A-List: Where Are They Now? '80s Actresses
By Jason Dean
July 8, 2005
Jim Van Nest's recent '80s Teen Classics column got me to wondering about what happened to some of the actresses of those and other films of the time. You know, the actresses that we thought of as being poised to be having a chance at being the next leading ladies. Of course, history has shown that the transition from pre-teen or teen starlet to adult star is difficult at best.
When I first discussed this possible topic with the other staff members, I had left Ione Skye off the list as to my mind, she's been relatively easy to find. However, since she was the lead in one of the movies in the '80s column as well as fulfilling BOP obligations with regards to Say Anything..., I will indeed start with Ione Skye. Ione Skye seems to have done just fine for herself as an actress as opposed to being a star. A review of her IMDb filmography shows her to have worked fairly steadily in the 15 years since Say Anything... Granted, I don't recognize nearly 90% of the titles, but I'm not her biggest fan either. At the same time, she was instantly recognizable when I saw her as one of Drew Barrymore's friends in this spring's Fever Pitch.
At the suggestion of David Mumpower, we've also included Jennifer Runyon, who probably gained her biggest initial exposure as Gwendolyn Pierce on Charles in Charge. She also had a role in 18 Again! toward the end of the '80s. However, she remained primarily a TV actress. When I looked her up on IMDb, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I did recognize one of her films - Carnosaur. In the aftermath of the monster success of Jurassic Park, Carnosaur was a knock-off and actually isn't nearly as bad as I thought I remembered it to be. Still, Carnosaur was still over a decade ago and my brief research didn't turn up anything further. There are no real fan sites or anything else to indicate what Runyon is up to these days.
Another suggestion by David Mumpower was Kim Richards. As it turns out, I do know Kim Richards, or at least my grade school self did. My fan boy instincts were yet to be formed, so the name did not stick in mind. However, that grade school boy has many a memory of the cutie from the Witch Mountain movies. I also have memories of another Disney film - No Deposit, No Return. Richards was also the little girl who is killed at the start of the original Assault on Precinct 13. Since those days, Richards was in Tuff Turf, as well as the ill fated Meatballs sequel. Doing research for this column didn't yield anything as to exactly what she is up to during the current decade other than the trivial fact that she's Paris Hilton's aunt. I did find evidence that she's apparently pretty comfortable with being remembered as Tia from the Witch Mountain movies, as seen by her participation in: The Blair Witch Mountain Project. On a very shallow note to me she looks exactly as I would have expected her to look nearly nearly three decades later, neither older nor younger.
For what ever reasons, Mrs. Ferris Bueller, Sloane Peterson, never received the fame that I had figured for her. She's another actress who has worked steadily, and occassionaly appears in larger profile projects. In the '90s she was seen as the female lead in Timecop. In this decade, she was in Birds of Prey, the short-lived WB super heroine series. After a bit of getting used to her very blond, very severe hair style, I was very much enjoying her double role as well as the series overall, just in time to watch it not get picked up.
Kerri Green, while not being necessarily one of my favorites of the '80s, is one of the actress who inspired this column. She had the back-to-back successes of Lucas and The Goonies. The Goonies has gone on to become a modern childhood classic for those who grew up in the '80s. Lucas wouldn't have quite the same following, but did see its cast go on to leave its mark in Hollywood. In both movies, Kerri Green seemed to have that charismatic ‘it' that should indicate that there would be more to her career than just those two roles. As it turns out, there is at least one superfan out there who thought even more of Ms Green and has been following her career. Johan Brodin and his The Unofficial Kerri Green Page were invaluable to my research here. As it turns out, after her initial success, she went to college, took the occasional TV role and founded a production company. If you're interested in more, go and read Johan's page.
One of my all time favorite performances is Michelle Meyerink as the super-intelligent, hyperactive Jordan in Real Genius. Real Genius tends to get lost in all of the teen movies of the '80s (maybe because it's set in college so it doesn't officially qualify), but is one my favorite movies. She's just adorable in both appearance and personality. Michelle also does a good dramatic turn in the River's Edge which is another undersung movie of the decade. However, it seems that her career was limited to the '80s. This time around (it's not the first time I've tried to look up what's she doing), I was able to find the short blurb that River's Edge was the end of her acting career and that in her civilian life she went on to get married and have three children.
The youngest actress on the list made her mark as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years. Her roles in the late '90s were limited as she chose to go to college and graduated with a BS in Mathematics. During her studies she co-authored a new mathematical proof: Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin–Teller models on Z2. While I might be geeky enough to absolute adore the fact that Danica is Danica and is every bit as cute now as she was as Winnie and a mathematician to boot, I'm not so geeky that I can even pretend that I can completely follow the math. Heck, I can't even follow the title of the proof. However, those who have been paying attention have seen her as a recurring guest on the West Wing as well guest spots on shows such as NCIS. Though again as the geek shows through, can I mention how cool I think it is that she answers math questions on her site, http://www.danicamckellar.com/?