A Hand to Hold Onto: Remembering Bob Saget

Bob+Saget+appearing+on+the+CBS+Morning+Program+in+1987.

Bernard Gotfryd

Bob Saget appearing on the CBS Morning Program in 1987.

Bob Saget—star of the popular family sitcom “Full House,” long-time comedian, and newly minted podcast host—passed away on Jan. 9 of the new year at age 65. He was born Robert Lane Saget on May 17, 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife of four years Kelly Rizzo, and his three daughters Lara Melanie Saget, Jennifer Belle Saget, and Aubrey Saget.

For anyone and everyone born between 1980 and 2005, the passing of TV sitcom legend and prolific comedian Bob Saget strikes a particularly somber chord. For many of us, Saget shaped our childhoods as American TV dad and resident goofball, Danny Tanner; the role would come to define parenthood for an entire generation of viewers, instilling in each of us an enduring inclination towards kindness and cleanliness. For others, he gained our attention and affection in later years, through his raunchy comedy sets and heartwarming (if sometimes jarring) honesty. But these performances are only the tip of the iceberg, the very first layer to uncover regarding the irreplaceable giant of television, Bob Saget.

Bob Saget’s portrayal of Danny Tanner is perhaps one of the most venerable representations of fatherhood to come out of the 1990s. Sensitive and understanding, kind and goofy, Saget’s on-screen performance can best be described as a bit of wish fulfillment, wrapped up in a delightfully non-traditional family unit and delivered with the kind of simplicity only ever found in an upper-middle class suburban home. What began as yet another story about a clueless father turned Mr. Mom became a startlingly honest and comforting look at a household reeling from grief. 

For those who haven’t seen it, “Full House” tells the story of Tanner and his three daughters who, after losing their mother in a tragic car accident, gain two new parents in their Uncle Jesse and father’s friend Joey. Saget, alongside co-stars John Stamos and Dave Coulier, became an unforgettable father figure in no less than eight seasons and 192 episodes, running from 1987 to 1995. A childhood staple for young adults at San Diego State and beyond, comforting in the same way a homemade bowl of soup can be, Danny Tanner was everyone’s dad.

Now, for those who grew up watching Bob Saget on “Full House,” listening to any of his comedy sets can feel reminiscent of being a kid at the adults table on Thanksgiving: there’s the sense that you probably shouldn’t be hearing what you’re hearing, but you want to be there anyway. Although Saget did comedy both before and after his time on “Full House,” his style never changed; it was always raunchy, honest, and (as Marc Maron puts it) “f—— funny.” Saget had re-launched his comedy career in recent months, and was touring in Florida at the time of his death. In his last Instagram post, he reflected happily on the magic of performing again: “Okay, I loved tonight’s show @pontevedra_concerthall in Jacksonville. Really nice audience. Lots of positivity.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bob (@bobsaget)

Beyond his acting credits, Bob Saget also had a lesser-known charitable side: he was a board member for the Scleroderma Research Foundation for nearly twenty years. The SRF funds research on the skin condition Scleroderma, a disease that one of Saget’s two sisters died from in 1994. Saget had no idea of his sister’s fate when he initially became involved with the foundation, years before her diagnosis. The foundation has made headlines in the last week as donations totaling over $90k poured in over the days following Saget’s untimely death.

In April of 2020, Saget launched a podcast entitled Bob Saget’s Here For You, wherein he meandered weekly through interviews with some of TV’s biggest names—McKenna Grace, George Lopez, and most recently B.J. Novak. In keeping with Saget’s other projects, the focus of the podcast lies firmly on love, and light, and laughter.

Over the days following his passing, countless tributes to the star were made by celebrities and fans alike:

Comedian and SNL regular Pete Davidson remarked on a friend’s Instagram that, “Bob Saget was one of the nicest men on the planet,” and reflected on how Saget helped him through some of his own personal struggles. He ended, “I love you Bob it was an honor to know you. Thank you for your kindness and friendship.”

Marc Maron, long-time comedian, actor, and podcast host, remarked on his podcast WTF with Marc Maron, “Bob Saget was really one of the nicest people that I knew…I think its important to know when somebody is as kind and bighearted as Bob Saget…and so f—— funny…He was always there if you needed him, and he was always there to be a friend, even if you didn’t know him that well.”

And John Stamos, co-star of Saget’s on Full House, wrote on Instagram in a heart-wrenching tribute:

“I’m not ready to accept that he’s gone – I’m not going to say goodbye yet. I’m going to imagine him out there, still on the road, doing what he loves with all his heart and humor… God, he loves us all so much… I know in my heart he’s smiling, still hearing the laughter from a few hours before. I’m just not ready to say goodbye yet. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.”

So of all the things to know about Bob Saget, the most important seems to be something you may not have known at all: both on-stage and off, he was a good guy.

Unexpected to say the least, even through Bob Saget’s own passing he hasn’t left us without guidance. It’s bittersweet, now, to remember that one of “Full House”s most enduring storylines dealt with the ins and outs of grief.

In the very first season, Bob Saget gives us these memorable lines as Danny Tanner counsels his brother-in-law on their first big holiday without his wife:

“Sometimes it’s easier, [and] on days like this it’s real hard. But, you don’t have to go through this alone. Talking about it, that’s what helps me. Talking about memories. That’s what keeps her in your heart.”

Most of us have only known Bob Saget as a TV character, or as a comedian. But he was much more than that. It’s important, and okay, to mourn him. To keep him—and his enduring kindness—in your heart.