Did you always think of yourself as a detective every time you watched Ghostwriter? Whether you were good at puzzles or asking the right interview questions, watching the group of teens solve local crimes and mysteries with the help of their invisible friend made you want to be part of the action too!
On the air from 1992-1995, this was a staple for many of us, who read far too many Nancy Drew novels. The 74 episodes had us thinking like true detectives and wishing we had an invisible friend to solve crimes with as well.
The only way Ghostwriter could communicate is by manipulating letters on signs, in books and on computer screens. He helped the group solve mysteries, while maintaining the secret of his identity.
Whether you watched this every day after school or you’ve never seen a single episode you will be stunned by these crazy facts about the show that so many kids were obsessed with in the 90s.
1. Ghostwriter’s Identity Will Surprise You
While the series was cancelled before the kids could actually solve the mystery about who their ghost friend was before he died, producer and writer Kermit Frazier had a plan for his identity all along and it’s not what you would think.
“Ghostwriter was a runaway slave during the Civil War,” Frazier told The New York Times in 2010. “He was killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods. His soul was kept in the book and released once Jamal (Sheldon Turnipseed) discovered the book.”
2. Samuel L. Jackson Appeared In The Show
Jackson was Jamal’s father in the show, and though he appeared in only three episodes, the first episode shows him and his son digging through the basement for an old trunk. Jackson got the honor of the first line in the show, when he and Jamal move the trunk and the book that holds the ghost falls off the shelf.
3. There Were Several Celebrity Appearances
Spike Lee, Daisy Fuentes, Bo Jackson, Salt-N-Pepa, Dr. Dre, Ed Lover, and other familiar faces showed up in episodes. Sometimes they played themselves, other times they just had a small one-off role.
4. It was Julia Stiles’s First Acting Appearance
You may have not thought much of it in the 90s but, Ghostwriter was Julia Stiles’s first acting credit. She appeared in six episodes as the editor of the school newspaper.
And boy does she give the attitude, you need to see this clip to remember it, in all its glory.
5. The Show Was Never Really About The Ghost
The primary focus of the show was to educate kids. The ghost was added to interact with the teens as a fun way to get kids interested. In 1992, the three goals for the show were identified as, “to motivate children to enjoy and value reading and writing,” “to show them how to use effective reading and writing strategies,” and “to provide them with ‘compelling’ opportunities to read and write.”
6. The Setting Was An Important Part Of The Series
The show was set in the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn. “We were looking for a neighborhood that was urban, multi-ethnic, but also had a bit of history to it,” executive producer Liz Nealon told The New York Times.”
The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and Nealon added that when Ghostwriter was alive, he would have stopped in the area.
7. The Show Was Funded Partly By Nike
Nike was a big advertiser with Fox in the early 1990s, which tied it to Ghostwriter. The company contributed $5 million to the show, which at the time was the “largest single corporate grant ever made for a children’s educational television project.”
They also promoted the show and the importance of literacy with its “Exercise Your Head, Read” campaign.
8. The First Episode Bumped The X-Men: The Animated Series Premiere.
On October 3, 1992, some strategic reworking of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup had to happen. As a result, The X-Men: The Animated Series did not premiere as scheduled. It was moved to October 31 to make room for Ghostwriter. Also, to get viewers to watch both PBS and Fox, part one of the premiere aired on Fox, while the conclusion aired on PBS on Sunday evening.
Need a blast from the past? This was a great episode!
Do you remember the show? Share this with other 90s kids!
Inspiration: Mental Floss