Published December 04, 2012
Actress Robin Givens is back in the news, after her former husband Mike Tyson recently confessed to an unusual love triangle between him, Robin and her then boyfriend, a very young Brad Pitt! Beside being the former Mrs. Tyson and the former fling of Brad Pitt, Givens was also part of the groundbreaking, multiracial ensemble cast on TV’s “Head of the Class,” a show which debuted 26 years ago and ran from 1986 to 1990. “Head of the Class” showcased a group of gifted students at a New York City public high school, but it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill sitcom. Our friends at Snakkle.com help us catch up with Robin as well as all the stars of the classic TV show to see where they are today.
Robin Givens (as Darlene Merriman)
THEN: Darlene was rich and spoiled and was often portrayed as shallow. She had a competitive streak, and that served her well both on the academic team and in the classroom. In one of the rare episodes that delved into the students’ personal lives, Darlene discovered she was a descendant of Thomas Jefferson’s slave and mistress, Sally Hemings.
NOW: Although many may know actress Robin Givens, who just turned 48, as Mike Tyson’s ex-wife, her acting career was nowhere close to over with the end of “Head of the Class.” She starred with Eddie Murphy in “Boomerang,” was featured in Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys,” and has had recurring roles on hit shows such as “Chuck” and “House of Payne.”
Howard Hesseman (as teacher Charlie Moore)
THEN: Best known as DJ Dr. Johnny Fever from “WKRP in Cincinnati,” Hesseman was a counterculture icon. He started as a substitute teacher for the kids in the show but eventually became their full-time mentor—challenging them to think and live outside of their books. Hesseman left the series before the last season.
NOW: Hesseman has mainly worked in TV since “Head of the Class.” He’s appeared on “House,” “Boston Legal,” “Psych,” “ER,” and “Lie to Me,” and we recently saw him on the small screen in an episode of “Mike and Molly” in 2012. An iconic “counter culture” actor since 1968, Hesseman shows no signs of slowing down.
Dan Frischman (as Arvid Engen)
THEN: Math- and science-obsessed Arvid was the quintessential nerd. Although Arvid never got the girl, he often got roped into his best friend’s crazy schemes.
NOW: An accomplished magician who still performs around the United States. He co-owns a production company that was involved in multiple Nickelodeon series.
Leslie Bega (as Maria Borges)
THEN: Maria was known for a perfectionist. Before Maria left for a performing arts school midway through the series (after 66 episodes), the multitalented actress Leslie Bega shone in Fillmore High’s productions of “Grease” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”
NOW: Although actress Leslie Bega has worked on multiple TV shows and movies since departing “Head of the Class” in 1989, these days she is probably most well known for her role as sexy Valentina La Paz on “The Sopranos.”