Are Joanna Kerns and Sandra Kerns Sisters?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Joanna Kerns and Sandra Kerns are sisters (in the alternative, they are related)

1984 was an odd year for television sitcoms in that it debuted not one, not two, but THREE “gender reversal” sitcoms, and more suprisingly, all three of them lasted for at least five seasons (although one of them did so in syndication).

Who’s The Boss? starred Tony Danza as a male housekeeper…

Charles in Charge starred Scott Baio as a male nanny…

and Growing Pains starred Alan Thicke as a father who stayed at home when his wife decided to go back to work….

Even more connections came about, though, when Charles in Charge returned (after two years off) as a syndicated series, with a new family that Charles was the nanny for…

This new connection came due to the fact that, as you can see, all three shows also starred blonde women in their early-to-mid 30s.

Even odder, still, is that two of them were named Kerns!

Joanna Kerns was the mother on Growing Pains…

while Sandra Kerns was the mother on Charles in Charge…

For years, then, people have thought that the two women (separated in age only by four years) were sisters (or somehow related).


Not true.

In fact, in both of their cases, Kerns is not even their given name! Both women took the name Kerns as their MARRIED name. Sandra Kerns (born Sandra Borgsmiller) has been married to Hubie Kerns since 1975. Joanna Kerns (born Joanne DeVarona) was married to Richard Kerns from 1976 to 1984.

I wonder if their husbands were related in any way…

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is

4 Responses to “Are Joanna Kerns and Sandra Kerns Sisters?”

  1. Joanna Kerns’ actual sister is Olympic swimmer, gold medalist and broadcaster Donna DeVarona.

  2. Brian Cronin on May 6th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Yeah, Patrick, I think I came across that while doing this one. Very cool piece of information! Thanks!

  3. I heard on some tv show in the early 90’s(I don’t recall which)in the past that they were sisters-in-law and were married to brothers named Kerns. Not sure if this info is accurate.

  4. The strange thing is, Joanna Kerns and Sandra Kerns look like they could be real sisters. Not only do they look alike, but they even sound similar.

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