The Throwback: Catching up with 'Punky Brewster'
September 1st, 2011
05:04 PM ET

The Throwback: Catching up with 'Punky Brewster'

Have you ever woken up in your flower cart bed in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, terrified that Simon Chillings was going to whisk you off to Fenster Hall?

Such was the charmed, if tragic, life of one of TV's most beloved characters - Punky Brewster.

CNN caught up with Punky herself - Soleil Moon Frye, who balances her roles as mother of two little girls, Target's Mommy Ambassador, eco-friendly children's boutique proprietress, activist, web series host, and author with grace and great humor. Her debut book, "Happy Chaos: From Punky to Parenting and My Perfectly Imperfect Adventures in Between," is available now.

CNN: What are your most cherished memories of the "Punky Brewster" experience?

Soleil Moon Frye: We were always kids first and foremost, so for us the set was literally our playground. We'd take our pogo sticks and hop off of furniture and ride our scooters through the sound stages and just the smell and the nostalgia of that whole time is so close to my heart.

I loved playing Punky and I have so many favorite episodes. I hold it so close. I loved NBC and being a part of that show at that time - it really was like a family and we'd have these incredible get-togethers with all the different shows and we would all sing these NBC family songs and it was really like being a family. The network was really like this extended family at the time. It was amazing and special and was something that was truly unique to (then-NBC President) Brandon Tartikoff and to that era of television.

CNN: Do you keep in touch with your fellow "Punky" cast members?

SMF: I haven't spoken to "Henry" in years, but I still tweet Cherie once in awhile - we reunited through Twitter, of course!

CNN: Did you save any mementos from the set?

SMF: My mom actually has some shoes! She may have an animated cut-out.

CNN: What was your favorite episode?

SMF: One of my favorite episodes was the one about the Challenger explosion because it was something that I really went through at the time - I wanted to be an astronaut and the kids gave me a hard time. We'd watched what happened when the Challenger exploded and I was so devastated by it and I think it helped a lot of people get through that time and so that meant a lot to me.

The episode with Andy Gibb was another favorite! I had such a big crush on Andy Gibb at the time. He did two episodes - in the episode where he's singing to me, you can actually see my love for him gushing out! I loved the episode where Cherie got caught in the refrigerator because we had so many people that watched that episode and then went on to save their little brother or sister because they'd seen that episode. That episode was actually inspired by someone who wrote in and shared the idea.

Getting letters afterword and knowing that we were a part of something that could have helped save somebody was incredible because they saw it on "Punky." I loved the "Just Say No" episode. There are just so many episodes that I'm nostalgic for!

CNN: Was it difficult to operate Punky's flower cart bed?

SMF: The flower cart bed, are you kidding me? I wanted the flower cart bed! It was awesome! I'd climb up, lay down, it's go up and down - it was the coolest thing ever.

CNN: Does it ever bother you that you're still associated with "Punky" after all these years? Do you have any bitterness about people still categorizing you as a child star?

SMF: "Punky" is so close to my heart and it's so funny when people talk about those who had a rough time post-child stardom but I feel like there are so many more positive stories. The other day someone actually asked me to name some and I said: Ron Howard, Natalie Portman... I could go on and on about the incredible success stories of people that turned out fantastic that have grown up to be incredible, beautiful and inspiring. Fred Savage is an amazing director now - there's just so many talented people that grew up acting and have continued to be inspiring adults. For me, I was so blessed because I got to play a character that was so full of spunk and heart but that also really broke so many boundaries and taught people to be unique and to be themselves and to always be proud of who they were.

CNN: What does your role as Target's Mommy Ambassador entail?

SMF: It's fantastic! I absolutely love it. I get to connect with moms through social media - we do videos, we had a Twitter party last week; it was super fun. It's really just connecting and sharing and talking about my parenting adventures and hearing about their parenting adventures and doing all that sort of fun stuff and it's been a blast.

CNN: You co-founded an eco-friendly children's clothing line, The Little Seed. What makes an article of clothing eco-friendly? Are there certain fibers? Dyes?

SMF: We really wanted to create something that was eco-friendly for our little ones, and also to make the planet a little healthier. What we wanted to do, really, was to be able to educate and share and really communicate with them. So some of our clothing is raw cotton, some of it is organic cotton - we use a lot of organics - but I always wanted it to be inspired by the idea that grain can really be in every color and that we didn't have to take the concept of organic being just beige and cream, but that we could really make it vibrant and colorful by using low-impact dyes.

CNN: You're a brand and you essentially have your own empire to keep you busy - will you still take on acting roles?

SMF: I'm definitely ready to go back. It's so funny, because for a while I really just wanted to be with the kids and then all of the social media and designing and The Little Seed just got bigger and bigger and grew and grew. And it was funny because one of the reasons we started The Little Seed was to do something yet still be moms. What I've realized over the last few years with everything growing is that I don't have to choose between being a mom and following my dreams of having a career. I can actually do both and I think for a long time I felt like I'd have to make a choice, then I realized you can do both and you can do both gracefully.

CNN: Are there any other projects you're working on right now?

SMF: I recently traveled to Haiti with J/P HRO (J/P Haitian Relief Organization) and I'm really excited this year to do more work with them and do another trip and really try and help the women and children and bring jobs and sustainability. I'm really lucky to be working with such an incredible group of people.

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Filed under: The Throwback

soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. pioloherorbic

    zobaczcie na tą stronę
    zobacz sam

    July 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. plaurseZele

    To jest najbardziej gowniany portal:
    gowniany portal

    June 21, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Gardenlobster

    I was a HUGE Punky fan as a kid. The episode about the Challenger explosion really helped me through a tough time. As an impressionable 7 yr old, the show was a great help in coping with an event that was emotionally shattering. And lives were saved by the refrigerator episode. I will never forget either series (I was a big fan of the animated show, too – remember Glomer??)

    September 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tif31

    i love her show

    September 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Topaz114

    I remember seeing that refrigerator episode as a kid. My friends and I were so scared of abandoned refrigerators after watching it (not that we saw too many..maybe 1). Haha.

    September 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack

    Punky Brewster is a show about an orphan girl who is abandoned by her parents. She finds a vacant apartment and squats there until she is discovered by the building's grumpy, elderly manager Henry. Gradually, the relationship between Punky and Henry grows close and Henry decides to adopt Punky despite all the foolish beuracratic red-tape. Punky befriends a girl in the building, Cherie, and the show follows Punky as she continues to touch people's lives and a childish yet heart-warming way. It's a show that's both tragic and tranqualizing.

    I wrote that because all you morons just focus on irrelevant things about her private life, and not how great Punky Brewster was and still is! The first 3 episodes are on YouTube, go check it out!

    September 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • NetNinja

      Jack. Well done.

      The show was very controversial just as Webster was. I loved the show and found it to be a joy when T.V. shows were still about family values in some sort of odd way.
      I believe it was my first introduction into the world fo child actors with strange names.
      She turned out to be a well adjusted child actor after the series was over and went on to complete school get married and have children. Kudos to her!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jokes

    tigol bitties

    September 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. josense

    instead of reading so often about how child artists have screwed up, they should also put these kind of stories that shows how well they have also done. used to love punky brewster when i was growing up.

    My fav episode was T.C FENESTRA! yeah!

    September 4, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bill Brasky!!!!

    Holy cow those boobs were huge!

    September 4, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. spiralbrain

    Good interview!

    September 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. suzycreamcheese

    actually it's "awakened"

    September 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. beenz

    Why did this show never make it to Nick at Nite or TV Land? Enough with Everybody loves Raymond already.. bring back some of the classic 80's shows!

    September 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pest

    Anyone who is truly concerned about being "eco-friendly" does not inflict "little ones" upon the earth. Environmentalists who are only willing to give up things that they value little or not at all are the worst hypocrites.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. The Måd Råp3r

    I'd hit that.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Anon

    The only reason this is being posted is because they are trying to associate our memories of Challenger with 9/11.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  16. Query1

    Wow... I can;t believe how the years have gone by but II am still a Punky brewster fan... for Life...
    I can remember in elementr wearing different pairs of shoes and lacking different color shoe laces through my
    shoes as I was so inspired by Punky she was not afraid to be friends with the anyone and spoke her mind no matter if anyone didnt like it...
    Wow those were some great years... Punky truly helped lot of young girls like myself to know a family is not only considered to be the norm consisting only of one male or female Prent.. that a family can consist of one of the other and friends...
    So.. many taught.. which could trully still to this day educate the youth's of today... like the refrigerator episode..lernt how to perorm CPR and alert emergency for help, never forget that one scared me straight.., the say No to drugs, and how to be there for a friend who lost a loved lone like their parents ( remember the Cheri rememberance of her Parents death episode.. boy did I ever cry.. so many episodes...
    Would love to see the origional episodes on television again...
    God Bless you Soleil Moon Frye and your Loved ones... you and your cast mates (Cherie, Margo, Alan, Henry, Cherie;s Grandma) trully made a difference for the better in this world
    II remember the episode where Punky did not want to study and the Debarge Brothers came to her house
    to encourage her to study... and sing... Amazing..
    LOL.. So... Hillarious when Cheri"s Grandma would pass out.. i mean fully faint once in awhile at the
    shock and awe.. of being in their presence..
    And everyone in the room like totally ignored her passed out on the floor by enjoying the Debarge's performance..
    and when she would get up once in awhile off the floor to only pass out agian.. Hillarious!...
    Never find shows like Punky agian... So.. greatful to have grown up in that era...
    You will never be forgotten Punky and Cast Honestly....

    God Bless...

    September 2, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  17. jb2817

    She has a mad rack

    September 2, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  18. will

    Her daughters are named JAGGER and POET !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an idiot!

    September 2, 2011 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Topaz114

      I always liked the name Jagger– for a guy. But I think that's because I had a huge crush on Antonio Sabato, Jr. when he played "Jagger" on General Hospital. 😉

      September 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  19. siva

    please,send recent and latest entertainment online videos.latest upgrade messages and news .......send .

    September 2, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  20. TheNumber23

    Punky Power!!!

    September 2, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  21. Mike P

    She was my first crush.

    September 2, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  22. bd

    There's the interview and then there's the inquisition, apparently.

    September 2, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  23. fretlessbass

    Wow! She hasn't changed a bit!

    September 2, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  24. Franklin Rogers

    She could play Casey Anthony when the made for TV movie comes out on Lifetime.

    September 2, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  25. ibrad

    boobs like the comments I`ve read

    September 2, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  26. John

    Punky Brewster is a fantastic show. I completely missed it as I was too young when the show first came on, but I was hunting down old shows from the 80s / 90s on YouTube... like Fraiser, Cheers, Blossom,, Fresh Prince. Then I read the synoposis for Punky Brewster and started watching the show from the beginning on YouTube! It's a very heart-warming show.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Susan

    Have to say the Andy Gibb episodes were my favorite – I challenge Soleil that I had the bigger crush on him. I"m glad someone got to gush in person!

    September 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Sarah's a swamp donkey

    Good lord you know that Sarah and Justice are enormous swamp donkeys. Solid 300 pounders, the both of them. Just jealous of Ms. Frye's lovely sweater puppies. Those ladies sat home prom night.

    September 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • taobaozi


      September 1, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      Who like your mama?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • albert halment

      Hmm just checked your IP adress and record, I wonder what you are doing on a news site. I mean your linkedin resume says your are a college grad, but a quick background check shows you never went!

      September 2, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Interesting, Albert! Especially since my buddies on O'Brien road found you had no such access.
      Welcome to the watchlist.

      September 2, 2011 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  29. Julio ManKini

    I bet Justice and Sarah are hogs. Only fat smarmy pigs call people perverts for looking at a hot adult woman!

    September 1, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I bet your a pot-gutt no teeth havin stank@$$ slimeball.

      September 1, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julio ManKini

      I was right, by Sarah's response it is obvious she is some pig who is probably destroying a nice guys life.

      Probably got knocked up now he is stuck with a girl that has a rear with it's own gravitational force.

      And no Sarah I am actually a very attractive man that would just snicker at you if you walked up to me at a bar.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Yeah, right you don't know what I look like and I didn't say anything bad about soleil, I was just playing when I said that. But when you attack someone over nothing you look like a real idiot. And if I saw you I'm sure I'd step right on by.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josie

      Pay him no mind he's probably an old dried up tiny has been who's had his day and now it's gone.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nadine

      @Josie lol I agree. She didnt say anything bad and I got the joke seeing that soleil is not a little girl anymore. That goes to show you what kind of man he really is I'm sure his mama raised him better than that. Such a shame.

      September 2, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      Hot adult woman? I only see a child in the pic stop looking at kids you sicko!

      September 2, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Lol! Josie, Nadine, and lola. Looks like he couldn't go toe-to-toe and went to j/o.

      September 2, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  30. JJ Moore

    She a'ite to old for me though

    September 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      She's a bit too young for me. I'm 50 and prefer a bit more experience in a woman. 🙂

      September 2, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  31. Jozen

    Like Mr Pibb and Red Vines she is crazy delicious...

    September 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Sheeraz

    Love Punky she grew up to be a hot babe perfection

    September 1, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Isaac

    man she is crazy hot now

    September 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Lindalou

    You guys are almost as bad as the guys that bring politics into every story.

    Ms. Frye its great reading about a child star that didn't go over the edge as she passed thru the teenage years. Nice to know that you've not only been a contributing member of society here but in parts of the world that need help.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I'll totally agree. Though, I AM glad that she had the surgery. Bumped into a before/after picture while I was looking her current information up. Every woman that I've met who had that issue had significant back pain.
      That she wasn't ruined by show business IS a pleasant surprise.
      That she's helping the entire world, a piece at a time, a special grace.

      September 2, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • larry


      Ill bet you sould rather have an italian sausage to suk

      September 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  35. carringtonblak

    may the good lord bestow his many blessings upon you.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      He already did. Twice.
      Fortunately, she found a surgeon to correct those "blessings" before her back gave out.

      September 2, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
    • me


      you are so f'n unfunny and lame!

      September 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Emerson Biggins

    Googled some pictures of her... She kinda reminds me of Danica Patrick with some Alanis Morissette mixed in... and I have to mention those Big Jugs!!

    September 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  37. justice

    All you guys are perverts

    September 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiAmo

      No... I would think men were perverts if we DIDN'T appreciate a nice set of knockers. If you have big boobs and you show them off, don't call us perverts when we look.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Guest

    You must, you must, you must increase your bust.
    That was the best episode.

    September 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Elvis

    now ya got me thinkin' 'bout watermelons!

    September 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Richard Fore

    google "soleil moon frye before surgery" and there's a b&w picture of some huge ole melon on that girl. yi ya

    September 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elphaba

      Nice picture if you like enormous boobs. She complained about snide remarks made about her boobs, yet had no problem wearing ready-to-break spaghetti strap tops to show them off. Like I say to all women who complain about men looking at their boobs; "If you're going to show them, I'm going to look."

      September 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  41. joAnn

    I,sure do miss that Great t.v. Show.You,were and still are an excellent,actress. JoAnn Bartholomew

    September 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Jen

    I remember reading years ago that she had her breasts reduced because they were so large.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Junkpile

      Yes they were officially called "bazoooooms" because they were so big. At least that's what we Italians call them anyway.....

      September 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      They were also causing her serious lower back problems, which is common for women who go or get to big in the chest area. They may enjoy it now, but not so much when they get a little older and the chronic back pain starts to kick in.

      September 2, 2011 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • The Måd Råp3r

      I wish she would have given them to me! I would have taken care of them until she wanted them back. I would sleep with them, and give each one a name. Such lovely sweater meat!

      September 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Måd Råp3r

      Lol @ fake me, at least that was somewhat funny

      September 3, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Lana

      I remember her on a tv interview saying she was so upset because people started calling her Punky Boobster....

      September 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      She did.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Sarah

    Perverts looking at a little girls picture.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Say it ain't so

      Well said

      September 1, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Hansen

      Sarah, please provide me the names of all offenders... I will need to have a talk with them individually.

      Unfortunately, that process may be delayed because I am dealing with personal problems of my own. Good day.

      September 2, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Pest

      The picture for this story does not come close to being suggestive. If anyone has a dirty mind, it's you, dear Sarah.

      September 2, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Josie

      Hi losers!

      September 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I thought the rule was look but don't touch.
      ... and that my friends was a joke to say lighen up.

      September 3, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  44. Anomic Office Drone

    She grew up well. I just Googled her.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  45. The Måd Råp3r

    They're average but she's still mad hot.

    @katie, can we get some Tiny Toons on the throwback?

    September 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • ILUV8T

      i used to love her show.

      September 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • ILUV8T

      i used to have a crush on "PUNKYBREWSTER"
      i back then
      .I remember she appeared on the scene after my favorite group in music were " THE MUSICAL YOUTHS" had their split up

      September 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ILUV8T

      i used to love how she dresses and she played the role of a tough child.

      September 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |

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