If Full House’s Grandpa Katsopolis looks familiar it’s probably because actor Jack Kruschen appeared in over 100 TV shows
Jesse’s grandfather Iorgos Katsopolis, affectionately known as Papouli, first visited the Tanner house in the season four premiere “Greek Week.” When Jesse’s Greek teenage flame, Elena, and her younger brother, Sylvio, show up as well, both Jesse and D.J. find themselves caught up in romantic entanglements that may not end well.
It’s one of Full House’s funniest episodes and even includes a rare appearance of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen onscreen together. The twins who usually pull double-duty as Michelle get to play separate characters. Ashley is Michelle and Mary-Kate appears as her Greek counterpart, Melina.
Though the cultural misunderstandings and love triangles take center stage in this one, Iorgos has plenty of funny lines, and it’s easy to see why Jesse loves his grandfather so much. Those feelings come full circle in Papouli’s next appearance three seasons later. In “The Last Dance,” Grandpa Katsopolis visits San Francisco again and agrees to perform a Greek dance for Michelle’s class. Tragically, Papouli passes away in his sleep before he gets the chance.
Full House did heartbreak as well as it did hilarity, and this episode is full of bittersweet but heartwarming moments. The joy of knowing Papouli and pain of losing him were due in no small part to the actor who played him so well, Jack Kruschen. Iorgos Katsopolis came toward the end of Kruschen’s long career in over 100 TV shows and dozens of films.
Jacob “Jack” Kruschen was born in Winnipeg, Canada but raised in New York City and Los Angeles. He began working in radio while still in high school then joined the Armed Forces Radio Service during WWII.
After the war, his radio work led to parts in Fifties movies. Kruschen has the dubious distinction of being one of the few actors killed by Martians in two different sci-fi adventures: The War of the Worlds and The Angry Red Planet. He soon won roles in TV Westerns like Gunsmoke, Wanted Dead or Alive and four episodes of The Rifleman, where he played everyone from outlaws to the town doctor.
In the Sixties, Kruschen appeared in movies like the Gregory Peck thriller Cape Fear and the lighthearted John Wayne Western McLintock! He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as friendly Dr. Dreyfuss in the Jack Lemmon-Shirley MacLaine comedy The Apartment. He also played Christmas Morgan in the Debbie Reynolds musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown and appeared with Elvis in Follow That Dream.
In between his big screen gigs, Kruschen acted on TV in Route 66, Batman and Bonanza, where he played Italian immigrant Giorgio Rossi in three episodes.
With continuing work in shows like Hawaii Five-O, McCloud, The Rockford Files, CHiPs, WKRP in Cincinnati, The A-Team and many more, chances are, if you’ve watched any classic television, you’ve probably seen Jack Kruschen.
His brief but meaningful role in Full House, along with other Nineties gigs in shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Murphy Brown, bookended one of the most prolific careers of any actor in Hollywood.
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