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Whatever Happened To The Cast Of Paper Moon

Joe David Brown's 1971 novel "Addie Pray" — about an orphaned girl who meets her possible father Moses, with the two becoming thick as thieves as they run scams across the country in the 1930s — once had Paul Newman and his daughter Nell Potts attached to star, in a movie intended to be directed by John Huston.

Instead, it became Peter Bogdanovich's 1973 masterpiece "Paper Moon" (Orson Welles told the director, "That title is so good, you don't even need to make the picture. Just release the title!"), with Ryan O'Neal and his own daughter, Tatum in the leads. Her acting inexperience had Bogdanovich "hat[ing] shooting this movie so much," but the end result had him saying, "Ryan's wonderful in it, and he sat there and watched the kid steal the picture." Tatum went on to win the film's only Academy Award — becoming, at 10, the youngest to win a competitive Oscar ever.

When rounding out the rest of the "Paper Moon" cast, Bogdanovich and his one time wife and collaborator Polly Platt reenlisted actors they worked with on "The Last Picture Show" and "What's Up Doc?." Other small, but key roles were filled by a lot of first (and last) time Texan actors, including Rose-Mary Rumbley, who recalled that Bogdanovich "came for the Texas accent ... everyone sounds a little 'sloow.'"

When Bogdanovich died in 2022, tributes came pouring in, including from his still shining bright "Moon" cast. Let's take a look back at what happened to his incredible cast of "Paper Moon."

Ryan O'Neal (Moses Pray)

Patrick Ryan O'Neal became an Academy Award nominee when audiences sobbed watching his and Ali McGraw's "Love Story" in 1970. O'Neal later said that "Love Story" "got me out of that television image [from 'Peyton Place'] that I had. But then it gave me another kind of an image, so I quickly tried to get out of that by doing screwball comedy. And I've been doing screwball comedies ever since."

Those comedies were at the hand of Peter Bogdanovich, who O'Neal said he "always mimicked him in one way or another," starting with "What's Up Doc?." That was followed by playing the enterprising huckster Moses "Moze" Pray in "Paper Moon," opposite his daughter. Even though "Tatum's father" said in 2009 that "everybody hated everybody because of that Academy Award" she won, he was still proud "we got one Oscar in the family, and it looks good."

In his films that followed, like Kubrick's "strange" "Barry Lyndon," the not beloved "Love Story" sequel "Oliver's Story," and reuniting with Bogdanovich for "Nickelodeon," Ryan said, "my career went down the toilet." He almost teamed up with his son Griffin for "The Champ," but instead laced up for "a glove story" with Barbara Streisand in "The Main Event," and didn't mind being upstaged by another younger co-star, Drew Barrymore, in "Irreconcilable Differences." His latest roles included Terrence Malick's "Knight of Cups" and 24 episodes of "Bones."

The true love of his life was Farrah Fawcett, who he co-starred with, and wrote a memoir about after her death. He acted with McGraw again in the 2015 play "Love Letters," and they are still asked what "love means never having to say you're sorry" means. He told CBS, ""I've had to say I'm sorry a lot in my life."

"Peter was my inspiration for years and years," he said when Bogdanovich died. "He will be missed."

Tatum O'Neal (Addie Loggins)

Ryan O'Neal made sure Peter Bogdanovich knew what he was getting into with his daughter Tatum before casting her in "Paper Moon," telling him, "you know of course she's 8 going on 18." In "A Paper Life," Tatum spoke of the challenges of making the film, as she could "barely read," driving Bogdanovich crazy, and sadly admitting that "the role I longed to play was never written into Ryan's script: daughter." Her brilliant performance as natural born grifter Addie earned her an Academy Award ... and being "socked" by her father. In 2014, she said, "I learned much later how meaningful [an Oscar] is, and how lucky I am to have it."

Earning only $16,000 for "Paper Moon," Tatum hungered for more, and headlined "The Bad News Bears," "Nickelodeon" with pops and Bogdanovich again, "International Velvet," and "Little Darlings." She also partied at Studio 54, dated Michael Jackson, and hung with Cher. Her career slowed when she married John McEnroe in 1986 and raised their three children. Drugs and alcohol abuse, and a divorce set her life adrift, "but I choose to do what I feel comfortable with ... and it's acting," Tatum said in 2017. She's appeared in "Basquiat," "Sex and the City," "Rescue Me," made a cameo in Bogdanovich's final feature, 2014's "She's Funny That Way," and also hosted the podcast "Tatum, Verbatim."

Tatum wishes she was closer with her father, telling CBS, "he was the first love of my life. But sometimes things don't work out the way you want them to." They attempted to reconcile through their OWN reality series "Ryan & Tatum: The O'Neals," and recently reunited in 2020 "after so many years of hardship." 

"Peter was my heaven & earth. A father figure. A friend," she said of Bogdanovich in 2022. "From 'Paper Moon' to 'Nickelodeon' he always made me feel safe. Love you, Peter."

Madeline Kahn (Trixie Delight)

Mel Brooks once said of Madeline Kahn, ”She is one of the most talented people that ever lived." Kahn herself didn't think she was "particularly funny," but everyone else disagreed, including Peter Bogdanovich, who told Empire that "she's brilliant," and that he "just cast her [in her feature debut, "What's Up Doc?] from talking to her — she didn't read for me."

Although hearing an audience laugh at her on the big screen sent her to therapy, she adapted a strong southern accent that "came out of me like a ghost" for Bogdanovich (who she called a "brilliant craftsman") on "Paper Moon." As the gold digging exotic dancer with a bladder the size of a peanut — Miss Trixie Delight, Kahn said she "was a very serious lady, although the picture only showed her comedy aspect." Her amazing work netted an Academy Award nomination, losing in her first try to her "very trying" co-star Tatum O'Neal.

Kahn followed "Moon" with a double dip for Mel Brooks, adapting "to his style," first in another Academy Award nominated turn as Lili Von Shtüpp (she was imitating her director), then the doctor and monster's love interest in "Young Frankenstein." She collaborated with Brooks several more times, and once more with Bogdanovich for "At Long Last Love." One of her most memorable roles utilizing her "usual" voice included "heaving" bon mots as Mrs. White in 1985's "Clue." Kahn won a Tony in 1993 for "The Sisters Rosensweig," and rounded out her career with four seasons of "Cosby," and her final film role, "Judy Berlin."

Kahn died of ovarian cancer in 1999, at age 57.

John Hillerman (Deputy Hardin/Jess Hardin)

John Hillerman's ties with Peter Bogdanovich go back to 1959 when they, ”carried spears together in a Joe Papp production of 'Othello' in Central Park." When Hillerman was looking to make the jump from the New York stage to Hollywood soundstages, he leaned on his old friend, telling Leta Powell Drake, "Peter was wonderful because he kept giving me parts in his movies ... He was very helpful in the early years of my career." Those parts were a teacher in "Last Picture Show," a hotel manager in "What's Up Doc?," Burt Reynolds' butler in "At Long Last Love," and two roles in "Paper Moon," which both gave Moze headaches — bootlegger Jess Hardin, and his identical brother Deputy Hardin.

In the '70s, he also appeared in "High Plains Drifter," "Blazing Saddles," "Chinatown," and on "The Betty White Show." In the '80s, he won awards by playing the snooty second fiddle Higgins (a role he would have turned down had he landed a part in the flop "First Family") to Tom Selleck's "Magnum P.I." Many people believed Hillerman was an Englishman, but in actuality he had worked for a year to lose his Texan accent, which was "not easy," and would later study English actors, "like Alec Guinness ... and listen to their accents" to form that of Higgins.

The born bachelor and Air Force veteran's career slowed in the '90s, with his final role being a memorable Hawaiian cameo in 1996's "A Very Brady Sequel."

Hillerman died in 2017, at age 84.

P.J. Johnson (Imogene)

Pamela "P.J." Johnson said Bogdanovich gave her the part of Trixie Delight's "sassy maid" Imogene, "because I said he was a handsome man." The teenager stole enough scenes to earn a nomination for Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics, and a profile by The New York Times, where she stated, "They say I'm the greatest black actress since Ruby Dee ... but I don't know who Ruby Dee is."

P.J. reprised her role as Imogene (which ironically is her mother's name) for an episode of the Jodie Foster-starring "Paper Moon" TV series in 1974, and later played a waitress in Bogdanovich's "Texasville." A fallout over money with her agent had her blackballed from "Houston to the Mississippi River," so she focused working in the arts closer to home in Texas. She's written and directed plays alongside famed playwright Thomas Meloncon, got her Masters in Mass Communications at Texas Southern University, directed radio and TV ads, and taught acting techniques in Children's Theater. She has also been a contract operator at her own company PJ'ETC, and a Logistics Representative at AT&T.

Johnson is very active on social media, where she converses with fans, and expresses her disappointment with former co-star Randy Quaid, even though she loves "Vacation." A day after Bogdanovich's passing, Johnson tweeted a behind the scenes photo of them on set and said, "Dead but not forgotten ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😢😢😢"

James N. Harrell (The Minister)

World War II put James Nelson Harrell's acting career on hold, and it did not resume until the 1960s. In 1970, he started teaching in the speech and drama department at Southwest Texas State University, and remained on staff until retiring in 1994. 

During that time, two "kind" Dallas casting agents were "able to put your picture at the right place at the right time." His first film was 1970's "A Bullet for Pretty Boy," and was soon after cast as the Minister presiding over Addie's mother's funeral in "Paper Moon." Harrell told the Austin American-Statesman that Bogdanovich was "not a backslapper, a 'hail fellow, well met' type. He would be very nice on the set and then withdraw into his dressing room." He would later reunite with him for 1990's "Texasville."

The following year, the Waco, Texan native appeared in Steven Spielberg's "Sugarland Express," and later as another graveside minister in "Urban Cowboy," a Justice of the Peace on "Dallas," and supporting roles in "JFK," "Michael," "Hope Floats," and "Varsity Blues."

Harrell declared in 1986 that "I'm not interested in fame. I'm interested in their money," adding, "I have great pleasure in being a private person. I like to be able to window-shop in the evening. I like to be able to go to the laundromat if I want to and wash my clothes, or any such private affair, go to the grocery store."

Harrell died in 2000, at age 81.

Noble Willingham (Mr. Robertson)

At the suggestion of a colleague, Houston teacher Noble Willingham, who had never took a drama class, decided to audition for Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show." He landed the part, loved the money and future royalty checks and said, "Why doesn't everyone do this? I'm gonna try this!" 

Willingham left for Hollywood, "had 17 auditions and got 17 parts. I never had to wait tables, I just went to work," including once again for Bogdanovich on "Paper Moon" as Mr. Robertson, who is guilted by Moze to hand over $200 for Addie since his brother killed her mother in a drunk driving accident.

Willingham was happy to be a character actor, telling the San Antonio Express, "I don't want to be a star. I just want to keep the bacon on the table." He remained well fed, racking up roles in great films such as "Chinatown," "Norma Rae," "La Bamba," "Good Morning, Vietnam," "City Slickers," "Of Mice and Men," and "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." Willingham also had a robust list of TV credits, including 155 episodes logged as bar owner C.D. Parker on "Walker, Texas Ranger" (he was the only actual Texan in the principal cast). He was written off the show when he ran and eventually lost a bid for Congress in 2000. His final film was 2003's "Blind Horizon ” alongside Val Kilmer, Neve Campbell and Sam Shepard.

Willingham died of natural causes in 2004, at age 72.

Burton Gilliam (Floyd — Desk Clerk)

Burton Gilliam was a boxer/firefighter that gave movies a try, hoping he "might get to see Ryan O'Neal." He read for the "Paper Moon" helpful desk clerk role of Floyd, and Bogdanovich and company gave him a standing ovation. He earned $282, and promptly said, "Well, I think I am just about ready to quit fighting fires."

Mel Brooks liked Gilliam's rise in "Moon," but the reluctant actor had to be convinced by Bogdanovich and Richard Pryor to take a role in "Blazing Saddles." Movies, farting and his life were never the same, and Gilliam "went to Hollywood and stayed for 23 years!" With over 100 credits, including commercial work, Gilliam particularly shined as a confused jet mechanic in "Fletch" (he and Chevy Chase went "off the wall" ad-libbing their scene), and as one of the flying Elvises in "Honeymoon in Vegas."

Gilliam has since been an avid golfer, hosted a World's Worst Poetry Contest, judged a "Best Fitting Jeans" one, promoted Fords, and reunited and presented a "Maverick Award" to Tatum O'Neal in 2014. His latest credit was the 2017 film "The Lucky Man," but he widens his smile working the convention circuit and doing Cameos. He told The Inquirer that had he stayed a firefighter, he'd be long retired and "living down in East Texas and probably have two cows."

Gilliam recently praised Bogdanovich, telling the Advocate, ""He changed my life because he saw something in me that others hadn't seen. My life would have been so different. What a great guy he was. He treated me so well."

Randy Quaid (Leroy)

In 1984, Randy Quaid admitted that he "fell into acting because the drama room was air-conditioned and it was really humid in Houston." Bogdanovich discovered and cast the "natural" in his first film role, "The Last Picture Show," which Quaid "thought ... would be a little drive-in teen-age movie." He (and John Hillerman) re-upped with Bogdanovich for his next two films, and in "Paper Moon" had a brief, but memorable role as Leroy, a pig farmer Moze wrestles for his truck. Quaid later returned for the "Last Picture" sequel, 1990's "Texasville."

The same year as "Moon," Quaid earned an Academy Award nomination for "The Last Detail," and later Emmy nominations for the TV movies "A Street Car Named Desire," "LBJ: The Early Years," and "Elvis." Less serious roles followed, as Cousin Eddie in multiple "Vacation" movies, and as an Amish bowler wunderkind in "Kingpin." Quaid said, "People may be starting to assume I'm like these goofy characters I play, when actually I'm the complete opposite."

The older brother of Dennis (Randy claims all past resentments have been overcome) has worked steadily into the early part of the 21st Century, even taking part in Ang Lee's acclaimed "Brokeback Mountain." However, for the past decade, he's made headlines less for acting, and more for acting out, with a string of arrests and erratic, often politically-motivated behavior.

Quaid took a break from ranting on Twitter to say the following nicety about Bogdanovich: "I will always be grateful to you, Peter, for changing my life."

Hugh Gillin (2nd Deputy)

"I've prospected for gold, sold life insurance, dug oil wells, roughnecked. There was a drinking problem," Hugh Gillin told the Kansas City Star in 1980. The WWII Purple Heart award winner and former Kansas University basketball player was looking for some "fulfillment" in his life, and his wife found it in a casting call newspaper ad that landed him the role of a desk clerk opposite Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman in 1972's "Prime Cut." A part-time career was born, as the geologist said, "It's sure a lot more fulfilling than drilling dry holes."

Gillin's encore was a non-speaking part in "Paper Moon" as the 2nd deputy to Hillerman's chief, and a sign of more roles to come — many as men of the law. He played a sheriff on an episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The A-Team," "Psycho II" and "III," "V," and even in "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark." The Screen Actors Guild member, who served two terms on the Board of Directors, also had parts in "The Jazz Singer," "Airplane II: The Sequel," the TV movie "Elvis and Me" as Colonel Tom Parker, and the role Ronald Reagan turned down, Mayor of Hilly Valley in "Back to the Future III." His final part was a bartender in a 1998 episode of "Pensacola: Wings of Gold."

He published a memoir, "​Hugh Gillin's Story: This Is How It Happened...," telling the North County Times, "I'm not selling this down at the bookstore, this is for my grandkids."

Gillin passed away in 2004, at age 78.

Rose-Mary Rumbley (Aunt Billie)

Rose-Mary Rumbley gravitated to the stage by the age of 3 and eventually worked in theater, alongside the likes of Ginger Rogers and Van Johnson. "The movies came to me," Rumbley said, adding that she landed her first film role as Addie's Aunt Billie in "Paper Moon," because she "could turn on a thick Texas accent." She turned 40 while filming, and Bogdanovich even threw a her a birthday party. She gets paid $30 in residual every time the film airs on TV. Rumbley only had two more additional screen credits: 1981's TV movie "Broken Promise" and 1990's "Big Bad John."

Rumbley, who will turn 90 in 2022, commands the stage these days as a historian, humorist and public speaker, explaining: "I continue because I have nothing else to do." She holds a PhD in Communications, was a professor of Speech and Theatre, and even a Single Adult Minister. She has authored several books including "Dallas, Too: Stories I'm Telling Again Because I Want to Hear Them Myself!"

Upon Bogdanovich's passing, she told the Advocate, "He took care of us. He was patient, for the kind of people he was working with (the non-professional actors). He was a marvelous director."