So, Was Marilyn Manson Actually In The Wonder Years?

5 January 2018, 17:16 | Updated: 5 January 2018, 17:48

The Wonder Years and Marilyn Manson

Did the shock-rocker play the part of Fred Savage’s geeky mate Paul in the much-loved 90s TV show.

Remember The Wonder Years? A sunny comedy-drama series from the US? Ran between 1988 and 1993?

Of course you do. It was set in the 1960s and had Joe Cocker’s version of With A Little Help From My Friends as the theme tune. Here's a reminder:

That’s the one. The star was Fred Savage, who played Kevin Arnold, a teenager growing up in the turbulent decade of the 60s. It was funny, bittersweet and very watchable. And it was also responsible for one of the most persistent rumours of the past 30 years.

The Wonder Years

Remember Paul Pfeiffer, Kevin’s geeky, allergy-suffering mate? The character that Milhouse from The Simpsons was surely based on?

Well, the story goes that Paul was played by none other than the God Of F*ck himself, Marilyn Manson.

Of course, he wasn’t Marilyn Manson back in 1988, he was still a nerdy kid and hadn’t turned himself into the make-up caked threat to the American Way Of Life that he later became. Hits like I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me) and The Beautiful People must have been mere ideas brewing in his head as he learned his lines for each episode.
 Marilyn Manson

But here’s the sad, stark truth: it wasn’t him.

All you have to do is look in the end credits. Paul was played by child actor Josh Saviano. Manson’s real name is Brian Warner.

Plus, the dates don’t match up: Manson was born in 1969, which would have made him 19 when the series began. Saviano was born in 1976, making him 12 - the same age as his character, Paul. As they say: DO THE MATH.

Actually Brian Warner formed his first band Marilyn Manson And The Spooky Kids in December 1989, when he was at college in Florida, studying journalism. At the same time, the third season of The Wonder Years was airing on TV in the US, with Saviano still as one of the main characters. The Spooky Kids were playing shows around the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida as the season wound up in May 1990.

Marilyn Manson live

So how did the rumour start? Well, the mid 1990s was the early years of the Internet, and random, unverified comments were allowed to fester and flourish unchecked. Josh himself claimed he first heard the rumour when he was a freshman at college and Manson’s debut album, Portrait Of An American Family, was released. 

"I think actually it was one of the very first Internet rumours, because it was 1994,” he told Yahoo in 2013. “The Internet was just sort of becoming mainstream, particularly on college campuses. It was just perfect timing and the perfect storm.”

Manson released his breakthrough second album, Antichrist Superstar, in 1996 and the rumour began to snowball - particularly when the musician became Public Enemy Number 1 when some quarters claimed his music “inspired” the Columbine school massacre of 1999. What would be more ironic than the geeky kid from The Wonder Years whipping up horrible revenge against “bullies”?

The musician denied any such claims, but the controversy almost destroyed his career. He carried on, and his tenth studio album, Heaven Upside Down was released in  2017, The same year, Manson was hospitalised after two giant stage props in the shape of guns fell on top of him. He plays Download Festival in 2018.

Marilyn Manson Heaven Upside Down cover

Meanwhile, Josh Saviano’s career changed drastically - he gave up acting, and graduated to become a lawyer in New York. He briefly returned to acting to play a lawyer in the TV show Law And Order: Special Victims Unit.

Josh Saviano Wonder Years

As a postscript, Wonder Years star Fred Savage told Fox News in 2014 that he actually met Marilyn Manson on time: “He came up to me, and he goes, ‘You know, we worked together.’ I was like, ‘I do. I do know that’.”


I get by with a little help from these guys... #WonderYearsDVD

A post shared by thefredsavage (@thefredsavage) onMay 29, 2014 at 10:02am PDT