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What The Cast Of ALF Looks Like Today

If you were around to watch American TV in the mid-to-late '80s, then you probably remember the fuzzy Ewok-sized Gordon Shumway of the planet Melmac, a.k.a. ALF (Alien Life Form). Crash-landing into the suburban garage of the Tanner family, ALF spent four seasons getting the Tanners into trouble, doing his best to stay hidden from the authorities, and occasionally trying to eat the Tanners' cat, Lucky.

ALF ultimately suffered the fate of series like Quantum Leap and Twin Peaks that tried to win back viewers by ending a season with a cliffhanger, but failed and were canceled — leaving their fans with huge unresolved questions. ALF's final episode, "Consider Me Gone," aired in March 1990 and concludes with the fuzzy little cat-hungry alien captured by the military and presumably fated to be dissected and studied. NBC put fans out of their misery with the TV movie Project: ALF six years later, revealing Gordon Shumway is saved by fellow survivors of Melmac, though sadly none of the actors playing the Tanners return. There was talk of an ALF reboot in 2018, but by the end of the year the idea was officially shelved.  

Meanwhile, the cast of ALF has moved on. Many of the Tanners' nosy neighbors have remained regular fixtures on the big and small screen. Some left acting beside to pursue other passions, and some are sadly no longer with us. Keep reading to find out what's going on with the cast of ALF today.

Paul Fusco - ALF

While we can't tell you what happened to the original ALF puppet, we know a little more about Paul Fusco. Along with being ALF's creator, Fusco was the puppeteer and voice actor who brought ALF to life, as well as working as producer, director, and writer on the series. In a 2012 THR interview, Fusco said he pitched the series to NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff as a sitcom about a self-destructive, curmudgeon uncle living with a standard nuclear family — except the uncle was an alien. He said what landed the pitch was when he surprised Tartikoff by producing the ALF puppet he'd already made. 

"ALF didn't really say anything," Fusco explained. "ALF just kind of looked around the room and picked his nose and wiped it on Tartikoff." 

And it was the nose-picking that sealed the deal.

Fusco has never completely left ALF behind. He was one of the only cast members from the original series to be a part of the Project: ALF TV movie. He worked on 2004's ALF's Hit Talk Show as well as doing cameos as ALF on Jimmy Kimmel Live!Love Boat: The Next WaveMr. Robot, and a 2019 episode of Young Sheldon.

Anne Schedeen - Kate Tanner

It took a while for Kate Tanner to warm up to the surly ALF, but from the sound of it, Anne Schedeen — who played the matriarch of the Tanner family — liked Gordon Shumway even less. 

In a 2000 People article, Schedeen said her work on ALF was the hardest job she ever had. "Believe me, there was no joy on the set," Schedeen told People, describing the technical side of the production as nightmarish. "If you had a scene with ALF, it took centuries. A 30-minute show took 20, 25 hours to shoot." She went on to say that while she enjoyed working with her onscreen children, she had to weather the "difficult personalities" of some of the older cast members.

Schedeen's acting credits after ALF are sparse. Her first acting work after the series ended was on the 1991 TV movie Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster. In 2001, she enjoyed a recurring role on the CBS legal drama Judging Amy and her most recent work came on an episode of the 2014 comedy series Tiny Nuts

Benji Gregory - Brian Tanner

In spite of being only eight years old when he first appeared as Brian Tanner, Benji Gregory boasted some impressive acting credits before, during, and after the life of ALF. In fact, he was 13 months old when he made his first TV appearance on Fantasy Island. Before ALF aired he appeared on episodes of T.J. Hooker, the mid-'80s revival of The Twilight ZoneAmazing StoriesThe A-Team, and Punky Brewster. While working on ALF he did voice work for the animated series Fantastic Max and Pound Puppies, and showed up in the 1986 Whoopi Goldberg comedy Jumpin' Jack Flash

When People interviewed him in 2000, the former "Benji Gregory" was going by Ben Hertzeberg (Gregory was his middle name). While he'd worked a little after ALF shuttered, he said he had no interest in a prolonged acting career once that series was over. He has fond memories of his time on ALF, saying, "The only times it felt like work was when the lights were on and it was real hot." 

During the People interview, Hertzberg said he wanted to work in the entertainment industry, but something must have changed, because in 2003 Hertzberg joined the U.S. Navy, serving as an Aerographer's Mate until he was discharged for medical reasons in 2005. According to his Facebook page, Hertzberg currently lives in his hometown of Thousand Oaks, California. 

Andrea Elson - Lynn Tanner

ALF came during a particularly turbulent time for Andrea Elson, who played Lynn Tanner, the teenage daughter of Kate and Willie. In a 2000 retrospective in People, Elson said developing as a young woman in front of the sitcom-viewing audience was difficult. "I was this skinny little twig when I started, and then I started to get breasts and hips and I didn't like it," she told the magazine. She also implied the overall attitude of the cast made for a tense environment. "[W]e had to play second fiddle to a puppet," Elson said. "It was ALF and then there was the little family."

But as difficult as the experience might have been, it clearly had its rewards. While working on ALF, Elson was "so smitten" with the young production assistant Scott Hopper who delivered her scripts. Apparently Hopper felt the same, because the pair married in 1993. 

After ALF most of Elson's acting appearances were brief one-offs on TV series like Married... With ChildrenParker Lewis Can't Lose, and Mad About You. Her last acting credit was for a 1997 episode of the sitcom Men Behaving Badly. Since then, Elson has developed a passion for teaching and practicing yoga. She became certified in 2009, and her Twitter bio describes her as a "world traveling yoga instructor." She's the owner and director of Yoga Village in Arroyo Grande, California. 

Jim J. Bullock - Neal Tanner

Jim J. Bullock played Willie Tanner's brother Neal on ALFThe semi-regular character briefly moves in with Willie and his family after his divorce. After getting his own apartment, Neal makes the mistake of letting ALF stay with him for a while and almost loses his job and apartment because of it. 

Bullock was a regular TV fixture in the '80s, co-starring on Too Close for Comfort and getting regular spots on celebrity game shows like Battlestars and Hollywood Squares. He appeared in what's proven to be his most well-remembered film role two years before he showed up on ALF – as the always yawning Prince Valium in Mel Brooks' 1987 Star Wars parody, Spaceballs. Since he last showed up with the Tanners, Bullock has split his time between the screen and the stage. He's had numerous guest appearances on shows like Seinfeld, Roseanne, and Glee with recurring roles on series like the animated Queer Duck, the Nickelodeon sitcom Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, and the daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful. In 2007 he assumed the role of Wilbur Turnblad in the Broadway production of Hairspray. Bullock's most recent TV credit is for a 2015 episode of the dark comedy Good Job, Thanks!

Josh Blake - Jake Ochmonek

The young, troubled Jake Ochmonek — played by Josh Blake — forced himself into the life of ALF and the Tanners when he broke into the family's garage to steal a telescope and discovered the Tanners' fuzzy cat-hungry alien guest in the process. Living with his aunt and uncle because of his parents' chronic legal problems, Jake eventually comes to live with the Tanners, befriending Brian and endlessly flirting with Lynn.

Josh Blake continued to work on the small screen until the mid-aughts. He appeared regularly on the short-lived CBS sitcom The Famous Teddy Z and had a recurring role in the 2001 MTV soap opera Spyder Games. He enjoyed guest spots over the years on Married... With ChildrenHome ImprovementThe Wonder Years, and JAG

These days, he goes by the name Josh Buxbaum and seems to have left his entertainment career behind. According to his Facebook page, Buxbaum is the co-founder of a company specializing in the moderation of web content called WebPurify

Liz Sheridan - Raquel Ochmonek

Liz Sheridan played the nosy Raquel Ochmonek on ALF. She's constantly arguing with her husband Trevor (played by the late John LaMotta) and dropping in on the Tanners without warning. Raquel actually spots ALF briefly in the pilot episode, but she assumes he's a strange mix of a kangaroo and an aardvark. 

Sheridan is best remembered in her recurring role as Helen, Jerry's mother on the hit sitcom Seinfeld. She appeared in over 20 episodes of Seinfeld over the course of eight years, including the series finale. After Seinfeld ended, she continued to work regularly until 2010. While we haven't seen any new acting work from her since then, it's possible a surprising fact about her past may eventually add at least one more film to her legacy. 

Liz Sheridan was legendary actor James Dean's lover when she was a dancer in her early 20s, and she chronicled her time with Dean in the 2000 memoir Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean. In 2012 Sheridan gave an interview on the podcast The Paul Leslie Hour, and among other things she said she was campaigning to get the book adapted to the big screen. It's been a while since the interview aired and there's been no news, but with Hollywood, you never know.

Paul Dooley - Whizzer Deaver

Paul Dooley's time on ALF was brief but memorable. He played Whizzer Deaver, second husband to Dorothy Halligan (Anne Meara), jazz musician, and band leader. Unlike Dorothy, Whizzer forms a friendship with the furry alien in his short time on the series. 

Of all of the ALF alumni, Dooley is perhaps the one who remains most active in the entertainment industry. His acting career began over two decades before ALF with a guest spot on the TV drama East Side/West Side, and he's never slowed down. He's worked regularly ever since ALF closed its doors and still has multiple upcoming projects either in post-production or in the process of filming. He's enjoyed recurring roles on Star Trek: Deep Space NineCurb Your EnthusiasmThe PracticeERDesperate Housewives, and the ABC sitcom The Kids Are Alright

In a brief 2012 interview for the ALF fansite ALFTV.com, Dooley said his favorite parts of working on ALF were the chance to work with his old friend and colleague, the late Anne Meara, as well as the opportunity to watch Paul Fusco, who he described as "fascinating," at work.

David Leisure - Nick The Fish Mints/Brandon Tartikoff

David Leisure was recognizable to just about anyone watching television in the '80s thanks to his appearances as car salesman Joe Isuzu on a series of commercials for the auto company Isuzu, as well as his supporting role on the sitcom Empty Nest. On ALF, Leisure had the distinction of not only appearing as two different characters on two different episodes, but actually appearing as real-life NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff. Leisure shows up in the first season as the bookie Nick "The Fish" Mints. ALF is forced to rent his spaceship to a movie set decorator in order to pay off his debts to Nick. In the second season's "Prime Time," Leisure guest stars again as Tartikoff. The exec endures an angry phone call from Bill Cosby, whose popular sitcom suffers when ALF rigs the ratings system to make his favorite show – Polka Jamboree — NBC's number one series.

Leisure worked regularly, mostly in small roles, long after ALF and Empty Nest left the airwaves. He's had many smaller guest roles on TV series and in the 21st century his television acting moved to the daytime variety, with Leisure landing recurring roles on Young and the RestlessDays of Our Lives, and General Hospital

Max Wright - Willie Tanner

WIllie Tanner, the father and husband of the suburban Tanner family, was played by the late Max Wright who, in a 2000 People retrospective, admitted his work on the ALF was "hard" and "very grim." ALF creator Paul Fusco explained Wright's job was particularly difficult since he was "playing straight man to a puppet." Wright's co-star and on-set wife Anne Schedeen said after doing one take on the last night of filming for the series, Wright was so eager to leave he didn't bother to say goodbye to the people he'd worked with for four years. As she put it, "Max walked off the set, went to his dressing room, got his bags, went to his car and disappeared."

In the People article, Wright described a grueling time professionally and personally after ALF shuttered. A professional slump coincided with a 1995 lymphoma diagnosis, which Wright called "very scary." The lymphoma went into remission after Wright was treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Wright said that once the illness subsided he "came back to life after being on the edge, with a tremendous gusto for the things I love." Soon afterwards he appeared in the comedy Grumpier Old Men and returned to working in the theater, receiving a Tony nomination for his work on the Anton Chekov play Ivanov. He also appeared regularly on Norm McDonald's sitcom Norm

Sadly, Wright's lymphoma returned and he passed away from the illness in June 2019. He was 75 years old.