Hi Gang, and greetings from Hollywood!
Their stars burn brightly, even glaringly. Then as quickly as they burst onto the scene, they vanish. These are the child actors who commit the ultimate sin, the one unforgivable transgression against Hollywood’s skewed view of nature….they grow up. These are the inhabitants of “Whateverhappenedtoville”. Pishers who made gezunte gelt for the studios, producers, bankers, and sometimes even for themselves. Yet once they began to display the least little hint of maturity, they were cast aside like the bones Henry VIII threw over his shoulder for the royal canines.
The first was Shirley Temple. The curls were replaced by a full, ample bosom and she was gone. Of the old guard from that era the only ones who really survived and made it to adult stardom were Jackie Cooper, Judy Garland, and Mickey Rooney, and that was only because they weren’t too proud to lower themselves to working in television. Jane Withers survived marginally, except her humiliation was increased by having to resort to commercials for scouring powder.
But aside from straight-to-video releases, which nowadays are often big budget films for which the producers can’t find distributors, and the plethora of cable channels offering opportunities on the small screen never before seen, the moppets who charmed us a decade or so ago, disappeared into that twilight zone of obscurity. I often get asked, “Whatever happened to so-and-so? I loved him/her in such-and-such!”
Most often, I get asked about members of the notorious “Brat Pack”; the actors who burst onto the scene in most notably “The Breakfast Club”. So, I decided to do some digging to find out what happened to those malcontent delinquents who gave Paul Gleason his justification for his ill temper. Of course, we all know the stellar heights Demi Moore soared to, as well as Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise. They were the lucky ones.
Molly Ringwald, (and yes, that is her real name,) pretty much did herself in, by turning down Demi Moore’s role in “Ghost” and Julia Roberts' role in “Pretty Woman”. Smooth moves, Molly! And good luck in your national tour of “Sweet Charity”…having spent six years touring in musicals and doing comedy, I can say with certainty, you’re gonna need it!
Anthony Michael Hall fared a little better…he successfully made the transition from geeky teen to geeky adult, thanks to roles such as “ Johnny Be Good” and, “Edward Scissorhands”, although I have to admit he played a thoroughly despicable baddie in the latter. His major salvation though has been the television series “The Dead Zone”, and the upcoming blockbuster, “Dark Knight”.
Andrew McCarthy, who made us laugh in spite of ourselves for his hijinks in “Weekend at Bernies” and it’s equally schmaltzy sequel, and tried to get Robert Downey Jr. off the drugs in “Less Than Zero”, (Nu? Talk about art imitating life!) may be on the edge of a comeback. He’s landed a peachy role in the upcoming “Spiderwick Chronicles” and also in a new comedy/drama “Lipstick Jungle” starring Brooke Sheilds.
Ally Sheedy wasn’t able to maintain her momentum either, her last real success being “War Games” which along with “Ferris Buller’s Day Off” made a megastar of Matthew Broderick. Once in a while she appears in small-screen dreck such as “High Art” playing a drug-addicted lesbian, (obviously she never saw what “Showgirls” did to Elizabeth Berkeley’s career,) and the off-Broadway “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. Most recently she’s been able to land guest appearances on shows like “CSI” and an episode of “Dead Zone”, and so far the dead zone is where her career remains.
Rob Lowe, also known these days as Hollywood’s answer to Bill Clinton, survived his sex scandal when Mike Meyers ‘threw him a friggin’ bone’ in his cult-hit “Wayne’s World.” That led to his success in “The West Wing” and “Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me”, and his scenery-chewing role in “Thank You for Smoking.” Rob has now switched parties, and is a Republican in “Brothers and Sisters.”
Emelio Estevez was the heir presumptive to Rob Lowe, after outstanding performances in “The Outsiders” and “St. Elmo’s Fire”. But the age of the malcontent teens was winding down, and by the mid-nineties he was known mostly as Charlie Sheen’s older brother, and the guy who got dumped by Demi Moore. Then last year he made a comeback, the likes of which Norma Desmond dreamed of, with “Bobby,” which he not only starred in but wrote and directed. Bravo, Emelio, your star still ‘Sheens’ brightly!
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.
James Spader, the obnoxious snob Steff in “Pretty in Pink,” worked steadily for a while, making it big again in the cult classic “Stargate”. In arguably the dumbest career move since I turned down an audition for a series pilot called “Friends,” he turned down the series. Now, on “Boston Legal,” he seems to be content trying to gain more weight than William Shatner. But at least the Craft Services people are happy.
Not much can be said about Robert Downey Jr. other than he’s bounced back more times than Michael Jordan’s basketball. He is currently enjoying his longest stint of sobriety, and is now facing his most difficult challenge. Look for him in “Ironman”, the newest superhero to fly from the pages of a Marvel comic to the big screen.
Before I close, for all of you who have been waiting for the much anticipated (for twenty years,) big screen version of the 70’s animated classic “Speed Racer,) wait no longer! It is coming! More about that next month, but trust me, it’s awesome! John Goodman as “Pops’ racer”? Nuff said!
Till next month, Gang!
The Gantseh Megillah
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