When one door closes, another one opens. As silly as that axiom may seem, it is the story of the resurgence of Michael Fishman, who plays D.J Conner on the popular show, Roseanne. Having played the character for several years as a child actor into his teenage years; when the show originally ended, Michael did not get plenty of other opportunities to display his acting skills. But as fate would have it, the show was rebooted in 2018, with him reprising his role from the earlier iteration of the show.
What was set to be a stable paycheck for Fishman got railroaded when the show’s lead and the eponymously named character, Roseanne, got the show canceled as a result of her racist utterances. Luckily for him, the popularity of the other characters in the show resulted in a spin-off show, The Conners.
The Joke That Launched His Acting Career
Thanks to a joke, Michael Fishman got the chance of a lifetime to star in one of the most popular shows in the 90s. It was a dream come true for little Michael who dreamed of becoming a professional actor.
As the story goes, Roseanne Barr is central to the beginning of his career. He had met her in an audition where she requested him to tell a joke. In response, he said: “Why did the turtle cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.”
Barr likes it and agitated for Fishman to play D.J. Conner in the popular sitcom, even though he had had no experience as an actor. Michael Fishman was born on the 22nd of October 1981 to Nelson Fishman and Darlene Fishman in Los Angeles. He was raised in a middle-class family. His father worked as a jeweler and his mother was a community college professor who also worked as a nurse. Michael is one of three children born to the family, with two siblings named Robyn and Matthew.
Gaining Relevance as a Professional Actor
Michael Fishman’s life could be divided into three parts. The first part started when was seven years old, auditioning for a role in Roseanne. He was cast as D.J Conner and played the role for 220 episodes from 1988 to 1997. At the first end of the show in 1997, Michael Fishman was just 16 years old. Having continued his education while he starred on Roseanne, after the completion of the show, he graduated from Orange County High School of the Arts.
While he starred on Roseanne, during which he and other characters enjoyed popularity among film and television audiences, he guest-starred on other projects, such as Little Rosey, Hey Arnold!, and Seinfeld.
The second phase of his life came after the completion of Roseanne. He considered a college degree, having gotten an offer to study veterinary medicine. He, however, chose to pursue a career in baseball instead; he also trained as a carpenter. Picking up different skills along the way, including martial arts, and scuba diving, Michael Fishman became a multi-talented man and he took it all back to his first interest, the entertainment industry.
Awards and Behind The Scene Works
For the second phase of his life, he worked behind the camera, working in different capacities as a writer, director, production staff, and camera operator. He even deployed his carpentry knowledge to set building. One of his behind the scenes projects, Sports Science, earned him a nomination for an Emmy. Even though he spent the bulk of his professional career behind the camera, he starred on Walker, Texas Ranger, and was a co-host of The Roseanne Show which ran for two years.
Apart from the Emmy nomination for Sports Science, Fishman received a handful of other nominations and won a few of them. The first was in 1995 when he bagged the Young Artist Award for Best Performance by Young Actor in a TV Series. Many years later, he won the Innovator Award of TV Land.
The Revival of Roseanne Revived Fishman’s Career
When the ABC sitcom stopped airing in 1997, much was not heard from Michael Fishman. In fact, he didn’t play any significant role apart from playing Antonelli in the 2016 sports comedy-drama film, Undrafted. It was as though he had been forgotten until in 2018 when he was cast in the revival of Roseanne. Unfortunately, the revival was short-lived as the show was canceled after Roseanne Barr was dragged for being a racist.
Nonetheless, the cancellation birthed a spin-off titled The Conners and Michael Fishman has been playing D.J Conner thereof since then. Even though the bulk of his on-screen career has been on the small screen, he has appeared in a couple of films on the big screen. Apart from Undrafted, Fishman starred in the 2001 Steven Spielberg film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Michael Fishman has been working in the entertainment industry since he was seven years old, and although it hasn’t all been in front of the camera, it has been financially rewarding enough for him to accrue a net worth of $8 million.
The Actor Got Married to Jennifer Briner on His 18th Birthday
Michael Fishman got married at the age of 18 to Jennifer Briner on the 22nd of October, 1999. They largely kept their marriage away from public scrutiny while they built a family. The union was blessed with two kids, a son and a daughter respectively named Aaron and Isabella.
There were no signs that the two were having challenges in their marriage until it emerged that they separated on the 16th of June 2017 with a formal divorce filed on the 27th of December 2018.
Here’s Why They Divorced
Based on information culled from court documents, Michael Fishman’s wife cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason she sought a legal dissolution of their marriage. Nevertheless, what she asked for indicated that the decision to part ways was a mutual one between the couple.
This was echoed by a joint statement they issued, which specified that they decided to end the marriage because their “individual goals and paths had shifted”.
Jennifer asked the court to not award any support, requested to pay the attorney’s fees and costs, and also demanded joint legal custody of their kids. She asked for Michael to have sole physical custody and for her to be awarded child visitation.