Moonlighting With

Chemistry on Moonlighting

Bruce Willis & Cybill Shepherd:  Chemistry times two
Photo compliments of Margotte

"When we finally got them together, you could see the bolt go across the room. It was like, ba-bing! I mean, IT WAS THERE!"
~~Glenn Gordon Caron, Newsweek, September 1986

Maddie and David have chemistry with a capital C
Caricature by Cartoons By Deano, © 2003

"It's chemistry, Baby! Either you got it or you don't. And David & Maddie have it!"
~~Cybill Shepherd Newsweek, November 1985

Jack Spratt could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean;
So between them both,
They licked the platter clean.
~~ Mother Goose

I am using this traditional children's nursery rhyme to offer a definition of character show that it is more than just opposites attract. I think it is a simple explanation for what makes couple chemistry so compelling. Mr. and Mrs. Spratt clearly have differences that guarantee couple conflict and tension. But each fill each other's gaps; each brings something entirely different to the table--he has one viewpoint and she another; he eats one thing and she eats the opposite; but each needs the other's differences; each makes the other complete; and together they "lick the platter clean," invoking much more intensity than if they were just having dinner. And to enhance the experience, this little rhyme touches on images of appetite--taste, eating, licking, tongues, oh my! We as readers/viewers are drawn to this sensuality and intensity like moths to a flame. Hence, why some couples seem to fascinate, captivate, stimulate, etcetera, etcetera--all the while compelling us to watch and care.

One of the most frequently mentioned aspects of "Moonlighting" was the chemistry between Maddie and David, a chemistry so potent that it became legendary in the industry. The cast and creator readily admit that it was the very real, palpable chemistry between the two leads that translated so powerfully on the screen--a flirty, feisty reaction to each other that permeated every scene they were in together. The screwball antics of the plots sparked it, the saucy dialogue of the scripts fueled it, and the bawdy innuendo kept it burning. But more than anything, we felt this incredibly hot sexual chemistry when we watched them. It was in their eyes in the way the two looked at each other. It was all over their faces when they were together and in their body language in the way they reacted to each other. Here were these two very appealing characters that were overtly impassioned in speech and action yet furtively sexual in thought and desire. We as viewers were on to their sexual subterfuge...we knew they were saying and acting one way while actually feeling another. We felt like co-conspirators in their relationship and because of that shared an intimacy with the characters that made them seem very real and very vulnerable to us. They charmed us completely and set the bar very, very high for any TV couple afterward. If the acronym "UST" (unresolved sexual tension) had been around back then, this couple would have been the poster children for it; and if the term "shipper" had been used back in the 1980's, we ALL could have been labelled that and happily so. Soon every contemporary couple on television was being measured against the heat generated by the Moonlighting duo. Want proof of this? Do a search on the Web using the keywords of Moonlighting chemistry and returned will be hundreds of pages full of TV couples all being referenced against Maddie & David. Here is a partial list of prime time TV shows with couples who have all at one time or another been measured against the touchstone chemistry found on Moonlighting:

7th Heaven, Alias, Angel, Anything But Love, Beauty & the Beast, Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Caroline in the City, Cheers, Christy, Dark Angel, Dawson's Creek, Crossing Jordon, Cupid, Dharma and Greg, Ed, ER, Farscape, Felicity, Frasier, Friends, Gilmore Girls, Good Morning Miami, The Guardian, Home Improvement, Hunter, Jack and Mike, Jag, Jesse, Judging Amy, La Femme Nikita, Lois & Clark, Mad About You, Mysterious Ways, The Nanny, Northern Exposure, NYPD Blue, Once and Again, Party of Five, Providence, Remington Steele, Roswell, Saved By the Bell, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Seven Days, Sex and the City, Silk Stalkings, Smallville, Spenser for Hire, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Thieves, That 70's Show, thirtysomething, Walker Texas Ranger, West Wing, Who's the Boss, Will & Grace, The Wonder Years, The X Files, Xena Warrior Princess,

Text © 2003-2004, Cindy Klauss. All rights reserved.

The Chemistry of Moonlighting's Maddie Hayes & David Addison
"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
The Evidence
Emmy FYC Ad 1985
In 1964 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said this oft-repeated quote: "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it." In a way, the same can be said about chemistry, it too is not so easy to define, but is unmistakable when we see it. Here we look at actual scene clips that demonstrate the various aspects of the chemistry found on "Moonlighting"...the fire and friction, the tenderness and vulnerability, and the overriding sexuality. We also look at how this aspect was marketed through ad campaigns.

Let's see what the cast and crew (the persons who actually lived this phenomenom) had to say about it. We will hear from not only Cybill and Bruce but also Glenn Caron and others from the production. (RealOne player needed for the video clips).

Martha Nochimson is the Director of Film Studies at Mercy College in New York. She has recently published a book on famous screen couples that examines couple chemistry. One of the screen couples she looks at is Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. Recently Dr. Nochimson sat for an interview with us for this site.

During 1985-1989 when Moonlighting was airing, the cast was featured on the cover of many publications. The word "Chemistry" got used so many times when referring to the couple, that it became almost cliche when talking about Maddie & David. Here is a representative sampling of the press coverage.

The Fans Speak
The fans were convinced there was a whole lot going on

This site receives lots of email from Moonlighting fans and naturally there are specific questions & comments I get over and over. One of the most ubiquitous concerns speculation on the "personal involvement" of the two leads, something that I feel is nobody's business but their own. I am much more comfortable in a good critical discussion such as the debate over whether the chemistry between Bruce & Cybill was real or faked. My personal belief is that chemistry is like talent--either you got it or you don't...and no amount of faking it can EVER take the place of the truth.

One way to stimulate this discussion is to ask the question, "What is your definition of chemistry between a TV series couple? And can you give an example of a Moonlighting scene that just screams CHEMISTRY to you?" Here are what some of the fans had to say in response:

  • Diane H. of & co-editor of
  • Hazel H. of
  • Dana B., Webmaster of Moonlighting Central
  • Vicki B. of
  • Amy C., a fan from the Moonlighting Discussion Mail List
  • Connie J., a fan from Biloxi, MS
  • Lisa R. of Lisa's Other Stuff: Moonlighting
  • Maurizio from Italy (a male!)
  • Elizabeth from UK.
  • Steve a Bruce Willis fan from Baltimore, MD

Months in the making, this section of the site owes a great deal to so many...and here is a list of most of them:
  • As always, site co-editor Diane Hopkins of Pennsylvania for her contributions to this section AND her proofreading and rewording when I get too worked up to write clearly. She always keeps me on task and makes valuable suggestions about what is needed. This site would be nowhere near as coherent without her.
  • Author Martha Nochimson of New York for her input on Screen Couple Chemistry. She has patiently put up with my contentious email and my determination to involve her in this site. A very busy lady who has so graciously contributed her ideas to this section.
  • Caricature artist Deano Minton of Florida, a client of CYber SYtes, Inc. who did a very nice job on the cartoon of Bruce and Cybill in the chemistry lab.
  • Pam Dowling of Florida for the tape of the Cybill episode "Going to Hell in a Limo Part I & II". Pam saw the episode and immediately KNEW I needed it for this site. She taped it and gave it to me and now here it is.
  • Fan commentators who have contributed to this section include Hazel Hart, Dana Bronson, Vicki Briasco, Amy Clanton, Connie Jones, Lisa Ridlon, Maurizio Tron and Elizabeth.
  • Another special mention of Hazel Hart of California who assisted in locating many of the articles used here.
  • Once again hooray for Stacey McMichael of Kentucky for the tapes of the wonderful cast interviews. These have proved absolutely invaluable.
  • Arista from Canada provided a scan of the YOU magazine which has a featured article and photos in this section.
  • A really big thank you to Margotte of Poland for that sexy, adorable photo at the top of this page. WOW!
  • And last but certainly not least, Diane Bucher of Massachusetts, my eBay co-op partner in acquiring many of these great magazines, photos and the trade ads. Home Page


Text © 2003-2004, Cindy Klauss. All rights reserved.

This is not meant to violate or infringe on any copyrights.
It is just a labor of love and is for entertainment purposes only.
© 2002-2004. All rights reserved. CYber SYtes, Inc.