Art teacher Connor Yeager went from sitcoms to school

His artwork was featured in the shows ‘Alf’ and ‘Saved by the Bell’


Natalie Queen

Art teacher Connor Yeager worked on the 80s sitcom, “Alf” and still has the postcard and a script from the episode “True Colors.”

Art teacher Connor Yeager once worked with an alien.

He also did the artwork on the set of the original “Saved By the Bell” series.

Alf” was a sitcom that aired from 1986 to 1990. The show featured an alien from another planet whose name is Gordon Shumway, but called Alf as an acronym for Alien Life Form.

While in space, Alf followed a signal that led him to a crash-landing into the Tanner family’s garage. Instead of handing him over to authorities, they kept him safe in their home.

Saved by the Bell” was another American television sitcom broadcasted in the 90s. It was set in a high school, featuring situations among friends, including the two main characters, Zack and Kelly.

Yeager got involved in these shows after moving to L.A. in his 20s. He said he enjoyed visiting a friend in Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics so much that he decided to move to the area. He left Ohio for Burbank, California, where he stayed for seven years.

He first worked part-time with the art director and set dresser on “Alf.” As part of their art department, he also got to make props and set up the stage for different episodes, he said.

The alien character was operated by three different people, Yeager explained, and some of his facial expressions were controlled by a remote.

Yeager created 20 paintings for the set of an episode titled “True Colors,” in which Alf paints with food.

Yeager then worked on “Saved by the Bell” for several years, making posters, banners and signs around the school and other places that are visible in many scenes.

Yeager created a radio station logo and numerous posters for “Saved by the Bell.” His artwork was visible in many scenes. (Natalie Queen)

“Saved by the Bell” was filmed in the same studio where “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson was also taped, Yeager recalled. Carson parked his Corvette in the area Yeager entered the studio. While Yeager kept an eye out for Carson, he never got to see him.

He did have the opportunity to hang out with other celebrities, though. At a wrap party for the comedy show, “In Living Color,” Yeager got to see the show’s creators and actors. The Wayan brothers, Jim Carey and Jennifer Lopez, who was one of the dancers on the show at the time, a member of “The Fly Girls,” were all there.

Yeager’s transition into teaching began when he first helped his wife’s class create a mural when she taught at a school in Burbank. “I really liked working with her students and sharing my skills, and began to think of art teaching as a career,” he said.

After their first child was born, they wanted to buy a home, and decided to come back to Cleveland, Yeager said. He attended Case Western University to earn his master of arts degree in art education and his teaching certificate.

“I started teaching art at Streetsboro High School in 1996, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Yeager’s colleagues, math teacher Tim Foster and science teacher Bob Sternburg, both remember watching “Alf” and described it as a funny and enjoyable show.

Sternburg has fond memories of watching it with his children when they were growing up. “It was well written and the artwork was amazing,” he said.

Sternburg also recalled how his son received an Alf toy for Christmas one year. He said the toy held cassette tapes and would move its head, mouth and arms, singing and dancing along with the music.

Foster recounted what the character was best known for. “Alf was a really funny show about an alien that lived with a family and got into a lot of mischief,” he said. “Alf also liked to dine on cats.”

In one episode of “Alf,” when the alien paints with food, all the artwork was done by Yeager. The bottom-left photo features the sitcom’s elevated sound stage. (Natalie Queen)

Prior to working on the shows and then eventually teaching, Yeager knew as early as elementary school that art was something he enjoyed.

Throughout his art journey, support has come from his parents, late grandfather, Dr. Floyd Yeager, and his wife, Ava, he said.

Yeager said his art inspiration comes from abstract expressionists and pop artists from the 60s like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. He said it is because he occasionally works with or paints on objects he finds, such old wooden signs.

An artist he looks up to the most is Vincent Van Gogh, “not only because of the energy, emotion and amazing color he brought to his work,” Yeager said, “but for his insatiable drive to create despite his challenges, and being unknown in his time with all the odds against him, only to be discovered later as a genius.”