Alley Mills, the actor who played mother Norma Arnold on TV drama The Wonder Years, revealed in a recent interview that the show may have prematurely come to an end because of a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Mills alleges that the lawsuit, brought against series co-stars Fred Savage (Kevin) and Jason Hervey (Wayne) by a show employee, put the brakes on the show’s run.
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“When we shot the series finale, nobody knew whether or not The Wonder Years was going to be renewed,” Mills said. “That’s because of a completely ridiculous sexual harassment suit that was going on against Fred Savage, who is the least offensive, most wonderful, sweet human being that ever walked the face of the Earth.”
Costume designer Monique Long, then 31, filed the sexual harassment lawsuit in 1993, alleging that Savage and Hervey — who were 16 and 20 years old, respectively — verbally and physically harassed her every day on set.
According to the lawsuit, Long allegedly attempted to bring the harassment to the producers’ attention, to no avail. Shortly thereafter, she was let go from her job.
Long still works as a costume designer in the industry, and she still stands by her claims.
“What I will say at this time is, that back then, claiming sexual harassment was not popular nor acceptable in Hollywood,” she said. “The truth has always been public record in the complaint and all the documents and depositions filed with the courts. If anyone wants the truth of what happened they can read it there. To this day I stand by the truth in those documents.”
“My only response to Ms. Mills’ slander is that it proves exactly why women in the industry are forced to remain silent about sexual harassment,” she added.
Eventually, the lawsuit was dropped after an “undisclosed out-of-court settlement was reached.” Mills now claims that the lawsuit was nonsense.
“It was such a joke,” said Mills of Long’s claims. “It’s a little bit like what’s happening now. Some innocent people can get caught up in this stuff. It’s very tricky. It was so not true. It was my dresser, and I don’t care if she’s listening. I probably shouldn’t be telling this, but I don’t care because it was so long ago. It’s gotta be over now.”
Mills said the network that produced the show, ABC, declined to pursue Season 7 of The Wonder Years to avoid dealing with a potential scandal. At the time, anyone employed by the show was forbidden from talking about the lawsuit publicly.
“[The settlement] really made me mad,” said Mills. “You don’t pay someone off when there’s no crime. You just fire the girl.”
The Wonder Years ran from 1988 to 1993. ABC declined to comment on Mills’ allegations.
Neither Hervey nor Savage have responded to Mills’ comments, and neither actor was ever charged with a crime. None of these allegations has ever been proven in court.