Obit Bob Saget

In this 2008 photo, actor and roastee Bob Saget speaks at the ‘Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget,’ in Burbank, California.

The list of positive ‘90s TV father figures is short but meaningful.

In an era where divorce was a huge topic on TV shows, movies and talk shows, the exemplary male role model was in short supply.

You had James Avery as the stern-but-caring Uncle Phil on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Tim Allen as Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on “Home Improvement,” Reginald VelJohnson as the goofy cop Carl Winslow on “Family Matters” and, of course, Bob Saget as Danny Tanner on “Full House.”

Of those, Tanner was the corniest. He had two modes: a guy who was obsessed with cleaning and hosting his morning TV show and a dad who could always swoop in with a life lesson set to a cheesy instrumental. It was over the top, but Saget sold it with conviction.

That was Saget’s secret weapon in the ‘90s: He came off as the most wholesome, inoffensive guy on shows like “Full House” and as the host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and then took a flamethrower to that persona with his raunchy standup comedy and in movies like his famous cameo as a cocaine addict in “Half Baked” and his directorial debut with the late Norm Macdonald’s crude comedy “Dirty Work.”

Through the decades, that dual nature of his career has been well documented. What hadn’t been known is how much of a caring, patriarchal figure Saget was to many comics and aspiring actors. After the announcement of Saget’s death at 65 this week, the testimonies to his caring nature from celebrities and budding comedians were almost overwhelming.

“SNL’s” Pete Davidson talked about how Saget would check in on him as he struggled with his mental health. “Full House” co-star Candance Cameron Bure discussed how protective he was of the young cast. “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor, whose character Saget played the older version of on the show, talked about how his encouragement helped him get over his imposter syndrome.

The recurring theme in all of these stories is Saget wasn’t shy about his emotions. While he cracked wise, he told others how much he loved their work and who they were as people. That showed on his social media too. He talked about the pain he felt losing celebrities like Betty White and Norm Macdonald and the joy of returning to the stage to do standup (He was embarking on a new tour at the time of his death). He talked with standups and actors about their processes and adjusting with the times on his podcast “Bob Saget’s Here for You.”

“There are people who leave the earth and you’re haunted by all the things you didn’t tell them, all the love that was unexpressed. Luckily that wasn’t the case with Bob. We adored each other and we told each other,” Radnor wrote on Twitter.

Saget died on Jan. 9 knowing how much he was loved and how much he loved other people. If there’s a fatherly lesson from that, it’s that we should be as open as he was with his love and encouragement. It’s the best way to honor someone’s legacy, even both are a little cheesy.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at andrew.gaug@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug

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