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Total Recall Actors You Might Not Know Passed Away

Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" was ripe for a movie. The plot centers on an everyman who implants a false memory trip to Mars into his head, only to unravel that he's really a secret agent. According to The Ringer, multiple Hollywood heavyweights tried and failed to bring it to the big screen. It was only when Arnold Schwarzenegger, who followed the project's stalled development for years, convinced Carolco Pictures to buy it, and "Robocop"s Paul Verhoeven to direct the 1990 film, renamed "Total Recall."

Faster than you can say "get your a** to Mars," "Total Recall" became both a worldwide box office hit, and a critical one too. It proved that Schwarzenegger could carry a film with a bit more complexity, but still had what audiences came for — "fifty million dollars worth of exploding glass, blazing bullets, earsplitting noises and sometimes clever, sometimes gut-wrenching [Academy Award winning] special effects," per The New York Times

Schwarzenegger didn't carry the sci-fi classic film by his lonesome, being surrounded by a talented pool of wide-eyed actors who were either chasing and shooting at him, or aiding and abetting his mission to Mars. Some of these wonderful beings (human or not) are sadly no longer with us, and will never make it to the Martian surface, so let's salute the "Total Recall" actors you might not know passed away.

Michael Champion (Helm)

"Being a bad guy isn't really my thing," Michael Champion told the Feather River Bulletin in 1988. However, his agent convinced him it was lucrative work, so he stuck with it. The son of an Indiana policeman, Champion championed many quality "bad guy" roles — a white supremacist gang leader in "Pink Cadillac," a bodyguard in "Beverly Hills Cop," a terrorist in "Toy Soldiers," and Michael Ironside's crotchety sidekick Helm, who meets an uncomfortable demise in "Total Recall."

Before he had a fruitful acting career, Champion had one in the music industry, credited under the name Michael Campbell, According to a Facebook tribute written by his sister, Champion worked with Meat Loaf, Mitch Ryder, and at Motown with The Jackson 5. He co-wrote the latter's "Joyful Jukebox Music," was in the band Abstract Reality, and even turned down Ted Nugent's offer to join his. Motown sent Champion to Los Angeles, where drugs and alcohol consumed him, but he found a better path forward in sobriety, religion, and the structure that acting provided. Champion made rounds on TV shows like "The Incredible Hulk," "Knight Rider," "ALF," and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," as well as parts in films as diverse as "When A Stranger Calls" and Mel Brooks' "History of the World: Part 1."

He retired from the industry in 1996 and moved to Casper, Wyoming, but was lured out of it a few times, including for one project called "The Magical Proposal," where he even poked fun at his "Total Recall" infamy.

Champion died in 2021, at age 74.

Roy Brocksmith (Dr. Edgemar)

The Los Angeles Times described Roy Brocksmith's Dr. Edgemar character as "an infuriatingly prissy psycho-babbler," who tries to further distance Quaid's Rekall dreamy ego trip from his actual reality. It doesn't go so well, as he literally is sweating bullets. "Getting to sort of verbally beat up Arnold Schwarzenegger was appealing to me. It showed a strength that I seldom get [to portray]," Brocksmith told the New York Daily News. Non-leading roles were ones he was happy to tackle: "For the average man, it is the character actor he identifies with [in the film]."

Brocksmith was quite the robust character actor, appearing on Broadway in the '70s and '80s, including productions by Joseph Papp, and later staging plays in a theater located in his own California home. In over two decades, he also handed in plenty of TV and film work, appearing in features including "Arachnophobia," "Tango & Cash," and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey." He also starred on a range of shows, from "Picket Fences" to "Seinfeld" to three different "Star Trek" series. One of his final screen roles was stepping into Alfred Hitchcock's shoes and cowboy hat, for the master of suspense's cameo in Gus van Sant's remake of "Psycho."

According to a friend's Facebook tribute, Brocksmith and his wife used to hold annual "Vienna Parties," "to celebrate how much life had improved," after they used to subsist on stolen cans of Vienna Sausages in tougher times. This impressed "Recall" co-star Schwarzenegger so much that he once "arranged for them to have their Vienna Party....in Vienna!"

Brocksmith died in 2001 from complications related to diabetes. He was 56.

Debbie Lee Carrington (Thumbelina)

Making tall work out of small roles is something Debbie Lee Carrington excelled at, and at 3'10", she stood out as the feisty Martian sex worker Thumbelina in "Total Recall." While her Bowie knife to the crotch of Michael Champion's Helm character was enough to make the male audience squeamish, Carrington told the Los Angeles Times that the eye-opening part helped her "to get meatier roles where I don't have to be involved in special-effects makeup."

Carrington was studying early childhood development at the University of California, Davis, when she got sidetracked into the world of acting, landing a role in the 1981 "Wizard of Oz" munchkin inspired film "Under the Rainbow" (she later finished her degree). Her next gig was an Ewok in "Return of the Jedi," which led to a handful of other George Lucas related projects, including two Ewok TV movies, "Howard the Duck," and the Francis Ford Coppola/Michael Jackson/Disney 3D short "Captain EO."

She also notably played Valerie Vomit in "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie," Tammy on "Seinfeld," a griever alongside Tracey Ullman, mini-Mimi on "The Drew Carey Show," and many other aliens and creatures (including one in Vogue Italy opposite Helena Christensen). Carrington was also a stuntwoman and body double, and worked on "Batman Returns, "Dumb and Dumber," "Titanic," and a pair of "Chucky" movies.

She was an advocate for her fellow dwarfs in Hollywood, as well as a fighter for animal rights. Carrington also enjoyed the good life, and even once reportedly had "The Love Boat" star Ted Lange actually mixing drinks at a party she threw on her houseboat.

Carrington died in 2018, at age 58.

Priscilla Allen (Fat Lady)

"Total Recall" is chock full of memorable one-liners, but none have had the longevity and close association with the film as the broken record uttering of "two weeks." In the DVD commentary, Schwarzenegger said it was a "wonderful scene, where I come up to Mars [disguised] as an old lady, as a fat old lady." That facially expressive "fat lady" was played by Priscilla Allen, who told AP News that she got "a lot of exposure with my head coming apart all over the country," and that "total strangers are coming up to ask me about it." 

Allen was most well known to her fellow San Deigans for her work in local theater, both on stage and as a teacher and mentor. "She was like a grand dame in theater here," artistic director Dori Salois told La Jolla Light. After her police officer husband was killed while on duty in 1977, she was able to support and raise her three daughters by teaching drama at various schools, many impressed with her (less than) 15 minutes of Schwarzenegger fame. Outside of "Recall" her only other screen credits include two episodes of "Happy Days," and the films "The Naked Truth," "Let Others Suffer," and "Fell, Jumped or Pushed."

After a long illness, Allen died in 2008, at age 70. She passed along a love of animal rights to her children, one whom told La Jolla Light, "We all grew up rescuing animals and we still do."

Mickey Jones (Burly Miner)

As a former "burly miner" in the Mars pyramid, Mickey Jones lets Quaid know on a scenic train ride that he "used to work there, until they found that alien sh*t inside." His part came and went in less than a minute, but Schwarzenegger, who Jones told Cult Film Freak "is the classiest guy [he has] ever met," appreciated their work together, and later mailed autographed photos of the two on set.

Billy Bob Thornton called Jones (via Chron) "an ambassador for the entertainment business," as he wasn't just an actor, but an accomplished drummer as well. He backed the likes of Trini Lopez, Johnny Rivers, Bob Dylan (on his landmark 1966 world tour), and Kenny Rogers as a member of his First Edition. 

Jones' acting career started with bit parts, but his breakout moment was an episode of "The Incredible Hulk." "I owe everything I have to The Incredible Hulk,'" Jones said in the series companion book "You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry," adding that his role was "truly a gift from God." Jones and his ubiquitous beard made memorable appearances in "Vacation," "Tin Cup," and "Sling Blade." From his recurring role as Pete Bilker on "Home Improvement" came the catchphrase "that would be me," which lent itself to the title of his autobiography. He was also best friends with fellow "Recall"er Michael Ironside. The two co-stared together on "V," several movies, and a 2012 episode of "Justified." Jones also served as best man at Ironside's wedding.

Jones died in 2018, at age 76.

Gloria Dorson (Woman in Phone Booth)

Finding a suitcase on the street seemed ripe for the taking for the "woman in phone booth," but it ended up being more trouble than it's worth when Quaid arrives on the scene to retrieve it. The woman, played by Gloria Dorson, wasn't so ready to let it go, but when wrestled out of her hand, she hurled expletives at Arnold Schwarzenegger's character. The brief, but memorable scene sent Dorson's "young grandsons into gales of laughter," according to her Indy Star obituary, which noted her passing at age 90 in January 2022. 

Dorson always has a passion for acting, and even married her Michigan State theater professor. Raising their children and teaching the craft to other people's children in Indiana delayed a career, but being cast as the principal's wife, Millie, in 1985's high school basketball classic "Hoosiers," had the 55-year-old headed to Hollywood. Over 16 years she racked up over 25 credits, appearing on many popular TV shows, including "L.A. Law," "Coach," "Murphy Brown," "The Golden Girls," and "Beverly Hills, 90210." Dorson was also very active on the stage, both in Indiana and in California, as well as on the tennis court, even winning a tournament at age 75.

After retiring, Dorson, also known as Moudly/Grandmoudly, enjoyed traveling and spending time with her family.

Paula McClure (Newscaster)

Paula McClure was a natural to play a newscaster, relaying all the hot Martian gossip and catching the pricked up ears and curious eyes of Quaid in "Total Recall." My Plainview reports that the Dallas native started her broadcasting career as an anchor and weather reporter, which was followed with more national exposure as a correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight," "The Home Show," "Lifestyle Magazine," and "Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous." McClure's day job as a reporter led to portraying one in several Hollywood works besides "Recall," including the films "The First Power," and "Talent for the Game," as well as in the series "Murphy Brown" and "The Larry Sanders Show." While in Los Angeles, she also appeared ten times as a panelist on "The Match Game."

McClure later returned to Texas where she became an Emmy winning co-host of "Good Morning Texas," before retiring from on-camera work after marrying. "I hate seeing myself on TV," she once surprisingly told the Fort Wort Star-Telegram. She then embarked on the business venture the Mood Spa, which counted among its fans Oprah Winfrey, and customers Erykah Badu, Charley Pride, and her "Recall" co-star Sharon Stone. She was set to expand her brand with a product line and seminar series for women's empowerment, when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. While McClure was battling cancer, she established a foundation in her name to raise money for research. She died in 2002, at age 40.

Roger Cudney (Agent)

Bit parts in big Hollywood movies were welcome roles to Roger Cudney, who appeared in "Total Recall" as an agent who lets Richter and Helm in on Quaid's whereabouts. It didn't hurt that the Ohio-born actor called Mexico home, where "Recall" was shot, as well as "Lucky Lady," "The Falcon and The Snowman," "Rambo: First Blood Part II," "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins," "Fast Food Nation," "Cesar Chavez," and the Timothy Dalton Bond movie "License to Kill," in which Cudney also had parts.

A 1960s musical production of "Showboat" brought Cudney to Mexico, and he never left, establishing a very healthy career (and family) south of the border. In Mexican cinema, television, and advertising, Cudney was known for playing "the bad gringo" — Texas Rangers, border patrolmen, smugglers, mercenaries, and all the ill-like, according to Mexican film scholar David Wilt (via The Wall Street Journal). Cudney told the same outlet, "You're almost always a bad guy, you never get the girl, and you usually die in the end." His nefarious notoriety won him fans, and even appearances in music videos, but also cold shoulders, from gas station attendants who would refuse to serve him.

Cudney's health declined after a severe car accident in 2021. He passed away at age 85 following multiple heart attacks. 

Terry Richards (Henchman at cement factory / Stunts)

"He fought Indiana Jones, James Bond, Luke Skywalker and Rambo — there's not many people who can say that," Terry Richards, Jr. boasted to the BBC about his stuntman extraordinaire father. Richards Senior also went toe to toe with Schwarzenegger — twice — in 1985's "Red Sonja," and five years later as a henchman at the cement factory in "Total Recall" (above left). 

Richards died in 2014, at age 81, with a career that spanned back to 1960 behind him. Speaking with Red Carpet News TV in 2012, he said he got his start in the industry as "a film extra" after his stint in the "national service" as a Welsh guardsman. His size and physical fitness lent him to stunt work, and his legendary career just naturally "progressed" from there.

Most people wouldn't be able to pick Richards out of a line-up, but they've probably seen and loved many movies he's worked on. He faced off with four 007s over nine different Bond films, and flexed his muscles in "The Dirty Dozen," "The Empire Strikes Back," "Superman II & IV," "Brazil," and "The Princess Bride." One of his most famous roles was that of the Arab Swordsman in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." He did a lot of training in advance of his dueling scene opposite Indiana Jones, but Harrison Ford admitted that dysentery made him want to cut the filming short, and came up with the expedited idea of dispatching the swordsman by shooting him instead.