Like some kind of blended family, Step by Step carefully mixed several tried-and-true elements of television shows past to create something new that worked well when all combined. The sitcom starred Patrick Duffy, fresh off his long run on Dallas, as single dad Frank Lambert who marries single mom Carol Foster (portrayed by Three's Company favorite Suzanne Somers) and they combine their two broods into one very large family, like The Brady Bunch for the '90s.
Debuting on ABC's TGIF lineup in 1991, the show was the latest in a string of squeaky-clean, family-friendly hits for Full House and Family Matters masterminds Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett. The show concerned the relatable family adventures of the Lamberts, as well as the unique challenges of a blended family. After its seven-year run came to an end in 1998, the show's large cast went its separate ways, with some continuing to land high-profile gigs on TV and in movies, and others taking different paths. Here's a look at what the cast of Step by Step has been up to since the show's demise, and how they've changed along the way.
Patrick Duffy (Frank Lambert)
While Step by Step was a show for kids and often about kids, the sitcom attracted plenty of adults because of the top-billed actor playing newly remarried father of three Frank Lambert: Patrick Duffy, a well-liked TV star and certified '80s hunk for his work as Bobby Ewing, the only good guy on Dallas, the ultra-popular primetime soap about the wicked and wealthy members of a Texas oil family.Thanks in part to multiple Dallas reunion movies and a full-on series revival for TNT in the 2010s, Duffy is on TV now almost as frequently as he was in the '80s and '90s. From 2006 to 2011, the nighttime soap star moved to daytime serials, playing Stephen Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful. In the last few years, he's popped up for guest star appearances on popular shows like NCIS, Station 19, and American Housewife, as well as TV daughter Christine Lakin's Hollywood Darlings.
Duffy would probably be available for more work if he lived near Los Angeles, but he doesn't, preferring to spend his time on a 600-acre ranch/nature preserve in Southern Oregon he outfitted with a private art gallery to display his large collection of paintings.
Suzanne Somers (Carol Lambert)
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Step by Step attracted viewers with a double dose of television star power. Alongside Patrick Duffy was Suzanne Somers as Carol Foster, a salon operator and single mother of three who finds love "the second time around" (as the theme song went) with fellow previously married parent Frank. For someone who was all over TV for years, what with Three's Company (where he portrayed the definitive California ditz, Chrissy Snow), Step by Step, and numerous made-for-TV movies, it's surprising that Somers hasn't acted in 20 years. After portraying Carol Lambert for 160 episodes, she appeared in a couple of small movies, cameoed in the Chris Klein romcom Say It Isn't So, and stepped away from that part of her career. She doesn't need to act — she keeps plenty busy as an entrepreneur, spokesperson, and lifestyle guru. Somers sells her own organic skincare and cosmeticsas well asa line of jewelryandponchos, and after more than two decades, still attests to the body reshaping power of the ThighMaster fitness gadget. It's all worked out quite well — according to Celebrity Net Worth, Somers boasts a portfolio worth around $100 million.
Staci Keanan (Dana Foster)
Young Step by Step viewers already acquainted with slightly cornball television sitcoms of the era must have instantly recognized Staci Keanan, the actor who played Dana Foster, the oldest of Carol's kids and certainly the sharpest and most acerbic. Prior to her role on Step by Step, Keanan starred on the high-concept late '80s series My Two Dads as Nicole Bradford, a teen with unclear parentage who lived with both of the guys who could possibly be her father. That led to a starring role in the 1989 thriller Lisa and a role on earlier TGIF show Going Places.
After Step by Step finished in 1998, Keanan wound down her acting career, appearing sporadically in indie films and on TV shows in the 2000s, including the Kristen Bell comedy You Again and as a version of herself in Step by Step co-star Christine Lakin's Hollywood Darlings. Instead of pursuing the Hollywood grind full-time, Keanan entered a different competitive arena. Under her real name, Anastasia Sagorsky, she attended UCLA, and then Southwestern University School of Law, and became an attorney. As of 2019, she was serving as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles County.
Angela Watson (Karen Foster)
Angela Watson had only one prior gig to her name — a four-episode stint on the family sitcom Davis Rules — before she landed the role of Karen Foster on Step by Step. Her character was the resident popular teen and airhead who got by on her looks and charm who wanted to be a model and a singer, serving as a contrast to her sharp and sarcastic sister Dana. By the time Step by Step stepped off the air in 1998, Watson hadn't done much acting outside the show — she voiced a character on the animated series Duckman and hosted ABC programming in character as Karen Foster. In the 20-odd years since, Watson has acted just twice: in the 2005 direct-to-video movie Final Approach and a 2007 short film called Cowboys and Indians. However, the former actor has remained in the close fringes of the entertainment industry in an advocacy role.
According to The FW, Foster served on the national board of directors for the Screen Actors Guild. She also sued her parents for $2.8 million after she discovered that they stole her substantial Step by Step earnings. As that's not a rare fate for former child stars, Watson formed the Child Actors Supporting Themselves Foundation. "Our goal is to provide funds for child actors when they learn that their parents have stolen all their money, and they have no way to pay for lawyers or investigators or accountants to figure it out," Watson told Backstage.
Christopher Castile (Mark Foster)
By the time he finished portraying Mark Foster, the youngest offspring and only son of Carol Foster, Christopher Castile had worked out an extensive resume as a child and teen actor, usually portraying characters who were a lot like Mark — sensitive, delicate, and more than a little nerdy. (As he worked in the '80s and '90s, his geekiness was instantly relayed by having his characters wear glasses.) Castille played nerdy Sam Roberts on the short-lived TGIF show Going Places, and during the run of Step by Step, took a gig as nerdy middle child Ted Newton in the first two Beethoven movies, and then voiced nerdy bullying victim Eugene Horowitz in the early days of Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold!
The last time Castille acted was in the final episode of Step by Step. About 18 when the show wrapped up in 1998, he followed an academic path instead. "I just wanted to be normal," Castile told The Downey Legend, the newspaper of record at Downey High School, where as of 2012 he worked as a U.S. history teacher. He concurrently taught political science at nearby Biola University.
Brandon Call (J.T. Lambert)
As portrayed by Brandon Call, J.T. Lambert was Step by Step's troublemaker. Very assured of himself and a little bit of a macho oaf, he frequently butted heads with stepsister Dana, providing much of the blended family tension that drove many of the show's storylines. In 1996, toward the end of Step by Step's run, Call was involved in a bizarre incident in Los Angeles. According to the Associated Press, he noticed two people following his vehicle, and when he was cornered in a cul-de-sac, they shot the actor, who sustained bullet-caused injuries in both of his arms.
A huge role on a popular, long-running sitcom marked the pinnacle of Call's career as a child and teen actor. Before portraying cocky J.T. on Step by Step, he appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, including Simon & Simon, Webster, St. Elsewhere, a 70-episode run on the daytime soap Santa Barbara, and 21 episodes as Hobie Buchanan early in the run of Baywatch. Not only was Step by Step one of Call's biggest gigs, it was his last. He hasn't appeared on television or in any movies since the show finished up in 1998, and he's bowed out of acting in favor of a private life far out of the spotlight. According to a commenter on the blog Washed Up Celebrities in 2010, Call went on to own and operate a gas station in Southern California.
Christine Lakin (Al Lambert)
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Step by Step was a comforting and unchallenging show and relied on unchanging character archetypes. For example, Karen was a ditzy superficial teen, and Mark was a school-loving nerd. Alicia Lambert, or just Al, got to evolve over the course of the show's seven seasons, from a sports-loving, overalls-wearing little kid into a well-rounded teenager without sacrificing her sarcasm or independence. Christine Lakin portrayed Al the whole time, and after the end of Step by Step in 1998, she's worked more than all of her kid star co-stars put together, with more than 100 TV and movie credits to her name. She appeared on Steve Harvey's talk show Steve as a semi-regular panelist, and served as the sidekick on former Daily Show host Craig Kilborn's talk show The Kilborn File, along with regular roles on short-lived shows like Rita Rocks and Valentine while also landing a role in the Veronica Mars revival movie. Lakin starred in two mockumentary sitcoms where she played a heightened version of former child star Christine Lakin — Hollywood Darlings and Lovin' Lakin. Shedirected nearly every episode of the latter's run, and has recently helmed installments of The Goldbergs and Schooled, too.
Sasha Mitchell (Cody Lambert)
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Every sitcom back in the day needed its quirky, broad breakout character. Seinfeld had its Kramer, 227 had Sandra, and Step by Step had Cody, Frank's nephew who lived in a van in the driveway of the Lamberts' home. Sasha Mitchell showed up as Cody early in the first season of Step by Step and he brought charm to the likable dum-dum with his Valley accent and surfer dude vibe who was clearly a riff on the title characters of the Bill and Ted movies.
Cody appeared in the 1996 episode "Do the Right Thing" and wouldn't show up again until a 1998 installment near the end of Step by Step's run. What happened? Mitchell was arrested for spousal assault. He was later convicted and sentenced to three years of probation and counseling, but wound up behind bars for ten days for violating his parole by skipping town and reportedly attacking his wife again. In the new millennium, Mitchell would appear occasionally on TV shows like JAG, ER, and NYPD Blue along with little-known action movies like EP/Executive Protection and Assassin X.
Jason Marsden (Rich Hawke)
In 1995, Jason Marsden came into Step by Step as Rich Halke, the nearly constantly present best friend of fellow slacker J.T. Lambert and the eventual if unlikely love interest to J.T.'s stepsister, Dana Foster. Marsden appeared in more than 50 episodes of Step by Step, making Rich easily the most prominent non-Lambert or non-Foster character in the entire series.
While Marsden worked as a voice actor before his tenure on Step by Step (he played Cavin on Adventures of the Gummi Bears), he focused on this aspect of the entertainment almost exclusively after the sitcom finished its run in 1998. Marsden became one of the hardest and most frequently working voice actors in the industry, giving life to characters in hundreds of animated projects and video games.Hardcore Step by Step fans might have recognized Marsden as Kid Flash on Young Justice, Chester on The Fairly OddParents, Nermal on The Garfield Show, or Kovu in The Lion Guard, the animated TV series spinoff of The Lion King. He's also acted in classic video games such as Diablo III and Epic Mickey 2, the latter a natural fit for Marsden, who has portrayed Goofy's son Max Goof in A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie, and on TV.
Bronson Pinchot (Jean-Luc)
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Sasha Mitchell's offscreen legal problems relating to a spousal abuse conviction lost him his job on Step by Step, leaving behind an over-the-top goofball character-sized void that producers filled by bringing in a new actor. In 1997, Bronson Pinchot joined the cast of Step by Step as Jean-Luc, a colleague of Carol's at her hair salon who often shrieked in excitement and spoke in a heavy French accent. Older Step by Step viewers recognized Pinchot for his roles in two extremely popular '80s things: He played the similarly exuberant and comically-voiced Balki on the hit sitcom Perfect Strangers, and the exuberant and comically-voiced Serge in Beverly Hills Cop.
Step by Step would be one of Pinchot's final major roles in a mainstream primetime television series. After Step by Step, he starred in the 13-episode family comedy Meego, portraying a wacky alien who works as a nanny for a single dad, before diving into character work. His voice can be heard in stuff like The Wild Thornberrys and The Tale of Despereaux, or, for the more literary-minded, as the narrator of a few hundred audiobooks. He also does a lot of reality TV, appearing on Worst Cooks in America and hosting the home renovation show The Bronson Pinchot Project. In the last couple of years he's had recurring roles on Showtime's Ray Donovan as seedy Flip Brightman and doomed principal George Hawthorne on Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Patrika Darbo (Penny Baker)
The first season of Step by Step devoted a lot of screen time to Carol Lambert's work at the beauty salon next to the sprawling Lambert home, and with it, Carol's interactions with Penny Baker, her lusty, vivacious, and big-haired co-worker and sister. Patrika Darbo was a regular cast member of the show for its first 22 episodes, only to disappear with the arrival of season two. Darbo returned to the world of character acting, as she'd already made small but memorable appearances in more than two dozen films and television series, including as a scout leader in Troop Beverly Hills, "Art's Wife" in The 'Burbs, and Marlene in the 1990 dark comedy Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will?
After being written out of Step by Step, Darbo moved on to daytime dramas. She portrayed Nancy Wesley on Days of Our Lives from 1998 to 2005, with returns in 2013, 2016, and 2019, as well as Shirley Spectra on The Bold and the Beautiful. In 2016, she accomplished what no other Step by Step cast member has to date: She won an Emmy Award for acting, for her role in the short-form horror-comedy Acting Dead.
Lauren and Kit Meyering (Lilly Lambert)
Following the trajectory established by other family sitcoms that stayed on the air so long that its kid cast got older and producers brought in a new one, Step by Step added a new character in its fifth season: Lilly Lambert, a baby born to Carol and Frank Lambert. While the character would be aged up to a toddler for the show's final two seasons, in her appearances as a newborn in 1995-'96, Lily Lambert was portrayed by twin baby actors Lauren and Kit Meyering.
Step by Step is the first and best-known onscreen work for either performer, and also the only acting Lauren Meyering has done to date. Kit Meyering, now billed as Kristina Meyering, has appeared in more than half a dozen independent short films since 2014, including In the Room Where You Sleep, Foolish Smarts and How to Loser Them, and A Bird Named Peter. Several of those works happen to be directed by her twin sister, Lauren Meyering.