From ‘Full House’ to Our House: A Tribute to Bob Saget, One of TV’s Best-Loved Dads

Bob Saget on Full House
© Warner Brothers / Courtesy: Everett Collection.

The heartbreaking news broke Sunday afternoon, January 9. Bob Saget—actor, comedian, beloved husband, dad and friend, plus a television father figure to generations of Americans—had passed away earlier that day in Florida at 65.

The night prior, Saget was onstage, happily playing the second date of his newly launched I Don’t Do Negative stand-up comedy tour. After his act, he tweeted out a typically gracious thank-you that summed up his joy for living and performing: “Loved tonight’s show…. I had no idea I did a 2 hr set tonight. I’m happily addicted again to this….”

We know the feeling: We were just as addicted to him. Saget had been brightening viewers’ lives for 35 years, and more than anything, he loved to make us smile. There was his starring role on Full House, of course, with its exceedingly popular mix of laughs and life lessons, delivered from 1987 to 1995, and his recurring part on its 2016–20 sequel, Fuller House. His witty commentary as host of the first eight seasons of America’s Funniest Home Videos, starting in 1989, got us giggling week after week. He brought touching emotion to his narration of How I Met Your Mother’s entire 2005–14 run. And that was also him as Squiggly Monster on Season 4 of The Masked Singer. Those—plus a nearly 50-year stand-up career—are a few of the many ways Saget shared his considerable gifts with us. But his signature role was always as himself: a warm, giving, charming and loving person whose passing brought fans and friends together to celebrate him.

America’s Dad

Saget, born May 17, 1956, in Philadelphia, had intended to become a doctor, but his honors English teacher in high school saw the performer in him. After college, he took bit parts in movies and TV shows for years before landing the job that would make him a household name. With the premiere of Full House, Saget became the Ward Cleaver for a new generation. The zany family comedy—in which Saget’s Danny Tanner, along with John Stamos’ Uncle Jesse and Dave Coulier’s Joey Gladstone, raise widower Tanner’s three daughters (played by Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen)—would run for eight seasons, a total of 192 episodes.

Priceless Pratfalls

America’s Funniest Home Videos came two years into Saget’s Full House run, beginning as a Sunday night special. Outperforming expectations, it attracted 32 million viewers and launched a franchise that continues to this day. Saget would host for eight seasons, his affable segments introducing home-shot videos capturing accidents, mishaps and wacky happenings (often featuring pets and/or kids). For some, his comedic insights were the real reason to watch, in part because he spoke for all of us watching. Soon, the show was receiving more than 1,000 VCR tapes a day—all in the hopes that Saget would offer one of his notably hilarious commentaries on their contents.

The Joker’s Wild

Saget was 17 when he began a stand-up career, turning to comedy to quell the pain he felt inside. “I’ve lost a lot of people,” he wrote in his 2014 autobiography, Dirty Daddy, “and throughout my childhood—almost every two years—someone in my family died at an unnaturally young age. The more tragedy befell us, the more odd gallows humor I would release.”

He channeled the darkness into a successful comedy run. And while his Full House image was squeaky clean, his stand-up act was, ironically, as profanity-filled as they come. “I never do it to shock anyone,” he explained in Dirty Daddy, “even though people have sometimes thought of me as a shock comic…. It’s what I used to think of as my mania. Now I’ve come to embrace it. You have to love yourself.”

Portrait of Bob Saget

James Brickwood/The Sydney Morning Herald via Getty Images

Forever Giving Back

The tragedies Saget faced fed his need to help others. He lost his sister Andrea to a brain aneurysm in 1985. Another beloved sister, Gay, would die from the disease scleroderma in 1994; coincidentally, Saget had already been doing charity work to raise money and awareness in the battle against the disease. It was work he did tirelessly, in an effort that continues even now.

Lorimar/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Farewell to a Friend

The outpouring of grief that rained down after Saget’s passing was testament to how much he was loved by those who knew him best. A host of celebrities shared their pain, but perhaps nothing summed up how much he meant better than the tribute from his Full House costars, who posted on social media: Thirty-five years ago, we came together as a TV family, but we became a real family…. Bob made us laugh until we cried. Now our tears flow in sadness, but also with gratitude for all the beautiful memories of our sweet, kind, hilarious, cherished Bob. He was a brother to us guys, a father to us girls and a friend to all of us. Bob, we love you dearly. We ask in Bob’s honor, hug the people you love. No one gave better hugs than Bob. —John, Dave, Candace, Jodie, Lori, Andrea, Scott, Jeff, Ashley and Mary-Kate

This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s latest issue. For more remembrances of Bob Saget and a sneak peek at what’s to come on TV, pick up the issue, on newsstands Thursday, January 27.