Family & Companions
A beak-nosed comic actor with an improvisational background, Peter Bonerz went from playing Jerry the dentist pal on "The Bob Newhart Show" (CBS, 1972-78) to directing episodes of the series and then developed into one of the more prolific sitcom directors of the 1980s and 90s. Bonerz first acted on stage in a production of "Agamemnon" at Columbia University in 1961, then made his Off-Broadway debut doing an improvisational character in "The Premise" (1962). He left New York and between 1963 and 1969 appeared with "The Committee," a revered San Francisco improv troupe. When he returned to Manhattan, he made his Broadway debut in Paul Sills' "Story Theatre" (1970), with a cast which also included Paul Sand and Valerie Harper. (It was also adapted as a short-lived syndicated series in 1971.)
By this time, Bonerz had already broken into TV--appearing on an episode of "The Addams Family" (ABC, 1964). Moving to Los Angeles permanently in the early 1970s, Bonerz was cast as Jerry Robinson, the children's dentist on "The Bob Newhart Show." While performing on the show, Bonerz was also given the chance to direct and, as the series continued, he became one of its primary directors. When the series ended, he began concentrating more on directing and acted less. In 1978, he directed the handful of produced episodes of "Apple Pie" (ABC), a short-lived Rue McClanahan vehicle, and, in 1979, helmed the first season of "Archie Bunker's Place" (CBS). From 1981-83, Bonerz did double duty, directing the ABC series version of "9 to 5" and also playing Franklin Hart Jr. (the role originated by Dabney Coleman in film version), but he did not stay with the series when it went into first-run syndication. Instead, he directed the one-camera film show "Suzanne Pleshette is Maggie Briggs" (CBS, 1984). He then moved on to "It's Your Move" (NBC, 1984-85), a one-season vehicle for Jason Bateman. From 1985-86, Bonerz did "Foley Square" for CBS, then went on to "Alf" (NBC, 1987-89). He was the primary director on "My Sister Sam" (CBS, 1987-88), which featured Pam Dawber as a single woman who has to take in her much younger sister. In 1988, he moved on to "Murphy Brown," winning a DGA Award for his efforts. In 1987, Bonerz directed the pilot for "Good Morning, Miss Bliss," which evolved into the long-running NBC Saturday morning franchise, "Saved By the Bell." More recently, Bonerz directed the pilot for "Mr Rhodes," the 1996 NBC series about an unconventional English teacher.
While Bonerz has directed one TV-movie, "Sharing Richard" (CBS, 1988) about a man (Ed Marinaro) with multiple girlfriends, he has acted in several longforms, beginning with "How to Break Up a Happy Divorce" (NBC, 1976). In 1978, he played the cunning Girard in the syndicated miniseries "The Bastard."
Bonerz first acted on the big screen as Perry, an actor, in "Funnyman," a 1967 independent feature he also co-wrote. In 1969, he was Gus the cameraman in Haskell Wexler's now famous "Medium Cool" and he played a featured role in Mike Nichols' "Catch 22" (1970). Bonerz was in the ensemble cast of "Serial" (1980) and gave himself a small part and made his feature film directorial debut with "Nobody's Perfekt" (1981), which flopped with critics and at the box office. He took another stab at features in 1989 with "Police Academy 6: City Under Siege." He returned to series work playing the patriarch of the family featuring the titular "Three Sisters" in that NBC 2001 sitcom.
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Made stage debut in "Agamemnon" at Columbia University
Made Off-Broadway debut, "The Premise"
Appeared with improvisational troupe "The Committee" in San Francisco
Made TV acting debut in episode of "The Addams Family"
Made film acting debut in "Funnyman"; also co-wrote
Made Broadway debut in "Story Theatre"
Made TV-movie debut, "How to Break Up a Happy Divorce"
Co-starred in syndicated miniseries "The Bastard"
Made feature film directorial debut with "Nobody's Perfekt"
Directed first TV-movie, "Sharing Richard"
Directed feature film "Police Academy 6"
Directed pilot for "Mr. Rhodes"
Returned to acting as co-star of the NBC midseason replacement sitcom "Three Sisters"