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- June 26, 2000
- Vol. 53
- No. 25
It Was Planned as a Sitcom for Alex Karras and Susan Clark About a Retired Football Player and His Wife, but Emmanuel Lewis, as the Couple's Pint-Size Adopted Son, Stole the Show. Without Him, Says Director Joel Zwick, "i Don't Think the Original Project Would Have Run More Than 13 Weeks."
At 29, Emmanuel Lewis stands 6" taller than the 36" he measured at age 12, when he first laced up 6-year-old Webster Long's shoes. All the same, "when I go out, everyone knows who I am. They call me Webster," says the actor, who insists there is no known medical reason for his still-short stature. "I understand that when someone is in your living room for a long time, a bond forms." But it's one the Atlanta-based Lewis has had trouble loosening, despite such adult activities as founding his own music label (Emmanuel Lewis Entertainment) and graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1997 with a theater-arts degree. "I remember he drove a big green SUV," says college friend Herbert Andrae Beck. "When he would hop in there, it was real cute." A similar image problem plagued Lewis on the Webster set. "You'd start dealing with him like a 6-year-old," recalls director Joel Zwick. "All of us had to be talked to about picking up this 12-year-old boy." Celebrity pals like Michael Jackson—whom Lewis met in 1984 on the set of the singer's "Thriller" video—helped ease his transition to adulthood. "We have similar backgrounds, growing up as child stars," explains Lewis, who continues to do guest spots on shows like UPN's Moesha and USA Network's GvsE. "You have to do something," he says, "to let people know things change."
Alex Karras & Susan Clark
GEORGE & KATHERINE PAPADAPOLIS
Since meeting on the set of 1975's TV movie Babe (she won an Emmy as Olympian Babe Didrikson Zaharias; he played her husband), Susan Clark, 57, and Alex Karras, 64, have mixed their personal and professional lives. Married in 1980 and parents to Katie, 20 (Karras, an ex-defensive tackle with the Detroit Lions, has five children from a prior marriage), the couple starred in and coproduced Webster. Although they own a Sherman Oaks, Calif., production company and occasionally act—Karras played Tom Arnold's father on 1997's The Tom Show; Clark was on a Canadian TV series in 1998—they stay out of Hollywood's glare. Says friend Catherine Lincoln: They're taking time "to really enjoy life."
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