The same actor played Nancy McKeon's dad on both The Division and The Facts of Life

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: March 11, 2019, 4:04PM

On The Division, Nancy McKeon plays Inspector Jinny Exstead, a complex character who's committed to police work, but struggles with a difficult drug addiction. To help her through this struggle, Jinny's family occasionally appears on the show, including her dad John Exstead, played by actor Alex Rocco.

These moments are always tense, with Jinny upset at the confrontations, and her colleagues and family just upset period, but for longtime fans of Nancy McKeon, there was reason to smile during the first scene when her father shows up in the crime drama's first season episode "Don't Ask." The same exact actor played McKeon's father on her previous hit series The Facts of Life, so in a way, this scene on The Division was like a little TV family reunion.

Alex Rocco on The Division

Alex Rocco on The Facts of Life

On The Facts of Life, Rocco played Charlie Polniaczek, dad to Nancy McKeon's tomboy Jo. He first appeared in the second season of the series for the episode "The Secret," and in it, Jo wrestles with the fact that she never told her friends that her dad's in the State Penitentiary. The first time we see the actors together, there's a pane of glass between them, and they exchange words through a phone during a prison visit. For this tense moment, it's due to Charlie's thieving ways, instead of Jinny's nasty habit.

In his career, Rocco starred in two short-lived 1990s sitcoms, Sibs, where he played dad to three daughters, and The George Carlin Show, where he played Carlin's character's BFF, a former bookie. He also appeared regularly on hit shows and movies across his 50-year career, most recently in the 2017 thriller Don't Sleep.

But out of all those roles, it's likely TV audiences will always remember him best as "Jo's dad," so it's good to see the actors kept in touch across those 30 years between McKeon's hit series.

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