90s sitcom moms who are unrecognizable today

Ah, the 1990s, when cordless phones were cutting edge technology, the internet was a fledgling still in development, and sitcom moms continued to reflect a more diverse America than they ever had before. Women of different sizes, shapes, races, and religions delivered homespun wisdom to their families and asserted their independence — all while keeping viewers in stitches. Additionally, as depictions of the American family began to go beyond the traditional nuclear model, aunts and nannies became mother figures too, just as they were in real life.

It's been a long time since sitcoms from the era wrapped and went off the air, but that doesn't mean that the women who played those leading ladies have been out of the headlines. In fact, many of these '90s TV mamas have been quite active, even though you might not recognize them anymore. Without further ado, read on to see what our favorite '90s sitcom moms look like today.

Roseanne Barr - Roseanne Conner (Roseanne)

For nearly a decade, viewers followed the exploits of the Conner family on the hit show Roseanne, which ran from 1988 to 1997, and again from March to May of 2018. The Conners were a blue-collar, working class family, unlike many of their wealthy television contemporaries. And, of course, the show was led by Roseanne Barr, who, along with John Goodman was allowed to be overweight on television without being the butt of constant jokes. It really was a revolutionary show in those notable aspects, along with the depiction of LGBT+ characters.

The show was rebooted briefly in 2018, but was cancelled after Barr posted a racist tweet on her Twitter page — something she truly regrets. "I don't want to run off and blather on with excuses," she stated in an interview on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's podcast (via Today). "But I apologize to anyone who thought, or felt offended, and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean to my own ignorance, and I, there's no excuse for that ignorance." 

ABC moved forward with a spin-off show called The Conners with the rest of the cast.

Phylicia Rashad - Clair Huxtable (The Cosby Show)

Few faces are more recognizable than Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984 to 1992 — quite an impressive run. You could also catch reruns throughout the whole of the '90s, showing just how massively popular the sitcom was. And despite the horrific actions of its star, the impact the show had on society, black viewers in particular, cannot be overstated. That's because it was one of the first shows on television to depict an upper-class, well-educated black family, rather than caricatures and stereotypes. Representation matters, y'all.

The importance of the show's legacy is not lost on Rashad, who is extremely thankful to have been a part of it. "I have to tell you, it is such a blessing, it is such a gift, it is such a privilege to do work that means something to people," she revealed in an interview with The Jam. "To have done work like that? That's a real gift and I'm grateful for that." We're grateful too!

Rashad still has an active career in film, television, and theater. 

Lori Loughlin - Rebecca Katsopolis (Full House)

Another mainstay in the '90s sitcom universe was Full House, which was on the air from 1987 to 1995. Depicting a non-traditional family, the show followed the exploits of three adult men banding together to raise three young daughters. According to actress Lori Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky, the show's mother-figure, it was super wholesome: "It was a cute show, and it was funny," she recalled in an interview with The 700 Club. "And because the morals are right, there's a message… in every episode, you know, how to be a good person, how to be a better person, right from wrong. It's a good message." 

Unfortunately for Loughlin, in light of the recent college admission cheating scandal, people might be less willing to look to either her or Aunt Becky for lessons on moral conduct. That's because she and her husband were among the 50 people charged with felony fraud, according to CNN. Specifically, the pair paid a $500,000 bribe in order to have their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California. And that is definitely not wholesome.

Brett Butler - Grace Kelly (Grace Under Fire)

Brett Butler was the center of the sitcom Grace Under Fire, which ran from 1993 to 1998, and depicted her character's daily life as both a recovering alcoholic and a divorced mother of three. Her witty character was someone a lot of people could identify with, given how common her predicament can be. In fact, Butler herself has had a very public struggle with substance abuse, according to Entertainment Tonight — something she had to work to overcome. 

As Butler tells it, revisiting the stage where the show was filmed brought back some mixed feelings. "[The pressure] was real unnerving and weird and it's very strange. …It's other worldly," she explained in an interview. "I don't romance the past… it prevents me from looking ahead at new things."

After Grace Under Fire wrapped, Butler was involved in several other projects, according to her website. She appeared on shows and films such as Mrs. Harris, My Name is Earl, Archer, and The Young and the Restless. She also offers her services as a psychic.

Jackée Harry - Lisa Landry (Sister, Sister)

Just as single mothers began appearing on television in the '80s and '90s, so too did adoptive mothers, like Lisa Landry Sims on Sister, Sister. The show ran from 1994 to 1999, and starred Jackée Harry as the adoptive mother of Tia Landry (Tia Mowry), one of the twins who starred in the show. 

The show was popular with young people, though it's not a role Harry wanted initially. "I never wanted to be a mother, and when I got the show I was really upset. I was like 'I'm not sexy anymore!'" she confessed in an interview with AV/TV Club. We know that's not the case, Jackée!

Fortunately, Harry recognizes how faulty that line of thinking is. "The more you become a mom, you're not sexy, which of course is crap," she continued. "But that's the way actors look at it. Of course, that's not true now." Looking back, the show was super successful, and she was a big part of that — and we think she looked great! Plus she continues to act in films and television shows, showing just how much staying power she has.

Patricia Richardson - Jill Taylor (Home Improvement)

Ah Home Improvement, the television juggernaut that lit up American living rooms from 1991 to 1999. Helmed by comedian Tim Allen, the show co-starred Patricia Richardson as his wife, Jill Taylor. And as she recalls it, her time there was full of laughs. "Tim and I were always cracking each other up," she revealed in an interview with Closer Weekly. "We came up with so much of what you saw on the set every day." Clearly the two of them had some fabulous comedic chemistry!

But as much as Richardson had fun on set, she didn't enjoy being a celebrity. "I really hated fame," she continued. Plus, she really wanted to spend more time with her children, who she really missed. "Home Improvement had much longer days than most sitcoms. Because I was involved in all the writing, I was away from them more than I wanted and felt I missed so many things." To that end, when she left the show in 1999, she passed up another gig so she could spend more time at home. But she returned to acting a few years later, and is still active in the profession.

Katey Sagal - Peg Bundy (Married... with Children)

It's impossible to hear Frank Sinatra's classic song "Love and Marriage" without thinking about Married… with Children, the iconic sitcom that aired from 1986 to 1997. The show focused on the Bundys, a dysfunctional and often crass family of four who managed to find themselves getting in trouble (repeatedly) for one reason or another. Katey Sagal played Peg Bundy, the family matriarch, who enjoyed nothing more than watching television and going on shopping sprees. 

Sagal nailed the part, often dressed to the nines in tight clothing and sporting a giant red wig. "My take on her and that relationship between her and [Peg's husband] Al Bundy was that there had to be something hot between the two of them to sustain this marriage for so many years," she shared in an interview with ABC News. "So I just went into my audition all dolled up." No wonder she was cast!

Even though some of the show's humor is clearly a product of its time, potentially offensive by today's standards, the show was extremely popular during its long run. As for Sagal, she's been busy with her career ever since.

Suzanne Somers - Carol Foster Lambert (Step by Step)

Full House wasn't the only show to showcase a blended family in the '90s, as there was also Step By Step. The show co-starred Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy as two single parents, both with children, who fall in love and get married on a vacation in Jamaica. Sounds like a page out of The Brady Bunch, the OG of blended TV families, no?

When Somers was offered the role of Carol Foster Lambert, she had to choose between it and starring in a Broadway show, which wasn't an easy decision — but the sitcom won out in the end. "I figured, I'd been off television for quite a while, I think my career needs to put me out again," she recalled in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. "I think in retrospect it was absolutely the right decision."

Somers has consistently been on television ever since, but not as an actress — she's mostly appearing as a guest on shows like Good Morning America, The Doctors, and The Dr. Oz Show. She's also quite the prolific author

Alley Mills - Norma Arnold (The Wonder Years)

When it comes to shows that capture the flavor of a time and place perfectly, the coming-of-age dramady The Wonder Years arguably takes the cake. Set in the late '60s and early '70s, the show satisfied older viewers' need for nostalgia, and gave younger viewers a glance into the lives of kids their age, but during a seemingly simpler time. Alley Mills played Norma on the show, a wholesome and nurturing mother for Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), in contrast to the more abrasive father, Jack (Dan Lauria).

The show ran from 1988 to 1993, snagging plenty of awards during its tenure. So why did it end so abruptly after only six seasons? "When we shot the series finale… nobody knew whether or not The Wonder Years was going to be renewed," Mills shared in an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment. "And that's because of a completely ridiculous sexual harassment suit that was going on against Fred Savage — who is, like, the least offensive, most wonderful, sweet human being that ever walked the face of the Earth."

Eventually the lawsuit was dropped and settled out of court, but the show, after that, was over. Mills continues to work in film and television.

Fran Drescher - Fran Fine (The Nanny)

One of the most unmistakable voices in all of television has to be Fran Drescher's character Fran Fine, who was the star of The Nanny – a show which she also co-created with her former husband, Peter Marc Jacobson. Inspired by her youth growing up in Queens, the show ran from 1993 to 1999, and showed just how important the role of the nanny can be in a family. Eventually Fran does officially become step-mother to the children on the show, after she and the man she works for, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) finally get married after a long courtship.

Drescher, who also has writing, producing, and directing credits to her name, still has an active career in TV and film. Additionally, she's hopeful that The Nanny will get picked up for a reboot — starring Cardi B! "[I'm] talking to her representation," she revealed in an interview with Billboard. "She's got a funny voice, too. What kind of a great mother/daughter duo would we be? Amazing, I think." Hey Netflix, please take note and make this a reality!

Patricia Heaton - Debra Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond)

Patricia Heaton is quite the busy television actress, but she's perhaps best known for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran from 1996 to 2005. In the show she played Debra Barone, the wife of everyman Raymond Barone (Ray Romano), and together they had three children — that she did most of the caring for. But despite her frustration with the household duties she was responsible for, there were plenty of tender moments to be had in the series.

The show resonated with a lot of viewers, as they could really relate to the characters and what they were experiencing on the sitcom. "I watched [an episode] recently at a friend's house with a couple and they were chuckling, but I could tell it was also hitting very close to home for them," she explained in an interview with ABC News. "They were kind of serious as they were watching it. It's the stuff people really deal with in their marriages." No wonder it ran for nearly a decade!

Caroline Rhea - Hilda Spellman (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)

It's not unheard of for aunts and uncles to step into the role of parents, something Caroline Rhea did as Hilda on Sabrina the Teenage Witch — though she was 500 years old, which, of course, is unheard of in reality. The show, which ran from 1996 to 2003, was charming as it followed the exploits of Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart), a 16-year-old girl who discovers that she is a witch with magical powers.

Rhea almost didn't take the role, but a bad break-up inspired her to do it. "I had just gotten back from this horrible trip to Hawaii with the boyfriend and the trip was so bad that we broke up before the pictures were developed." she recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. And when she heard the creator's description of the character, Rhea was intrigued. "She said, 'She's a witch and she's recently imprisoned the man that didn't love her in her ring.'" She continued. "And I was like, 'I'll do it!'" Amazing!

Rhea continues to stay busy, acting in a slew of films and television shows.

Beth Broderick - Zelda Spellman (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)

Rhea's Hilda wasn't the only 500-year-old aunt on Sabrina the Teenage WitchShe also shared parenting duties and magic tutoring with her sister, Zelda, played by Beth Broderick, who was also the more level-headed and reasonable of the two. Ultimately, she's the one who made a big sacrifice to save Sabrina after she was turned into stone. Remember those feels, y'all?

"Sabrina was a tough show to shoot. We often worked 15 hours a day just trying to get all of the special effects done correctly," she shared in a Reddit AMA. That sounds like an insanely exhausting schedule, for sure! Fortunately, as Broderick tells it, the people who worked on the show had a good time doing it, and were all very good friends. "We laughed a lot, though, and there were lots of bowling nights," she continued. "It was a tightly knit cast and crew."

If you thought Broderick looked familiar, she was also on a bunch of other shows, like Lost, Under the Dome, and Sharp Objects — and many more. 

Morgan Fairchild - Nora Bing (Friends)

Although the massively popular and hugely beloved sitcom Friends focused mainly on the lives of Ross, Rachel, & co., there were other totally memorable people on the show. One especially stand-out character was that of Nora Bing, Chandler's mom, who was played by blonde bombshell Morgan Fairchild. Nora was a best-selling author of romance books, and was never afraid to be open about her sexuality and prowess, much to the chagrin of her son. Remember the time he caught Nora and Ross smooching in a restaurant? We certainly didn't forget!

Fairchild was known for being cast as the sexy blonde in just about everything — something that doesn't bother her. "Oh, I would LOVE to play something else, too, but I'm grateful to have had a whole career being the evil vamp," she revealed in an interview with Broadway World. "There are certainly worse ways to make a living!" Amen to that, Morgan!

Fairchild is truly a legend, with a resume that stretches back to the '70s. She's still active in her career, too, which is seriously impressive. Our girl has some chops.