Thursday, August 5, 2010

Did you know? 80s and 90s Pop Culture Connections

What exactly did we do before we had the Internet Movie Database to fact check our niggling sleep loss-inducing curiosity of in which movie or show we'd previously seen an actor or actress? It's tough to remember a time when we had to simply live with the mystery. Luckily these days a world is information is available at the click of a search button, so we never have live in doubt again that the guy from that show was in that one kids' movie. You know, that guy.

Even with these remarkable advances in media-connecting information technology, it's tough to remember to backtrack and revisit all of the questions we'd previously had before the inception of IMDB. Our brains can only store so much information, so after awhile we lose sight of the immense importance of placing each actor or actress that previously thwarted us with their multiple roles. As always, Children of the 90s is here to help: to dig up those lost and forgotten celebrity frustrations and enlighten you on some of the stranger star connections about which you may not have known. While these are a few of my personal favorites, feel free to use the comments section to rave about your own enlightening pre-IMDB celebrity realizations.

Voice of Older Kevin on Wonder Years=Robber from Home Alone

So many children of the 80s and 90s grew up with both The Wonder Years and Home Alone without ever making the connection that Joe Pesci's robber sidekick's voice sounded suspiciously similar to a voiceover recording deliberating over a first kiss with Winnie.

Michael Carrington from Grease 2=Rex Manning from Empire Records

If you've ever seen the horrifically corny Grease 2, it's pretty clear it can't live up to the original. You also know, however, that star Maxwell Caulfield is dreamy by all objective standards. Whether as a nerdy Brit who's vaguely related to Frenchie or as a Cool Rider, he's got it all. Even ten odd years later, he's still fairly dreamy as washed-up Brit pop star Rex Manning in quintessential 90s movie Empire Records. He even looks good as a cardboard cutout.

Charlene Sinclair and Fran Sinclair of Dinosaurs=Sally Struthers of "Get Your Degree at Home" fame and Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development

I admit I'm probably not being completely fair to Sally Struthers with this one. She's had a career that fan outspans her college-at-home hawking gig, but as children of the 90s that's the Struthers we're most likely to remember. I also saw her in a Broadway version of Grease, and truthfully I would have been far more pumped about her performance if I'd known I was watching Charlene from Dinosaurs.

Perhaps more interesting is that Dinosaurs matriarch Fran Sinclair is voiced by the matriarch of the Arrested Development Bluth clan. That's some serious range, to be able to flit seamlessly from a young prehistoric mother to a spoiled raging alcoholic plotting against Liza Minnelli.

Darryl from Adventures in Babysitting=Mark from Rent

If you were never into pinnacle 90s' musical RENT, this information may not be particularly intriguing, but if you saw the original Broadway show lightbulbs should be appearing at all angles above your head right now. Anthony Rapp who played Brad's friend Darryl in Babysitting went on to achieve astounding musical fame as Mark Cohen in RENT. What's stranger still is that Chris Columbus directed Rapp in both Adventures in Babysitting and RENT. Columbus is clearly not much of a niche artist, or at least not based on this strange work sample.

Janie from Girls Just Want to Have Fun=Carrie from Sex and the City

I know, I know, I also could have cited Parker for her early roles in Square Pegs and Footloose, but this film was such a major part of my childhood I couldn't resist making it my example. As a kid I was absolutely certain Girls Just Want to Have Fun was the most realistic and credible depiction of high school, so imagine my surprise upon watching it a few weeks ago to find that it is possibly the cheesiest movie ever made. Regardless, it does offer some nice foreshadowing when the DTV director commends Janie for her Catholic School uniform "fashion risk"--clearly an omen of Carrie craziness to come.

That Girl from RAD=Aunt Becky from Full House

This one might be a long shot because its interestingness hinges on the notion that you've seen RAD, which in itself is incredibly unlikely. In case you have not, I highly recommend you check it out. Not because it's good by any stretch of the imagination, but because it's so horrible it warrants a good mocking with friends. Plus, Aunt Becky is in it! What's not to like? Besides the movie, of course.

King Koopa from Super Mario Bros=Villain from Speed

Yes, Dennis Hopper was in Super Mario Bros. Who knew? He definitely rocked the villainous roles, but he probably was not especially proud of this entry on his long resume.

The Manager of The Golden Palace=The Manager of Hotel Rwanda

Talk about a promotion. In just a few years, you too can go from managing the underrated but unnecessary Golden Girls spinoff hotel establishment to managing a heart wrenchingly heroic hotel for genocide refugees.

The Kids from Freaks and Geeks=The Stars of Judd Apatow Films

This one is sort of a no-brainer considering Apatow was the driving force behind Freaks and Geeks, but it seems worth mentioning on the basis that the show suffered from incredibly low ratings. Considering Apatow's recent box office success, it's odd to consider he once was hawking one of the greatest unwatched shows of the late 90s. At this point, though, I'm sure Freaks and Geeks' more recent cult status and undoubtedly astronomical DVD sales haven't hurt his already bulging bank account. It sounds like a win-win. Well, if you're Apatow. Us original Freaks fans can't cash in on our early adopter comedy status in anything other than smug self-satisfaction.


Au Lapin Blanc said...

NO WAAAAY! I didn't know he was Kevin's voice from The Wonder Years!

nikki said...

Haven't seen RAD? Psssh. Hell yes I have. I had no idea Aunt Becky was in it.

For those who haven't seen Rent, Anthony Rapp was also in Dazed & Confused as Marisa Ribisi's nerdy blonde friend who crushes on freshman Sabrina.

Children of the 90s said...

Ooh, good one, Nikki! I forgot about that completely.

Kristie said...

Super cool post! I didn't know some of these! I love Janie. (I'll tell you a secret ~ my husband still likes the tune in Tokyo part) haha

Alison said...

I don't remember Sarah Jessica Parker in Girls Just Want to Have Fun. For whatever reason, it's Helen Hunt that always stood out in my mind.

Lauren said...

Ha, this was so interesting!!! I had no clue that guy from Home Alone played Kevin’s voice from Wonder Years!

Ken Kocses said...

It's funny how Sally Struthers was famous first from "All In The Family", but to us, she's "Get Your Degree At Home" woman

Sadako said...

I'm a bad kid of the 90s--I totally just associate her with All in the Family. Didn't know she was the get your degree at home lady too, though.

bibberly said...

Don't forget that Sally Struthers was also in all those commercials about the starving kids around the world.

Aunt Becky was also in the movie The Night Before with Keanu Reeves. That's another movie that isn't very good, but for some reason it was always on our local independent TV station when I was growing up, and we didn't have cable. She spends a good chunk of the movie handcuffed to a headboard. Oh, and also Secret Admirer. The programming folks at the independent station really loved Aunt Becky.

kathryn.hart said...

this post is great. such a walk down memory lane. esp the sjp part.

Anonymous said...

Maxwell Caulfield also played Maxwell Sheffield's brother, on The Nanny.

Jen said...

Whoa, Anthony Rapp was in Babysiting? Totally blew my mind. Once I saw the picture it made sense.

(Nikki, I always knew him from D&C too, in fact that's what I always think of when I see him)

My favorite part of Rad is the dance bike sequence to "Send me An Angel" by Real Life (also used to great affect in The Wizard)

And I'm surprised you didn't include Jenny Lewis, of Wizard and Troop Bev Hills fame, now lead singer of Rilo Kiley. Some people still haven't figured that out. =)

Children of the 90s said...

Speaking of Rilo Kiley, it's also got Blake Sennett aka Ronnie Pinsky from Salute Your Shorts and Joey the Rat from Boy Meets World.

perfectionishuman said...

AHHHH I'll love you forever for mentioning Empire Records.

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