If you think about it, ALF (1986-1990) has one of the most unusual TV concepts but way back in the 80s and 90s television, all sorts of out-of-this-world beings got to co-habitate with their human families. Case in point: robotic girl Vicki in Small Wonder, Bigfoot Harry in Harry and the Hendersons, and the furry cat-eating alien ALF in ALF.
Sure, you know that ALF the alien hails from the planet Melmac, and his real name is Gordon Shumway. You probably know that, right? Or you don’t? There are some other things about this scifi-fantasy sitcom that you probably didn’t know, and discovering the other lesser-known facts about ALF makes it more fascinating – and may urge you to watch the series once again.
1. About ALF, the puppet.
The show’s co-creator, Paul Fusco, provided the voice of ALF and also operated the puppet most of the time. When ALF needed to be shown in his whole body, miniature actor Michu Meszaros – who stood 2 feet and 8 inches tall – wore the ALF costume.
2. It could take a full day’s work to tape a 30-minute sitcom.
While ALF provided the laughs to the audience, filming the sitcom was otherwise no laughing matter. Because of the inherent challenges in working with a puppet, Fusco and another puppeteer were operating under an elevated stage through a series of trap doors. Depending on how demanding the work was, it could take from about 12 to 25 hours to complete a single 30-minute episode.
3. ALF had sisters – supposedly.
ALF allegedly had two sisters. His full sister was named Augie while his half-sister was named Diane. Augie appeared on the cartoon spin-off ALF: The Animated Series, while Diane was mentioned in the trading cards.
4. Big in Germany!
ALF, in case you don’t know it yet, became a sensation in Germany. In fact, the fictional alien had a successful recording career there. ALF (whose voice was dubbed in German by Tommi Piper) waxed a total of two albums and four singles, all of which became hits. Ja, you better believe it.
5. The mystery behind ALF’s huge appetite?
Why did ALF eat so voraciously? It’s because he had eight stomachs!
6. Trading cards.
If you were a big, big fan of ALF at the time of its original broadcast during the 80s, you might have completed a full set of ALF trading cards. Card maker named Topps! rolled out a series of ALF trading cards which were actually a parody of sports cards, many of which featured himself and his favorite sport, the Boulliabaseball.
7. Animated series
To capitalize the success of the live-action series, its network NBC rolled out a cartoon spin-off titled ALF: The Animated Series. The show, which lasted from 1987 to 1989, was presented as a prequel to the live-action sitcom.
8. On-the-set tensions.
Filming with a puppet for several hours a day was already excruciating. To make matters even worse, the technical difficulties associated with operating a puppet had apparently led to a lot of tensions and troubles. These technical difficulties almost took a toll on the human cast, many of whom didn’t like playing second fiddle to an inanimate object.
9. ALF drank beer on the sitcom’s first episode.
But because the furry alien became popular with children, NBC convinced Fusco to change the direction of the show by eliminating ALF’s beer drinking, so as not to make him a bad role model to kids.
10. Nearly every episode was named after a pop song.
For the exception of the pilot episode and “Alf’s Special Christmas,” every episode was named after or alluded to a popular song, and each of the title was actually connected to what would happen on the show’s episode.