April 20th, 2009
11:33 AM ET

As I was telling my good friend, Punky Brewster…

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/20/art.punky.brewster.jpg caption="Soleil Moon Frye in 2005." width=292 height=320]

Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

First of all, I think we can agree that – with the possible exception of Boutros Boutros-Ghali – the coolest name in the world is Soleil Moon Frye. You know it, I know it, even Hugo Chavez knows it.

Ms. Frye – for those of you pretending to not know who she is – is the actress who rose to stardom playing lovable orphan Punky Brewster on the popular 1980s NBC sitcom of the same name. And let me say that if you really don’t know whom I’m talking about, well, I’m just sorry you hate America.

You see, long before stars like the Olsen twins and Hannah Banana, or whatever that Cyrus girl’s fake name is, there was Soleil Moon Frye. As a child, she was a staple of my weekday television viewing. As opposed to my weekend television viewing, which revolved mostly around the Solid Gold Dancers.

Each afternoon I would put on my jean jacket, tie a brightly colored bandana around my head and watch Punky get into new mischief. And sure, I still wear the same outfit when I watch Larry King, but back then I would furiously write letters to Santa during the commercial break asking for a golden retriever and an elderly foster parent.

After the show I would sit in my room, silently resenting Punky’s best friend, Cherie (pronounced Cherry) Johnson for living my dream of being named after produce. (Note to Soleil: The episode where Cherie got stuck in that refrigerator…I’m not saying I wanted her to die, I’m just saying you could have left her in there a little longer.)

Fast forward 20 years and it turns out that Soleil Moon Frye is now a Twitter powerhouse, @moonfrye, and co-owner of an eco-friendly children’s clothing store. She has about 250,000 Twitter followers, compared to my 3,000. If my math is correct – and it usually isn’t – that means she is 83 times cooler than me. And, let’s face it, you didn’t need Twitter to tell you that.

Anyway, imagine my shock and delight this past Friday when Soleil Moon Frye posted a link on her page to the blog I wrote about Ashton Kutcher winning the first-to-a-million Twitter contest.

I mean, I was already pretty excited, what with me single-handedly eradicating malaria and all, but this was beyond comprehension.

Friends who couldn’t have cared less when Angelina Jolie said hi to me, or that brief period when I was President of France, were through the roof with jealous curiosity.

Come to find out that Mr. Kutcher is godfather to Ms. Frye’s children. Which obviously raises the question: Why is Soleil Moon Frye not my godmother? All it would take is one phone call: “Hi, Aunt Sue, sorry, but you’re out and Punky Brewster is in.” I’d be hanging up before she knew what hit her.

I am, however, nothing if not a realist. So I know that – despite the Twitter link – the chances of Soleil Moon Frye and I becoming best friends are slim to none. Kind of like the chances of Gary Coleman recording my outgoing voicemail message.

Regardless, it’s just nice to see that she turned out so well. A pop culture icon turned tech-savvy entrepreneur.

It gives me a warm feeling. Or maybe my bandana is just tied too tight.

Follow Jack Gray on Twitter

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Michelle D. Fonthill,Ontario

    Hi Jack

    Funny post yeah it's Hannah Montana for you old geezers who are still stuck in the 80's time warp. I never watched Punky Brewster but i rememeber the solid gold dancers in thier sequins yeah how things have changed maybe you can get Anderson to wear his solid gold dancing costume this year for Holloween and he can dance for candy!
    Soliel at least turned out normal unlike the other kids of her generation who got meessed up .What's your excuse Jack?

    Michelle D.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  2. bellai

    we loved punky brewster so much when we were kids we nicknamed my niece after her. my niece now has her own kid. i'm not saying we're old...:)

    April 21, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  3. Lori from IL

    Hey, Jack -

    Thanks for the laughs on an overcast, rainy Monday. Little too old to have been a Punky Brewster fan - but was aware the show was on. My niece was a big fan and Punky definitely started a new "look." (I'm of the Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room generation!)

    Would love to have a look in your closet - based on the clothing you continue to describe in your posts! I imagine Rose just shut the door when she was cleaning your apartment. Gotta be some great halloween costumes lurning in there somewhere!

    Glad to know that little Punky has grown into a fine young woman. That doesn't seem to happen too much in Hollywood these days. Good for her and thanks for sharing –.

    April 21, 2009 at 2:05 am |
  4. briseis09

    I loved Punky Brewster too and did watch all episodes as well. It was too bad the show got cancelled. My Sister and I were tres upset when we heard.

    Awesome Blog Post, though. I'm smiling right now. Keep it up!

    Loves & Huggles,

    April 21, 2009 at 1:44 am |
  5. honey j

    oh my god!! I loved punky brewster as a kid, all started when i had pneumonia and a friend of my mom's ge me a punky brewster paperdoll, then obsessed watching it on tv lol, yes, of course I used to drive everyone insane doing my hair in ponytails, wearing as mismatched, rainbow coloured clothes as possible and tying a bandanna around my leg and wondering around the house saying 'cmon brandon...' in an american accent (im from oz lol) I have the paperdoll still (uncut) n still watch it n im 30 now lol I will def raise my kids on 70s/80s shows as opposed to todays shows...better morals and more fun!! So glad Soleil Moon Frye turned out 'normal' n successful unlike child stars of today 🙂

    April 20, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Landaux / ElStuddo

    Hey there! I cant go into details about my love after all these years of Soleil, but my message-baord and topics site will tell it all. Just google Soleil Moon Frye Forums.

    I still really love that devils outfit! WOW! 😀

    April 20, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  7. Pati Mc Camp Hill, PA

    Punky Who-ster????

    Um, yeah and you forgot to mention the time Julia Roberts said "Hi dog" to Sammy. Unless you just made it up. Heh.

    April 20, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  8. Don, WA

    Ashton Kutcher was the tweeter who stopped the skeeter,
    And is likely an avid Jack Gray reader.
    We can even read from a beautiful Moon,
    And enjoy the words of a Jack Gray tune.
    But it's the ability to chime in too,
    That makes Twitter about me and you.

    April 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  9. Helen, Reading, UK

    Good evening Jack et al! Can I please say that I don't hate America, being in England we didn't watch this Punky Brewster of whom you speak! I have however spent far too much time watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch on Nickelodeon, so one isn't totally ignorant of the phenomenon otherwise known as Soleil Moon Frye. I just hope my 11 year old god-daughter doesn't read your blog, Jack and get ideas about trading me in. If she does, I'm out as fairy god-mother quicker than I can wave my wand, no doubt to be replaced by one of Girls Aloud.. It's great that she read your blog and posted the link on Twitter. I felt much the same when you replied to me for the first time! Your cool rating must be going through the roof, what with nearly 200 members in Gray Groupies on Facebook and the odd 3000 followers on Twitter. The Boss had better watch out..the apprentice may soon become the master! Time for bed here, goodnight all, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite x x x

    April 20, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  10. Cherie...Toronto, Canada

    Oh my goodness Jack! I didn't know you were old enough to remember the Solid Gold dancers!!! I loved Punky too, although I hated that episode when Cherie got stuck in the refrigerator. Traumatized me for life...

    And yes...that really is my name (pronounced "Sherry" though!)

    April 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  11. Cherry B - Ms

    Another very cool blog from Mr Gray, Jack, I think Ms. Frye owes you!

    April 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  12. Dee from CT

    Maybe the world is blind,
    Or just a little unkind.
    Don't know.

    Seems you can't be sure
    Of anything anymore.

    You maybe lonely and then,
    One day you're smiling again.
    Every time I turn around,
    I see the girl that turns my world around.
    Standing there...

    Everytime I turn around,
    Her spirit's lifting me right off the ground.
    What's gonna be ?
    Guess we'll just wait and see.

    April 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  13. Ann

    Loved Punky. Had 3 girls and wanted them all to be like Punky!

    April 20, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  14. Howard

    I can't imagine where you come up with these things? Your brain must be a scary but wonderful place. You're better than Jon Stewart any day. Thanks for giving me a big belly laugh.

    April 20, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Rebecca

    Well heck, Jack, I never saw a single episode of Punky Brewster, had no idea who this chick was, I know a girl named Vonciel Baudoin, which I think is a pretty cool name in itsownself, but I read your blogs on a regular basis – so I think you must be way cooler than the sun girl whatshername 🙂 Yeah, well, I do follow @aplusk

    April 20, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  16. Annie Kate

    Hey Jack

    Love Mondays because you post – that is about the only thing Mondays have going for them but its enough. Good to hear what happened to Soleil – nice that her success in business continued after her Punky Brewster days. Super nice for you that she noticed your blog and linked to it. I bet Sammie is jealous.

    Thanks for the post – it was funny as usual and I'm looking forward to the next one!

    April 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  17. Isabel

    Hi, Jack!

    You are nostalgic today! I like it! 🙂

    This weekend, I read an article that reminds me of you. Do you know what are the films box office champions of this week? "17 Again" and "Hannah Montana", respectively.

    It's sadness this generation of today (I'm 35 .... lol). Good thing this generation have you!

    April 20, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  18. Jennie S-C


    Good news. When I was a kid (in the Punky Brewster era), people would always comment on how I looked EXACTLY like Soleil Moon Fry. I am willing to be your friend if you are willing to live in denial.


    April 20, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  19. Cheryl Kinney

    I wonder where all of the other Rascals are. It would be nice if there were others on Twitter. I am sure that this is doing wonders for her children's store too.

    April 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  20. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    lol...i used to watch her all the time! i even dressed like her, its nice to see that we have both grown out of that senseless fashion style!

    i love you, man! lol

    April 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  21. Rebekah

    loved it, Jack!

    And thank you for letting me know that I hate America as I have never heard of Punky Brewster (before this, of course.)

    Oh! by the way – you're math was pretty darn close on that one.

    April 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  22. Mobius

    You're right. It's the bandanna.

    April 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  23. Ivan8!3

    What's not to love about Soleil Moon Frye? She was even cool on the pseudo-cool final seasons of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (I am also not-so-secretly a big fan of Melissa Joan Hart).

    Keep hope alive! I was able to choose my godparents as a kid...who says you can't as an adult?

    Make it happen, Jack...all while singing songs from Lady Gaga.

    April 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  24. Miss J

    That is so funny!

    Soleil turned out to be a gorgeous young lady.

    I used to watch her AND the Solid Gold dancers. Do you remember a dancer named Jamila? I used to tease a friend I had with the same name. Weren't there 7 dancers? Oh memories memories.

    I wonder what Cherie is up to these days.

    April 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  25. Shirley Hendricks


    I use too be a teenager in the 80's and remeber Pucky Brewster too . I though the show was a little weird but funny . I miss out on a lot of things but not on 80's sitcoms . I was thinking of start twittering myself . Don't know if will have a whole lot of followers like she has but would be nice too find out .

    April 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  26. mishan

    you are too funny..

    how are we going to make you 83 times cooler on twitter –
    perhaps another humanitarian effort masked in friendly competition?

    April 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  27. Tracey

    I actually found your blog through her twitter and have been enjoying it. Am I the only person though who not only had the outfit, but the actual Punky doll? May I mention that doll made me the envy of all my friends at school. Keep up the excellent writing!

    April 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  28. MattB

    Blossom-hater! 🙂

    April 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  29. readerwave

    Punky came on when we most need someone cute and charming... and her dog...I could still watch reruns if they were on... I am 60 year old grandma who never grew up.... Just ask my children and grandchildren.... She is living her dream and everyone should... more power to her ... and thanks for the great story.. you brought back so many memories....and smiles...

    April 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  30. Jayme, Detroit

    Jack, this post is amazing. The "Solid Gold Dancers" line killed me. You have a great voice. Looking forward to the next one!

    @jambox on Twitter, by the way!

    April 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  31. Alyzabeth

    Dream big, my friend, practice LOL, I mean LOA, and you will have your dreams!!

    April 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  32. Gena

    I do like Punky, but the best name by far is Obba Babatunde!!

    April 20, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
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