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What Happened To The Cast Of Road House?

Some films strive to impress upon us the inherent beauty of the human condition and how it should keep our souls nourished even in what seem like the most hopeless of situations. Other movies do their best to tell us that, no matter what sacrifices they call for, the safeguarding of our most hallowed values are worth any battle we're forced to wage. And then there's the 1989 action flick "Road House," which merely hopes to teach us that — as the film's butt-kicking hero tells his future lover — "pain don't hurt."

"Road House" didn't light up the box office, and it didn't impress the critics. Regardless, the story of renowned "cooler" James Dalton (Patrick Swayze) and the hell he endures to clean up the Double Deuce bar enjoys a healthy cult following, and it's proven to be one of the signature films of the late Swayze's career. And in spite of lacking a particularly interesting plot, "Road House" features a treasure trove of actors with intensely interesting lives. To learn more about the colorful stars who brought us this bare-fisted barroom brawl of a movie, keep reading to find out what happened to the cast of "Road House."

(Warning — there are spoilers below.)

Road House star Patrick Swayze gave all that he could until the end

In "Road House," Swayze plays a hotly sought-after cooler (basically a bouncer). At first, his time at the Double Deuce appears to be nothing more than just another job, but after his new lover is threatened and his old friend Wade (Sam Elliott) is murdered, things get a lot more personal.

Swayze's career soared in the late '80s and early '90s, enjoying hits like the action classic "Point Break," the supernatural romance "Ghost," and the road comedy hit "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar." His career took a blow in the late '90s after breaking both of his legs during the filming of the HBO film "Letters from a Killer," as well as some public battles with alcohol addiction. He enjoyed some smaller roles in '00s, including his memorable portrayal of a motivational speaker outed as a monster in 2001's "Donnie Darko."

Swayze's final acting role was as veteran FBI agent Charles Barker on A&E's short-lived crime drama "The Beast." Not long after filming the pilot episode for the series, Swayze was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, though he was determined to keep working as long as he could. He told Barbara Walters (via CNN), "If I leave this Earth, I want to leave this Earth just knowing I've tried to give something back and tried to do something worthwhile with myself." In September 2009, Swayze died from the disease at the age of 57.

Kelly Lynch continued acting and has a crazy connection to Bill Murray

Dalton meets "Doc" Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch) shortly after starting his job at the Double Deuce. It's Doc who's about to stitch up Dalton's knife wound when he utters the famous "pain don't hurt" line. They seem instantly smitten with one another, and it isn't long before they're lovers. 

Right after "Road House," Lynch went on to a much different film — Gus Van Sant's acclaimed crime drama "Drugstore Cowboy." Among some of her more prominent acting roles since then, she's played the villainous Vivian in the big-screen revival of "Charlie's Angels" and the love interest of Kit Porter (Pam Grier) in Showtime's "The L Word." In 2017, she starred in the first season of "Mr. Mercedes" — a show based on Stephen King's "Bill Hodges" novel series — and more recently made a brief appearance in Sofia Coppola's 2020 dramedy "On the Rocks." 

Speaking on "The Rich Eisen Show" in 2017, Lynch said working on "Road House" was "one of the best times" she'd ever had. She also confirmed perhaps one of the strangest stories about her involvement in the film. According to Lynch, actor Bill Murray and his brothers will call her husband, Mitch Glazer, every single time they see "Road House" to complain that Patrick Swayze is mistreating her during their love scene. Lynch claimed Bill Murray did this even while the comedy legend was in Russia, implying he ignored the time difference and woke them up in the middle of the night for the prank.

Sam Elliott gets more iconic with every passing year

No action movie would be complete without a friend of the main character who doesn't survive the conflict, and in "Road House," it's Sam Elliott who provides the blood for the sacrificial rite. Elliott plays Wade Garrett — Dalton's friend, mentor, and one of the only characters in the film intimately familiar with Dalton's past and why it haunts him.

A celebrated and iconic character actor, Elliott has never stopped taking on new, career-defining roles. Four years after "Road House," he played Virgil Earp in the beloved Western "Tombstone," and six years later, he starred as the enigmatic and meme-inspiring Stranger in the Coen brothers' cult classic "The Big Lebowski." He made sure to leave his mark early in the 21st century's superhero movie craze, playing Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross in 2003's "Hulk" and the titular hero's mentor in 2007's "Ghost Rider." He's also enjoyed a successful career as a voice actor, particularly in advertisement campaigns for big companies like Dodge, IBM, and Coors.

While the 2010s found Elliott in his 70s, he didn't slow down at all. He began doing much more television work, including recurring roles on the sitcom "Parks and Recreation" and Netflix's "Grace and Frankie," as well as appearing regularly on "The Ranch." In 2018, Elliott was honored with his first-ever Academy Award nomination for his work as Bobby Maine in "A Star Is Born."  

Ben Gazzara left us with some wonderful roles

To any character with a shred of decency in "Road House," the biggest thorn in their side is the sadistic and wealthy Brad Wesley, played by Ben Gazzara. Wesley's hobbies include scaring his neighbor's horses with low-flying aircraft, running other drivers off the road, and extorting every single business owner in town. Dalton first comes to Wesley's attention after the cooler fires the rich crook's nephew, Pat (John Doe), from the Double Deuce for stealing. From there, it's only a matter of time before things get bloody. 

Gazzara enjoyed a long and distinguished career before finding his way to "Road House." Most famously, he starred as an army lieutenant on trial for murder in the 1959 Jimmy Stewart-led classic courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Murder." He continued to work in TV and film throughout his life, and while the villain of "Road House" became one of his most recognizable roles, he would become even more well-known to younger viewers as the porn peddler and loan shark Jackie Treehorn in 1998's "The Big Lebowski." 

Sadly, Gazzara died in 2012 at the age of 81 from the same disease that took his "Road House" co-star Patrick Swayze — pancreatic cancer.

Marshall R. Teague has died on-screen more times than most

While Brad Wesley may be the main villain of "Road House," he isn't much of a physical threat to Dalton. To fill that role, Wesley always keeps the ruthless Jimmy nearby, played by Marshall R. Teague. Jimmy suffers perhaps the most infamous death in "Road House" — going one-on-one with Dalton in a fight that ends with the hero ripping his throat out. 

Teague's road to professional acting was interesting. He joined the Navy when he was 17 years old and later became an undercover police officer who studied acting in order to help him catch real-life crooks. In 2015, he told The Movie Waffler that after landing the stage role of Puck in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the acting bug had him for real. Both before and after his appearance in "Road House," he appeared in scores of TV series, including the original "Walker, Texas Ranger." He played six different characters on that series — including in both the series premiere and the series finale. He also enjoyed a recurring role on the sci-fi series "Babylon 5," mostly as the alien Ta'Lon. 

Teague confirmed to The Movie Waffler that — as of 2015 — he had "died" over 100 times on screen. Asked for his most "memorable" deaths, Teague pointed to "Road House," his death at Chuck Norris' hands in the Season 5 "Walker, Texas Ranger" episode "Codename: Dragonfly," and "getting impaled on a statue by John Ritter" in the 1995 TV movie "The Colony."

Kathleen Wilhoite kept acting and rockin'

While Dalton's romantic interests eventually turn in another direction, when he first arrives at the Double Deuce, he immediately captures the attention of the waitress Carrie, played by Kathleen Wilhoite. Carrie isn't a major player in "Road House," though she manages to pull double duty as both server and entertainer when she sings "Knock on Wood" on stage. 

Wilhoite's face was a familiar one in the '80s in usually smaller roles, though in 1986, she landed the female lead as a petty thief opposite Charles Bronson in the thriller "Murphy's Law." After "Road House," her acting career continued, including one-offs and recurring roles on TV series like "L.A. Law," "Gilmore Girls," and more recently "The OA" and "Yellowstone." 

Wilhoite doesn't confine her creativity to acting. She's a singer and songwriter with two studio albums — 1987's "Pitch Like a Girl" and 2000's "Shiva." She's performed songs for films and TV series like "Ally McBeal," "Cop Rock," and "Murphy's Law," and her original song "Wish We Never Met" was used in "Consequences" — a Season 3 episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

While he's a good guy in Road House, Kevin Tighe often plays villains

Frank Tilghman, played by Kevin Tighe, is the owner of the Double Deuce in "Road House," and he's tired of every night ending with the floor of his establishment covered in broken glass, broken furniture, and blood. It's Frank who pays an arm and a leg to recruit Dalton, and you get a pretty clear sense that it's only because he's got Dalton's fists to back him up that he finally summons the courage to defy Brad Wesley. 

Tighe first rose to fame when he was cast as paramedic Roy DeSoto in the popular '70s NBC series "Emergency!" — a series known for combining medical drama with action adventure. Both before and after "Road House," Tighe had a reputation as a widely recognizable character actor and not always playing people as sympathetic as Frank from "Road House." Some of his more memorable roles include the bookie Sport Sullivan in "Eight Men Out" and the crazed, cuckolded husband in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" Perhaps most infamously, Tighe played one of the characters most hated by "Lost" fans — Anthony Cooper, the con-man father of Locke (Terry O'Quinn), who breaks his son's heart over and over again. 

Jeff Healey created a lot of great music before he left us

When Dalton first shows up at his new place of work, there's at least one friendly face waiting for him. The house band is led by Cody, a blind jazz and blues guitarist who warns his old friend that the Double Deuce is a "toilet" and says it's worse than a bar where Cody and Dalton had worked in Dayton. Characteristically, the first time we see Cody on stage, he has to stop in the middle of a set when he's injured by a piece of flying glass.

Cody is played by the late Jeff Healey, and Hollywood wasn't his first home. Losing his sight before his first birthday to the rare retinal cancer retinoblastoma, Healey begin playing guitar at the age of 3, utilizing his unique style of playing it on his lap. The month after "Road House" was released, the Jeff Healey Band's single "Angel Eyes" entered the US Billboard Hot 100 at 85, eventually reaching as far as No. 5

Tragically, cancer was not done with Healey. He died in 2008 of sarcoma at the age of 41. Healey kept creating, recording, and performing music prolifically up until his death. Including solo records and those done with the Jeff Healey Band, the guitarist and singer released over 20 albums — some in his life time and some posthumously, including 2008's "Mess of Blues," which shipped less than two weeks after Healey's passing.

Julie Michaels knows how to take a fall

It doesn't take long for Dalton to catch the eye of Denise, Brad Wesley's main squeeze, played by Julie Michaels. While her early flirtations with Dalton are discouraged — so much so that a shot of Denise with a bruised face implies Wesley beat her in retaliation — Wesley directs her to give Dalton a seductive striptease later in the film, which nevertheless fails to impress the hero.

You've almost certainly seen Michaels on the big and small screens since her time in "Road House," though in a lot of cases, you probably didn't know it was her. Michaels has continued to act over the years, most recently playing an underground boxer and deceased mother of Malin Åkerman's Anna in the 2020 action comedy "Chick Fight." But more often than not, when she's in front of the camera, she's replacing actors rather than being one. Michaels has been a stuntwoman for decades, including serving as Pamela Anderson's stunt double on "Baywatch" and the action comedy series "V.I.P." She also did stunts in "Titanic," "Charmed," "Rush Hour 3," and many, many more films and TV series. 

Among other things, Michaels' long list of stunt credits helped her to make entertainment awards history. In 2014, for her work on "Shameless," Michaels received a Primtime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or a Variety Program. This was the first time a woman was nominated in that category. She was nominated for the same award in 2017, this time for "SEAL Team." 

Keith David is busier than ever after Road House

Soon after Dalton gives Brad Wesley's nephew his walking papers, the Double Deuce hires a new crop of bartenders, all sporting red polo shirts. One of the new bartenders is Ernie, played by Keith David. He doesn't get much screen time and barely has any lines, which is strange considering not only was David already a prolific actor by 1989 thanks to films like "The Thing," "Platoon," and "They Live," but he had a relatively high billing in the film. 

David explained what happened to Vulture in 2019. He said the day after the wrap party for "Road House," director Rowdy Herrington called him and said almost all of his performance needed to be cut to save time. Regardless, David had no complaints when he spoke to Vulture. He pointed out that he still gets residuals from the film and that it gave him the opportunity to meet Sam Elliott, as well as to do a fight scene with professional wrestler Terry Funk.

The passage of time since "Road House" has not slowed down David one bit. Not only does he continue to be prolific in live-action films and TV series, notably in the award-winning Oprah Winfrey Network drama "Greenleaf," but he's also cultivated an impressive voice acting career. He's lent his voice to Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," the English dub of "Princess Mononoke," the very first game in the "Fallout" series, animated shows like "Gargoyles," "Adventure Time," and "Rick & Morty," and numerous documentaries.

Red West left behind an interesting legacy

Dalton seems completely unsurprised when his new no-nonsense way of handling things at the Double Deuce inspires some disgruntled ex-employees to vandalize his car. To help patch things up, he goes to a store run by Red Webster (Red West) — a business owner whose store is regularly torn up by Brad Wesley's thugs (and is eventually firebombed). He's also uncle to Dr. Clay, the woman Dalton falls in love with.

While he has a relatively small role in "Road House," outside the film, Red West had one of the most intriguing histories of anyone in the cast. Acting wasn't West's first career. His first claim to fame was as part of the so-called "Memphis Mafia" — Elvis Presley's entourage that included West, Red's cousin Sonny, and Dave Hebler. Red was also a songwriter who co-wrote Presley tunes like "Separate Ways" and "If You Talk in Your Sleep," as well as songs by Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson, and others. 

Though most of West's acting roles were on the smaller side, he eventually attracted critical praise for later performances, particularly in the 2008 indie film "Goodbye Solo." 

West died of an aortic aneurysm in 2017. He was 81 years old. 

Gary Hudson is still acting in TV, films, and games

One of the Double Deuce bouncers you learn to hate early on is the smart-mouth Steve (Gary Hudson). While Steve survives Dalton's initial purge of the bar's staff, his good luck doesn't last long. When Dalton catches him in a compromising situation with an underage girl he'd snuck into the bar, his time with the good guys is over. 

"Road House" remains one of the films for which Hudson is best known, but he hasn't let that slow his pace. He's landed a number of memorable recurring television roles, including as Sheriff Viva in Season 1 of the critically acclaimed cult Western "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," and FBI agent Frank Loder in "Smallville." He's enjoyed one-offs in popular series like "Suits," "Taken," and "NCIS" among others. He also plays ex-husband to Elena (Kim Basinger) in the sequel "Fifty Shades Freed."

In his later years, it looks like Hudson may be building a career as a voice actor. In particular, his voice can be found in a couple of popular games. He voices various minor characters in "Red Dead Redemption II" and can be heard as the struggling farmer George Putnam in the "Steel Dawn" DLC for the online RPG "Fallout 76."