Coco

Writers, directors and producers all have an arsenal of tricks up their sleeves to keep their shows flowing in the right direction.  For example, if an actor or actress leaves the show they “kill them off”, or write into the script that they are moving away.  If an actress is pregnant in real life but not on the show they often film her from above the waist or sitting down, carrying something or wearing something to conceal their growing abdomen.

In some cases, a character just seems to disappear.  Without any explanation, rhyme or reason, they are just…gone.  Such was the case with Coco Davis, The Golden Girls’ “cook”.  The one and only time we ever saw Coco was during the pilot episode “The Engagement” which first aired on September 14, 1985.  Coco was a typical “house boy”.  He cooked and cleaned and generally kept the house running in an orderly fashion for Blanche, Dorothy and Rose.

So, what happened to Coco?  Unfortunately for him, his lines ended up on the cutting room floor when Mrs. Sophia Petrillo walked in the door!  When creator Susan Harris first took her idea for the Golden Girls to Michael Eisner who worked for Disney/Touchstone he liked the idea very much but was afraid that the younger generations would tire of watching a show about three older women living together.  Harris then came up with the idea of Dorothy’s mother, Sophia.  Adding Sophia made Dorothy a typical daughter dealing with her aging mother and Eisner loved the idea!

Originally, Sophia was supposed to be just a guest star here and there.  Writers didn’t feel her character was strong enough to have the full time character status so they plugged Coco in.  However, when test audiences viewed the show, Sophia was a hit and Coco got scratched.  Writers went to work changing Coco’s would be one liners so that they made sense coming from Sophia and took liberties with many of the lines, blaming Sophia’s previous stroke for her lack of filter and sensitivity!

As for Charles Levin who played Coco during that ONE episode, he went on to guest star on many other TV series such as NYPD Blue, Hillstreet Blues, Family Times and many more!  He even had a small part in the movie “This Is Spinal Tap”

I don’t know he felt about not being a larger part of the Golden Girls.  Though he did have five minutes of fame with Rue, Bea, Betty and Estelle, he wasn’t “golden” enough.  Personally, I’m just glad we got that extra dose of Sophia!

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