Before there were pigmy puffs and FurReal Friends, Furbies and Build-A-Bear, there were Gremlins. As long as you didn’t feed the fluffy little cuties after midnight or get them wet, they were the sweetest, most cuddly pets you could ever have, making even baby sloths seem lackluster in comparison. (Okay, almost lackluster.) Get them wet or feed them past the witching hour, however, and things get a little more interesting.
Even more interesting is what happened to the cast of Gremlins following the 1984 movie. While many cast members have sadly left this world, there are still plenty to celebrate and see on Netflix. Some of the biggest stars of the 1980s are not as well known today, while some minor cast members have gone on to do big things, showing just how fickle Hollywood can be.
Just in case you were wondering, here’s Where Are They Now: The Cast of Gremlins.
15. Howie Mandel – Gizmo
Long before he was the host of Deal or No Deal, Howie Mandel had a successful career as a comedian and voice actor. In fact, some may find it strange that he was listed in the Gremlins credits at all, given that he can’t be seen in the movie. Mandel, who voiced the loveable Gizmo and continues to do so to this day in video games, has had comedy roles and voice acting jobs steadily since Gremlins, which was one of his first roles.
Mandel provided the voices of several Muppet Babies as well as Sam-I-Am in the TV movie In Search of Dr. Seuss. He was also, of course, the voice of Bobby Generic in the 1990s animated series Bobby’s World. Mandel’s modern work includes roles in The Big Bang Theory, Monk and other programs.
14. Polly Holiday – Ruby Deagle
Remember Ruby Deagle, the snotty woman who unflinchingly closes businesses, hates Christmas carolers, loves her kitty cat and is the star of everyone’s favorite stair lift scene? After remarking how much she hated carolers, Deagle was shocked to find that her singers were even more offensive due to their Gremlin status. Polly Holiday, who played Deagle in the movie, thankfully has plenty of more sympathetic characters under her belt.
Holiday’s most famous roles on TV series Alice and Flo both occurred before her involvement in Gremlins, but the actress has guest starred in everything from The Golden Girls to Homicide: Life on the Street. She played Lillian Patterson in the sitcom Home Improvement, Momma Love in The Client, and the unimpressed social worker Gloria, opposite Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire.
Holiday’s most recent film was Fair Game in 2010, in which she adorably asked Naomi Watts, “So do you have lovers all over the world? Do you have a gun? Do you kill people?” before inviting the CIA operative out for a mani/pedi.
13. Dick Miller – Murray Futterman
He was a paranoid business owner with a hatred for all things “foreign,” which ironically served as foreshadowing of the Gremlin infestation. Murray Futterman, played by Dick Miller, may not have been everyone’s favorite character, but he was part of some amazing scenes– including a murder attempt by the Gremlins with a snow plow.
Miller’s had a couple of recent works, including the short Schmo and The Adventures of Biffle and Shooster in 2015, but he’s also been a steady Hollywood presence since his work in Gremlins in 1984. He had roles in Terminator, Tales From the Darkside, and the TV show Fame. Miller played in the films The ‘Burbs, Under the Boardwalk, and Gremlins 2, and some of his television performances include The Flash, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. In addition to being an actor, Miller was also a middleweight boxer and served in the Navy.
12. Hoyt Axton – Randall Peltzer
When Randall Peltzer brought home a Mogwai for his son as a gift, it changed the world as they both knew it. Peltzer, like plenty of people, thought that he knew better when he brought Gizmo home for his son, but he should’ve listened to Mr. Wing’s sage advice. Hoyt Axton, who played Peltzer, passed away in 1999, but he had a long career in both acting and songwriting, leaving his mark in a number of films and television shows.
Fans of songs like “Joy to the World”, “The Pusher”, and “Never Been to Spain”, which have all been prominently featured in movies, may know that Axton wrote them. He also worked on the soundtracks for several TV shows, such as American Idol, Friends, The X-Files, and many other productions.
11. Frances Lee McCain – Lynn Peltzer
Gremlins in the kitchen! Poor Mrs. Peltzer (AKA Billy’s mom). Another actor who has aged well, Frances Lee McCain has a versatile face and presence that has helped her achieve roles in the TV series Preacher and films like Scream and Patch Adams. In the same year she played Lynn Peltzer, McCain was also in Footloose, TV series CBS Schoolbreak Special, and TV movie Single Bars, Single Women. She has also had roles on TV shows like Dallas, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Diagnosis Murder.
Fun fact about McCain: she also played the mother of Will Weaton’s character, Gordie Lachance, in the film Stand by Me (which also stars Corey Feldman, featured later in this list). Fans may also remember that she played Stella Baines, mother to Lorraine and grandmother to Marty in Back to the Future. Who didn’t crack up when she inquired of Michael J. Fox, “You know, Marty, you look so familiar. Do I know your mother?”
10. Harry Carey, Jr. – Mr. Anderson
He may have had the face to play Santa Claus, but Harry Carey, Jr. was a character actor in many a Western film instead. Prior to being harassed by the furry gremlins, Carey, Jr. had roles in everything from Little House on the Prairie to Dallas, Wagon Train to Gunsmoke. He was such a well-known face among Westerns that he was considered more of a cameo in Gremlins.
One of his most famous roles was that of Marshal Fred White in the film Tombstone. After he played the elderly, pipe-smoking Mr. Anderson in Gremlins, Carey Jr. went on to play Red in the film Mask, which was followed by several other notable roles.
Some of his most well-known characters since Gremlins include Zeke, the saloon old-timer in Back to the Future Part III, Father Kanavan in The Exorcist III, and Digger Phelps in the TV Movie Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone. Carey, Jr. passed away in 2012 at the age of 91.
9. Glynn Turman – Roy Hanson
Not all actors can say they’ve aged well, but Glynn Turman is an exception. The Super 8 actor seems to get even more distinguished as he ages, earning him steady roles since his first foray into acting at the age of 13 in a production of A Raisin in the Sun.
After playing the well-meaning science teacher in Gremlins, Turman guest starred on dozens of television programs, from TJ Hooker to The Twilight Zone. From Murder, She Wrote to Freddy’s Nightmares to Matlock, Turman’s acting skills were featured in lots of ’80s TV. In 1988, he landed a part in the popular series A Different World, which ran for five years.
In the 1990s, Turman did more film work, acting in movies like Light It Up and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The prolific actor has had more prominent roles in TV shows like The Wire, In Treatment, and The Defenders since then. His current most famous role is psychoanalyst Jeremiah Kaan in the Showtime series House of Lies.
8. Peter Cullen – Mogwai/Gremlins
Several of the biggest stars to emerge from the Gremlins movie are the voice actors, and Peter Cullen is one of them. Sure, he voiced some freaky little monsters, but most people recognize his voice best when it’s paired with the awe-inspiring presence of Optimus Prime from Transformers. Cullen has been voicing Prime since the 1984 Transformers cartoon series and his voice can still be heard in the modern live-action films. That’s one of the most impressive voice acting runs in Hollywood. Cullen also voiced opposite his Gremlins costar Frank Welker’s Megatron in the series.
Cullen is also known for voicing the goofy creature Murky in the Rainbow Brite series, which overlapped his Gremlins work. Nearly all of Cullen’s modern work is Transformers-related, but he’s also voiced Winnie the Pooh’s sad little donkey Eeyore for many years. Cullen also voiced Captain Flint in Disney’s Treasure Planet, Monterrey Jack in Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, and several voices in The Flintstone Kids, among many other characters.
7. Bob Bergen – Voice Cast
Having “additional voices” as your casting description may not sound all that glamorous, but when you’re a steady presence in Hollywood for more than three decades and still voicing characters well into your 50s, you can definitely call it a success. Bob Bergen has led such a career, voicing characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fraggle Rock, Spider-Man, and other favorite animated series. Bergen is no stranger to films, either, providing voice talents for live action movies like Total Recall, Problem Child, and Look Who’s Talking Now.
Some of Bergen’s most famous works include Space Jam, multiple Star Wars video games, and the character No-Face in the gorgeous Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away. He is a frequent flyer on the Disney team, voicing characters in everything from The Hunchback of Notre Dame to A Bug’s Life, Hercules to Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc. to Up. Wall-E, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Inside Out… Bergen has had a voice in just about every modern Disney film.
You’ve also heard him in Robot Chicken, Minions and, most recently, Sing.
6. Phoebe Cates – Kate Beringer
More popularly known as Elizabeth (or Snotface) from the hilarious ’90s film Drop Dead Fred and Linda from her earlier movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates played sweet Kate Beringer in Gremlins. Following Gremlins, Cates starred in movies like Date with an Angel and I Love You to Death. The daughter of legendary Broadway and TV producer Joseph Cates, she was one of those actors who was born into the business but later opted to leave the limelight.
Although she completed some voice work in the Lego Dimensions video game for her Gremlins character in 2015, Cates has not made a movie since 2001, when she played Sophia Gold in the film The Anniversary Party. Her husband, actor Kevin Kline, with whom she starred in the film, has been much more active in the business than Cates. Even so, Cates spends much of her time supporting Kline’s work and running benefit events. The two raised two children together.
5. Johnathan Banks – Deputy Brent
Remember the skeptical deputy who was much more interested in Christmas candy than supposed “furry monsters” in Gremlins? He may not have had a huge role in the film, but Jonathan Banks has come a long way since then. Sure, he worked in plenty of TV shows and films long before Gremlins, from Barnaby Jones to Airplane! He had a few roles on Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and The Gangster Chronicles, where his talents really started to shine.
Following Gremlins, Banks landed several other television roles, from Otherworld to the popular soap opera Falcon Crest to Wiseguy. He regularly starred in various TV series and films in the 1990s and 2000s, making him a well-known actor, but his most famous modern role is the character Mike Ehrmantraut in the hit series Breaking Bad, which led to his continuation of the character in the hit prequel series, Better Call Saul. These shows have made Banks more popular than ever in his forty-plus years in the business.
4. Frank Welker – Mogwai/Stripe/Gremlins
You might know him better as the voice of Fred on Scooby Doo, but Frank Welker is one of the most widely-used voice actors of today. It would be hard to guess that this voice of so many popular animated characters is also the voice of the adorable Mogwai and Gremlin creatures. While some of his largest roles have included voicing various Smurfs, several characters in Disney’s Aladdin, and Dr. Raymond Stantz in the animated series The Real Ghostbusters, Welker has worked steadily in numerous animated programs since 1969.
Prior to voicing everyone’s favorite little monster Stripe from Gremlins, Welker was the voice kids heard in cartoons like Super Friends and The New Tom and Jerry Show. He even did voice work in Studio Ghibli’s first unofficial film, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, later voicing characters in Porco Rosso for the studio.
Since Gremlins, audiences have enjoyed Welker’s talents in everything from Pound Puppies to Inspector Gadget, The Jetsons to GI Joe, Futurama to Kim Possible. He was even the voice of the gopher in Caddyshack II!
3. Zach Galligan – Billy Peltzer
People sighed over his sweet personality and cursed at his carelessness with his Mogwai. Billy Peltzer was a beloved ’80s character and remains one of the most memorable movie characters of all time, although it may be more because of his pet than any other reason.
Like many actors in the film, Zach Galligan, who played Billy in Gremlins, has worked steadily in TV shows and movies since Gremlins, continuing to work today. Galligan is working on two 2017 films, Madness in the Method and Slay Utterly, and he was in three 2016 movies: Kampout, End It All Now and The Chair.
Galligan has been on episodes of the TV series 7th Heaven, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and Star Trek: Voyager. The actor starred in Gremlins 2 and films like Waxwork, The Psychic and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. The New York City resident is also a screenwriter and acting teacher.
2. Chris Columbus
Arguably the most successful person to continue making movies since Gremlins, Chris Columbus has made some of the biggest pictures of our time. As a writer, not only did he pen Gremlins, but he also created the screenplay for The Goonies a year later, followed by the Gremlins sequel, both movies’ video games, and comedies like Nine Months and Christmas with the Kranks. As a director, Columbus has been at the helm of films like Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, two Harry Potter films, and several other favorites.
Unwilling to limit himself to “just” writing and directing, Columbus is also the producer of several films, ranging from the Percy Jackson films to 2015’s cult favorite The Witch to the 2005 musical version of Rent (in which he worked with Adventures in Babysitting’s Anthony Rapp again). Columbus also produced favorites like The Help, Stepmom, and Jingle All the Way.
1. Corey Feldman – Pete Fountaine
One of the most famous people to emerge from the Gremlins movie, Corey Feldman enjoyed great success for years before slowing down to former heartthrob status. When it emerged that Feldman, along with Corey Haim, suffered from abuse as a young actor, not only did it shed some light onto the obvious suffering of the two young actors, but it also helped many other child stars find a voice to admit their own pain. Whether or not that helped them heal, we don’t know, but we can hope that by breaking their silence, Feldman could help young actors of future generations avoid similar heartache.
Speaking of heartache, Feldman, once a loud-mouthed cutie pie in films like The Goonies and Stand by Me, unfortunately has not enjoyed as much success as an adult. While he has had steady work since filming Gremlins between various television and film roles like Body High, JOB’s Daughter and the upcoming The Sunday Night Slaughter, in which he plays a vampire, in addition to his singing career and some dabbling in production, he’s not the A-list star one would have predicted he’d be back in the ’80s.
Which actor from the Gremlins cast do you remember most? Sound off in the comments!
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