniels are paged at St. Michael's Hospital. Dr. Westphall is paged again in "Sealed with a Kiss".
  • Romance on the Set: Ellen Bry (Nurse Shirley Daniels) and the producer and writer John Masius met on set. They were married from 1986 to 1999.
  • Science Marches On / Technology Marches On: The series ended in 1988.
  • Shocking Swerve: The twist ending.
  • Similarly Named Works: Searching on YouTube for St. Elsewhere videos often leads you to recordings of a song by Gnarls Barkley, which has nothing to do with the show.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Ed Begley, Jr. auditioned for the role of Peter White but Terence Knox was cast instead. His performance impressed the producers and he was cast as Victor Ehrlich.
    • Bonnie Bartlett auditioned for the role of Helen Rosenthal but Christina Pickles was cast.
    • In 2003, Walden Films announced that it was planning to produce a film adaptation. However, nothing came of it.
    • Originally, the Series Finale "The Last One" was intended to take place in 2017 and feature futuristic medical equipment and costumes. Dr. Daniel Auschlander, by now a centenarian, would have been kept alive using bionic implants. In one respect, this would have been turned out to be Accidentally Correct Writing as Norman Lloyd is still alive in 2019 at 104.
  • Written by Cast Member:
    • The story of "Hearing" was written by guest star Robert Daniels, who played Lee Tovan in that episode.
    • Sagan Lewis (Dr. Jackie Wade) is credited for the story of Season 6's "Their Town" as S.J. Lewis.
  • You Look Familiar: Rae Dawn Chong played a hooker in the Season One episode "Monday, Tuesday, Sven's Day" and Nurse Billie Vaughn in the Season Two episodes "AIDS & Comfort" and "A Pig Too Far" and the Season Three episode "Whistle, Wyler Works".
  • The iconic shot of the elevated train in the opening credits was the Washington Street portion of the MBTA Orange Line, which was torn down in 1987 and moved about a mile north. The first few episodes of the last season reference the demolition and lack of public transportation next to the hospital.


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