Modern Family was officially renewed for its 11th and final season, in 2019-2020. The show, created by Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, has been a huge success to say the least. The show received an impressive 21 Emmy awards. Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment, teases us by saying: “In its final season, there will be more milestone events that anyone who has been a fan of the series won’t want to miss.”
But before we’re forced to say goodbye to our favorite dysfunctional family, let’s reminisce about the good old times of Modern Family. We’ll let you in on unknown facts about the show and its stars as well some behind the scenes facts.
One for the History Books
Modern Family will go down as one of the best family comedies ever aired on TV. The mockumentary style and the comic genius of the writing plays out so well that the show has been a fan favorite for many years.
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Since we love the Pritchetts and their antics so much, we want to dive deep into everything there is to be known about the show, its characters, and the actors who play them so perfectly. Let’s begin, shall we?
Did You Know?
Let’s start with this fact: Ed O’Neill (Jay Pritchett) was almost a football player. In 1969, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an outside linebacker. But he didn’t go on to play; he was released before the regular season began. He was cut in training camp.
And here’s another one about Ed O’Neill: He’s been reading the same prop newspaper for 20 years! The newspaper he read as Al Bundy in Married with Children is the same as the one Jay reads in the show.
Next, an on-screen relationship draws from one in real life. Wanna guess which one?
A Real Father-Son Relationship
Mitchell and Jay’s father-son relationship is inspired by Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s real-life father-son dynamic. Take, for instance, his coming out process. Ferguson said he had to tell his father three times – at 17, 19, and 21.lipictx.pw
As he said: “It’s a coming out process for them as well and takes time.” Jesse is married to Justin Mikita, a fellow actor who isn’t as famous as his husband. The two got married in 2013.
Julie Bowen Fell In Love Immediately
Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy) was 8½ months pregnant when they filmed the pilot episode. Julie fell in love with the show the moment she first read the script. She said in an interview:
“I was 8½ months pregnant with twins when I shot the pilot, so I was definitely harried.” During that first episode, she had to hide her pregnancy behind laundry baskets.
Care to know what the original pitch of the show was. See the next page.
The Original Pitch of the Show
Funnily enough, the original pitch for the show was drastically different than what came to be. The idea was to have a Dutch teenage exchange student live with Jay and the family.
Co-creator Steve Levitan said that a foreign exchange student, named Geert Floorjte, was supposed to film a documentary of the family. He would get a crush on Claire but Mitchell would end up developing a crush on him. Let’s be thankful this idea was cut.
He’s Just That Good
Believe it or not, Eric Stonestreet (Cam) isn’t gay in real life! Even though he so convincing as a legit gay guy, he is 100% straight. He’s just that good of an actor.
Oh, and by the way: remember Fizbo the clown? He wasn’t an invention of the show. Apparently, Eric began dressing up as Fizbo when he was nine years old. And by the time he was 11, he performed at kids’ birthday parties.
Next, another character that had us all fooled.
Luke is Smart in Real Life
Luke Pritchett isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, so to speak. But in real life, Nolan Gould the actor who plays Luke is quite a genius. He’s been a member of MENSA, the high IQ society since he was only four years old.
He told Ellen DeGeneres when he was on her show, “When people learn I’m a member of MENSA, they’re shocked.” With an IQ of 150, he graduated from high school at the age of 13. He’s now 20 years old.
Sofia Vergara Was Almost a Dentist
Sofia Vergara was almost a dentist. In her native country of Colombia, she was pre-dental but dropped out two semesters before graduating.
And did you know that Sofia’s son is named after a Scarface character? Her son Manolo was named after Steven Bauer’s character in the movie.
The next unknown fact is going to make you love the cast even more than you already do.
All For One and One for All
Have you noticed that there’s no leading actor or actress in Modern Family? Since the first season, all the actors and actresses made a pact to submit themselves to the awards as Supporting Actor and Actresses.
Therefore, no one in the ensemble considers him/herself to be more important than the rest. How modest and noble! We love them even more now.
The Dunphy Home – It’s All Smoke and Mirrors
The Dunphy house is real and is located in the Los Angeles Cheviot Hills neighborhood. It sold for $2.15 million. It was built in 2006 and was used only for exterior shots.
The Dunphy house was actually empty. Can you believe it? Only the exterior of the house was used to show residence on the show, and all the interior scenes are shot on sound stages.
If you love Lily on the show, you might love her in real life. Click next…
Lily Got Lucky
Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (Lily) got the role because of two erratic toddlers. The twins who originally played Lily weren’t so keen on acting, so Aubrey was brought in to replace them.
Lily ended up being the star of some of the funniest moments of the past season, both on and off screen. The thing about Aubrey is that no one ever knows what she’s about to say or do. One day, in front of the press and she decided to use her first F-bomb. She said she used the word “fudge.”
It Was Supposed to be “As If”
Julie Bowen actually went into labor on set! While not on Modern Family, Julie was on the set of Boston Legal, doing a fake labor scene when she literally went into labor. And her son Oliver was at the tail end of filming the scene.
Julie Bowen said that her son Oliver broke her first Emmy. And from then on, she has kept her awards on very tall shelves.
Julie Bowen was in a movie starring Adam Sandler back in the day. Do you know which one?
Julie Bowen Was in Happy Gilmore
Remember the movie Happy Gilmore with Adam Sandler? Well, Julie Bowen was in the movie too. She was the girl that helped Adam Sandler beat Shooter McGavin.
Here’s another fact that not many know: Julie wears a pacemaker. The actress has been wearing a pacemaker since her 20s because of heart problems.
She’s a Tough Cookie
Ariel Winter is one tough cookie. On the show, Alex Dunphy is a full on book nerd. But in real life, Ariel has her purple belt in Taekwondo.
Ariel didn’t come from a loving home. She reported abuse from her parents at the age of 17. She lived with her older sister while until the court eventually agreed to grant her independence. She’s happier now than ever. She’s estranged from her mother but has established a good relationship with her father.
Next, you’ll find out who the only recurring character on the show is.
Welcome Back, Dylan – The Only Recurring Character
Dylan, the strange on-again, off-again boyfriend of Haley, is the only character that isn’t related to the family that appears in every season of the show.
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Speaking of Haley, Sarah Hyland had kidney dysplasia and had to get a kidney transplant. And who donated the kidney? Her father.
Craig T. Nelson Almost Played the Role of Jay Pritchett
We love Jay and feel like no one else could play the role so well, right? Well, he was almost not going to be Jay at all. Producers first considered Craig T. Nelson (from the series Coach). But Nelson reportedly wanted more money than producers wanted to give him.
Instead, producers went to Married With Children‘s O’Neill and are glad as ever that they did.
Do you think the cast is involved in writing? You’ll see, next…
The Cast Has a Say in the Writing
Eric Stonestreet, our beloved Cam, is a proud Kansas City native. The show’s writers come to him to make sure that the jokes about small-town living are accurate.
Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage
The writers also encourage the cast to contribute to the script in little bits here and there. For example, Eric included a shout-out to the man living across the street from his parents in a Valentine’s Day episode.
Stella Didn’t Get her Groove Back
Everyone fell in love with Stella, the French Bulldog on Modern Family who belongs to Jay. But after a few seasons, Stella suddenly wasn’t herself. In other words, the dog was changed. She was still a French Bulldog but looked totally different.
The show didn’t explain it. But as it turns out, the original Stella, a dog named Brigitte, got dropped by its agent and ended up without a job. Yes, the dog had an agent. So they replaced Brigitte with a new French Bulldog, Beatrice.
Next up: do you know that Sofia Vergara isn’t a brunette?
She Dyes Her Hair for the Show
That’s right, Sofia Vergara isn’t a natural brunette. She’s actually a blonde, contrary to what one might think with her Columbian heritage.
Photo Credit: Gettyimages / Barry King
Vergara has to dye her hair brown for the show. The producers felt that she would look more Latina with darker hair. What’s funny, too, is that the series often refers to the fact that her character, Gloria, used to work as a stylist at a hair salon.
Another Martial Arts Master
Ariel Winter isn’t the only actor on the show with a background in martial arts. Ed O’Neill is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Aside from almost being a football star, the Hollywood star earned his black belt after a total of 15 years of practice and training.
Next, you’ll see just how united the cast is.
The Cast, United
The Modern Family gang is united both on screen as well as behind the scenes. The cast has become like a family of their own and look out for each other at all costs. After the third season ended, the group sued 20th Century Fox in order to negotiate a salary increase for each cast member.
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They ended up walking away earning between $200,000 and $250,000 per episode. This resulted in the Modern Family cast being one of the highest paid ensembles on TV today.
Ty Burrell Was Homeless Once
Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy) was actually homeless at one time. While completing his graduate degree at Penn State University, he lived out of his van to try and save money.
Burrell isn’t just a famous TV star. He’s also a bar owner. He owns Bar-X in Salt Lake City with his brother Duncan and opened a new one, Beer Bar, right next door.
Do you remember the Mitch and Cam kiss? It was fought for!
Stonestreet and Ferguson have really opened the world’s eyes to the normalcy of same-sex relationships, winning several awards for their work. They were also one of the first gay couples who kissed on a primetime TV show.
In 2010, during the shooting of season two, a Facebook campaign started, petitioning for the two to be allowed to demonstrate their love on camera. It was called the “Let Cam & Mitchell Kiss on Modern Family!” petition and it got thousands of supporters. That year, the two had their first on-screen kiss in the background of a scene.
Britney Spears Was Almost a Guest Star
In 2011, before season three started, the show’s producers offered Britney a guest role on the show. But by the time she responded, season three already being shot. So it was too late. There is a funny story on how Britney met Ed O’Neill at the airport.
That’s all that’s been publicly said about her almost appearance on the show. We are so curious as to who she would have portrayed on the show!
Next, we’ll let you in on who watches the show at home.
The Viewers Aren’t so “Modern”
According to Nielsen, a group that tracks data on TV audiences to find out who is watching what revealed that the Modern Family audience is mostly rich people.
In 2015, it was the second most popular show among viewers aged 18-49 whose household earned an average annual income of over $200,000 per year. And that’s a difficult audience to capture.
Ariel Winter Has More She’s Hiding from Us
Ariel Winter actually wanted to be a doctor. And aside from her Taekwondo and her family issues, there’s more about her that makes her even more interesting.
Ariel is also the voice for the new Disney Junior’s animated princess, Sofia the First. She’s a singer in a band called Wicked Street with her best friend and released their first album together. Ariel also once did a cover of Taylor Swift’s hit “I Knew You Were Trouble” and it went viral.
We want to switch things up now and show you who the cast members are dating/married to in real life!
Ed O’Neill Has Been Married Since 1986
Ed O’Neill has been married to actress Catherine Rusoff since 1986. Catherine played the character Betsy on a few episodes of Married with Children.
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They have two daughters, and you might be amused by their names! One is named Claire and the other Sophia. Go figure!
Sofia Vergara is Married to the Star From True Blood
In 2015, Vergara married True Blood actor Joe Manganiello. Their wedding was one only a Hollywood couple would have.
Soon after the wedding, she went on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and said, “It was like a fairy tale. It came out perfectly how I wanted, I have to say.” Vergara’s 26-year-old son, Manolo, is from a previous marriage.
Wanna know who Ty Burrll is married to?
Ty Burrell Has Been Married Since 2000
Ty Burrell has been married to Holly, a professional chef, the year 2000. They have two daughters, Frances and Greta.
Ty is a true family man off-screen as well, saying that he loves sitting down to dinner with his wife and daughters each night. “We’re very traditional in that way,” he said. “My wife and I were both raised in households where you sat down at dinner every night. It is a wonderful rhythm-of-the-day thing.”
Julie Bowen is Glad Her Kids Distract Her
Bowen married Scott Phillips in 2004 and the couple has three children together, Oliver and twins John and Gustav. But Bowen filed for divorce from Phillips.
“The beauty of having three children is they don’t give you much time for thinking. They’re like a crash course in being in the now.”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson and His Husband are Passionate Advocates
We briefly talked about Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s marriage. But something we didn’t mention was that the two have a non-profit organization together called Tie the Knot.
It’s an organization that sells bow ties as a way of raising funds to support same-sex marriage.
Eric Stonestreet – Openly Straight
Eric Stronestreet has officially come out as “openly straight.” He’s currently dating Lindsay Schweitzer, a pediatric nurse. He talked about her on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September 2017.
“She calms me — she calms my nerves,” he told Ellen. “I’m a very high-strung person.” Let’s be thankful to Lindsay for keeping Eric in place.
Next – Sarah Hyland is dating a contestant from The Bachelorette.
Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams are an Item
For more than a year now, Sarah Hyland has been with her main beau, Wells Adams.
Adams was once a contestant on The Bachelorette in 2016, but he didn’t get that final rose, luckily for Sarah. He was later on Bachelor in Paradise in the summer of 2017. The two started dating and have been overtly in love ever since.
Ariel Winter is Dating a Canadian Actor
Ariel Winter, 21 at the moment, is enjoying her off-screen romance with 30-year-old Canadian actor Levi Meaden. They began dating in November 2016 and live together.
The couple shares three dogs and a bunny, and they even got tattoos for each other. Levi has a picture of a peanut butter jar and Ariel has a hunk of cheese. As they see it, it symbolizes a combination that doesn’t seem to go together, but somehow totally works. They also recently got matching heart tattoos.
There’s a single cast member.
Nolan Gould Is Up For Grabs, Ladies!
Nolan Gould basically grew up on the set of Modern Family. So when he was asked whether he’d ever date his onscreen sister, Ariel Winter, he stated, “I love her but she’s a really good friend. We grew up together … I would never wanna waste that.”
At the moment, the 20-year-old isn’t officially dating anyone. But rumors have started Gould and actress Joey King are an item. He keeps busy by doing work for wildlife and environmental causes.
In real life, the 20-year-old actor doesn’t have a serious romance at the moment. He claims that he’s “still single and ready to mingle.”
According to his Twitter feed, his love is sports.
Fred Willard is Sadly Now Widowed.
Comedic actor Fred Willard plays Phil’s father, Frank, on the show. Willard married his wife Mary, a playwright, in 1968 and the couple had one daughter together.
But sadly, Mary passed away unexpectedly in July 2018 at the age of 71. She and Fred had been married for 50 years.
The former Cheers star Shelley Long plays DeDe Pritchett, Claire and Mitchell’s mother and long-suffering ex-wife of Jay.
Long was married and divorced twice, most recently to a stockbroker named Bruce Tyson. Long and Tyson have a 33-year-old daughter, Juliana Long Tyson, who is also an actress.