Any Full House aficionado should know that Bob Saget wasn’t the original Danny Tanner. That distinction goes to Teen Wolf alum John Posey. Of course, things worked out for the best after the original pilot was reshot. However, there was apparently another actor in the running to play the affable dad on one of TGIF's greatest sitcoms. Four decades after the ABC sitcom hit the airwaves, its creator revealed how the story behind how he lost his first choice for the role and ultimately cast the late Saget.
Who Was The First Choice for Danny Tanner?
Series creator Jeff Franklin opened up about the matter on the How Rude, Tanneritos! podcast, which launched with a big Bob Saget lovefest back in 2023. Franklin explained that most of the main roles were easy to cast, though that wasn't exactly the case when it came to tapping someone for the San Francisco broadcaster. Interestingly, the creator spilled to hosts (and series alums) Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber that another sitcom veteran was actually pitched to the show’s casting director before he signed on for another notable small-screen comedy. The sitcom impresario said:
All the other roles fell into place beautifully, and [we] just couldn’t find the right guy for Danny. When the show was first picked up, I said to my casting directors, ‘I have two names on my list. I want either Paul Reiser [, who was] a really hot actor at the time. That would’ve been a big get at that point. And he was thinking about it. He was weighing either Full House or this other show called My Two Dads. … There was another show on NBC. That’s the one Paul took. I knew him, I called him up and was like, ‘Paul, what are you doing? Three dads are better than two, and we have three kids, and you’ve only got one. Can’t you see?’
So it would seem that Paul Reiser could’ve been the cleaning-obsessed father of three if the NBC sitcom My Two Dads hadn’t gotten on his radar. Ultimately, that family sitcom ended up becoming a cult classic despite its out-of-box concept. Though one could argue that the actor could've been a fit for Danny, Reiser's character on the Michael Jacobs-created show seemed to suit him a bit better.
The comedy ultimately ran for three seasons from 1987 to 1990. While notable, the series wouldn't be Paul Reiser's biggest claim to sitcom fame. That's because he eventually found success on another classic sitcom – NBC’s Mad About You, which premiered in 1992 and eventually earned him Primetime Emmy nominations. But moving back to the late 1980s, Jeff Franklin had a big decision to make when it came to casting Danny Tanner due to Reiser being out of the picture.
How Did Bob Saget Eventually Become Danny Tanner?
Bob Saget was actually the second person Jeff Franklin considered for the role of the Tanner family patriarch. And interestingly enough, Franklin and the late comedian had crossed paths before working on the ABC sitcom. The Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper producer recalled how Saget took on some comic-related duties for another vintage show. And the TV writer-producer also made a promise to the then-rising stand-up comic:
And the other name was Bob Saget, and I knew Bob. I produced the show called Bosom Buddies, and Bob Saget was the warm-up guy, and that’s how I first met Bob. … I even said to Bob, ‘One of these days, I hope we get to work together. I would love to create a show someday and have you star in it.’ And he’s like, ‘As long as I still get to do the warm up. I’m pretty good at this.’
The Full Moon High alum seemed comfortable just warming up the crowd for network sitcoms, which was a lucrative job during the 1980s and 1990s. Thankfully, Jeff Franklin saw more in the up-and-coming comedian. However, there was one obstacle standing in the way of the late star from taking his place among the best sitcom dads, which led to ABC pushing for another actor to play the father of three. The Full House producer explained:
So, Bob couldn’t do it, because he was under contract to this CBS morning show. And he was their man-on-the-street guy, and he eventually got fired for being Bob. He was just a little too risqué [for the show]. … So, my first two choices were unavailable, and then we started reading everyone in town. And we were basically outta time, and I was kind of lobbying to maybe wait. ‘Let’s not shoot it now. Let’s wait until we’ve got the right guy.’ And the studio was very nervous, like sometimes they just pull the plug, and you never get to make it. We found this guy, John Posey, who was a dramatic actor. He wasn’t a comedian; he hadn’t done any comedies. [He was] just a likable, sweet guy and a good actor. We just sort of ran out of time, and everyone said, ‘Let’s try this guy and hope for the best.’
The EP also revealed that the original pilot featuring John Posey tested well with TV viewers. However, given that Posey was playing the show’s straight man, his character tested the lowest. Everything was set to go with the How to Get Away with Murder alum as the Tanner patriarch when Jeff Franklin received an unexpected call:
Suddenly, I get this call from Brad Grey, who managed Bob, Dave [Coulier], and Garry Shandling. And Brad says, ‘Hey, just so you know, Bob’s around just in case you want to go reshoot that pilot.’ … So, I arranged for a secret chemistry test on the Perfect Strangers stage… It was fine, but there were just a couple of moments where Bob had this spark. And it makes such a difference to have somebody who’s really funny. Bob had no heat, Bob was not a star yet. He was just a guy on the circuit trying to get going. But it just felt like he could be one of those TV dads. He had this cuteness, sweetness, likability. He really clicked all the boxes for me, so then I started lobbying. I know this is crazy, but we gotta do this all over again.
If the sitcom creator hadn’t lobbied for the late comedian, viewers might’ve had a different experience with the Tanner family. Unfortunately, Jeff Franklin’s relentless push for Bob Saget meant John Posey was cut from the classic sitcom. The TV producer saw something special in the Full House star that he couldn’t deny despite the fact that he wasn't a Hollywood heavyweight at that point. Thanks to Franklin, sitcom fans got the chance to take notice of Saget’s comedic talents. And despite TV critics’ hatred for the ABC sitcom, viewers loved the sweetness and love projected by the comedian and his co-stars.
Jeff Franklin’s recent revelations came on the heels of the second anniversary of Bob Saget’s death, which spurred tributes from his Full House family. Saget definitely isn't forgotten, as his friends and colleagues have been sharing stories connected to him. Jodie Sweetin’s wedding anecdotes and John Stamos’ strip club tale are prime examples. While it's unfortunate that Saget is no longer with us, it's wonderful that we were able to witness his talents and fortunate that he landed the role of Danny.