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What The Cast Of Footloose Is Doing Today

A modestly-budgeted production that received middling critical reviews upon its release in 1984, "Footloose" has become not only an enduring audience favorite, but also something of a franchise, with a stage musical adaptation and feature film remake in 2011 (and apparently lives on in the outer reaches of the universe, if we are to believe Star-Lord in "Guardians of the Galaxy"). Part of the film's success is due to its ebullient soundtrack, which featured two Oscar-nominated singles: the title track by Kenny Loggins and Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It For the Boy." But the cast of "Footloose" is also a key factor in its popularity.

At least two of its stars — John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest, who played the Reverend Shaw Moore and his wife, Vi — were established film and television actors, and its lead, Kevin Bacon, had appeared in several features prior to "Footloose." The rest were largely unknown to moviegoers. But the success of the film boosted Bacon and several of his castmates, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Lori Singer, and Chris Penn, to stardom, while others found varying degrees of success in films, TV, and other mediums. Below is a look at the cast of "Footloose," and where the film has taken their careers since.

Kevin Bacon's six degrees started with Footloose

Kevin Bacon had minor roles in hit films, including "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "Friday the 13th," and took home awards for theater work in the 1980s (as seen in the documentary "Val"), but fame had eluded him until "Footloose." He landed the role of Ren McCormick largely on the strength of his performance as the off-kilter preppy Fenwick in Barry Levinson's "Diner," but "Footloose" propelled him into leading man status.

Playing the hero in films like "Quicksilver" and "She's Having a Baby" didn't entirely agree with Bacon, who sought out more offbeat fare in the 1990s. A string of character turns — a hustler in Oliver Stone's "JFK," a rigid military prosecutor in Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men" and a cold-blooded bank robber in Curtis Hanson's "The River Wild" revealed Bacon's versatility, which he later parlayed into critically acclaimed features like "Apollo 13," "Sleepers," and Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River." Bacon's near-ubiquitous presence on screen may have given rise to the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, but it also proved that he was a talented and capable performer.

Bacon remains busy as ever in his fourth decade on-screen: he gained an Emmy nomination and Golden Globe as a Marine who escorts a fallen soldier's remains home in "Taking Chance," and drew critical praise for starring turns in the episodic series "Following," "I Love Dick" (which earned a Golden Globe nod) and "City on a Hill." He's also still busy in features, including "X-Men: First Class," "Patriots Day," and "You Should Have Left," and also enjoys a long-running music career as one-half of the Bacon Brothers with his sibling, Michael. And, as this clip from "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" proves, he can still dance up a storm.

John Lithgow found the heart in Rev. Moore

Prior to joining "Footloose" as the hardline preacher Shaw Moore, John Lithgow had proven his versatility with a string of unique movie roles: he earned back-to-back Oscar nominations as a transgender football player in "The World According to Garp," and a kindly banker who becomes romantically involved with Debra Winger in "Terms of Endearment."

Lithgow followed this with a full-bore turn as a terrified airline passenger in "Twilight Zone: The Movie" (paying tribute to the classic William Shatner "Zone" episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet") before again shifting gears to play Moore. His performance as a man pushed by his son's accidental death to ban music and dancing in his small town is a delicate mix of anger, fear, and sorrow, and underscores Lithgow's status as a gifted character actor.

Lithgow has worked at a breathless pace in the three decades since "Footloose," earning multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild as the extraterrestrial Dick Solomon on "3rd Rock from the Sun," the monstrous Arthur Mitchell on "Dexter," and as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on "The Crown." Between these efforts, Lithgow voiced Lord Farquaad in "Shrek" and starred in "Cliffhanger," "Dreamgirls," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," 'This is 40," and in the reboot of "Perry Mason." He's also enjoyed a successful second career as a children's book author and recording artist.

Footloose took Sarah Jessica Parker from stage to stardom

At the time she was cast as Rusty, the cheerful girlfriend of Chris Penn's Willard and best friend to Lori Singer's Ariel, Sarah Jessica Parker was largely known for her turn as Annie in the hit Broadway musical and as a shy teenager on the cult sitcom "Square Pegs." The success of "Footloose" provided her an in-road to more feature film work, including "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," but it was the Steve Martin comedy "L.A. Story," which cast her as a dim but bubbly spokesmodel, that paved the way for her screen stardom.

Well-received turns in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Hocus Pocus" and "Ed Wood" preceded her Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning run as columnist Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex and the City." During the series' lengthy network run – and two feature films — Parker remained active in features, logging appearances in David Mamet's "State and Main," "The Family Stone," "Failure to Launch," and "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" In 2016, she returned to television as co-star and co-producer of Sharon Horgan's comedy-drama "Divorce," and in 2020, co-starred with her husband, Matthew Broderick, in a revival of Neil Simon's comedy "Plaza Suite."

Dianne Wiest won two Oscars after Footloose

Dianne Wiest was primarily a stage actor prior to her turn as Reverend Moore's sympathetic wife, Vi, in "Footloose." Ironically, she had just co-starred with John Lithgow two years before the film's production in a 1982 Broadway production of Christopher Durang's comedy "Beyond Therapy." Wiest remained active on stage after the success of "Footloose," but her career in film and on television flourished as well.

Wiest followed "Footloose" with a string of critically acclaimed turns for Woody Allen, including "Radio Days" and "Hannah and Her Sisters," the latter of which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She would capture a second Oscar and a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" in 1994; between those two laurels, Wiest also starred in "The Lost Boys," "Parenthood" (which also earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations), and "Edward Scissorhands." Wiest moved successfully into television in the late 1990s, earning an Emmy for "Road to Avonlea" in 1997 and "In Treatment" in 2008 and co-starring as District Attorney Nora Lewin on the "Law & Order" franchise from 2000 to 2002.

Wiest has remained exceptionally busy in the new millennium, with a starring role on the comedy "Life in Pieces" and supporting turns in numerous theatrical and TV features, including Clint Eastwood's "The Mule," the harrowing dark comedy "I Care a Lot," and Steven Soderbergh's improvised comedy-drama "Let Them All Talk," among her many projects.

Lori Singer: from Fame to Footloose and beyond

Stints as a professional cellist and fashion model preceded Lori Singer's debut as an actress in the popular series "Fame" and her breakout role as Ariel, Ren's love interest, in "Footloose." The popularity of the film made Singer a go-to for willowy female leads in films like "The Falcon and the Snowman" and "The Man with One Red Shoe," as well as the cult favorite "Warlock." But she also proved adept at darker roles, including a Golden Globe-winning turn as a troubled cellist in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" and Keith Carradine's child-like girlfriend in "Trouble in Mind," her first of two features with Altman associate Alan Rudolph.

Singer's acting career cooled in the late '90s, though she continued to make occasional guest appearances on TV series like "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." She also moved into producing documentary features. Her first effort in this regard, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," earned a Peabody Award and six Primetime Emmy Award nominations in 2013.

Famous sibling Chris Penn earned his own star after Footloose

One of the most endearing elements to "Footloose" is the friendship between Ren and Willard, a Bomont local he teaches to dance. As played by character actor Chris Penn, Willard rises above his rough-hewn exterior and becomes an inspiration to anyone with two left feet.

Penn, who was the younger brother of actor Sean Penn and musician Michael Penn, had appeared in minor roles in "All the Right Moves" and "Rumble Fish" before "Footloose" boosted him to stardom. However, he found steady work and critical praise as a character actor in the '90s with a string of roles as troubled men easily provoked to violence. Chief among these was two iconic performances for Quentin Tarantino projects — as Nice Guy Eddie in "Reservoir Dogs" and Nicky Dimes in "True Romance. He also gave a harrowing, Golden Globe-winning performance as a pool cleaner driven to a horrific crime in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts," also starring Lori Singer.

Penn worked steadily throughout the '90s, earning an Independent Spirit nomination for "The Funeral" and giving a memorable performance in "Mulholland Falls," as well as opposite Jackie Chan in "Rush Hour" and on series like "Will & Grace" and "Entourage" (as himself). On January 24, 2006, Penn was found dead in his home in Santa Monica, California at the age of 40. The primary cause was cited as heart disease complicated by multiple medications.

John Laughlin became a film and TV vet after playing Woody

John Laughlin's turn as Ren's pal, Woody, in "Footloose" was a springboard to a long and varied acting career that continues to this day. The Memphis, Tennessee native got his start as a stormtrooper on the infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special" before landing a supporting role in the Oscar-winning "An Officer and a Gentleman." Steady work on television led to "Footloose," which in turn gave Laughlin a brief boost to leading man status, although his showcases in that regard — including Ken Russell's over-the-top "Crimes of Passion," with Kathleen Turner — were poorly received.

Steady work in low-budget features throughout the 1980s and '90s — as well as occasional forays into studio efforts like "The Rock" — led to regular assignments as a guest and recurring player on network television. Among Laughlin's small-screen credits are guest shots on "Knot's Landing," "Tales from the Crypt," "Criminal Minds," and "NCIS." More recently, he appeared in the TNT miniseries "I am the Night," with Chris Pine as a reporter investigating the circumstances behind the Black Dahlia murder.

Footloose led to directing and writing for Elizabeth Gorcey

Elizabeth Gorcey made her second screen appearance as Ariel's boy-crazy friend, Wendy Jo, in "Footloose," and would follow up that film with a supporting role in another enduring '80's favorite, "Teen Wolf." Additional TV and feature projects followed, most notably episodes of "Highway to Heaven" and "Max Headroom," but by the early 2000s, Gorcey had found a new outlet for her talents behind the camera.

Gorcey produced and directed the documentary short "Adopting Ginny" in 2012, and produced and directed several short dramatic films, including the award-winning "Just Another Man's Story," with Ron Glass of "Barney Miller" and "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Doris Roberts. In 2021, Gorcey made the leap to feature-length projects by serving as co-director on the comedy "Peeling the Stinky Onion."

In addition to her film projects, Gorcey is the author of a popular series of children's books, "Liv on Life," which draws its inspiration from her own daughter, Olivia. The series spawned a lifestyle brand which included a line of hair care products for kids.

Beloved '80s movie mom Frances Lee McCain earned her master's degree

Frances Lee McCain was the go-to actress for caring moms in the 1980s. In addition to playing Ren's hard-working mother in "Footloose," McCain — a Pennsylvania native, Broadway veteran and frequent guest star on '70s and '80s TV series — was Billy Peltzer's mom in "Gremlins," Lorraine Baines' mother in "Back to the Future," and Gordie Lachance's mom in "Stand By Me." Her string of matronly roles continued into the 1990s with her supporting role as Dewey and Tatum Riley's mother in "Scream."

McCain remained active on screen throughout the 1990s and 2000s, logging appearances in "Patch Adams" and Clint Eastwood's "True Crime." She continues to land roles in recent projects like "The Girlfriend Experience," "Better Call Saul," and "The Comeback Trail." McCain also continued her education, earning a master's degree in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2000, and is active in theater projects in California and her current home state of New Mexico.

Jim Youngs was Footloose bad guy Chuck Cranston

The '80s poster child for bad boyfriends, Chuck Cranston was easy on the eyes but an absolute monster in every other way. Chuck was a small-town tyrant who wasn't above getting physical with Ariel to keep her under his thumb; his shocked realization that he'd laid hands on her during their big argument behind the bleachers doesn't keep him from hitting her a second time. Ren's beatdown of Chuck in the film's finale was a pure stand-up-and-cheer moment.

Actor Jim Youngs, who played Chuck, hailed from a performing family — his brother was "Deer Hunter" actor John Savage and his sister was TV talent and producer Gail Youngs. He made his film debut in the cult classic "The Wanderers" — which also showcased his singing talent — and soon added the harrowing TV movie "The Executioner's Song" with Tommy Lee Jones to his growing list of credits.

"Footloose" proved to be the biggest hit of his acting career: Youngs landed guest roles on "Wiseguy," "Babylon 5," and "NYPD Blue," but spent much of his screen time in low-budget material like the monster bug movie "Skeeter." His final screen credit to date was 1995's "The Dangerous." A reported comeback in a teen sex comedy alongside Tony Ganios of "Porky's" fame in 2012 has yet to materialize.

Ren's Aunt Lulu, Lynne Marta, was an episodic TV regular

"Footloose" was just one of a handful of movie credits for actress Lynne Marta, who played Ren's aunt, Lulu Warnicker. It was also one of her most high-profile big-screen efforts, save for the Clint Eastwood actioner "Joe Kidd" and a minor role in "Three Men and a Little Lady." Many of her other feature credits were low-budget oddities like "Help Me... I'm Possessed" and the cult creature feature "Blood Beach."

Marta was more prolific as a TV actor on series like "The Monkees," "Charlie's Angels," "Starsky & Hutch" — which starred her off-screen romantic partner, David Soul — and "CHiPS." After completing "Footloose," Marta resumed her busy schedule of TV guest appearances, which soon included turns on "Designing Women," "Law & Order," and "ER." Marta was also a staple of daytime soaps, including "Days of Our Lives" and the oddball "Passions." Her last feature film credit to date was the indie thriller "Time of Fear" in 2002, while her last TV appearance was a minor role on "American Dreams" in 2004.

Timothy Scott was sympathetic adult Andy Beamis

Not all of the adults in Bomont are as close-minded as Rev. Moore. Case in point: Andy Beamis, who owns the cotton mill where Ren works (and dances). He is, of course, the one who suggests to Ren that he holds the dance in the neighboring town of Bayson in order to circumnavigate Bomont's ban on dancing and music. More people like Andy Beamis might have avoided the whole thorny issue, but then that also might've eliminated the whole dramatic arc of the movie.

Timothy Scott, who played Andy, was a native of Detroit and began acting in features and on television in the mid-1960s. He specialized in Western and rural types — one of his earliest credits was as "Messy James," a sidekick to Cliff Robertson's cowboy villain Shame on "Batman" — and lent authentic flavor to such period films as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Days of Heaven," as well as countless TV shows.

Following his appearance on "Footloose," Scott enjoyed some of his most successful screen projects, including two turns as Texas Ranger Pea Eye Parker in "Lonesome Dove" and its 1993 miniseries sequel. He also appeared in "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Gettysburg," and "Silent Tongue," which marked River Phoenix's final screen appearance. Scott died of complications from lung cancer in Los Angeles, California, on June 15, 1995.

Marcia Dangerfield became a behind-the-scenes MVP

Marcia Dangerfield has only a small amount of screentime in "Footloose" as local girl Virginia, but she's played a much bigger role behind the scenes in film and television. After relocating from her hometown of Indianapolis to Salt Lake City in 1978, Dangerfield worked as a writer on industrial films and served as the secretary of the Utah Screen Actors Guild branch. She also worked behind the scenes as a dialogue coach on several local film productions, including the infamous Santa slasher film "Silent Night, Deadly Night," and as an actor in the cult horror favorite "The Boogens."

After moving to Los Angeles, she landed her role in "Footloose" — for which she was billed as Marcia Yvette Reider — while also working as an assistant and casting at various production offices. Dangerfield continued to act on TV and in independent films for years, both in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, including "Bats" and "SLC Punk!" Since returning to Indiana in 2000, Dangerfield has worked as a writer, voice-over artist, and actor, most notably in the Mark Ruffalo thriller "Dark Waters," and on "Touched by an Angel."

Footloose's Elvis, John Bishop, is a rocker in real life, too

The John Bishop who plays Elvis in "Footloose" is not the "Doctor Who" actor and UK comic of the same name (who, ironically enough, titled one of his stand-up shows "Elvis Has Left the Building"). The "Footloose" John Bishop is a veteran actor with credits that reach back to the late '70s, including "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" and "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (on which Marcia Dangerfield also worked). After completing "Footloose," Bishop worked at a breathless clip on numerous television episodes, including "Seinfeld," "The Nanny," "Criminal Minds," and "Agent Carter." Bishop also enjoyed a recurring role on "Longmire," and most recently, appeared in "Good Girls" and Bryan Cranston's miniseries "Your Honor."

Bishop's feature film credits include "Apollo 13" (with Kevin Bacon) "Volcano," and the Martin McDonagh cult favorite "Seven Psychopaths." Bishop has also played in numerous Los Angeles-area bands, and lent his voice to the English dub of "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex." His daughter, actress Ivy Bishop, has followed his footsteps in that regard by working as voice-over talent for a number of animated series.