PITTSBURGH (KDKA) â" Billy Gardell is known to millions as âMikeâ on the CBS show âMike & Molly,â but heâs still a Pittsburgher at heart.
KDKA-TVâs David Highfield and Kimberly Gill went to a Pirates game with Gardell, and he was swarmed by adoring fans.
Gardell: This is my people! My tribe!
Crowd: Billy Gardell!
Highfield: So, is this true everywhere you go? Or is this a Pittsburgh thing?
Gardell: You know, I get recognized almost everywhere I go now, but thereâs no love like home!
Gardell grew up in Swissvale and says Veltreâs is still is favorite pizza shop there.
âHeâs a great guy,â says owner Tony Veltre. âYouâd never know he was any kind of celebrity. Heâs just a Swissvale boy.â
Gardellâs allegiance to his hometown remains strong.
âI like to come back at least twice a year. That way I get here in the summertime and hit the Pirates and Kennywood with my kid,â said Gardell.
In his Comedy Central special âHalftimeâ he spends the first minute or so speaking to hometown fans in Pittsburghese: âIâm glad yinz could come dahn tonight.â
He explained why he wanted to say a special hello to Pittsburghers.
âThis is where I come from and this is who I reflect, and I try not to embarrass them. So, thereâs always got to be a little moment for them when I do this, because they knew before anybody else. Theyâve been behind me for a long time,â Gardell said.
Gardell is very grateful to his friends at WDVE radio and still talks with them each week on the air. WDVEâs Randy Baumann and Bill Crawford jokingly told us that they keep Gardellâs ego in check.
Baumann: If heâs about to approach anything that sounds like, not arrogance, if he sounds like heâs getting high and mighty.
Gardell: If Iâm feeling good about myself. Ha! Thatâs when I call back in. Straightens me right out!
Both Baumann and Crawford say theyâre just kidding and that despite his success, Gardell remains a down-to-Earth guy.
As for âMike & Molly,â he believes the show is so popular because itâs a program about âheartâ that people can relate to.
He says working with his co-star Melissa McCarthy is wonderful.
âShe is just as graceful as the day I met her,â said Gardell. âSheâs kind. Sheâs giving. Itâs an honor to work with her. Seriously.â
Cast member Swoosie Kurtz says that Gardell leads the cast in a prayer before each show thatâs about being grateful. And Gardell certainly is that.
âIâm very grateful that success came at this age. Because if they had given this to me at 23, itâd be over by now,â Gardell said.