Paul Fusco (born January 29, 1953 in New Haven, Connecticut) is an American puppeteer, voice-over artist and character actor who is best known as the voice, creator, and puppeteer of ALF. He formed the production company Alien Productions with Tom Patchett and Bernie Brillstein.
As a student, Paul Fusco worked in the audio-visual department of Hamden High School in Hamden, CT where his interest in television and film began. His early career included a stint performing on a local children's TV show and various other work which included both puppeteering and stage magic/ventriloquism. In the early-1980s, he met puppet builders and fellow puppeteers Bob Fappiano and Lisa Buckley who were both embarking on careers within the TV industry and they joined his team. Together they made various TV specials for HBO, Showtime and others including "The Crown Of Bogg" and "The Valentine's Day That Almost Wasn't".
Around 1984-1985, Fusco created the ALF character using an alien looking puppet that was hanging around his house which he used to annoy his family and friends. He decided ALF needed a TV show and took him to agents and producers to try and get a deal. The agent he met, Bernie Brillstein introduced him to TV/Movie writer Tom Patchett, and together they came up with the concept behind the ALF sitcom. After rejecting an offer from Disney to buy the character and show concept outright they pitched to NBC's Brandon Tartikoff who loved the idea and commissioned the show. ALF was a huge success, beginning in 1986 and lasting four seasons - 102 episodes in all.
An animated series, titled ALF: The Animated Series and later ALF Tales also aired on NBC towards the end of the live action sitcom which Fusco also created and produced. A co-production of DIC, Alien Productions, Lorimar-Telepictures and Saban Entertainment, the cartoons portrayed Gordon Shumway (ALF) and his family in their days on Melmac before the planet blew up. The actual animation part was bookended by a present day live action ALF reading viewers letters and telling stories about life back home. Space Cats, a Paul Fusco-produced show in association with Marvel Productions (which didn't feature ALF) also ran on NBC during the early-1990s, which was a mix between live action puppetry and animation. The episodes would begin with the live action puppetry where "Captain Catgut", the leader of the Spacecats, would receive a mission briefing about the trouble at hand in the episode. Fusco provided the voice of Captain Catgut. It was cancelled after just 13 episodes when NBC withdrew its commitment to kids' shows on Saturday mornings.
In 1996 a TV movie was aired on ABC called Project ALF co-starring Martin Sheen. The movie (produced by Paul Fusco Productions) saw ALF escaping from the military base where he had been held for testing, but the scientist who he thinks will help him is really plotting to expose his existence to the world on a TV talk show.
From 1996 until 2001, ALF made many guest appearances on TV including The Cindy Margolis Show, Talk Soup and Love Boat: The Next Wave. From then on ALF was firmly on the comeback trail appearing on NBC's 75th Anniversary Show and the TV Land Awards 2003. During 2004 he revived his guest spot on Hollywood Squares appearing many times and had also signed a deal with phone company 10-10-220 to be "spokesalien" in their commercials. ALF merchandise returned with posters, figures, t-shirts and DVDs being released as part of a major new licensing agreement.
With the ALF renaissance in full swing 2003-2004 also saw the alien return to TV in his own series, ALF's Hit Talk Show, created and produced by Paul Fusco for TV Land. The show was a mix of celebrity chat and skits filmed in front of a live studio audience from Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. One season was taped featuring guest stars including Henry Winkler and Drew Carey. Between 2004 and 2006, all four seasons of the ALF sitcom were released on DVD, featuring new appearances by ALF as he hosted the menus on each disc. Extra material also included the rare unaired pilot as an addition to the one that ended up as the show's first episode. September 2006 marked the 20th anniversary of ALF's debut on American TV, and in November 2007 he appeared as "TV Icon of the Week" on "The O'Reilly Factor". According to the commentary on the Canadian "ALF Files" DVD Fusco has tentative plans for a new ALF movie set on Melmac and there may also be more talk show episodes in some form.
Paul Fusco lives with his wife Linda and son Christopher.
- The O'Reilly Factor (1 episode, 2007)
- ALF's Hit Talk Show (7 episodes, 2004)
- Hollywood Squares (2004)
- TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV (2003)
- NBC 75th Anniversary Special (2002)
- The Cindy Margolis Show (1 episode, 2000)
- The Love Boat: The Next Wave (1 episode, 1999)
- Project ALF (1996)
- Spacecats (1991)
- Blossom (1 episode, 1991)
- A Very Retail Christmas (1990)
- Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (1990)
- ALF Tales (1988)
- Matlock (1 episode, 1987)
- ALF: The Animated Series (1987)
- ALF (102 episodes, 1986–1990)
- A Thanksgiving Tale (1983)
- An Easter Story (1983)
- Santa's Magic Toy Bag (1983)
- The Valentine's Day that Almost Wasn't (1982)
- The Crown of Bogg (1981)