Nearly 30 years ago, Party of Five — the ’90s teen/family drama about five orphaned siblings navigating life together after their parents are killed in a car crash with a drunk driver — premiered on Fox. Created by writing duo Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman (whose writing credentials also include the ’80s/’90s legal drama L.A. Law), Party of Five boasted an outstanding cast and ran for six seasons, from 1994 through 2000.
Dubbed by TV Guide “The best show you’re not watching,” Party of Five almost didn’t make it beyond its first season, barely holding on to any viewers from its lead-in, Melrose Place. So what changed? First, its day and time slot. Second, Party of Five won the Golden Globe for Best Drama in 1996, beating heavyweights like ER and NYPD Blue in the biggest shocker of the night. The show quickly gained a cult following that continues to thrive today.
During a time when shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place reigned supreme, Party of Five broke the mold with a less soapy, more down-to-earth approach to teen angst, paving the way for a new style of hit dramas like Dawson’s Creek, Friday Night Lights and Gilmore Girls.
While largely focused on the Salinger siblings’ relationships and love interests, Party of Five did not shy away from tackling serious issues, including substance abuse, cancer and domestic violence. And it helped launch the careers of a group of talented, relatively unknown-at-the-time actors.
Party of Five cast then and now
Here, we look back at the groundbreaking, heartfelt drama, and catch up with our favorite Salinger siblings.
Matthew Fox as Charlie Salinger
As the eldest of the Salinger children, portrayed by swoon-worthy Matthew Fox in the Party of Five cast, 24-year-old Charlie was forced to grow up fast after the unexpected death of his parents. His journey from immature, irresponsible womanizer to loving, dependable family patriarch over the years made it impossible not to root for him.
Four years after Party of Five ended, Fox took on another notable role as Dr. Jack Shephard on the ABC hit show Lost. It was a role that earned him Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. The series ran for six seasons, from 2004 to 2010. Fox went on to star in a number of action-heavy films, including Speed Racer, Emperor, Alex Cross, World War Z, Extinction and Bone Tomahawk.
Most recently, after a 7-year hiatus from Hollywood, Fox, now 57, starred in and produced a limited-series action-thriller on Peacock called Last Light. And he scored his first comedic role, alongside Sean Penn, in the new Aussie TV series C*A*U*G*H*T (now streaming on Stan), a satirical comedy that follows four Australian soldiers on a covert mission in a war-torn country. Mistaken for Americans, they’re captured and produce a hostage video that achieves unexpected viral success, turning them into unlikely celebrities.
On the personal front, Fox married Italian model and entrepreneur Margherita Ronchi in 1992 — two years before he landed the role of Charlie Salinger — and they share two kids together, daughter Kyle, 25, and son Byron, 22.
Scott Wolf as Bailey Salinger
Second-child Bailey Salinger was played by Scott Wolf, who immediately shot to teen heartthrob status with his all-American boyish charm and good looks (complete with adorable dimples!).
At the start of Party of Five, Bailey is a popular high-school jock with a healthy dose of teenage rebelliousness. Just 16 when his parents are killed, his strong moral compass is a large part of what keeps the family together. Bailey’s struggles with alcoholism in later seasons culminates in one of the most heart-wrenching, talked-about episodes ever (“The Intervention”).
Since Party of Five wrapped, Wolf has continued to act, starring in a slew of made-for-TV movies and shows. Most notably, he went on to play Dr. Jake Hartman on The WB series Everwood from 2004 to 2006, as well as Dr. Scott Clemmens on NBC’s The Night Shift from 2014 to 2017.
Currently, Wolf stars on The CW’s Nancy Drew, playing the eponymous detective’s father, Carson Drew, since 2019.
And perhaps most exciting for Party of Five fans, Hallmark Channel recently released A Merry Scottish Christmas as part of their Countdown to Christmas lineup (check out our full guide to this year’s Hallmark Christmas movies), in which Wolf and Lacey Chabert (Claudia on Party of Five) reunite on-screen as a sibling duo.
Wolf, now 55, married Kelley Wolf (née Limp) in 2004. Kelley is a life coach, author and public speaker (who, in her younger years, starred on MTV’s reality show The Real World: New Orleans in 2000, and again on the Homecoming season in 2022, where she reunited with her former housemates to live in a house together for two weeks). The Wolfs share three kids: Jackson, 14, Miller, 11, and Lucy, 9.
Fun fact: Jerry O’Connell was almost cast as Bailey Salinger, until he chose to go the sci-fi route in Sliders instead. Scott Wolf was hired the very same day he auditioned for Bailey and became the first member of Party of Five to be cast.
Neve Campbell as Julia Salinger
As the third child in the Salinger family, 15-year-old Julia, played by Neve Campbell, is intelligent, emotional and sensitive. She’s artistic and likes to write poetry, and she feels things deeply as she struggles to find herself in the wake of her parents’ tragic death.
After being in the Party of Five cast, the Canadian-born star became best-known for her role as Sidney Prescott in the Scream franchise of teen horror movies. Campbell appeared in the first five installments from 1996 through 2022. She also guest-starred on the hit ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy in 2012, playing Lizzie Shepherd, one of the four sisters of Patrick Dempsey’s Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd. Campbell and Dempsey had previously shared the screen in Scream 3 in 2000.
Currently, 50-year-old Campbell plays Maggie McPherson on Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer, which has recently been renewed for a third season!
Campbell has been in a long-term relationship with actor JJ Feild since 2011. The pair welcomed their first child together, son Caspian, in 2012. Six years later, they adopted son Raynor.
Lacey Chabert as Claudia Salinger
The Party of Five cast would not be complete without the precocious, spunky 11-year-old Claudia, played by Lacey Chabert. At the start of the series, Claudia is often portrayed as the annoying yet lovable little sister. She’s a violin prodigy, like her late mother (11-year-old Chabert played the violin in real life as well!), and she’s known for her quick wit and wise-beyond-her-years one-liners. As the series goes on, Claudia — and Lacey — grow up before our eyes, and she becomes more of a mature confidante to her brothers and sister as she really comes into her own.
Following Party of Five, Chabert’s most notable role was as one of “The Plastics,” Gretchen Wieners, in the 2004 movie Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey and also starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amy Poehler and Ana Gasteyer, to name a few. The movie is such a cult classic that it’s being remade into a musical movie set to premiere January 12, 2024. And with all the reignited hype around the franchise, the cast of the original film, including Chabert, reunited this month to film a series of Walmart commercials to promote Black Friday deals.
Chabert, now 41, has become a mainstay on the Hallmark Channel, having starred in 38 original movies (and counting!) on the network, including her reunion with Scott Wolf in A Merry Scottish Christmas. Just as Claudia and Bailey Salinger had a uniquely strong bond, so do Chabert and Wolf, but they’ve promised they will stick to playing brother/sister duos, as opposed to playing romantic partners, even though Chabert jokingly admitted to Vulture that she once had a huge crush on her on-screen big brother: “When I was 12, I wanted to marry Scott. Didn’t every 12-year-old want to marry Scott Wolf? It’s not my fault! I think my adolescent heart was a little confused.”
Chabert tied the knot with her husband, David Nehdar, in December of 2013, and the pair welcomed their daughter, Julia, three years later.
Fun fact: Claudia Salinger’s first kiss was also Lacey Chabert’s first kiss in real life! Reflecting back on her time on Party of Five to People magazine earlier this year, Chabert fondly recalled, “Everyone was so kind and nurturing and just helped me through those, you know, awkward teenage years…It was interesting because sometimes my character would go through things in life on the show that I had yet to actually go through in life. You know, like my first kiss and all of this kind of embarrassing stuff.”
Jacob Smith as Owen Salinger
While baby Owen Salinger was portrayed by several different child actors in the first four seasons, by season 5, Owen was “aged up,” and the role was recast to Jacob Smith. This enabled Owen to become a more fleshed-out member of the Salinger family, with his own dialogue and storylines — most notably, being caught between Charlie and Bailey as they fight for custody of him, splitting the family in half (“Judgment Day”).
The 33-year-old has since stepped away from acting, and is currently living in Los Angeles with his French bulldogs, Bella and Benji.
Paula Devicq as Kirsten Bennett
Originally hired as the nanny for Owen and Claudia Salinger, Kirsten Bennett, played by Paula Devicq, went on to date and eventually marry Charlie Salinger later in the series.
Since Party of Five ended, Devicq, now 58, has kept a relatively low-profile, appearing in recurring parts on The Grid and Rescue Me. Her most recent acting credit is the 2019 mystery movie Finding Julia.
Fun fact: Even though Kirsten was romantically linked to Charlie on Party of Five, Scott Wolf revealed to Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live! that he and Devicq actually dated in real life during the early years of the show!
Jennifer Love Hewitt as Sarah Reeves Merrin
Bailey Salinger’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Sarah, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, affectionately called “Love” by friends and castmates, was originally cast on Party of Five for a 9-episode arc in season 2, but reception from producers and audiences was so positive that she became a series regular.
“She was a crazy professional,” Party of Five co-creator Amy Lippman once said of Love, who also starred in the short-lived spinoff, Time of Your Life, “She wasn’t running to her trailer [between takes] to smoke cigarettes or play with a toy poodle. She was reading material and trying to plot her career.” For her performance as Sarah, Love garnered nominations for a Kids’ Choice Award and a Teen Choice Award.
Much like her costar Neve Campbell, after Party of Five, Love shot to teen idol stardom and cemented herself as a scream queen with her performance as Julie James in the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies (1997 and 1998). Love has also had memorable starring roles in Can’t Hardly Wait (1998) and Heartbreakers (2001).
In addition to pursuing a music career, Love starred on the TV series Ghost Whisperer from 2005 to 2010, and went on to star on other well-known TV shows, including The Client List (2012-2013) and Criminal Minds (2014–2015).
Love, now 44, currently stars on Fox’s 9-1-1, where she plays Maddie Buckley (formerly Kendall) since 2018, alongside Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and her husband, actor Brian Hallisay. Love and Hallisay share three kids together, Autumn, 9, Atticus, 7, and Aidan, 2.
Jeremy London as Griffin Holbrook
Fresh off his starring role in the Kevin Smith cult classic comedy Mallrats, Jeremy London joined the Party of Five cast as Griffin Holbrook, the brother of Kate Holbrook, Bailey’s ex-girlfriend who died of a drug overdose. Griffin, a moody, troubled teen with a soft side, quickly becomes the romantic foil for Julia Salinger. They eventually get married, then divorced, but remain friends.
Much like his former costars, London has remained booked and busy over the years. Following Party of Five, the actor went on to star as Reverend Chandler Hampton on The WB’s 7th Heaven, during which his identical twin brother Jason London joined him on an episode in 2003 — it’s the only time the brothers have appeared on-screen together, though Jeremy was Jason’s stunt double in the 1991 film The Man in the Moon, which happened to be Reese Witherspoon’s first movie role. Some more of Jeremy’s credits include Gods and Generals, Crossing Jordan, The Dinner Party and a whole host of movies and TV shows.
Fun fact: Griffin was first played by James Marsden in season 1. But by season 2, the role was recast to London, who played Griffin all the way through to the end of the series.
Scott Grimes as Will McCorkle
Actor and singer Scott Grimes played Bailey’s lovable best friend, Will McCorkle, in the Party of Five cast throughout all six seasons. He came to the show with a lengthy résumé, having started acting when he was just 13 years old. Prior to Party of Five, Grimes scored guest roles on Who’s the Boss?, Charles in Charge, My Two Dads, 21 Jump Street, Wings and more.
Following the end of Party of Five, Grimes starred in the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers in 2001. His next long-standing TV role would be on ER, playing Dr. Archie Morris from 2003 to 2009. Since then, he’s also appeared on hit shows Dexter, Suits, Criminal Minds, Shameless and, like so many others in Hollywood, Law & Order: SVU.
The 52-year-old currently voices the character of Steve Smith on the animated TV series American Dad, a role he’s had since 2005.
Grimes shares daughter Madison, 24, and son Jackson, 22, with his first wife, Dawn Bailey-Grimes, and has been dating Days of Our Lives actress Linsey Godfrey since 2021.
Michael Goorjian as Justin Thompson
Before Julia Salinger was swept up by bad boy Griffin Holbrook, she dated good-guy Justin, played by Michael Goorjian. While Julia lost her virginity to Justin at Charlie and Kirsten’s failed first wedding attempt, it didn’t take a fortune teller to see the relationship was doomed, as Julia continued to make fun of Justin’s nerdy clothes (remember that hideous windbreaker?!) and started spending more time with broody, motorcycle-riding Griffin.
Goorjian was no stranger to Hollywood when he joined the Party of Five cast — the Emmy Award winner had been acting since he was 14 years old — and he didn’t slow down after Party of Five, with numerous guest-starring roles on shows like Alias, House, CSI and more.
These days, Goorjian, now 52, splits his time working behind the camera as a filmmaker and director. He wrote, directed and starred in the 2022 film Amerikatsi, about a boy who flees the Armenian genocide to the United States, then later returns as an adult and is arrested. The film has been racking up awards at film festivals in the U.S. and abroad.
Most recently, Goorjian guest-starred on season 2 of Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer this year, on which Neve Campbell stars as Maggie McPherson. While the two did not share any scenes together this time around, it’s clear they’re still good friends all these years later, as they recently got together, along with Campbell’s partner, JJ Feild, to support the SAG-AFTRA strike.
And ‘The Salingers’ Remain Close Today!
In 2022, Scott Wolf, Lacey Chabert and Neve Campbell reunited at 90s Con, a three-day fan convention hosted by That’s 4 Entertainment for popular ’90s TV shows and films, in Hartford, Connecticut. The three were all smiles as they interacted with fans, signed autographs, posed for photos, participated in Q&A panels and caught up with one another.
In 2021, Scott Wolf posted a series of throwback photos of himself and Lacey Chabert on his Instagram in response to Chabert’s birthday post to him.
In 2018, Neve Campbell posted a photo on her Instagram with Lacey Chabert and Lacey’s daughter, Julia (coincidence?), expressing how grateful she is that the two have stayed close throughout the years.
For more nostalgic 90’s TV, click through the links below!