Jessica Biel, current New Girl and former 7th Heaven star, last retweeted Stephen Collins — now accused of child molestation — on September 17. It read “1st time in 8 yrs Joy, laughs!” and it showed a picture of the old cast of 7th Heaven looking just as he said–full of joy. 7th Heaven was the breakout role for Jessica Biel, who became a movie star and also Mrs. Justin Timberlake. 7th Heaven was the longest running family drama in history (11 seasons) and it became TV producing legend Aaron Spelling’s longest running show. And the actors, especially the adults, became inextricably linked to their characters by fans around the world. Looking back 15 years after the show, one writer wrote that “separating the TV family from the actors who played them has become virtually impossible.” “It did feel like family,” said Catherine Hicks of her TV cast (Hicks played the wife of Reverend Eric Camden–the Stephen Collins character).
Redditors are swiftly grouping names like Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Gary Glitter together with Stephen Collins–though none of those men are seen in the public imagination as the quintessential American father figure, and man of God, the way Collins was. This despite Collins’ extensive resume–he appeared in everything from Star Trek to Spamalot. But Collins has had moments where he played the moralist in real life. In 2000 when Jessica Biel, then 17, posed provocatively for Gear magazine, Collins said: “The press has gotten Jessica Biel’s age wrong in their recent stories about her,” says Collins, Biel’s minister father on the show. “She’s not 18, as has been widely reported. She’s 17, a minor.” Collins said further about the Gear spread: “Jessica’s photo spread was child pornography. I don’t want my kid to get the message that that’s okay.”
— Stephen Collins (@StephenCollins) September 17, 2014