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What Happened To The Cast Of The Original The Amityville Horror?

"Twenty-eight days after the Lutz family moved into their dream house, they were running for their lives," the narrator says in the trailer for the 1979 film The Amityville Horror, which was based on the 1977 book of the same name by Jay Anson. The book chronicles the alleged supernatural occurrences experienced by the Lutz family in a house in Amityville, New York, where a murder once took place. The fictional Lutz family only lived in the house for twenty-eight days before moving out, as the supernatural experiences were too terrifying to continue living with. The book drew inspiration from a real-life murder that occurred in November of 1974, when 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot his parents and four siblings with a rifle while they were sleeping — which is why the movie bills itself as being "based on a true story." 

The film stars James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz. The rest of the cast consists of a handful of actors, including Rod Steiger, who played various priests. There were also three Lutz children, all of whom were played by a few talented child actors. Here's a breakdown of what happened to the cast of the original The Amityville Horror.

James Brolin (George Lutz) has enjoyed a prolific career

At first hesitant to take the role, James Brolin eventually signed on to co-lead this film as George, the husband to Kathy and stepfather to her kids. Brolin is effective at showing how George gradually loses his mind; his "I'm coming apart!" scene continues to leave viewers with an uneasy, chilling feeling.

Already fairly well known at the time of this 1979 film for his roles in features like 1973's Westworld, Brolin afterward continued with his steady career. For the next 15 or so years, he frequently acted in leading roles, such as in Night of the Juggler and High Risk. Brolin directed multiple episodes of the television show Hotel before he made his film directorial debut with 1997's My Brother's War, in which he also starred. He has since directed a few made-for-television movies.

Later in his career, he shifted more into supporting roles, with films such as Catch Me If You Can, The Hunting Party, Burlesque, and, more recently, The 33. Still, leading or supporting, Brolin long ago established himself as one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood. He's also the father of The Goonies star and Hollywood A-lister Josh Brolin. 

Margot Kidder (Kathy Lutz) portrayed Lois Lane

Kidder believably portrayed Kathy's slow and steady descent into terror at the house's supernatural entities. At the time of The Amityville Horror's release, Margot Kidder was already gaining attention for portraying Clark Kent's famous love interest, Lois Lane, in 1978's Superman opposite Christopher Reeve.

After playing Kathy, Kidder returned to her Lois Lane role and portrayed the character for the next three installments, ending with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987. After that franchise, she maintained a steady career in supporting roles, such as in 2002's adaptation of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. She also appeared in a few co-lead roles in the first half of her career, including 1989's Mob Story and 1996's Never Met Picasso.

Kidder continued to act consistently until May of 2018, when she tragically died by suicide. She had dealt with bipolar disorder for much of her life. Kidder's daughter, Maggie McGuane, spoke to USA Today about her mother's death, saying, "It's a big relief that the truth is out there. It's important to be open and honest so there's not a cloud of shame in dealing with this."

Rod Steiger (Father Frank Delaney) battled with depression

Father Frank Delaney (Rod Steiger) first comes to the Amityville house to bless it for the Lutzes upon their moving in. The memorable scene turns sinister when flies attack Father Delaney and a voice screams at him to "get out." 

By 1979, Steiger had many of his most famous roles behind him: his turn alongside Marlon Brando in 1954's On the Waterfront, his intense and poignant portrayal of a concentration camp survivor in 1964's The Pawnbroker, and his Oscar-winning role in 1967's In the Heat of the Night. After The Amityville Horror was released, Steiger began to struggle more and more with his clinical depression. His career lapsed into B-movie appearances during this time. After three suicide attempts, he got a better hold on his depression and continued to work, including more leading roles, until his death in 2002 at age 77 from pneumonia and kidney failure.

During his lifetime, Steiger spoke openly about his depression and the effect it had on his career. In a 1994 interview with the LA Times, he addressed confronting the stigma against it. He recalled feeling like "a zombie," and said he wanted to talk candidly about his experiences: "When I'm not working, I try to fight the stigma against mental disease. It's much more important for me to talk about depression and what it can do to a person than talk about the movies I've made."

Don Stroud (Father Bolen) continued a career in supporting roles

A minor character in the film, Father Bolen (Don Stroud) is only in a few scenes. Still, Father Bolen gets quite a scare when he and Father Delaney are driving to the Lutzes' and inexplicably lose control of the car; the two almost die. Stroud admitted in an interview that he "didn't think the film was that good," although he was happy about getting "a lot of money" for the role.

After The Amityville Horror, Stroud continued to play supporting characters throughout his career, mostly in lesser-known films like '80s slasher flick Sweet Sixteen, the 1990 martial arts movie King of the Kickboxers, and the 1997 adventure comedy Wild America.

However, he also appeared in some more recognizable films. Notably, he played Sheriff Bill Sharp in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012). His only acting role since was the 2017 short film Glen Now and Then, in which he played the titular character. 

Murray Hamilton (Father Ryan) worked steadily in the remaining years of his life

Father Ryan, played by Murray Hamilton, is understandably skeptical of the paranormal events in the Lutzes' home when Father Delaney asks for his help. 

By the time this horror film came out in 1979, Hamilton had already been working for several decades, racking up 159 film credits over the course of his career. Some of these credits were in quite high-profile films, such as Jaws, Anatomy of a Murder, and The Hustler. He also played the (much less frequently referenced) Mr. Robinson in 1967's The Graduate.

After portraying Father Ryan, Hamilton continued to appear in supporting parts for both film and television until he died of cancer at the age of 63 in 1986. Some of his final film roles included 1941 and Whoops Apocalypse. He also had guest arcs on various popular TV shows, such as The Golden Girls, B.J. and the Bear, and Murder, She Wrote. 

John Larch (Father Nuncio) mostly stuck to TV

The final priest of the cast of characters is Father Nuncio, played by John Larch. By the time Larch appeared in this minor role, the bulk of his career as an actor was behind him. When this film was released, he had already appeared in about 160 television or film roles.

After his turn in The Amityville Horror, Larch acted in just one other film role: he played a prosecutor in Airplane II: The Sequel, the followup to the wildly popular — and wildly hilarious — Airplane! of 1980. He subsequently pivoted to television, appearing in guest roles in popular shows. He played Gerald Wilson in Dynasty, while simultaneously acting as Arlen Ward in Dallas

Larch continued acting until 1990 and then seemingly retired, although he didn't speak about it publicly. His last role was his final appearance in Dallas. He died in 2005 at the age of 91.

Natasha Ryan (Amy Lutz) worked as a child actor for a few more years

Natasha Ryan played one of the young Lutz children, Amy. Amy's imaginary friend, Jody, makes for some of the creepiest moments in the movie. Jody informs Amy — and the audience — about the house's past. Amy then repeats the information to her mother, Kathy.

Ryan was just 8 years old when she appeared in The Amityville Horror. Afterward, she continued working as a child actor for just a few years until 1983. She appeared in a few obscure films, such as Fatso, The Day Time Ended, and The Entity. In 1980, she also appeared in the full run of a short-lived sitcom — CBS aired just 16 episodes — titled Ladies' Man. It followed a male journalist who worked at a women's magazine. Ryan played the daughter of the protagonist, a single father.

Her final role before she left acting was in a 1983 comedy, Going Berserk.

K.C. Martel (Greg Lutz) worked as an actor through his 20s

K.C. Martel was 12 years old when he appeared in The Amityville Horror as one of the other Lutz children, Greg. His most notable scene comes when a window suddenly slams down on its own, crushing his hand on the sill. His piercing screams are unforgettable.

After the horror film, Martel continued to work on screen through his early 20s. He had a supporting role in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, his most notable film role besides The Amityville Horror.

Martel also appeared in numerous television roles, in guest arcs, including Eight is Enough as Marvin, the original One Day at a Time from the '80s as Jason, and The Best Times as Dale. However, his most notable television role was his recurring arc in Growing Pains as Eddie, a friend of Mike (Kirk Cameron). Growing Pains was also his final appearance as an actor. He is now a businessman

Meeno Peluce (Matt Lutz) pursued other careers alongside acting

Rounding out the Lutz children was Meeno Peluce as Matt. Matt doesn't have a lot of memorable solo scenes, but he's a consistent presence in the Lutz family's cursed household.

After his turn as Matt Lutz, Peluce appeared in a string of roles between 1978 and 1984. These parts were mostly on TV, including two short-lived shows: a comedy western, Best of the West, and a time-traveling adventure show, Voyagers! His last film appearance as a young actor was in 1985 in an episode of Hell Town. Peluce returned to acting as an adult for a one-off performance in the 2001 film Alex in Wonder as Eric the Hippie, a minor role. He also co-wrote and co-directed the 1998 film Wild Horses with his half-sister, Soleil Moon Frye

Outside of acting, Peluce attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied American literature. He then became a history teacher at Hollywood High. He has also pursued professional photography.

Michael Sacks (Jeff) only acted in a few other roles

Michael Sacks portrayed Jeff, George's business partner, who soon becomes concerned when George begins neglecting their land surveying business.

Sacks has just 14 total acting credits to his name, many of which came before The Amityville Horror in the late '70s. His most famous role by far was also his film debut as Billy Pilgrim in 1972's Slaughterhouse-Five, which was based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name. After The Amityville Horror, he had supporting roles in just four other films, two of which went straight to television. His last role — which was also his most prominent — was as Wayne Potts in 1984's The House of God, a drama following a group of interns at a teaching hospital.

Sacks left the film industry after The House of God and moved on, becoming an executive and enjoying a long and successful career.

Helen Shaver (Carolyn) found success in directing

Carolyn, played by Helen Shaver, is Jeff's wife. When the two of them visit the Lutzes' house, it's revealed that Carolyn is sensitive to paranormal activity. In one significant scene, Carolyn is convinced there's something hidden behind one of the basement walls, leading George to break it down with a hammer. Carolyn then becomes possessed and exclaims, in a deep voice not her own, that they've found "the passage to hell."

After The Amityville Horror, Shaver appeared in many films and television shows up to as recently as 2018. These roles included the leads in three short-lived television shows: United States in 1980, Jessica Novak in 1981 (in which she played the title character), and WIOU in 1990. She then found lasting TV success with a return to horror in Poltergeist: The Legacy, which lasted four seasons starting in 1996. She kept a leading role for the entirety of the show's run.

Shaver found further success as a television director, adding over 50 credits to her name since 1998. These include popular shows like Private Practice, Orphan Black, HBO's Westworld, and Vikings.