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Quick Biography:

Helen Chappel (Hackett)
Helen1
As Portrayed By: Crystal Bernard

Occupation:

Cook and Classical Celloist

First Season:

1

First Episode:

01x01 Legacy

Relatives:

Casey Chappel (Sister) - Lorraine Chappel (Sister) - Deedee Chappel (Mother) - Joe Hackett (Husband) - Brian Hackett (Brother In-Law)

Helen Chapel is the beautiful petite blonde lunch counter owner at Tom Nevers Field. A Nantucket residence, she was actually born in Texas, later moving to Nantucket as a young girl. She still has a Texas accent as a result, but her mother and sister, Casey Chappel, seem to have out-grown it. Upon moving to Nantucket, Helen became close friends with Joe Hackett and his brother, Brian Hackett

While Helen dreams of playing the cello in a large symphony orchestra, she runs the lunch counter in the airport terminal, her father's former position. She never really manages to get a music career off the ground, occasionally, giving music lessons to the local children. She seems to have extreme bad luck in trying to launch her music career. Every time she hears good luck about her talent, something happens to crush her potential career. She was once asked to join a string quartet of neurotic individuals, but only since that was the only group at the time who would accept her. She was also close to getting accepted to a state-run symphony, only to soon learn the state legislature eliminated the funding, and her chance to play with the Boston Symphony Orchestra resulted in a plane crash en route. One symphony conductor appreciated a cassette of her cello playing but lost the label and had no way to contact Helen.

Helen also constantly battles a compulsive eating habit based on her insecurity which caused her to be morbidly obese in her youth. Though successful at losing the weight sometime after Brian eloped with Carol, it is still a specter in her life and a blight on her self-image. She also has a volatile anger issue, often attacking other without provocation. However, she has been a lifelong friend of both the Hackett brothers and dreamed of marrying Joe from a young age.


Fun Trivia Facts:

  • Helen's birthday is August 3; the same day Sir John Speke discovered the source of the Nile according to Lowell Mather.
  • Helen moved to Nantucket from Texas when she was ten years old. She has a sister, Casey.
  • As a child she was fairly overweight, and was always made fun of by kids at school.
  • Her childhood dreams were to play the cello and marry Joe Hackett. She got her cello when she was six years old.
  • The first words she spoke to Joe and Brian Hackett were: "Hi, I'm Helen Chappel. Wanna wrestle?"
  • At the high school's spring dance, Phil Stephan asked her to go with him just to win a bet. Joe walked her home that night and she cried on his shoulder.
  • Helen took over the terminal's lunch counter from her parents. She said her mother taught her everything she knows.
  • She took some law classes in college.
  • Her first ever call back about a cello audition was from the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. She played the cello religiously, and claimed to have played for over ten thousand hours. The closest she ever came to playing in a respected orchestra was for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but did not make it because her plane went down in the ocean. Once, she even played for Edward Tinsdale, the conductor of the Minneapolis Philharmonic.
  • She auditioned and earned a spot playing the cello for the Maine State Symphony. Unfortunately, the orchestra lost its funding and the job was canceled, so she left the island for New York after her and Joe had a big argument.
  • Helen had a sister named Lorraine in the episode, A Terminal Christmas, but whether this was meant to be Casey or another sister was never resolved.
  • In New York, she worked as a waitress in a strip bar.
  • While living in New York, she attended a seminar with Dr. Frasier Crane, and claims he ruined her life.
  • After Joe sued her for crashing her jeep into his office, she did it again.
  • She once married Antonio so he would not be deported. She wore his mother's wedding dress.
  • She became a member for a very short time in the Nantucket String Quartet after Winston Catlow quit. She was the Quartet's third pick. She played with a cello Brian and Joe bought for her.
  • She once had to land Joe's plane when Brian was knocked out cold.
  • She laughs like a chipmunk.
  • Helen considers the sexiest male body part to be buns.
  • She dated Davis Lynch for a year, and even agreed to marry him until Joe asked her to marry him.

Behind the Scenes: Helen Chappell was a last-minute addition. In the original script of Wings, Helen's backstory was completely different. Originally Helen was to be born to a family of Greek immigrants. Her talents were different, but she would still be working the lunch counter. Her role as Joe's love interest would be of conflicting backgrounds: her "new American" status versus Joe's "old American" status of being descended from Mayflower settlers. This character was written in mind for one specific actress: Peri Gilpin, who had worked with the writers on Frazier and Cheers. However, Gilpin still had multiple contracts to expire and could not commit to Wings. As a result, auditions were held for this role and the writers would rework Helen to whomever gave the best reading. This turned out to be Crystal Bernard, and the character of Helen was reworked to be a Texan.

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