What the Hell Happened to Elisabeth Shue?

'Gracie' Press Conference

Elisabeth Shue was the girl friend to the Karate Kid and Marty McFly.  She had babysitting adventures and cocktails with Tom Cruise.  In the 90s, she was an Academy Award nominee for Leaving Las Vegas, but then she disappeared from the spotlight until recently.

What the hell happened?

Shue got her start doing commercials.  Here she is in a 1982 Burger King commercial which also features Lea Thompson and little Sarah Michelle Gellar.

By 1983, Shue was shilling Whoppers solo.

Shue also appeared in the low budget ghost story, Somehwere Tomorrow.  Sarah Jessica Parker starred.  Shue’s role was a small one and she was credited as Lisa Shue.

shue - call to glory

In 1984, Shue landed a regular role on the TV show Call to Glory starring Craig T Nelson as an air force pilot in the 1960s.  The family drama was inspired by the success of Top Gun and based loosely on The Right Stuff.  However, the show was cancelled after the first season due to low ratings.

Shue considered the show the perfect introduction to show biz:

“I was lucky I started out on television on a show that got cancelled at the end of the year. I had a great character, I played a total tomboy. I was so fortunate that that was my first real experience, because I was very, very naïve; I did not know much about the world at that time, and I could have gotten lost, you know, in some other zone of reality.”

shue - karate kid

That same year, Shue starred opposite Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in The Karate Kid.

The Karate Kid is basically Rocky  for the teenage set.  This is not surprising given that it was directed by Rocky director, John Avildsen.

As a 13-year-old, The Karate Kid was irresistible to me.  I loved the story of an underdog roughly my own age who not only beat the odds but got the girl.  I was instantly smitten with Shue’s fresh-faced California cheerleader.  In my opinion, Daniel-san was playing way out of his league.  I nearly signed up for karate classes as soon as I left the theater.

The Karate Kid was a surprise hit that summer.  Three sequels and a remake followed.  But Shue doesn’t appear in any of them, so we will speak of them no more.

Next: Adventures in Babysitting and Cocktail


Posted on March 23, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 195 Comments.

  1. Elisabeth Shue joins Fox baseball pilot Pitch

    The CSI vet will play the personal guru and protector for the first female player in Major League Baseball.


  2. Embarrassing award-bait performances by actors as SPECIALS

    Rosie O’Donnell in “Riding the Bus with My Sister,” of course, but what about:

    Sean Penn in “I Am Sam”

    Elisabeth Shue in “Molly”

    Shaun Cassidy and Linda Purl in “Like Normal People”

    —Anonymous (263 views)

    31 replies 29 11 hours ago


  3. James. Barwick 803 476 7855

    Would love to meet you. Enjoyed , loved your movies


  4. 8 ‘90s Heartthrobs Who Don’t Act Anymore

    Andrew Shue

    Andrew Shue was a really big deal in the ‘90s when he starred as Billy Campbell in Melrose Place. Since the series has ended, he has barely acted. He was in Gracie and Goal! III and that’s it. According to him, he realized that he didn’t want to be an actor anymore. Now, he’s an entrepreneur. He co-founded the teen volunteer website Do Something and the social networking website CafeMom with his childhood best friend.


  5. Elisabeth Shue Joins ‘Battle of the Sexes’

    Oscar-nominated actress Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) has just joined the cast of Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes, according to Variety.

    Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team behind Little Miss Sunshine, are co-directing from a script by Simon Beaufoy (Everest, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). The story captures the epic male vs female tennis exhibition match-up of 1973 between Bobby Riggs (to be played by Steve Carrell) and Billie Jean King (to be played by Emma Stone). The face-off drew a crowd of 50 million. Shue will play Riggs’ wife. Andrea Riseborough (Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – who co-starred with Stone in Birdman – will play Marilyn Barnett, King’s hairdresser and former lover. Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies) is also in the cast. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is attached to produce under his Decibel Films alongside Christian Colson and his Cloud Eight banner.

    Shue did a 3-year run on TV’s CSI:Crime Scene Investigation from 2012-2015, and also recently starred in House at the End of the Street, Hope Springs and Chasing Mavericks.

    Battle of the Sexes is one of three projects revolving around the Riggs-King tennis feud. HBO/Playtone have an untitled project with Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton) and Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect) announced to play Riggs and King while Match Maker has Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home) playing Riggs with Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness) attached to write. It will be a battle to see which of the three projects makes it to the finish line first.


    • Actors/Actresses Who Were Once Big/Almost Big But Now Have Seemingly Vanished

      The first one that comes to mind is Elizabeth Shue, She was in several hugely popular movies from the 80’s and 90’s but has pretty much disappeared except for a few brief TV gigs.


      reply 1 7 hours ago

      I recall reading that Shue had been attending Harvard with in a year or two of Leaving Los Vegas. It sounded like she took time off to attend school right around the time her career peaked. I thought it was an extremely odd choice. I also recall reading that she was first choice for the lead in the Good Wife but turned it down. Then she wound up doing CSI at the end of the run.


      reply 7 7 hours ago

      Shue gave an interview years ago where she made fun of Ralph Macchio and pretty much called him a loser, she came off like a real bitch.


      reply 9 6 hours ago

      Shue replaced Marg Helgeburger in the last three seasons of CSI. There are worse fates, but it’s not a very prestiges to be on an old show limping along. She might have had an Emmy and a cosmetics contract if she said yes to the Good Wife.


      reply 23 6 hours ago

      I think its fab that Shue returned to Harvard to finish her B.A. She was only a semester short when she dropped out. And returned 10 years later and it took her 2-3 years – she must have been part time as an adult. Her husband directed An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim). The whole family seems to be very progressive “limousine liberals”.


      reply 28 6 hours ago


      • Actors/Actresses Who Were Once Big/Almost Big But Now Have Seemingly Vanished

        To be fair that could also be Shue’s problem as well, she comes off as really mean in some interviews she’s given.


        reply 4 Yesterday at 2:10 PM

        Elisabeth Shue started Harvard in the early 80’s and dropped out to work as an actress, but went back in the late 90’s and finished her degree. She didn’t make very interesting choices after Leaving Las Vegas, and could’ve done better if she had gone for smaller character parts then trying to launch herself as a leading lady after an Oscar nom.


        reply 225 5 hours ago

        [R1] Elisabeth Shue was on CSI 2012-15. Don’t think she has totally disappeared – in fact that was a good gig for an “older’ woman as we all know it’s much harder for 35+ actresses to get jobs.


        reply 241 4 minutes ago


      • Elisabeth Shue joining “CSI” was a good idea in theory. “CSI” at its peak, was literally, the top rated TV show in America. Unfortunately, by the time that she joined, “CSI” (the franchise as a whole for that matter) was well past its sell date. It was really in hindsight, a stop-gap for Elisabeth Shue’s career (it kind of came off as she needed “CSI” more than the other way around) than something to really build off of. To add insult to injury, she wasn’t even involved in the series finale.


  6. Infamous Sphere: Mysterious Skin (2004)


  7. This is a fantastic collection of Elisabeth Shue, which helps me to research about the actress.


    • Elisabeth Shue

      Elisabeth Shue began her career as one of the most popular teenage actresses of the ’80s, landing parts in The Karate Kid and Adventures In Babysitting. Then she spent much of the early ’90s bouncing from role to role in films that didn’t hit such successful heights. In 1995, though, she rode the part of prostitute Sera to an Oscar nomination for Leaving Las Vegas, and she’s worked steadily in a combination of big studio and independent films ever since. Her next project is Piranha 3D, an update of the ’80s B-movie creature-feature where she plays the sheriff of a small town with a sudden infestation of killer fish. Shue sat down at San Diego Comic Con International with The A.V. Club to discuss her long career, what it’s like playing the authority figure in a monster movie, and how being an Oscar-nominated actor doesn’t open every door.


  8. Elisabeth Shue joins Bruce Willis in director Eli Roth’s remake of Death Wish:


  9. Well, I haven’t viewed “The Saint” since 1997, when a friend rented it (even then, I fell asleep during the second half, just as I did on “The Devil’s Own” that same year), but it was on FOX earlier and I was fed up with College Football, so I finally caught the second half. I don’t know, it’s alright I guess, but I think the whole thing kind of meanders. I think both Val Kilmer (being snarky and cagey, which is kind of his thing) & Elisabeth Shue (she’s so warm; I guess that’s the one word I would use to describe an onscreen Elisabeth Shue) are good and have great chemistry, the scenery is nice, and I like the disguises, but the film still doesn’t do it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Somebody on IMDb recently told me that they feel that think if they had to find a turning point it was the film “Molly”. The critical and commercial failure of the film probably hampered Elisabeth Shue’s momentum. It was four years after “Leaving Las Vegas”, but one reviewer suggested the film would hurt Shue’s future chances of being casted in future dramatic roles with substance.


    • I can understand that point of view, and “Molly” was not well-received at all. I viewed it a few years ago and thought it was okay (that film and “The Other Sister” came out the same year; different conditions with the characters, but both share in being disappointments), but the whole time I was watching it I thought, “Yeah, this film was a bust”.


  11. Episode 267 – Hollow Man

    On this week’s episode, the gang puts on their heat vision goggles to spy on Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man! What’s with all this Nobel Prize talk? How does being invisible make him as strong as Jason Voorhees? And is that scientist looking at pornography at work? PLUS: Meeeeeeeeeeeeme watch!

    Hollow Man stars Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick, William Devane, and Rhona Mitra; directed by Paul Verhoeven.


  12. The smile Elisabeth Shue had on Karate Kid was so happy and full of joy! Karate Kid would have been an even greater franchise if Shue had accepted to participate in the sequel. Most of the fans were disappointed when she simply vanished. The Karate Kid brand and niche fan base were conquered by the story of a struggled son and mother that moved from NJ to California, the boy did not adapt to the new reality but found on Shue a point of support and later on Morita a point of reference and guidance. I don’t know why Shue did not accept to participate in the Karate Kid II and III the excuse of “going back to Harvard” is difficult to understand … I think that the Producer, Director or her Manager should had re-approached the situation and had told her that Karate Kid as a brand meant “Ralph, Pat and Shue” based on worldwide acceptance, she simply “vanished from the sequel”, the song “Glory of Love” on KD II was set for her and Ralph as many blogs pointed out. Karate Kid could have been a landmark for the 80’s if she had been on them. Karate Kid II was a success worldwide because the audience was interested in the continuation of the 3: “Ralph, Elisabeth and Pat”, it did not happen. Karate Kid III did not finish the franchise well. I think Hollywood missed a big chance not understand their own brand and letting Shue go. Screenwriter Robert kamen did an amazing job writing Karate Kid in the early 80’s… the success that would have come with the story of Pat, Ralph and Shue on all the sequels would had marked that era.


  13. I forgot to mention that for the 30th anniversary of Karate Kid, fans worldwide wanted Robert Kanem and John Avildsen to make a final KD with Ralph and Shue as a tribute to Pat Morita and as a message anti bullying, highlighting friendship, respect and love.


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