By Andy Lewis
Happy 60th birthday, Kevin Arnold.
Yes, that’s right, the hero of The Wonder Years celebrates that milestone birthday today.
Man, even the younger Baby Boomers are old now. Really old.
How do we know Kevin is 60? In the season two episode about the bar mitzvah of best friend Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano), Kevin (Fred Savage) is upset because Paul’s big day falls on his big day — the friends’ actual birthdays are just four days apart. Kevin pouts because he thinks Paul is ruining his big day and refuses to go, even though 13 is no biggie for Christians but a huge deal for Jews. Then, at the last moment, he shows up and realizes how selfish he was. In celebrating with Paul, he reflects that “in a funny way, when I look back on it, I sorta feel like it was my bar mitzvah, too.” The episode ends with a video montage set to Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends Theme" (“A time it was/And what a time it was, it was/A time of innocence/A time of confidence/Long ago it must be/I have a photograph/Preserve your memories/They’re all that’s left you”) that will bring a tear to your eye.
The bar mitzvah takes place on March 18, 1969, meaning that Kevin was born in 1956. So happy 60th birthday, Kevin. (Continuity error alert: March 18, 1969 fell on a Tuesday, not a Saturday.)
In real life, Saviano can’t recall if Savage came to his actual bar mitzvah, but Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper, was there with her sister, Crystal, who played Arnold’s frenemy girlfriend Becky Slater. But, Saviano told Vulture, he definitely remembers attending Savage’s actual bar mitzvah. “Each table had a trophy that said ‘FRED’ on it,” recalled McKellar, who also attended.
Of course, Savage, Saviano and McKellar are nowhere near 60. Savage and Saviano are 39; McKellar is 41. (Who knew Winnie was actually almost 2 years older than Kevin? Also, I share the same birthday as McKellar.)
Today, Savage is back to acting, co-starring on the freshman sitcom The Grinder with Rob Lowe, after a long hiatus where he concentrated on directing. Saviano essentially retired from acting after The Wonder Years went off the air in 1993. He attended Yale (class of ’98) and Cardoza Law School and now is a lawyer in New York City. He returned to TV in 2014, playing a lawyer (big surprise!) in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. McKellar went to UCLA, where she was a math major. She has written four books about math but continues to act.
The Wonder Years is available to stream on Netflix