'The Goldbergs' Star Wendi McLendon-Covey on the TV Moms That Inspire Her (Exclusive)

Plus, the actress shares the most extreme fan reaction she's ever gotten to her iconic character.

Wendi McLendon-Covey became an instantly iconic television mom the moment she donned Beverly Goldberg's feathered locks on The Goldbergs. But even after nine seasons of her hit ABC comedy, the hilarious actress has a hard time counting herself among the greats.

"That anyone would consider me an iconic TV mom is such a compliment, because I grew up with Marion Cunningham and June Cleaver and all the greats," McLendon-Covey told ET's Kevin Frazier as she was honored as one of ET's Iconic TV Moms this Mother's Day. "I loved watching those moms, and now that I’m playing a mom, oh my god, I have such a new respect for moms everywhere, because it is not up for the faint of heart."

As for what other TV character she'd compare Beverly to, the Bridesmaids star named Cloris Leachman's memorable nosy neighbor, Phyllis Lindstrom, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

"She was actively helicopter parenting," she noted with a laugh. "I will say that she runs neck and neck with my own mother, who will deny this -- but I don't."

McLendon-Covey's character is based on the real-life mother of The Goldbergs' producer, Adam F. Goldberg, which adds an extra wrinkle to her role -- she can receive acting notes from the woman herself!

"I finally met Bev about 10 episodes in," she said of taking on the part in the first season. "She came to the set and I was kind of freaked out about meeting her, but she was so lovely."

"She said, 'You're playing the nice version of me,'" the actress recalled. "We have toned her down a little bit... but look, she's a lady who gets what she wants, and mom-wise, when something goes down, you want Bev in your corner."

As for the show's successful run, McLendon-Covey noted that they owe a lot to the real Goldbergs, both for the inspiration and their sense of humor about seeing their family drama play out onscreen.

"These are real people, and they may not enjoy this all the time, but the fan response has been phenomenal worldwide," she added. "It's a comfort show, you know? One of those things that, when you’ve had a bad day or whatever, you can turn on reruns and it makes you happy to watch it."

And some fans take that emotional response to the max, McLendon-Covey revealed.

"I had a girl start crying on me at Comic-Con," she recalled. "She started crying and saying, 'I wish my mom was like you!' What do you say to that?"

"I don’t know what I said, something like, 'Oh sweetheart, my heart is with you,'" the actress continued. "I’m not a mom in real life, but it’s sure fun to play."

See ET's full interview with McLendon-Covey in the video above, and tune in to Entertainment Tonight all week for more from some of the most iconic TV moms! Check local listings for air times.



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