“I was the grouchy old dad,” is how Dan Lauria characterizes his role as “Wonder Years” patriarch Jack Arnold. The network apparently wanted Elliot Gould for the role, and Lauria wasn’t even on their casting radar until a different TV mother he was dating stepped in and landed him an audition. “
“If it wasn’t for [‘Growing Pains’ star] Joanna Kerns, I probably never would have gotten the show,” he graciously recalled. It was Lauria’s idea to make Jack a war veteran (like the actor was), and the writers ran with it; ultimately, that suited not only his weary character’s background, but informed eventual storylines about the escalating conflict in Vietnam.
Following the series, Lauria had no issues getting cast — playing coaches, military brass, and guys with a tough exterior, but a warm heart. He re-teamed with Fred Savage on his sitcom “Working,” and then with Danica McKellar on a short film she directed called “Speechless…”, and he also co-starred with her in the 2018 Hallmark movie “Christmas at Grand Valley.” Off set, played babysitter for McKellar’s son.
Lauria has also handed in acclaimed work on stage, including as infamous Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi in a Broadway play from 2010. In the production, his wife was played by another classic ’80s TV mom, “Who’s The Boss” star Judith Light.
In his free time, after getting “tired of seeing my godson playing on the computer,” he and the child’s parent, Cathryn Farnsworth, co-authored a series of children’s books called “The Godfather Tales” to encourage them to think, write and create.