We all know Wendy Schaal for her role of Francine Smith in “American Dad!” series, but not everyone knows which way she had to go to get the job of her dreams. Let’s find out more about her talented family, her childhood, education and personal life.
Early life and family
Wendy K. Schaal was born on 2 July 1954, in Chicago, Illinois USA. Her mother’s name is Lois Treacy Schall, and her father is Richard Schaal who was an actor, and died in 2014.
Wendy’s grandfather name was Victor Cornelius Schaal (born in 1896, died in 1981), and her grandmother Margaret Schaal (née Semple Waddell, born in 1897, died in 1983).
Living with a stepmother Valerie Harper
Richard Schaal divorced Wendy’s mother when Wendy was less than 10 years old, and married again in 1964. Wendy’s father married his second wife Valerie Harper, the star of “Columbo” (1968-2003), “Sex and the City” (1998-2004) and “Desperate Housewives” (2004-2012), so Wendy was her stepdaughter, and had warm relationship with her – Valerie confessed she took her role of stepmother very seriously. Wendy moved to New York from Corona del Mar when she was 12 years old to live with her father and Valerie. It was in the ‘60s, and Valerie was very scared of all bad influences such as drugs and alcohol, so Richard and Valerie decided to sign Wendy to St. Joan of Arc School, an old (est. in 1920) respected educational organizatio, just two blocks away from their home, but Valerie still followed her to school. However, everything turned out fine, and Wendy made a lot of friends in New York.
Little is known about Wendy’s high school education, except that in 1976 she graduated from Los Angeles City College. She is said to have attended several acting courses and schools, though there’s no precise information about them.
Even before her graduation from the college, Wendy started conquering Hollywood. Her debut was in the popular TV series “Happy Days” (1974-1984) as a young girl named Lorraine. Then she appeared in the same series in which her father starred, playing Jan in several episodes of the “Rhoda” sitcom, and then a character’s daughter in “Rhyllis”.
She continued working in TV series such as “Little House on the Prairie” (1974-1983) where she played Christie Norton, “Welcome Back, Kotter” (1975 – 1979) as a girl in Hallway, “Family” (1976 – 1980) in the role of Sarah, and “Fantasy Island” (1977-1984) as Julie.
After graduating from the college, Wendy had more time to work, so she dived into new job offers, appearing in such movies as “Bound for Glory” (1976) and “Record City” (1978).
Wendy felt that she was more interested in TV series, so in the list of her works there is “Knight Rider” (1982 – 1986) where she played Jamie Downs, sharing the screen with legendary David Hasselhoff, “The A-Team” (1983 – 1987) where she got the role of Karen, and “Airwolf “ (1984 – 1986) appearing as Marilyn Kelsy.
Great day yesterday! One more day to go.
Married and divorced
Wendy married Stephen M. Schwartz when she was 23 years old in 1977, and lived in marriage for more than 10 years. Together they attended various media events such as a pre-release party of the movie “Where the Boys Are” (1984), in which Wendy played a girl named Sandra Roxbury.
They welcomed two sons, Adam and Victor. Valerie Harper, Wendy’s stepmother, was there to help her with mothering her grandsons, apparently really enjoying helping her stepdaughter, coming to sit with the kids while Wendy and Stephen had to work. Though they tried hard to keep their marriage, they divorced in October 1987, from which time Wendy decided not to spend much time on building a new relationship and focused on her career. There’s no information about other affairs – she might have a partner but she keeps lowkey.
Wendy continued starring in numerous projects, mostly in TV series, including “Murder, She Wrote” (1984 – 1996) playing Zuleika Brown, “MacGyver” (1985 – 1992) appearing as Karen Blake, “Amazing Stories” (1985 – 1987) in the role of Sheena, and “Gung Ho” (1986 – 1987) as Kelly.
As for movies, she accepted offers from such projects as “Creature” (1985), “Innerspace” (1987), “When the Time Comes” (1987), and “Munchies” (1987).
While working simultaneously in two TV series “Full House” and “*batteries not included”, Wendy got her first voice-over role in “Bright Lights, Big City”, performing additional voices and sounds, which inspired Wendy, and she liked such work.
Wendy took part in more TV series in the ‘90s: “Fired Up”, “Out There”, and “Star Trek: Voyage”, and also appeared in episodes of such cult series as “Friends”, “The X-Files” and “Red Shoe Diaries”.
However, her true passion and a work which for now lasts for almost 15 years, is her voice-over role of Francine Smith in the animated series “American Dad!”. Wendy admitted that working in the team of actors and technical crew for such a long time made them a real family. ‘We’ve had so much life happen! We’ve got babies born, and marriages, and divorces, and deaths, and everything… When you work together with people for a whole decade, a lot happens’, she shared her thoughts in an interview at the celebration of 10th anniversary of the series.
Wendy has medium length blonde hair, which she often styles with loose curls; she has brown eyes, and wears glasses. She is 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall, and though her precise weight is unavailable, her vital statistics are 35-34-35.
Wendy Schaal has accumulated a net worth of $400,000 according to authoritative sources. As she keeps on starring in movies and series, and continues voicing Francine Smith in “American Dad!”, her net worth will very likely grow further.