10 Surprising Facts About GHOST WHISPERER
“You and your grandmother are the only ones here who can see me,” a dead man says to nine-year-old Melinda Gordon (Grace Fulton) in a funeral parlor. “Will you help me?
Her answer, of course, is yes. And with that, Ghost Whisperer begins. The next time we see Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), she’s in her mid-20s, newly married to a hot paramedic named Jim (David Conrad), and running a funky antique shop with friend Andrea (Aisha Tyler) and later Delia (Camryn Manheim). But one thing remains the same: the dead still need Melinda’s help. She’s a spectral social worker counseling them on their journey to the afterlife. It’s her blessing and her curse.
The Emmy-nominated Ghost Whisperer combines standalone “ghost-of-the-week” episodes with an underlying narrative that unfolds over five seasons. While this heartwarming series is one of TV’s most reliably cathartic tear-jerkers, it’s also got enough scares and eye-popping effects to keep the more cynical members of your household entertained.
So hide behind the couch and enjoy these facts about the spooky series, which joins the getTV weekday schedule starting September 25.
1. Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t just the star.
The Waco, Texas native was just 26 when Ghost Whisperer debuted on CBS, but she was already a 15-year industry veteran. As a Top 40 recording artist, TV actress (Party Of Five), and movie star (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Hewitt brought substantial show business clout to the series. She was a producer for the first four seasons and executive producer for season five. Hewitt also directed three shows, including the explosive 100th episode.
2. There’s a real Ghost Whisperer.
Series creator John Gray based Melinda on Mary Ann Winkowski, a paranormal investigator who communicates with spirits who have not yet crossed over. Winkowski discovered her abilities at age seven and was encouraged by her grandmother (like Melinda). Gray and Winkowski first met at a Starbucks a year before the series premiered, a meeting Winkowski said was also attended by ghosts (who apparently paid for their own coffee). She later cleansed Gray’s New York home of some unwanted ghostly guests.
3. Abigail Breslin was Melinda’s first ghost.
Nine-year-old Abigail Breslin plays Sarah Applewhite, the first ghost Melinda saw as a child. Sarah appears in her fourth grade classroom just as her teacher (Debbi Morgan) is announcing her death. In the present day, Melinda returns to the school to investigate why her childhood friend has not yet crossed over. Just a few months after this episode aired in January of 2006, Breslin starred in Little Miss Sunshine, earning an Oscar nomination.
4. Melinda’s mother and grandmother are played by Oscar nominees.
In the first scene of the pilot we meet Melinda’s grandmother (June Squibb), her mentor in ghost whispering. Squibb would later be nominated for an Academy Award for her scene-stealing performance in Nebraska (2013). Anne Archer plays Melinda’s mother Beth, who has suppressed her own second sight since childhood and discouraged Melinda from embracing hers. Archer is probably best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Fatal Attraction (1987), also playing a character named Beth.
5. The series changes after season one.
After 20 mostly standalone episodes, Ghost Whisperer makes a subtle pivot at the end of the first season. Gray begins developing an on-going mythology about Melinda’s battle with the dark forces of the spirit world which would play out over the next four years. The hilarious Jay Mohr is also added to the cast as university professor and paranormal expert Rick Payne, creating a sort of Giles-and-Buffy dynamic with Hewitt. If you like your supernatural stories dark and serialized, you’ll find the show really kicks into gear at the end of season one.
6. There was a Party Of Five reunion on Ghost Whisperer.
Hewitt’s Party Of Five co-star Lacey Chabert guest stars in the second episode of season two as Donna Ellis, the wife of Melinda’s now-dead college boyfriend. There’s a fun inside joke when Hewett first encounters Chabert’s character and looks at her like they know each other.
7. Think, McFly, think...about the Back To The Future connection.
Ghost Whisperer exteriors were filmed primarily on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles. The show’s main exterior location – the Grandview, New York neighborhood where Melinda’s antique store is located – is Universal’s Courthouse Square backlot, best known as the Hill Valley town square in Back To The Future (sans the iconic clock tower). As an added bonus, Thomas F. Wilson – Biff Tannen in the BTTF films – appears in six episodes as Jim’s friend Tim Flaherty. He also dates Delia. And speaking of dating…
8. Jennifer Love Hewitt dated a cast member.
In the first episode of season four, Melinda meets Professor Eli James, another medium. Eli was played by Jamie Kennedy, who confirmed in a March, 2009 radio interview with Ryan Seacrest that he was dating Hewitt. The relationship ended a year later, around the time that production on the series concluded. Despite the split, Hewitt dedicated her 2010 relationship advice book The Day I Shot Cupid to Kennedy. “He really taught me how to look at the reality of…love,” she wrote. Hewitt later married actor Brian Hallisay. The couple now has two children.
9. There was a spin-off. Sort of.
Between 2007 and 2010, 36 short “webisodes” of the spin-off series Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side were produced for the Internet. The web series was set in the same narrative universe, but told stories from the perspective of the earthbound spirits. None of the TV actors appeared, but Zach (Mark Hapka) from The Other Side reprised his character on TV (along with two others).
10. The last season takes place in the future.
A number of changes happen toward the end of the series, including the death of a major character, a wedding, and the birth of a baby. In the first episode of season five, the timeline jumps ahead to 2014, five years in the future. Melinda’s son Aiden (Connor Gibbs) is now school age and already demonstrating that he too is a ghost whisperer, laying the groundwork for an inevitable sequel series in about twenty years.
Two episodes of Ghost Whisperer air weekdays starting at 1pm ET/10am PT. For more episodic information, visit the getTV schedule.