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Whatever Happened To The Cast Of Fletch?

Gregory Mcdonald was a Boston Globe reporter who channeled his at-large adventures into the award winning 1974 novel "Fletch," launching a franchise that would spawn nearly a dozen books and sell tens of millions of copies. But if you sat next to him on a plane, he'd tell you he was in the insurance business — just to avoid further conversation.

McDonald's bestselling first book, featuring a sharp-tongued investigative reporter named Irwin Maurice Fletcher, was shepherded by Kirk Douglas' son Peter (and could have nearly starred his other son, Michael), who toiled for years to bring it to the big screen with the likes of Burt Reynolds and Mick Jagger, all ultimately rejected by Mcdonald.

"It seemed that over the last 10 years, everybody in the world who acts and is a male between the ages of 17 and 76 tried to get the role," Mcdonald said in 1985. "I admire Mick Jagger, but he is not my idea of a young American male."

Ultimately, Chevy Chase landed the role, with Mcdonald sending him a telegram reading: 'I am delighted to abdicate the role of Fletch to you.'"

So, it all came together in a 1985 film with a script by Andrew Bergman (elevated considerably by Chase improvs), solid direction by Michael Ritchie, a synthtastic score by Harold Faltermeyer a masterful master of disguise lead turn by Chase (who, to this day, says it is the "favorite" role of his entire career) and a set of 30-weight ball bearings — after all, it's all ball bearings nowadays.

While director Ritchie preferred sticking to the script, his genius was in negotiating a "one for you, one for me" approach with Chase. Freed from script pages, the former "SNL" funnyman ad-libbed gags like the alias "Ted Nugent," Cujo, "Dr. Rosenpenis," the "Dr. Jellyfinger" line, John Cocktoaste and the beloved steak sandwich bit; others (like the ball-bearings bit) were scripted. Naturally, many of the "Chevy takes" were kept, and the results of this unorthodox collaboration — ranging from classic lines about hitting a water buffalo to what co-star George Wyner perfectly assessed ("'Moon River' has never sounded quite the same." I used to love that song, and now the association has ruined it for me.") helped make it an endlessly quotable masterwork of 1980s comedy. 

Of course, Chase wasn't alone in this pursuit of comedy gold, as he was supported in scene after scene by a talented ensemble of straight men and women, with assistant director Wolfgang Glattes reflecting, "Chevy was a dominating figure in these scenes, and he never pushed people aside, he always let them do their part to make the scene work."

Now, after decades in development hell (with names like Jason Lee, Zach Braff, Ryan Reynolds, and even Ben Affleck), Jon Hamm is bringing Fletch back with 2022's "Confess, Fletch." There's no better time, it seems, to look back on whatever happened, bit by bit, to the original 1985 "Fletch" cast ... none of whom appear in the new film. 

So sit back, enjoy a nice cup of hot fat, and while you wait for the head of Alfredo Garcia to arrive, read on for a breakdown of what the "Fletch" cast have been doing in the years since.

Chevy Chase (Irwin M. Fletch Fletcher)

Even at the time of the film's release, Chevy Chase knew the impact that "Fletch" was having on his life and career, telling The Sun Sentinel, "'Fletch' allowed me — within the framework of a more traditional story and a more developed character than I usually play — to come across more like I really think I am, which is a bit serious at times as well as silly." To this day, the role, which he reprised for the sequel "Fletch Lives," remains dear to his heart. Incredibly, that wasn't his only movie to hit theaters in 1985: at arguably the peak of his career, he also released "National Lampoon's European Vacation" and "Spies Like Us," and had a cameo in "Follow That Bird."

Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase grew up with Truman Capote and Norman Mailer hanging around his house, and he once played drums with pre-Steely Dan Steely Dan, before embarking on his career in comedy. He made a splash at "The National Lampoon Radio Hour" before becoming a prat-falling breakout star on "Saturday Night Live." The allure of Hollywood pulled him away after a season, making him the first "SNL" star to ever navigate a film career, and he hit it big with films like "Foul Play," "Caddyshack," the "Vacation" franchise, "The Three Amigos," and stealing the vocals from Paul Simon in the video for "You Can Call Me Al." 

In the early '90s, Chase had a trifecta of duds ("Nothing But Trouble," "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" and Cops and Robbersons") knock him off the A-list, and he was soon looking disinterested in straight-to-video fare like "Goose on the Loose." But for a good long run, few leading had personified '80s comedy like Chevy Chase.

Chase had a bit of a renaissance in the early 2010s, joining the ensemble of TV's "Community," but as the stigma of being hard to work with continued to stymie his career, he told CBS, "I am who I am ... I don't care."

Chase has recently bounced back from heart issues, has a fun Instagram account that seems endearingly orchestrated by his family, and is set to reunite with "Spies" mate Dan Aykroyd for R.L. Stine's "Zombie Town." As for a third round of "Fletch?" He told Collider in 2011, in typical Chevy fashion: "I'm not gonna do 'Fletch' unless I'm Fletch."

Joe Don Baker (Chief Karlin)

From respected policeman to drug peddler, Chief Karlin walked a fine line of protecting the laws and breaking them, and he didn't like anyone messing with his business, especially some "penny-ante Woodward and Bernstein" like Fletch. 

Joe Don Baker may have had limited screen time as Karlin, but he was amazed at its lasting impact. In 1992, Baker told The Commercial Appeal, "Everywhere I go, there's more people asking me about 'Fletch.' I had a couple or three scenes in it. I thought it was just an average sort of funny movie, but it's become a cult movie."

Baker grew up in central Texas going to the movies a lot, but the three sport high school star didn't get into acting until he attended college at North Texas State. He began his career in style, with a small part in 1967's "Cool Hand Luke," and his career picked up heavily in the '70s, playing heroes and villains with memorable turns in "Walking Tall," TV's "Eischied," "Charlie Varick," and "Mitchell," which later became infamous as a sixth season episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," with which the actor has reportedly taken umbridge.

He later went on to plays both good and bad guys in three different James Bond films (most notably as wicked General Whitaker in "The Living Daylights"), cracked wise with Robert De Niro in the Martin Scorsese remake of "Cape Fear," and played larger than life historical figures in memorable TV movies like "Citizen Cohn," "The Siege at Ruby Ridge," and "George Wallace." The 86-year-old actor hasn't had a credit since playing an angry King out to get Matthew McConaughey's title character in 2012's "Mud."

Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Gail Stanwyck)

If she had a nickel for every man who hit on her, Alan's wife Gail Stanwyck would be a rich woman ... and she is a rich woman. While she is at first very flattered by Fletch's advances, she's also very married, but a lot of changes and truths in her life transpire over the course of the film. 

With only two previous films under her belt, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson hit all the right sexy and smart notes as Gail, going toe to toe with both Fletch and Alan. Reflecting on the shoot and of the times, she recalled years later: "My hair... was really big. And it wasn't that big by itself — they had to make it that big."

The ingenue went on to appear on shows like "Crime Story," "All My Children," "Sex and the City," and briefly as a "Seinfeld" short-lived girlfriend who is open to toothbrush sharing. Outside of "Fletch," Wheeler-Nicholson's best known film role is perhaps that of Wyatt Earp's wife Mattie in the 1993 Kurt Russell classic "Tombstone." Shortly after relocating to Austin, Texas "for quality of life, love, and music," she landed the role of Adrianne Palicki's mother on "Friday Night Lights," and later reunited with castmate Connie Britton on "Nashville." While she has yet to work with screen hubby Tim Matheson again, she did play his Delta House frat brother Bruce "D-Day" McGill's spouse on the Netflix film "Blue Miracle." Wheeler-Nicholson has also recently appeared on "Grey's Anatomy," "Bull," "Walker" and "Unconventional."

Tim Matheson (Alan Stanwyck)

Alan Stanwyck is a smart man, but he was pretty foolish when he hired Fletch to "kill" him, exposing his dark secrets and upending his life. Tim Matheson played Stanwyck with dead seriousness, but enjoyed improvising with Chevy, and "break[ing] him up on his close ups." (via Laker Jim), as well as working for Michael Ritchie, who he said was "wonderful," and the "tallest director I ever worked with" (via YouTube).

Matheson has been a working actor since his teens, popping up in '60s TV classics like "Leave it to Beaver" and "My Three Sons," voicing "Johnny Quest," and working alongside Hollywood legends like Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, and Jean Simmons. After a stint in the Marines, he further focused on his acting career, saddling up for "The Virginian," "Bonanza" and packing heat with Dirty Harry in "Magnum Force." Looking to shake up his straight man persona a bit, he took improv classes and landed his signature role: Eric "Otter" Stratton in "National Lampoon's Animal House."

Matheson has worked with Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, Chris Farley, spoofing "The Brady Bunch," playing the Vice President on "The West Wing" and even directing for TV on over 40 series, including the recent Netflix series he starred in, "Virgin River."

M. Emmet Walsh (Dr. Dolan)

When Fletch visits Stanwyck's physician, he wants to dig for information, but it's actually proctologist Dr. Dolan who does most of the probing, both with his mouth ("Isn't there a children's book about an elephant named Babar?"), and more invasively when "Dr. Jelly Fingers" checks his prostate. Dolan was played with serious chuckles by a stellar M. Emmet Walsh (the "M" stands for Michael), who said "It's a beautiful little scene that rings like a bell," adding "Chevy's very proud of it, I know." (YouTube)

Walsh admitted to the Tribune, "I've never been Robert Redford or Paul Newman," adding "I'm a character actor. They bring me in to help a situation." Some of those situations have had him serve as Dustin Hoffman's parole officer in "Straight Time," Steve Martin's can hater in "The Jerk," Timothy Hutton's swimming coach in "Ordinary People," Harrison Ford's boss in "Blade Runner," and even Rodney Dangerfield's diving coach in "Back to School." 

As Walsh told The Burlington Free Press in 1996, "I'll do a movie and not pay any attention to it, like 'The Jerk,' and suddenly ... kids are doing my lines back at me. I have a whole audience from 'Fletch' and 'Back To School.'" One of his finest roles came about a year before "Fletch," as Private Detective Loren Visser in the Coen Bros debut feature "Blood Simple," and he would later reunite with the brothers for "Raising Arizona."

Walsh is known as an avid golfer, biker, and fan of moviegoing, especially comedies. He turned 87 in 2022, and is still reciting lines with relish, recently in "Knives Out" and "The Righteous Gemstones."

George Wendt (Fat Sam)

When you played Norm from "Cheers" for 11 seasons, everybody tends to know your name — and because or that, George Wendt told The Washington Post in 1995, "I get a lot of free beers. It's one of the great perks of employment history."

During one hiatus from the show, he sat on a beach chair, peddling heroin as eventual informant Fat Sam. Wendt enjoyed "Chevy's rehearsal techniques," telling the A.V. Club, "He used to like to go through scenes and try different exercises while running the lines. Like, "Okay, now we're two guys taking a dump next to each other in a public bathroom." He later appeared with Chase in 1995's "Man of the House."

The world traveling Notre Dame flunkee honed his comedic chops at Second City before making it to Hollywood, with his first (uncredited) role in Robert Altman's "A Wedding." More film roles followed, like in "My Bodyguard," "House," and "Gung Ho," but he told Knight-Ridder in 1990, "The movies haven't exactly set me on fire as a feature film actor." On TV, he's made plenty of rounds, appearing as Norm on "Cheers" spin-off "Frasier" and shows like "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy," and even playing himself on "Seinfeld," "The Larry Sanders Show"; like Chase, he was in the music video for "Ghostbusters" (unlike Chase, he appeared in Michael Jackson's "Black or White").

Wendt has a big, somewhat famous family; he is married to actress Bernadette Birkett and uncle to Justin Sudeikis. Wendt is the author of 2009's "Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional's Guide to Beer."

Geena Davis (Larry)

Fletch's crack research assistant Larry is one of the few people he can actually count on for anything (the character is one of the few who returns for "Confess, Fletch," albeit briefly and played by someone else), even scratching where it itches the most. In The Washington Post's review of the film they noted, "Playing a Girl Friday, Geena Davis is delightful as always." The 6-foot Davis (with an IQ of 140) eventually went on to starring roles, but early in her career played plenty of girl Fridays, standing next to and supporting the lead male protagonist in film and TV.

The former Victoria's Secret model (who is fluent in Swedish) netted her first role in "Tootsie." She later became a series regular on the beloved-but-canceled classic "Buffalo Bill" with Dabney Coleman, and continued to build momentum with classics like "The Fly," "Beetlejuice," and "The Accidental Tourist," which netted her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She told People in 2020, "Winning the Oscar ... makes you feel incredible and appreciated, but I don't know that it changes your career. I really don't know if anybody hired me because of the Oscar after that."

Unforgettable roles in "Thelma & Louise" and "A League of Their Own" came next, which she and others believed would usher in a new era of more female driven films. Ultimately, she took it upon herself to bridge the gap in her industry, setting up the Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media. The late-in-life archer nearly made the 2000 Olympics. In her primary career, she continues to hand in great work, recently on "Grey's Anatomy" and "GLOW."

George Wyner (Gillet) / William Sanderson (Swarthout)

Better known as "Arnold T. Pants, Esquire," Fletch's ex-wife's raincoated lawyer has the less-than-desirable job of trying to get alimony out of him. George Wyner reprised his role for "Fletch Lives," admitting to the AP, "nobody knows my name," while adding "the great thing about my career is that ... I never get blamed for the failures ... [or] credit for the successes." 

Wyner's list of successes include playing well-suited, dryly-serious men in films such as "The Bad News Bears," "Wildcats," "Spaceballs," and appropriately enough, "A Serious Man." He has also appeared on over 150 TV shows, including "M*A*S*H," "Hill Street Blues," "The Larry Sanders Show," and even "The George Wendt Show." He is still an in-demand actor, recently appearing on "Grace and Frankie" and "Loot." He's also a fan of "Fletch," and happy to hear from other fans who stop him and "and say something about garnishing your wages."

Another quasi-famous "where do I know that guy from?" '80s face is William Sanderson, who shot "Fletch" while on hiatus from playing Daryl and Daryl's other brother Larry on "Newhart." Sanderson's cameo in "Fletch" as shady Provo realtor Jim Swarthout was a standout, and the Tennessee native has more than 100 roles in his long (and still active) filmography.

Sanderson served in the army and graduated from law school, but being an actor playing characters on the other side of the law and "lots of renegades and rednecks," he set his life in a new direction. He's added a lot of color to projects ranging from "Coal Miner's Daughter" to "Blade Runner" (with M. Emmet Walsh), "The Rocketeer," "Batman: The Animated Series," and later as Sheriff Bud Dearborne on "True Blood" and E.B. Farnum on "Deadwood." He recently release a biography, appropriately titled "Yes, I'm That Guy."

Years after the film's release, Sanderson told a "Fletch" fansite that he doesn't watch "Fletch," and has "moved on" from that movie. He also gave an amazing one-word reply when asked what it was like to work with Chevy Chase: "Civil."

Ralph Seymour (Creasy) / Larry Flash Jenkins (Gummy)

When Fletch tries to figure out how the drugs are getting to Fat Sam on the beach, he gets unexpected help from two endearing junkie users hanging about: Creasy and Gummy.

Creasy was played by Ralph Seymour, who worked his way from Illinois to Broadway player to solid Hollywood supporting actor seen in multiple classics from the 1980s. In fact, his resume reads like a recitation of '80s touchstones: "Meatballs Part II," "Ghoulies," "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," "Diff'rent Strokes," L.A. Law," "Empty Nest" and "Coach," among others. 

Seymour lent his talents to Steven Spielberg for "Amazing Stories" and "Empire of the Sun," played Tom Cruise's failed business partner in Best Picture winner "Rain Man," and in a 1989 interview said, "That's probably the best part of being an actor is just going from one extreme to another." Seymour later moved on with a second career as a designer in print and web, and also spends time as a drama teacher for young people.

Larry Flash Jenkins (the nickname came from Bruce Paltrow, for learning his lines so fast) similarly made his mark in '80s movies. Outside of "Fletch" (where, as told to Cult Film Freak, he "had to slow down to let the cops catch me"), he got things off the ground in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Mr. Mom," "The Presidio" and "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark." He also appeared on "M*A*S*H," "The White Shadow," "Home Improvement," and in "edtv." In addition to acting, Jenkins was a writer, director and producer, and played another junkie in 2006's "House of Grace." Jenkins died from a heart attack in 2019 at age 63.

Burton Gilliam (Bud) / Beau Starr (Willy)

Bud and Willy are just two mechanics at Boyd Aviation who know the ins and outs of their planes, and are happy to answer any question that buck-toothed "Gordon Liddy" asks ... although they reserve the right to question him about the need for ball bearings.

Bud is played by the greatest smiling character actor of all time — Burton Gilliam. He told FletchCast how he and Chase ad-libbed parts of the scene (including changing the motor oil to Quaker State, a product Gilliam shilled for), which didn't please their other screen partner, Beau Starr. Gilliam was a Dallas boxer, referee and firefighter who charmed his way into a part in Peter Bogdanovich's classic 1973, "Paper Moon." Things got on a roll from there, as he farted up a storm in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles," then racked up over 100 credits including "Back to the Future III," and as one of the more vocal of the flying Elvises in "Honeymoon in Vegas." In his later years, Gilliam has become an avid golfer. His last credit was the Pawn Broker's Dad in the 2017 film "The Lucky Man" — but if you need a smile, he's only a Cameo away.

Queens-bred Beau Starr (and his brother Mike) made a fruitful career as an actor playing tough-lipped sneering guys. Beau's roles got meatier post-"Fletch," appearing as Sheriff Ben Meeker in "Halloween 4" and "5," handing in Gemini Award-nominated work for his performance on the TV series "Due South," and appearing in popular films like "Goodfellas," "Speed," "Where the Truth Lies" and "Cinderella Man." Starr's last credit was in a 2013 episode of "Psych."

Alison La Placa (Pam Am Clerk) / Joe Praml (Watchman)

Pan Am airline clerk Jeanette Grimes is happy to field any query, no matter how questionable Fletch's questions are ("Who is it, Mr. Sinlindin?").  

"Fletch" was an early role for Alison La Placa, who at the time had also booked guest stints on "Family Ties" and "Cheers." Her big break came playing Linda Phillips for three seasons on Fox's early-run romantic comedy "Duet" and its spin-off "Open House," where she met her husband, Philip Charles MacKenzie. She later made lengthy splashes on "The John Larroquette Show," and as Rachel's boss Joanna on "Friends," a rare character of on the show who was killed. She has continued to guest star on dramas and sitcoms, including "Grey's Anatomy," "'Til Death," and "Mom," and recently served as a production designer on her husband's short film "Sizzle."

Minnesotan Joe Praml has strutted his talents as a playwright and actor in England and back home in the States. On screen, he's worked with greats like Alec Guinness (in the original "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy" series), James Cagney ("Ragtime"), Peter Sellers ("Trail of the Pink Panther") and Chevy Chase, as the heat packing, skeptical (mattress) watchman in "Fletch." 

Originally a day player, Chase reportedly made sure Praml had extra shooting days so he would receive more pay and residuals in the long run. While he hasn't had a screen credit since 1989, Praml is still devoted to writing, stage directing. performing poetry, and is a fervent advocate of tenants' rights. On his LinkedIn page, he says it's "good to be back before audiences in a new twilight career."

Kareem Abdul-Jabar (Himself) / Chick Hearn (Himself)

For Fletch's daydream about being a Los Angeles Laker, a dream duo of Hall of Famers were assembled to indulge his fantasy: legendary center Kareem Abdul-Jabar and the man who Chase called the "greatest play-by-play guy in the biz," Chick Hearn.

Born Lew Alcindor (he converted to Islam and legally changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabar in 1971), the 7-foot-2-inched baller won three NCAA championships at UCLA, and in an incredible NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Lakers, won six championships. He also stretched his talents with film and television, appearing in his karate mentor Bruce Lee's final film, "Game of Death" — if you haven't seen the footage, do yourself a favor and watch it immediately.

Later, Kareem exercised his comedy chops in "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" (with Hearn), "Airplane!," and "Troop Beverly Hills." He told the AP in 1985, "Acting is only slightly different from playing in a basketball game. In both instances you're dealing with performances and you're dealing with skills. I think I have both." Recently, Abdul-Jabar has appeared on "Fresh Off the Boat," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Dave." The Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient is also a well respected author, writer and social critic.

Francis Dayle "Chick" Hearn was the play-by-play man with the Lakers from the very start of their days is L.A. after moving from Minneapolis, broadcasting 3,338 consecutive regular and postseason games, and introducing terms like "slam dunk," "air ball" and many other Chickisms into the mainstream. In between, Hearn found time to appear in various films and shows, including "Gilligan's Island," "Volunteers," "White Men Can't Jump," and "Love & Basketball." Health setbacks eventually broke his broadcasting streak, but he kept returning to the booth until succumbing to injuries sustained from a fall in 2002. He was 85.

Richard Libertini (Frank Walker) / Bill Henderson (Speaker)

Fletch's editor Frank Walker doesn't have much hair on his head left to tear out (John Slattery, who takes over the character in "Confess, Fletch," has a substantially better mane), but he's about one gibbon suit away from losing it all. 

"Fletch" director Michael Ritchie had been a fan of Richard Libertini's Stewed Prunes comedy act and tabbed him for the thankless role, played as "an Adlai Stevenson democrat," which reunited Libertini with Chase two years after they both appeared in William Friedkin's "Deal of the Century." The Bostonian, with a knack for accents, was a Second City alum and Broadway actor (two Woody Allen plays), and kept plenty busy in "zany roles" over his five decade career in 35 movies ("The In-Laws," "Popeye," "All of Me," "Fletch Lives") and a steady amount of TV appearances ("Soap," "The Fanelli Boys," "Pacific Station"). As he told Knight-Ridder in 1991, "although deep inside there's a very, very sensible, rational, calm person, that's not what comes out," adding, "because I'm a twisted person." Libertini died in 2016 of cancer. He was 82.

1985 was quite a year at the movies for jazz musician-turned-supporting actor Bill Henderson, who had the honor of emceeing Fred "brother of Ken" Dorfman's gala, and the dishonor of having his mic hijacked by Fletch ("Sammy, you're not going to sing for us, are you?"); that same winter, he played a cop in the beloved "Clue" movie. The Chicagoan has performed since the age of 4, sang with greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra, and on the advice of Bill Cosby broke into Hollywood. He shared billing with William "Underhill" Traylor on "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," and later appeared in "City Slickers," "White Men Can't Jump," and "Lethal Weapon 4." Henderson died in 2016, at age 90.

Kenneth Mars (Stanton Boyd) / William Traylor (Mr. Underhill)

There's a lot to admire about Stanton Boyd, who has a big aviation company and a beautiful daughter. Played with stiff, straight man pride by Kenneth Mars, he was an actor who was no stranger to comedies. Mars co-starred in Mel Brooks' "Producers" (one of his favorites) and "Young Frankenstein," and within his 200+ credits also appeared in "What's Up, Doc?," a pair of Woody Allen films and "Illegally Yours" alongside fellow "Fletch" alum Tony Longo. He felt pigeonholed as a comedic actor, saying in an interview, "I would like to be considered for more dramatic roles." He also let his voice be heard many times over, famously as Triton in "The Little Mermaid" and other children's favorites including "The Smurfs," "Shirt Tales," "The Flintstone Kids," and several "Land Before Time" movies. Mars died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

Poor Mr. Underhill: he just wants to play tennis at the club and have a nice lunch, but mysterious charges in his bill sends him into a tizzy. Actors Studio alum William Traylor was game to play the rich foil, as well as other small but meaty roles in films like "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "The Man with Two Brains," and returning to the part of Mr. Underhill for "Fletch Lives." Traylor founded the famed acting school The Loft with his wife Peggy Feury (whose students included Sean Penn, Lily Tomlin, Nicholas Cage, Michelle Pfeiffer, Anjelica Huston, and Laura Dern); tragically, she died in a car crash the year "Fletch" was released, and Traylor joined her four years later in 1989 at age 59. They are survived by two daughters — Stephanie and Susan — who are both actresses.

Tony Longo & James Avery (Detectives 1 & 2)

Chief Karlin sends in two detectives to shake Fletch down, even framing him for heroin possession. Fletch doesn't take kindly to the visit from Detectives Gene and "Shamu," or his right to have his face kicked in or balls stomped on. He wishes them nothing but the worst, telling them to go to the gym and "pump each other."

As an outsized Jersey City native, the 6'6", 265 pound Tony Longo had a knack for performance, pretending to be a guest lecturer at UCLA, and sneaking his way onto studio lots by looking like he belonged. "Anything is possible in Hollywood if you're willing to take a few chances and use your imagination," he told UPI in 1988, and he racked up an impressive amount of credits, appearing in "Splash," "Sixteen Candles," HBO's "1st & Ten," "The Last Boy Scout," and "Mulholland Drive." Longo died in his sleep in 2015, at the age of 53.

Six years after shaking down Fletch, Longo guest-starred on a first season episode of partner James Avery's "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." A Shakespearean-trained actor and Vietnam vet, who also wrote for PBS, Avery is perhaps best known for playing Will Smith's no-nonsense Uncle Phil on the hit sitcom. He once said, "You can either be a movie star or an actor. I'm an actor. I've done pretty good." Avery also had notable roles in "License to Drive," "The Brady Bunch Movie," "Sparks," and a wealth of voice over parts, most notably Shredder from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Avery died from complications of open heart surgery in 2014, at age 65.

Penny Stanton & Robert Sorrells (Velma & Marvin Stanwyck)

Three names Fletch enjoys are Marvin, Velma and Provo, and it is in that Utah city where he goes to find more info on Alan Stanwyck from his salt of the earth parents.

Penny Stanton had a long career of playing bit-part Hispanic senoras and Italian donnas, as well as many mothers and grandmothers in such films as Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man," "West Side Story," "Funny Girl," and a host of popular TV shows from the 1950s onward. Co-star Pat Cooper was once so convinced by her acting skills that he wrote in his autobiography, "you wouldn't know that she actually sounded nothing like her character a second after they yelled cut." After playing Velma Stanwyck in "Fletch," she appeared in "Short Circuit," "Cagney & Lacey" and as Nonna on an episode of "Friends." She passed away in 1999 at the age of 82.

Stanton's screen husband, Robert Sorrells, also had a decent career as a bit part actor, and the two appeared in the same 1962 episode of "Ensign O'Toole." Outside of "Fletch," Sorrells played Woodie Guthrie's father in Hal Ashby's "Bound for Glory" and had a role in "The Bad News Bears Go To Japan," but Sorrells' career seemed best at home... on the range in such westerns as "Rawhide," "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke." His life story went dark in 2004, when he murdered one man and nearly another at a bar; Sorrells died while in prison in 2019, at the age of 88.