ALL IN THE FAMILY (ARCHIE BUNKER'S PLACE)/CBS/1971-83
*(Rob Reiner/costar) Mike Stivic, a know-it-all, Polish-American college student
married to the daughter of a bigoted New York loading dock foreman. Mike's
liberal political persuasion was constantly at odds with his father-in-law,
Archie with whom he lived while going to school. Their shouting matches over a
variety of social issues often ended with Mike being called a "dumb pinko-Commie
Pollock" or a "Meathead". Once Archie proclaimed “Sticks and stones will break
my bones but your are one dumb Pollock.“ When Mike finally received his degree
in Sociology, he moved to California in 1978 with his wife, Gloria (Sally
Struthers) and his young son, Joey (Jason & Justin Draeger), thus effectively
being written out of the script. During the 1982 season, he divorced his wife
and ran off to a commune to be a flower child. His wife, Gloria resurfaced in a
short-lived spin-off GLORIA/CBS/1982-83 which dealt with her struggles after the
*(Pamela Gidley/costar) Dorothy "Dotty" Paretsky, a cigarette-smoking police
detective of Polish-Catholic descent working for the Violent Crimes Unit of the
Chicago Police Department. Dorothy grew up in the Polish Hill section of Chicago
also known as Angel Street. She was teamed with a African-American female
ANYTHING BUT LOVE/ABC/1989-92
**(Holly Fulger) Robin Dulitski, a dental hygientist and best friend of writer
Hannah Miller who owned the apartment building in which Hannah lived. Robin has
known Hannah since she was five-years-old. They referred to each other as Mrs.
*(George Peppard) Thomas Banacek, a cool, suave Polish-American investigator who
assisted insurance companies in solving theft and loss cases. His fees for his
efforts afforded him a luxurious home in the exclusive Beacon Hill section of
Boston, Massachusetts. Banacek's mathematician father was born in Warsaw,
Poland. When he moved to American he worked for an Insurance but after 20 years
of service he was replaced by a computer. His son, Thomas remembers this little
affront and now says "I don’t; work for anybody, I work for myself." Banacek
charges 10% commission on the value of any items recovered. George Peppard was
very popular with the Polish viewing audience who reveled in his positive,
non-stereotypical persona. His character often dropped a Polish proverb or two
along the trail of his criminal investigations. Some examples: "There's an old
Polish proverb that says"..."Just because a dress is red satin, doesn't mean it
comes off easy"; "A truly wise man never plays leap frog with a unicorn"; and
"Only someone with nothing to be sorry about smiles at the rear of an elephant."
The BANACEK series was originally broadcast as a rotating segment of the NBC
WEDNESDAY MYSTERY MOVIE. See also "Irish"
section on MADIGAN.
**(Maxwell Gail) Detective Stanley "Wojo" Wojohowicz, a naive, but lovable
plainclothes police officer working at the 12th Precinct, a run-down police
station located in Greenwich Village in New York City. Wojo was single, loved
baseball and wore the oddest color combinations when it came to his shirts and
**(Dick Butkus) Officer Richard "Ski" Butowski, a hulking policeman who assisted
special Los Angeles Police Department unit responsible for "Blue Thunder," a
high -tech helicopter.
THE BOBBY VINTON SHOW/SYN/1975-78
*(Bobby Vinton) Bobby Vinton, a popular Polish-American singer who starred in
his own musical variety show that featured songs, comedy sketches and animated
shorts. Polish-Americans who had already dubbed him the "Polish Prince" adopted
his song "My Melody of Love" as their anthem.
*(Marg Helenberger) Karen Charlene ("K.C.") Koloski, a civilian prostitute and
heroine addict (born in Kansas City) working at the China Beach R & R facility
in Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam during the late 1960s. K C. charges a $100 an
hour and has type "O" blood. During her stay in Nam she befriended an
Irish-American nurse named Colleen McMurphy. In 1967 K. C. got pregnant with a
child fathered by General A. M. Miller. She later gave up her baby (Karen) to a
Vietnamese woman as she said "until I get my life together." Just before the
Fall of Saigon, she retrieves her child (played by Shay Aster) and tells her to
contact Boonie Lanier, a soldier who loved her. Back in the states, Boonie
raised Karen as one of his own. K. C. went on to become the owner of a diner and
later a high powered business woman. Christine Elise played Karen during her
*(Eric Close) Special Agent John Olansky, Polish-American leader of a maverick
squad of FBI agents based in Los Angeles. Olansky and his loyal agents get the
job done by not “going by the book.“
**(Bill Faberbakke) Dauber Dybinski, a slowwitted student assistant who worked
with Coach Hayden and the Screaming Eagles Football Team at Minnesota State
**(Brian Keith) Matt Anders, a freelance writer of Polish descent who helps
people escape the oppressive hands of dictatorships and Commuist regimes. Matt's
mother died in a Polish concentration camp after the Polish government was
overthrown by Communists.
*(Josh Mostel) Jim "Blotto" Blutarsky, rowdy college transfer student living
Delta House a fraternity at Faber College in Pennsylvania during 1962. Jim was
the younger brother of Bluto Blutarsky (played by John Belushi), the guy who
yelled "Food fight!" in the movie "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978).
THE DREW CAREY SHOW/ABC/1995-2004
**(Kathy Kinney) Mimi Bobeck, overweight cosmetically-challenged secretary of
Polish heritage who worked at Winfred-Louder Department Store in Cleveland. Mimi
is mean, vindictive, dresses in outrageously colorful costumes and is the thorn
in the side of assistant director of personnel, Drew Carey. Mimi later falls in
love with Drew’s brother Steve Carey and (horror of horrors) Mimi becomes one of
the family. Mimi often calls Drew Carey a “pig” and not surprisingly, her
catchphrase is ”Bite me, Pig.“ Mimi’s family heritage of Polish is mentioned in
the March 19, 1997 episode 42 "Two Drews and the Queen of Poland Walk into a
Bar" in which Mimi (a descendent of Polish royalty) prepares to meet a
neighborhood man called the King of Poland with hopes of becoming his queen.
Unfortunately, the Polish-American community wasn't amused by the episode and
references to Mimi’s Polish heritage. In the June 3, 1997 issue of the PAC NEWS
Connection Frank Milewski, who heads the Anti-Bigotry Committee remarked “The
material was so defamatory that we felt the issue had to be taken up
face-to-face basis...The problem rests on two characters depicted as Polish on
the March 19th episode of the Drew Carey series. One was “Mimi Bobeck,” a
clown-like caricature of a Polish woman who has not been given any ethnic
identity until this particular show. The other was “Stan,” a vulgar and
repulsive individual holding himself out to “King of Poland.” The PAC concerns
were based on similar complaints in the past as the cancellation of the old
“Dick Tracy“ series by another network because Asian and Hispanic communities
objected to characters named “Jo Jitsu“ and Go Go Gomez.” Chris Hikawa, Vice
President of Broadcast Standards & Practices at ABC, initially advised the
Anti-Bigotry Committee that “This storyline in no way denigrated
Polish-Americans. Mimi is clearly proud of her Polish heritage and does not
exhibit any of the negative stereotyped traits which are the basis of Polish
jokes. We believe that the program does not ridicule Polish-Americans and regret
that your were offended.” But later Hikawa reached an agreement with the
producers of The Drew Carey Show to have the episode entitled “Two Kings and a
Queen” edited for rebroadcast. The character of the King of Poland will be
eliminated from the program." The PAC also proposed that ABC not repeat the
March 19th episode or put it into syndication and stop identifying “Mimi” as
Polish. (Check out the related 1997 PAC News Connection articles at http://www.polamcon.org).
Another character with a Polish surname is Lewis Kiniski (played by Ryan
Stiles), a janitor at DrugCo Pharmaceutical Company. He has known Drew Carey
since they were kids growing up in Cleveland. Lewis’ character can be borderline
philosophical but generally is just down right stupid and “creepy.”
THE FACTS OF LIFE/NBC/1979-88
*(Nancy McKeon/costar) Jo Polniaczek, a tom-boyish young lady of Polish descent
who loved to putter with automobile and motorcycle engines. Alex Rocco played
her father, an ex-con who got enough money together to send her to Eastland, a
suburban New York finishing school for women where she roomed with a group of
young girls of varied backgrounds. The series followed their development as
friends. All four graduated and lived with the school's former dietician where
they worked at her business (first a gourmet shop and later a novelty shop).
Claire Malis appeared as Jo's infrequently seen mother, Rose Polniaczek.
THE FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES/NBC/ABC/1989-91
*(Tracy Nelson/costar) Stephanie Oskowski, a streetwise young women of Polish
descent who joined the convent and later was to be known as Sister Steve. She
taught at St. Michaels and helped Father Frank Dowling solve crimes in the city
**(Kate Reid) Marion Jaworski, Polish-American supervisor at California's DeWitt
Institute of Oceanography who assigned projects to a former CIA agent named
GIMME A BREAK/NBC/1981-87
*(Dolph Sweet) Carl Kanisky, a beefy, widower police chief of polish descent who
lived in the suburban town of Glenlawn. His family included Kari Michaelson as
Katie; Lauri Hendler as Julie; Lara Jill Miller as Samantha "Sam"; Pete Schrum
as Uncle Ed Kanisky; and John Hoyt as Grandpa Stanley Kanisky and Jane Dulo as
Grandma Mildred Kanisky. When the chief died (Dolph Sweet died in real-life),
Nell Harper, his black housekeeper, took care of the children.
THE GEORGE CARLIN SHOW/FOX/1994-95
**(Susan Sullivan) Kathleen Rachowski, Polish-American owner of a pet store in
New York City where cabbie George O'Grady got dog food supplies and got dates
with shop's attractive proprietress.
*(Sally Struthers) Gloria Bunker-Stivic, the ex-wife of Polish-American Michael
Stivic who abandoned Gloria to live on a California commune on the sitcom ALL IN
THE FAMILY. Gloria now works in Upstate New York as a veterinarian's assistant.
Her little boy, Joey Stivic was played by Christian Jacobs.
GRACE UNDER FIRE/ABC/1993-1997
**(Casey Sander) Wade Z. Swoboda, tall, blond, Polish-American police officer
living in Victory, Missouri next-door to series title character (Grace). Also
featured was Nadine Swoboda, Wade,s wife. Wade is a Vietnam veteran. He carried
a silver cigarette case for good luck. He once discovered that his name was
mistakenly displayed on the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial. Later in the
series, Wade became a traffic helicopter pilot.
*(David Morse) Michael Olshansky, a Polish-American cab driver living in
Philadelphia. He is tall, somber and a former police officer for the
Philadelphia Police. He lost his job on a corruption charge for stealing money
from a narcotics crime scene. Ever since, Michael has tried to redeem himself by
helping those in need - many of whom he meets while driving his cab (No. P2626)
about town. Michael especially wants the respect of his wife, Heather (Donna
Murphy, who divorced him and his young son, Michael "Mikey" Olshansky Jr.
(Matthew Borish). Mike's friend Father Grizz Grzelak (George Dzundza), a
Catholic priest with a gambling problem who comes to Michael's aid and council
from time to time (Grizz steals money from the collection plate to feed his
addiction). Of all the people, Michael disappointed his father (Brian Smiar) is
hurt the most. He refuses to forgive his son for disgracing the family's honor
and the once untarnished image he once held of his son.
*(Richard Tyson/costar) Joe "Kaz" Kaczierowski, a streetwise cop of polish
descent who worked with his detective partner at the Metro Division of the Los
Angeles Police Department. Kaz's mother, Beverly Kaczierowski, was played by
*(Jeff McCracken/costar) Andy Senkowski, a Chicago police detective of Polish
descent who relocates to Hawaii with his partner Mac Riley and eventually become
undercover cops for Major Taro Oshira of the Oahu Police Department. Also
featured was Shelley Winters as Andy's mother, Florence Senkowski.
**(Henry Kulky) Max Bronsky, naval orderly of Polish decent who was assigned to
the San Diego Naval Base in California. In the fall of 1961 Max got promoted to
Chief Petty Officer. Also featured was Frank Gorshin as Seaman Pulaski.
**(Zachary Throne) Lenny Wieckowski, Polish-American worker at the Seven Seas
restaurant who plays keyboard with a blue-collar rock and roll band called The
HILL STREET BLUES/NBC/1981-87
**(Robert Prosky) Sgt. Stanislaus Jablonski, a cynical police officer who
supervised the 7.A.M. roll call at Hill Street station. After updating his
fellow officers about what was happening on the streets, he left them with these
parting words "Let's do it to them before they do it to us." Jablonski's
predecessor Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (now deceased) had ended each roll call with
"And, hey! Let's be careful out there."
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS/SYN/1997-2000
*(Peter Scolari/costar) Wayne Szalinski, a Polish-American research scientist
who lives with his lawyer wife, Diane Murdock (Barbara Alyn Woods) in the town
of Matheson, Colorado, They share their home with their children: Amy Szalinski
(Hilary Tuck), a teenager and Nicholas "Nick" Bradbury Szalinski (Thomas
Dekker), a boy computer genius. Quark is the family dog. Wayne’s ancestor “Lo
Fat’ fought Ninjas.
HOPE & FAITH/ABC/2003-2006
*(Ted McGinley) Charles "Charley" Shanowski, a Polish-American
physician who lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, Hope (Faith Ford). Family
members include Macey Cruthird, Paul Litowsky, and Megan Fox as Charley and
Hope's children Hayley, Justin and Sydney. Also living in the Shanowski
household is Hope's sister, Faith Fairfield (Kelly Ripa), an unemployed
Hollywood daytime soap opera star who once played Ashley Storm on "The Sacred
and the Sinful" until her character was killed off by her evil twin. Robert
Wagner appeared as Jack Fairfield, the girl's widowed father. He had an affair
and fathered a boy who grew up to be the owner of "j's" a successful restaurant.
*(Darlanne Fluegel) Officer Joann Molenski, a female policewoman of Polish
descent working with Detective Sergeant Rick Hunter in the city of Los Angeles.
Officer Molenski replaced Officer Dee Dee McCall during the 1990-91 season. She
was killed three months later.
K - Z
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