Frank William Tucker (David Proval) was a homeless Vietnam veteran known as “The Potato Man,” who wandered around the town of Rome, Wisconsin carrying a five-pound bag of Idaho potatoes on the drama PICKET FENCES/CBS/1992-95.
Originally vagrancy laws, which prohibited sleeping on public property, forced the Potato Man out of town but on a later episode he returned in the cold of winter to seek shelter. He didn’t like the noise of the nearby cities of Madison or Green Bay and preferred the quiet of the small town of Rome.
When the police were investigation a strange Serial Bather who broke into peoples’ house to take a bath, a deputy suggested. “Maybe it is Frank the Potato Man, he lives in that shack in the woods and he doesn’t have a tub of his own…and he’s always dirty. The secretary added “Look at the ring in that tub. This person was filthy.”
Although, innocent of the charges, the town folks of Rome still thought Frank a bit strange and would have preferred that he leave their community. Afterall, the town did not have accommodations for the homeless and Mayor Rachel Harris (Leigh Taylor-Young) and refused to build one for such a “micro-minority.”
Fortunately, a compassionate police officer Deputy Maxine Stewart (Lauren Holly) and the local lawyer Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel) pleaded his case to Judge Henry Bone (Ray Walston) who ruled that the town must build a shelter for him.
However, the good news arrived too late for the Potato Man who was found frozen to death in a cave on the outskirts of town. The medical examiner placed his time of death at 11:04 from probable hypothermia. The Potato Man’s heart was defrosted and donated to a needy patient with a back ticker.
The town of Rome had other eccentrics, including:
- K. C. McDonald (Jessica Tuck) a.k.a. “The Snake Lady” who collected snakes and carried a boa snake around with her.
- “The Serial Bather,” a bizarre town criminal who broke into people’s home and took a bath while the property owners were gone
- Louise Talbot (Natalija Nogulich), the town’s transsexual schoolteacher (formerly known as Walter Souder)
- “The Frogman” (Michael Jeters), a man named Peter LeBeck who dressed in a frog costume to protest killing of frogs in biology class (singing the “Be a Frog” song)
- and a town clergyman with a fetish for women’s shoes.
See also – “The Log Lady“