See the ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ Cast Then and Now
Amid all of the strange occurrences in the ’80s — from the advent of hair metal to the scrunchy to aerobics — Pee-wee Herman might be the strangest of them all. His first film, ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ marked the feature film directorial debut of Tim Burton, which certainly contributed to the film’s odd nature.
Released in 1985, ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ was a box office success and eventually earned Burton the job as director for ‘Batman.’ The movie had a cast that was impressive to say the least, featuring James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild in cameo roles, as well as the late Alice Nunn as Large Marge. And while there are so many people involved, let’s take a look at just some of the ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ cast then and now.
Paul Reubens — Pee-wee Herman
Then: After having created the character Pee-wee Herman during his time with the Groundlings comedy troupe, Reubens became an instant cult figure with his HBO show, which caught some attention from Warner Bros., which ultimately backed ‘Big Adventure.’
Now: Aside from his popular show ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ and two films, another reason people know Reubens is for his indecent exposure arrest in the early 90s at an adult movie theater. But today, we’ve forgotten all about that (kind of), which has allowed him to make several appearances in film and television, such as 2001’s ‘Blow’ opposite Johnny Depp and more recently, voicing the role of Jokey in ‘The Smurfs.’ He also lent his voice to the series ‘TRON: Uprising.’
Mark Holton — Francis Buxton
Then: 1985 was quite a year for Mark Holton. Not only did he play the Pee-wee’s nemesis the villainous Francis Buxton, but he was also in another hit film — ‘Teen Wolf,’ where he played Chubby. Regardless of the latter’s popularity, Francis would be his best remembered role.
Now: Holton has racked up some successful credits over the years, appearing in films such as ‘Teen Wolf Too’ and ‘A League of Their Own,’ as well as scores of TV shows like ‘NCIS,’ ‘NYPD Blue’ and even ‘The Young and the Restless.’
Elizabeth Daily — Dottie
Then: Better known as E.G. Daily, her career began in the late ’70s, starting as a singer. She would move onto roles in ‘Better Off Dead’ and ‘Valley Girl,’ as well as performing on the ‘Scarface’ soundtrack before hitting ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.’
Now: Daily’s career in voice acting bring her even more success. Perhaps her most famous voice role would be Tommy Pickles in ‘Rugrats.’ She has also provided voices for ‘Hey Arnold!,’ ‘The Powerpuff Girls,’ ‘Curious George’ and many more. And here’s a fun fact: she was once married to Rick Salomon, current husband of Pamela Anderson and co-star in the infamous Paris Hilton sex tape.
Phil Hartman — Reporter
Then: In addition to playing a reporter, Phil Hartman cowrote ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ with Paul Reubens and Michael Varhol. He would go on to memorably play Captain Carl in ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse.’ Around the time of the film, Hartman was performing in the Groundlings, where he aided Reubens in developing his Pee-wee Herman character.
Now: Hartman would go on to become a truly famous improviser and performer, becoming the backbone of ‘SNL,’ ‘Newsradio’ and ‘The Simpsons,’ as well as starring in an array of successful films. Sadly, he was killed by his wife in 1998 in a tragic murder-suicide, but he leaves behind a legacy of some of the most brilliant comedic performances we’ve ever seen.
Jan Hooks — Tina
Then: Yep, that’s Jan Hooks as Tina the Alamo tour guide. Eventually, Hooks would find herself working fellow Pee-wee-alum Phil Hartman on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ which she joined a year after ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.’
Now: Hooks’ most recent credit definitely isn’t a bad one, playing Verna Maroney –mother to Jenna Maroney — on NBC’s ’30 Rock.’ Prior to her stint there, she worked on ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘3rd Rock from the Sun,’ among other successful projects.
Dee Snider — Dee Snider
Then: By the time filming of ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ began, Snider was already a rock star — his band Twisted Sister was as famed for hits such as ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘I Wanna Rock’ as it was for donning garish makeup and teased hair.
Now: While the band might not tour as much (Snider is nearing 60, after all) Snider remains in the public eye, mainly through the vortex of reality television. His family had their own show, ‘Growing up Twisted,’ and he has been on ‘Celebrity Wife Swap,’ as well as ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ twice (in both the regular version as well as the more recent ‘All Stars’ version). Sadly, he won neither time.
Tim Burton — Thug in Alley
Then: Prior to ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ Burton had mainly worked in animation at Disney. But it was his live-action film ‘Frankenweenie,’ which Disney produced but declined to give a wide release, that caught Reubens’ eye and scored Burton the directing gig. He gave himself a bit part as an alleyway mugger who doesn’t take kindly for strangers.
Now: Today, Burton is one of the most successful directors in the biz. Films like ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ hold a unique look, one that seems to have been embraced the world over. He was given a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2010, and most recently helmed an animated update of ‘Frankenweenie.’
Lynne Marie Stewart — Mother Superior
Then: Playing the role of Mother Superior, Stewart joined the Pee-Wee crew in 1981 as Miss Yvonne in the stage version of ‘The Pee-Wee Herman Show’ (a role she would reprise from 1986-1990 for ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse.’) Prior to her Pee-Wee roles, she found success in both television and film, most notably in ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley.’
Now: Today, Stewart is recognizable from many television shows, but the role of Charlie’s Mom in ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ is the one that really stands out to us.
Jason Hervey — Kevin Morton
Then: At the time of ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ Hervey was still small potatoes, but he did have some recognizable titles on his resume, such as ‘Back to the Future’ (also in 1985) and ‘Diff’rent Strokes.’
Now: Hervey would go on to play Wayne Arnold in ‘The Wonder Years‘ and become a television producer and creator. His projects have mostly been reality television, such as ‘Scott Baio is 45 … And Single’ and ‘Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.’
Diane Salinger — Simone
Then: From her credits it would appear that Salinger was rather new to film acting when hitting the Pee-wee set. It was her second credit and for some Simone is probably her most memorable role.
Now: After ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ Salinger remained busy and went on to appear in both film and television, with more success on the small screen. Notably, she was Apollonia on HBO’s short-lived ‘Carnivale.’
Judd Omen — Mickey
Then: Prior to playing the escaped convict with whom Pee-wee hitches a ride, Judd Omen was Jamis in ‘Dune’ and had roles on ‘The Greatest American Hero’ and ‘T.J. Hooker.’
Now: Mickey turned out to be Omen’s most memorable role. He turned up on ‘MacGyver,’ ‘CSI’ and in the 2005 film ‘Take Out’ — his last on-camera credit.