One of my favorite parts of watching Step by Step, the Brady Bunch’s hipper, more edgy (well, as edgy as a Miller-Boyett production could be) younger brother was the beginning of the title sequence – it’s a first person viewpoint of ascending a rollercoaster; my sister and I would sit in front of the TV, put our hands up, and pretend we were at the amusement park. Step by Step not only provided such a fun family memory, it also gave us weekly laughs, and explored issues of growing up and dealing with family and sibling issues in a less sugar-coated way than most other TGIF shows. So, without further ado – here’s what the Lamberts and Fosters are up to today.

Carol Foster – Suzanne SomersShe was one of the original “hers” of the “hers and hers and his” in Three’s Company, a Playboy cover model, and her name is synonymous with the Thighmaster – yeah, Suzanne Somers had all kinds of success before she played kindhearted and feminine beautician Carol Foster on Step by Step, so it’s no surprise that her career is just as hot as ever. Somers has become a self-help guru, publishing books about weight-loss, getting older, and hormone replacement therapy, the latter of which has landed her into a bit of hot water with the medical community, as she advocates a somewhat unproven protocol for administering hormones. Despite this controversy, Suzanne’s success hasn’t lagged – she has a show on ShopNBC that features fitness and beauty products of her own design. My favorite of those I’ve seen? The Thigh Trainer. It’s like the Gazelle, but you can move your legs in all different directions.

Dana Foster – Staci KeananShe was the bookish feminist who was proud of her smarts, and showed me that geek could also be pretty . Yeah, Dana Foster was a bit of a role model for me, so I was really excited to find out what happened to Staci Keanan, who played her. According to IMDB, Staci enrolled at UCLA in 1998 to study art history, but after that, the paper trail pretty much went cold. She’s been a regular player  in productions at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood, and she does have a Twitter account, @StaciKeanan, but she tweets intermittently at best.

Karen Foster – Angela WatsonThe antithesis of her older sister Dana, Karen was ditzy, vain, and an aspiring model. Karen added lightness to the Foster kids and was the resident expert on matters of the heart (or at least having boyfriends). In real life, though, Angela Watson seems to be nothing like the character she portrayed on Step by Step (except she is very pretty). Although she’s appeared in regional theatre roles (like a production of How to Succeed in Business for Performance Riverside), after Step by Step came to a close, Angela shifted her focus to service and philanthropy. She served on the Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors for a number of years, until 2010 and continues to moderate panels and actively participate in SAG activities. She is currently the spokesperson for Hugs America, an organization that helps fundraise for various charitable organizations, including one which she herself founded – CAST. CAST stands for Child Actors Supporting Themselves, and provides legal aid to child actors and athletes whose parents misuse their money. This is a problem Angela had herself, and it’s great to see someone giving back so much.

Mark Foster – Christopher CastileMark Foster started off Step by Step as the definitive nerd – big glasses, dorky clothes (including a fanny pack!), an exorbitantly large vocabulary and an aptitude for science – but as time wore on, he grew into a smart, funny kid with typical friends, and, eventually a girlfriend. This evolution of nerd was a welcome surprise in a television show that could be criticized as formulaic, but I don’t know of any other show that let a nerd come into his own so gracefully. Incidentally, in real life, Christopher seems to be a nerd, though one of a different color that Mark Foster; he is reportedly a Political Science professor at Biola University – an Orange County, California, university that provides a “biblically centered education.” According to RateMyProfessors.com, students find him “chill, charismatic,” and “intelligent.”

Frank Lambert – Patrick DuffyMy parents knew Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing in primetime soap, Dallas, but I knew him as fun loving, man’s man contractor Frank Lambert. Since Step By Step came to a close in 1998, Duff found work as a guest star on various TV shows, but for the past 6 years, he’s been a regular on The Bold and the Beautiful, playing the ex-convict Stephen Logan, Sr.  But that’s not all! Starting this summer, Patrick will reprise the role that made him famous – that’s right, he’ll be playing Bobby Ewing once again, in ABC’s reboot of Dallas.

J.T. Lambert – Brandon CallJ.T. was rude, crude, and a bit of a jerk, but his goofiness stopped him from ever becoming a real hot commodity with the ladies. I found his antics hilarious and, as he got older, found his goofiness solidly linked to a good nature (so yeah, I had kind of a crush on him). Like other cast members, Brandon is not acting these days, and he’s ridiculously hard to track down. He reportedly lives in San Diego with his wife and two children, at least one of whom is a girl.

Brendan Lambert – Josh ByrneBrendan was a cute kid who idolized J.T. and terrorized Mark (and the rest of the Fosters, for that matter). Since Step By Step, Josh has followed Brandon’s example and quit acting. He’s a bit easier to track down, though – according to his MySpace page , he lives in Thousand Oaks, California, (a suburb of Los Angeles), and enjoys going to Renaissance Fairs and practicing swordplay.

Cody Lambert – Sasha MitchellCody was the oddball of the Lambert-Foster family – he lived in a van parked in the driveway, had a crush on Dana, a ridiculously high IQ, and the accent and catchphrases of a California Surfer (who in Wisconsin ever used the word “Dudesy?!”). Things stopped being so funny when Sasha was accused of domestic violence against his wife in the middle of season 5 of Step by Step. By the end of the season, Cody was written off the show and returned only once more, in the series finale. Sasha has had minor and guest starring roles in television (NYPD Blue, ER, JAG) and film (Gangland, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star).

Alicia “Al” Lambert – Christine LakinOf the Foster and Lambert children, Al was probably my favorite. I appreciated her tomboy attitude, her interest in sports, and I really enjoyed her storylines in later years about being okay with expressing her femininity without losing herself. And of the child actors on Step by Step, Christine has done the most with her acting career since then. She’s guest starred in a wide variety of television shows – 7th Heaven, Bones, Veronica Mars, and CSI: Miami, just to name a few. She’s also appeared in several movies, including Race to Witch Mountain, You Again, and , most infamously, The Hottie and the Nottie, with Paris Hilton (she was the Nottie, though anyone who has seen her spread in FHM would be quick to disagree with that statement), for which she picked up a Razzie in the Worst Screen Couple category. You can’t win, ‘em all though (or maybe you don’t want to, in the case of the Razzie), and Christine’s career is pretty enviable fo any actress. In more personal news, Christine is set to wed longtime boyfriend, director Andy Fickman, in June of this year.

This is the fourth installment in a TGIF: Where Are They Now? series. You can find the other three installments here

Family Matters
Full House
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch