What the Hell Happened to Steve Guttenberg?

Steve Guttenberg

Steve Guttenberg

In the 80’s Steve Guttenberg was a top-grossing movie star.  His movies from the decade grossed over $500 million dollars.  That’s over half a billion dollars not adjusted for inflation.  Guttenberg could do it all; comedy, drama, talking robot movies.  But something happened as the eighties came to an end.  When the nineties rolled in, a lot of actors who were best-known for their work in the 80’s suddenly found themselves struggling.  Just a few years after the biggest hit of his career, Guttenberg became irrelevant.  Or worse, a punchline.

What the hell happened?

When Guttenberg was just getting started, he began sneaking on to the Paramount lot.  In his autobiography, The Guttenberg Bible, Guttenberg says that when he was stopped by a security guard, he claimed to be the step-son of then-chairman, Michael Eisner.  Once he learned how to get on the lot, Guttenberg found an abandoned building and set up an office for himself.  He even requisitioned furniture from the prop shop by filling out a false requisition slip for the TV show Happy Days.

“It seemed to me that sneaking onto a lot and finding an office, it wasn’t premeditated. I never thought, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go get an office at Paramount.’ I just was walking around and walking around, and I found this old building, the Lucille Ball makeup building, that nobody was using. And I just thought, “How great.” I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to do that. Why not? It was empty for 30 to 40 years. Why not use it?”

Guttenberg’s first job was a commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken featuring Colonel Sanders himself.  Guttenberg said he learned the secret to being cast in commercials was to smile.  Armed with that knowledge, he landed a lot of commercials including this one for the Welcome Back Kotter board game:

Guttenberg’s John Travolta impression got him cast as a look-a-like.  When he told his parents he got a job on a commercial for the Welcome Back Kotter board game, they thought he was cast on the actual TV show.

Steve Guttenberg - Rollercoaster - 1977

Steve Guttenberg – Rollercoaster – 1977

Guttenberg got his first film role in the disaster movie, Rollercoaster.  In an uncredited role, Guttenberg played a messenger who delivers plans for a rollercoaster to George Segal and Richard Widmark.  He only had one line to deliver, but Guttenberg’s nerves and inexperience got the better of him.  He was very nearly fired from his first movie, but Widmark intervened.  Just as James Goldstein was preparing to have Guttenberg removed from the set, Widmark protested:  “The kid will be banged up for life.  Lose his confidence.  Can’t fire him, Jimmy, not here, not in front of me.”

Goldstein said the crew needed to break for lunch or else they would face union penalties, so Widmark got the shop foreman to agree to waive the fee to give Guttenberg another chance.  About fifteen minutes later, Guttenberg finally delivered his line correctly.

Steve Guttenberg - The Chicken Chronicles - 1977

Steve Guttenberg – The Chicken Chronicles – 1977

Guttenberg’s first starring role was in a teen sex comedy called The Chicken Chronicles.  Guttenberg played a high school student trying to impress a cheerleader played by Lisa Reeves.  The story is set in 1969, so he is also worried about being sent to Vietnam should he flunk out of school.  The title comes from the fact that his character works in a fast food chicken joint.

Scenes from the movie were shot in the childhood home of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner.  According to Weiner, the film company “ripped his parents off”.  He says the production destroyed his families furniture and lied to them.

Early on in Guttenberg’s career, he was landing commercials left and right.  Thanks to the 21st century magic of YouTube, several of these have been preserved for our enjoyment.  Here is a commercial for Stanley Tools from 1977:

guttenberg - boys from brazil

Steve Guttenberg – The Boys From Brazil – 1978

In 1978, Guttenberg appeared in the 1978 Nazi-themed thriller, The Boys from Brazil in which he starred opposite Gregory Peck and Lawrence Olivier.  Quite an auspicious beginning, don’t you think?

After a fairly successful debut, Guttenberg considered leaving Hollywood to study dentistry.

“When I was doing Boys From Brazil, I got done with it and I was going back to school, and I got a call from CBS to come do a television series in L.A., and I guess there was a little moment where I said, ‘Gee, I’m gonna go back there and try again, take some more. Go back there and carpetbag it again. Go out there and see what I can do and then come back.’  I don’t think I ever thought I was going to keep doing it. I always thought at one point, I just wouldn’t want to be in that atmosphere my whole life. I tried to quit after the first year. “

guttenberg - can't stop the music

Steve Guttenberg – Can’t Stop the Music – 1980

In 1980, Guttenberg starred opposite the Village People and Bruce Jenner in the infamous Can’t Stop the MusicCan’t Stop the Music was a musical retelling of the rise of the Village People, the disco-era music group known for including a cowboy, a biker guy and an Indian who sang about the joys of staying at the YMCA.

The Gutt described the over-the-top atmosphere on the set:

“Money was no object, and it was this incredibly vulgar, exciting set to be on. Somebody wanted caviar from Japan, boom, it was flown in. Those people don’t feel good that day, boom, we’re not gonna film that day. There were allowances. I think when we made that movie, the budget was $23 million, which was one of the highest budgets ever in 1977 or ’79, and it was just fantastic to me to be in the company of the Village People—who I thought were all straight. But so did the country, right? So did everybody who bought their albums.”

Believe it or not, everyone did think the Village People were straight.  Well, straight people did.

You would think a Village People musical could ride the wave of disco mania to box office success, right?  It probably would have if it had been released a few years earlier.  But by 1980, not only was disco no longer popular, there was a huge “disco is dead” backlash.

As a result, the 23-million-dollar musical earned a paltry 2-million dollars at the box office.  The reviews were unanimously terrible.

Most telling of all, Can’t Stop the Music was the recipient of the first-ever Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture.  John J.B. Wilson was inspired to create the awards for bad movies after sitting through a double feature of Can’t Stop the Music and Xanadu.  Yep, that’ll do it.

guttenberg - diner

Steve Guttenberg – Diner – 1982

The next year, Guttenberg appeared in the TV hockey movie, Miracle on Ice.  He returned to the big screen in style in 1982 as part of Barry Levinson’s ensemble comedy-drama, Diner.

Diner was a dream job for a young actor in the 80’s.  Although it was only a modest success at the box office, critics lavished it with praise.  It helped that Levinson’s script was nominated for an Oscar.  And the cast was a who’s who of up-and-coming actors including Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Paul Reiser.  The Gute got top billing.

Although Diner was a small movie, it has had a lasting impact.  In 1983, it was adapted by Levinson into a short-lived TV show.  Reiser was the only returning cast member.  The cast of the TV show included Michael Madsen and James Spader.  Unfortunately, the show never got past the pilot stage.

Currently, Levinson is adapting Diner for Broadway with pop singer Sheryl Crow.

Next: Police Academy


Posted on August 18, 2012, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 147 Comments.

  1. Wow. Just wow. I have literally never heard of a single film you mentioned after 1990.

    You used the two most important terms to describe Steve…likable and non-threatening. I can’t think of another attribute.

    On a side note: Remember what created Johnny Five in ‘Short Circuit’? And how far movies have come in the last 20 years? The don’t have dumb premises like that anymore, right? Take a wild guess what caused EDI to become sentient in the 170 million dollar bomb, ‘Stealth’. Go ahead, take a guess.


    • My wife’s favorite ride in all of Walt Disney World is the Tower of Terror. They sell copies of the movie in the gift shop as you exit the ride. That is the only reason I am remotely familiar with Guttenberg’s work post 80s.

      I am embarassed to admit I somehow saw Three Men and a Little Lady at the theater twice. I don’t know how I allowed that to happen. Also, in spite of sitting through it twice, I don’t remember a damn thing about it.

      I can’t watch Short Circuit without thinking about the fact that Fisher Stevens was living with Michelle Pfeiffer.

      10 points to you for getting a jab in at Stealth (a movie I forgot existed). If only they had found a way to include Fisher Stevens doing an Indian accent.


  2. I just did an article about Stealth, mainly because I paid 20 bucks for the DVD. I’m such a sucker.

    I liked Fisher in his day, a lot more than Steve. He had a show set in Miami, and that blonde chick from ST: NG left the series to be in Fisher’s show…but I can’t remember anything other than that. Also, I didn’t know about him and Pfeiffer. Used to have such a crush on her.

    Stealth crap movie below.


    • Ouch. Yeah, $20 for a DVD like Stealth leaves you with an axe to grind.

      Fisher used to appear on the Letterman show all the time back in the day. And Dave spent half the time making a big deal out of the fact that a relatively average looking guys was living with Michelle Pfeiffer. They were actually a couple for 3 years, a very long time by Hollywood standards.

      I can’t decide who lucked out bigger in the 80s, Fisher Stevens or The Gute.


  3. Yeah, Gute was a mostly forgetable actor who made his money but never really qualified as a movie star per se. I did enjoy P.A. #1 though I have to admit. Just good, silly fun as I remember. Don’t have much to say other than that about Gute.

    Main reason I posted was to share this article I read today. Since we spend some time here talking about ‘A’ listers, I thought this was an interesting perspective on the stars of today. Don’t know if we can definitively say this article is correct yet, but I do have to agree with the basic premise. It’s been several years since I saw a “must see” movie that really paid off. Avatar and Prometheus are two that I enjoyed, but was I overwhelmed? Not really. Point being Hollywood just ain’t making them like they used to and most of todays “stars” don’t really do much for me. Or anyone else apparently. Anyway interesting for discussion. I removed the http:// just in case the filter-nazi is playing today:


    • Thanks for the link. (WordPress will let you get along with 1 per comment before marking it as spam. 2 is iffy. 3 and you will definitely get spammed.)

      The stars are definitely getting smaller. I think that is because movies are getting more high concept in the CGI world we live in. Chris Evan and Chris Hemsworth may have starred in hit movies, but everyone knows Captain America and Thor were the stars of those films.

      Samuel L Jackson is the highest grossing actor in history. But everyone knows that’s because he appears in sure-fire franchises like Star Wars and the Avengers films.

      Back in the day, people would go to a movie solely becase it starred their favorite actor or actress. These days, audiences are motivated more by the movie’s concept than anything. That’s why studios are so obsessed with pre-sold concepts like remakes and sequels and less concerned with casting big-name stars in original concepts.


      • And the biggest problem with what you are describing is whomever is in charge of casting these days are only interested in the next pretty face and hot body. Forget acting skills and mastery of a craft. Result being you get Meagan Fox because she has fine tata’s and Shia Lebouf (sp?) because he is the next big thing and slap them in a lame series based on an average cartoon from the 80’s. Ugggg.

        Truth is I can name a handful of actors/actresses I do enjoy and think have chops but for everyone of them there are 10 wholly forgetable flavors of the month being plugged into interchangeable roles in interchangeable movies. Obviously I’m a movie buff because I participate on this site but honestly I rarely go to the theaters anymore, and I stopped getting DVD’s from Netflix a year ago. Reason: there is just very little I’m interested in seeing anymore which is sad really. I read somewhere once that this all came about because studios began spending so much money on films that they became scared of taking any kind of risk on anything other than a canned, formulated, sure-fire hit that will draw in the teeny-bopper crowd. So movies like All the Presidents Men, China Syndrome, Godfather and so on don’t get made anymore. Like I said…sad.

        I had sworn off TV for many years due to all the cheap, reality crap that became popular. Now that a few cable channels and a couple networks have taken a chance and come up with some decent scripted programs I find myself migrating back to the tube for my entertainment needs and away from films. I think my argument can be backed up by looking at how many named actors are involved in TV projects. Back in my younger days if a movie star went the TV route it meant their career was over. Now days they are moving from movies to TV. Bizarre how the paradigm has shifted.


        • You’re touching on some things I have been intending to write about for a while now. If I respond to all your points, it’ll turn into a post. So instead, I’ll just promise to write up a post with my thoughts on this as soon as possible.


  4. Well? How about an article about Fisher? Your post about Steve was very well done. The problem is he’s just not…interesting. The Gute is – was – about as vanilla as you could get.


    • Thanks. I’ll probably get around to Stevens eventually. Not in this series, because he never even approached the A-list. But eventually, I’ll get around to character actors like him.

      I have noticed of late that aside from Val Kilmer, the articles about actresses seem to be more popular. I’m not entirely sure why that is. I definitely don’t expect the Guttenberg article to be among the top hit-getters.

      I’ve got a couple ideas for who to feature next. I try to alternate between male and female stars. So the next one will most likely be an actress. Suggestions, as always, are welcome.

      I am also spending some time cleaning up the previous articles. Some of them have missing images, out-dated info or really awful typos. Since these are easily the most popular articles on the site, I figured I should get them presentable.


    • I think the word you’re looking for is “simpatico”. You can’t call Jack Bonner perving through a spyhole in Cocoon, “vanilla”. But even at that moment, you can smile at, or even with, him.


  5. I am a big fan of “Diner,” so I’ve made every effort to ignore the rest of Guttenberg’s output ever since it became clear what it was going to be like. When did that happen for me? Hmmm… 1986? That’s probably not entirely fair, but it is the truth about what my relationship with his work has been.


    • I’m with you. I have an guideline that I follow that I usually only write about actors and actresses that I was at one point a fan of. I broke that rule for The Gute. I never disliked him. But I was certainly never a fan. However, I thought his sudden disappearing act plus the fact that he starred in the first movie ever to win a Golden Raspberry made up for my lack of interest in his work.


  6. I do the same thing, and it’s embarrassing when an older article starts to get attention, isn’t it? Volvo is thinking of advertising on my site, and what was the very first article they looked at? My very first CTWNM post about a Saab! Gads!

    I personally like both the female and male posts that you do. Kilmer has always fascinated me, because he’s such a talented douche. On the other hand, I had serious crushes on Ryder and Shue. I honestly didn’t know you only stuck to A-list stars. Was Mia Sara A-list?


    • I’ve got the WTHH articles and everything else. The WTHH article bring in around a thousand hits a day. The Disney articles get a lot of “likes” but not nearly as much traffic. Anything else may generate a brief spike in traffic. But the WTHH articles are evergreen so I feel the need to keep them up to date.

      How funny about the potential sponsorship. I guess that’s a good probelm to have. Being that this is a free WP site, advertising isn’t an option for me.

      Kilmer is on a level all his own. He is the undisputed King of WTHH. The most common search term every day is some variation of “Val Kilmer fat”. Back when she was on Celebrity Rehab, “Sean Young crazy” was our #1 search term.

      Generally speaking, I keep WTHH to actors and actresses who were arguably A-listers at some point. I have a few guidelines which have gotten looser over time.

      I have another series I call “So Fetch” (lousy name, I know) about actors and actresses who never made it to the A-list. Ideally, I’d write more Fetch articles. (Mia Sara would be an excellent candidate.) But since my time has been limited I have been focusing on the A-listers for now.


  7. The real question to me is: what did he do to piss the Stonecutters off? I mean, something had to get them to stop making him a star.


  8. What about Johnny Depp? That guy was on TV and a couple of movies, and then just disappeared.

    Seriously, you could take any of the ensemble movies of the 80s, like Rumble Fish, Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Lost Boys, etc., and find tons of stars to do. C. Thomas Howell, Anthony Michael Hall…. Patrick Swayze… um…. Corey Haim…. Dana Plato…


    • For a long time, Depp was my #1 example of an actor who kept getting work despite never having starred in a hit. Obviously, things changed.

      I try to keep these articles to A-listers. At least for the time being. So, Swayze will probably happen eventually.


    • I think there are quite a few “missing” actors before we get to C. Thomas Howell (who I actually saw play a major villain on Criminal Minds)

      Dana Plato? Well- I think most of us know that really sad story….


      • Yeah, I don’t really want to do a write-up on Dana Plato. 1. Everyone knows her story already. 2. It’s tragic. I like to keep the tone light.

        C. Thomas Howell is on my list. Not sure when I’ll get to him. But I wouldn’t be too surprised if he shows up sooner rather than later. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to the order around here.


  9. I agree about Kilmer…what a waste. As for site hits, I get a lot of ‘Amanda Bynes fat face’ and ‘Kiera Knightly’s tits’. This is in response to a post I did stating I didn’t to see these actresses boobs because I watched them grow up on screen. Weird, eh?

    My most popular posts are Batman’s machines. By far. But Film Cemetery is doing very well, too. I make it a point to never poach ideas…or compete with friends like you or Jalopnik. As for advertising, I thought, why not? I work hard, and try to improve every time I do a post.

    And your Fetch series? I’d like to see that very much.


    • I do enjoy the Film Cemetery articles. Great stuff. I’ll have to check out Batman’s machines.

      Since this is purely a hobby for me, I don’t really worry too much about traffic. But I do try to send hits to friends whenever possible. I figure my readers are likely to like the same blogs I do. So I figure it’s a win/win for everyone when I send readers to blogs I enjoy.

      I have considered switching the site to one that could run ads. But frankly, I just haven’t had the time to figure out how it all works. Someday when the site is getting 10,000 hits a day, I’ll have to seriously look into that.

      As for the Fetch series, here’s a link:

      It’s been a while since I last updated one, so they are somewhat dates.


  10. I like what I see…but I don’t know what Fetch means. And you mentioned Eric Bana in the post about Daniel Craig. Please do something on him! I just watch a doc on his racing career…talk about a guy that God gave every single gift…and he’s modest and very nice.

    By the way, just finished a post in which ‘The Gute’ is a form of currency


    • I’ve never been real happy with the “Fetch” name. It’s a reference to “Mean Girls”. If you haven’t seen it, the name seems random. I had some other titles like “Almost Famous” and “Never Was”, but I never found one I loved. And “So Fetch” tickled my funny bone. So I went with that.


  11. Honestly, Guttenberg seems a bit out of place in this series. He was never really a big star. The POLICE ACADEMY franchise raked in a lot of dough, and he was there for it, but that’s pretty much it.

    Guttenberg just missed the end of the disco trend with CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC, and almost missed the heyday of the slob comedy, too, but the first POLICE ACADEMY hit right before it ended, and became its last big hurrah.

    Ebert can sneer at that one all he likes–it was a damn funny movie, and of a breed of comedy that, all these years later, has nearly disappeared from this world. I don’t mean slob comedies (though they’re long gone, too). I mean movies that took their comedy from life. The characters seemed like real people, had very human moments, and the comedy itself came from believable (often gloriously stupid) situations. The filmmakers could throw in moments of serious drama, and, because of the more naturalistic approach to everything else, these didn’t seem out of place at all (they’d stick out like a sore thumb in most comedy today). In particular, when the thug at the end gets guns and starts shooting at everyone, it’s definitely NOT funny. The movie plays it straight–people could be hurt or killed. And because the characters have endeared themselves to the viewer, it just makes this even more effective.

    The subsequent movies in the franchise threw this over the side (along with the slob comedy angle), and are more representative of what comedy became after. Including the fact that they sucked.


    • Over time, I have loosened my requirements for inclusion in the series. Having said that, I do think Guttenberg was A-list. But he was one of those guys who had an asterix by his name. Because he was involved in the Police Academy movies, Cocoon, Short Circuit and Three Men and a Baby, the studios treated him like an A-list talent just in case.

      In retrospect, it’s easy to look back and say that The Gute was in the right place at the right time. He wasn’t really packing the house. But people did pay to see his movies. When that happens on a regular basis, you get credit whether it is deserved or not. I think part of the reason Guttenberg faded so fast was that as soon as his luck ran out the studios realized he just had a monster lucky streak.

      I honestly haven’t seen the original Police Academy since the early 80s. I remember that the series became more silly and aimed at kids over time. Beyond that, I really don’t remember all that much about the series. I was never a fan.


      • A good Guttenberg comparison might be Paul Rudd- not identical- but both likable guys who have been in funny movies- they also can play the romantic lead a bit. No one goes to the theater to see a Paul Rudd movie. Hopefully Paul Rudd won’t have his career fall off a cliff like Gutes- I think he has more dramatic range.


        • Comparisons never work 100%. To me, Rudd has a lot more acting talent than Guttenberg. Rudd is a funny guy. Guttenberg was never really funny on his own. He was just standing off to the side smiling his big, inoffensive grin standing in for the audience.
          On the other hand, the Gutte starred in some really big hits. Rudd hasn’t really had his Cocoon or Three Men and a Baby.

          But I see what you’re getting at. Rudd kind of has the same goofy grin appeal. Neither of them is really a box office draw.

          I think Rudd will have a much longer career than Guttenberg did – at least in terms of being in the spotlight. Guttenberg still continues to work, so I can’t say his actual career was shortlived.


  12. Yeah, bad way to start the week. Tony Scott really was my very favorite director. I feel awful for ripping on his films, but it was all in fun. I still feel really, really bad today, though.


    • I was always a Tony Scott fan. I think my first Tony Scott film was The Hunger which I enjoyed quite a bit. But, he was always a guilty pleasure. It’s a damn shame that he took his life. I feel for everyone who knew him. As a fan, I consider it a loss to film. But, I don’t feel bad for being critical of his work. He was all style and sometimes very little substance.


  13. I agree about the style over substance. But I have always said that films should entertain us. That’s why we go to the theater…for a couple of hours of escapism. I just did a post on Con Air. There is really nothing redeeming about this movie, except that it’s mindless fun. Sometimes, mindless fun is not such a bad thing. Tony Scott was the king of empty-headed escapism…kinda like Michael Bay, but with a plot.


    • I almost made the Bay comparisson myself but did not want to insult the departed. But I agree, he was like Bay + talent. You could usually count on Tony Scott for mindless entertainment plus a little something more.


  14. You put that better than I could. To take my mind off of things, I’m working on a post about the Tatra 603 in Lemony Snicket.

    I don’t mind talking to you about Tony, but I’m not going to post anything else about him. It doesn’t seem right.

    We’re about the same age, right? Do you remember being shocked by the little girl’s potty mouth in ‘Last Boy Scout’? And afterward, Tony’s films took on a much more reverent tone, it seemed, like he was sorry he’d done that.

    It also seemed that he was asking deeper and deeper life questions. I was struck by this in ‘Deja Vu’, but never said anything.


  15. Now I’m left wondering which actor/actress in today’s crop of A-listers will be getting a whatever happened to article in 10 years.


  16. What? Why? Seems like a funny guy. I liked 21 jump street


    • To be honest, I have never seen a Channing Tatum movie. My pick was almost completely at random. But based on the commercials for his movies, he strikes me as an untalented meathead. It is an admittedly uninformed opinion.


  17. Ms. Stewart will be with us for decades to come, I hope. Her performances heartfelt, sincere, and….sorry…laughing too hard


  18. You should check out Jump Street then, because I was sincerely surprised. The guy can poke fun at himself, and not many meatheads can do that


  19. 21 Jump Street dialogue sample:

    Tatum: (to biker meth dealer) “Come on! I”ll beat your dick off!”
    Biker: “Umm…what?”
    Hill: “I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way.”
    Tatum: “Come on! I’ll beat your dick off with both hands!”


    • My wife is a big Tatum fan (despite not being sure of his name). She really wanted to see 21 Jump Street (despite not really knowing what it’s about or who else is in it) so I imagine I will see it eventually.

      I have heard some good things about it. Your sample dialogue jibes with what I have heard about it being a fun, raunchy comedy.


  20. Sorry about that. Tell the kids to cover their eyes


  21. Hey I don’t know if you take suggestions, but I just thought that Billy Zane might make an interesting WTHHT article.


    • I absolutely take suggestions. And Billy Zane is on my radar. He was never really A-list, but I am considering expanding this column beyond A-listers to include those who came close to the A-list but never made it. I think Zane’s a classic case of a near miss.

      Also, I’ve been interested in looking at some former Twin Peaks cast members. Specifically, I watched John Carpenter’s Vampires for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was better than I had been led to believe (but not great). A lot of the credit for that goes to Sheryl Lee. Man, she should have gone on to better things. Beautiful and talented. But much like Zane, she barely broke into the B-list.


      • 25 A-List Hollywood Actors Who Fell the F Off:

        Billy Zane
        Best Known For: The Phantom (1996), Titanic (1997)
        Most Recent Project: The Ganzfield Experiment (2013)

        Despite a fall from grace, Zane has never stopped working. The highest profile projects he’s been involved with since 2000 have largely come from his own efforts. The Believer, which netted the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, happened because Zane worked hard to make it happen.

        The baddie from Titantic is active in the operation of two production companies, RadioactiveGiant and 21st Century Filmworks, where he works to get films made even when he isn’t starring in them.


      • “The Phantom” seemed to be Billy Zane’s closest or best shot at being an A-list star, but unfortunately for him, it under-performed at the box office. And then of course, he showed up a year later as the antagonist in “Titanic”, but perhaps is arguably often hammy/obnoxious performance easily turned off potential female fans.


  22. It may be too soon, but I just did a write up on Lemony Snicket. Emily Browning should totally be on WTHHT. Her parents did her no favors at all by bringing over here to act. Poor kid, Jim Carrey drooling all over her. Emma Stone ain’t his first stalkee, you know.


  23. Actually, Sucker Punch is unwatchable, and partly why I suggested her. The other reason is the interviews she did during Lemony…she was an Aussie kid full of hope for the future…and now, 9 years later, Emily’s got Sucker Punch and an erotic film under her belt.

    Sorry, I have a personal rule, Emily, if I watched you grow up on screen, I don’t want to see your boobies after you turn 18. I’m talking to you too, Knightly and Lohan.


    • Ouch. I didn’t realize she had already turned to erotic films. That’s a shame.

      Based on Sucker Punch, I really wouldn’t cast her in anything that required her to do more than look pretty. But that’s not fair because Sucker Punch demeaned everyone who was in it. It is only watchable for the train wreck factor. And even that is just painful!


    • I actually like Sucker Punch. It’s a guilty pleasure. I can tell Snyder was trying to make a point even though he failed miserably. Still, Hot babes in skimpy outfits dishing out some pain. Can’t resist.


      • Like I said in my Sucker Punch review, I enjoyed the latest Resident Evil movie as a guilty pleasure for exactly those reasons. But Snyder loaded his movie with a misguided message that failed on every level. And that prevented me from being able to enjoy SP on the guilty pleasure level. I can’t enjoy hot chicks fighting robots when there is an undercurrent of abuse, rape and lobotomy. Heck, it’s not even an undercurrent. It’s there on the surface.

        I know what Snyder was going for. But he overplayed his hand so badly that nothing about that movie worked for me.


  24. It’s an erotic ‘art’ film, not porn. But she’s still nakie a lot. In all honesty, Emily can act, but she isn’t aging well. You know how sometimes ‘cute kid’ doesn’t translate to ‘attractive adult’? That’s Emily. And she was very good in Lemony and Ghost Ship.

    I think my real point is the sheer potential that’s been shot to hell. Isn’t that why you do WTHHT?


    • That is pretty much the point. I am actually thinking of expanding beyond A-isters and basically folding the “Fetch” articles into WTHH.

      I honestly never followed Browning. I saw Lemony, but didn’t give it my full attention. I was really only watching for the adult actors. Didn’t notice the child performances at all. The only other movie of hers I have seen was Sucker Punch which was dreadful.


  25. But…Lemony is all about the kids….especially Sunny the Biter. Heh. And Ghost Ship is one of those rare horror flicks that is pretty good.

    Tell you what. You expand your series, and give us a WTHHT every day of the week, and we’ll pay you in vanilla wafers and gratitude.

    Billy Zane was an excellent idea, too. So much potential wasted, like Kilmer.

    And we need to be clear about something. Sucker Punch, like Wild, Wild West or Battlefield Earth, is too bloody awful to even be called a film. I won’t even review it, because that would mean subjecting my eyeballs to the awfulness again.


  26. Smodco (Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier’s podcast ) did a really funny podcast on Guttenberg. It’s called “It’s all Gute” I believe. You should check it out.


  27. 25 A-List Hollywood Actors Who Fell the F Off:

    Steve Guttenburg
    Best Known For: Diner (1982), Police Academy (1984), Three Men and a Baby (1987)
    Most Recent Project: I Heart Shakey (2012)

    How did Steve Guttenberg become a movie star? True, it was the ’80s, but the question nags. In the classic episode of The Simpsons entitled “Homer the Great,” it’s posited thata secret organization is responsible for keeping Guttenberg active.

    Now, the jokes have changed. An unforgettable episode of Party Down found Guttenberg playing himself: a rich thing to be gawked at, like an antique.


  28. I’ve heard the argument that around 1985-86, Steve Guttenberg was about on par w/ Tom Hanks (incidentally, Steve was from my understanding, offered Tom’s role in “Big”). However, Hanks shortly thereafter proved in something like “Nothing in Common” that he had more dramatic range of the two, which in return, indicated that he was going to have a much better career in the long run.

    I think LeBeau pretty much hit the nail on the head about Steve Guttenberg. What made him successful at least initially, was that he was seen as a good looking but otherwise slightly goofy, mostly non-threatening guy. Now as for why he disappeared from movies for five years when the ’80s ended, I have no clue.

    Another argument that I’ve heard (perhaps jokingly) is that Paul Rudd could be considered a modern day equivalent to Steve Guttenberg.


    • Paul Rudd is sort of like the Gute in that he’s a handsome, non-threatening guy. But he’s much more talented.


      • While I don’t know if part of the reason why Steve Guttenberg’s career as an A-list, leading man ultimately died down by the start of the ’90s had anything to do w/ this, but I’ve read on other message boards that while Paul Rudd is an awesome comedic actor by himself, he is not really suitable as a leading man. To put things into the proper perspective, whenever Rudd is the main character in a movie (e.g. “Role Models”, “I Love You Man”, and “Dinner for Schmucks”), he’s usually sharing the spotlight w/ another comedic actor. As such, Rudd at the end of the day, is perhaps not strong enough of a personality to really carry a film by himself (and thus, is really better off in supporting or co-starring roles in an assembled cast).


        • I actually think Rudd is a great leading man. But for whatever reason, audiences haven’t taken a shine to him.

          While I don’t think Rudd and Guttenberg have much in common, I do think they are seen as somewhat nondescript. Audiences like it when they know what kind of movie to expect from their favorite star.

          When you saw a Tom Cruise movie, you know exactly what to expect based on his name being over the title. If he threw a curve ball like Vanilla Sky, it suffered. Same with Julia Roberts.

          There is no typical Paul Rudd movie (other than the fact he works with Apatow’s crew a lot). Same with the Gutte.


        • Maybe now that Paul Rudd will star in the upcoming film version of Marvel’s “Ant-Man”, that will help push is profile if you want to call it that much further.


        • Future of Movie Stars: Who Will Shine? Who Will Fade Away?

          Totally forgot about him, although he kind of walks that line between “working movie actor” and “star”. It’s only been recent that he’s had the starring role in movies that weren’t small indies or total romantic comedy flops. His career is great, don’t get me wrong, but he feels more like an “Ensemble player” than the leading man. That might change with Ant Man but we’ll see.


    • What happened to Thora Birch?–and other actors that seemed to disappear for no reason…:

      Moving back, Steve Guttenberg. Major a-list star of Police Academy, Cocoon, Short Circuit, 3 Men and a Baby. Bigger than Tom Hanks. And then nothing of note, in fact he became a kind of anti-star, a bad joke. In fact Tom Hanks is a kind of inverse of this topic, he prevailed where Guttenberg and Reinhold and Feldman and Galligan and Broderick failed. He beat them all.


  29. Is Sam Worthington the New Steve Guttenberg?:

    Don’t get me wrong—I love Steve Guttenberg. After all, I recently did a career-retrospective interview with him for the SAG Foundation. But even Steve would admit that he was lucky to get cast in high-concept hits like Police Academy, Three Men and a Baby, and Cocoon. Most people didn’t pay to see those movies because he was in them. And the same holds true for Sam Worthington’s smashes.

    Despite battling man-eating crocodiles in 2007′s Rogue, the Aussie actor was a complete unknown Stateside before landing leading roles in a trio of 2009-2010 blockbusters: Avatar, Terminator: Salvation and Clash of the Titans. Since then, he’s proven himself to be anything but a box-office titan.


  30. Where Are They? Wednesdays: Steve Guttenberg Edition:

    If you look back on the 1980’s you’ll find plenty of movies that star major A list stars still working today, but there is one man that was one of the biggest stars of the 80’s that truly deserves a “Where Are They?”. That man is none other than the great Steve Guttenberg. But before we travel down the path of “Where Are They?” it is important to first look at the man, the myth and the legend known as Steve Guttenberg.


    Steven Robert Guttenberg was born in 1958 in a Jewish family of five. His father was an electrical engineer but it became obvious that Steve wasn’t going to follow in his father’s footsteps. He headed off to Julliard after high school and never looked back.

    Guttenberg found his niche early on Broadway comedies and improv comedy before venturing into television in the late 70’s. He found himself in a some successful TV movies like Miracle on Ice (1981), To Race the Wind (1980), Something for Joey (1977) and The Day After (1983). Guttenberg even wound up in a Coca-Cola commercial where he was helping a lady with a stalled car and shared with her the a passionate love for Coke. –Yes, we mean Coca-Cola here, there is no evidence that they actually shared a love for cocaine even though it is entirely possible. (Note: We have no evidence that supports the previous statement).

    Guttenberg finally got noticed for his work on the film Diner, but is probably best known for his work in 3 franchises in the 1980’s, those of course being Short Circuit, Police Academy and Three Men and a Baby (Directed by by Leonard Nimoy). Side Note: I’ve always liked to think about “Spock” directing Three Men and A Baby and the thought process he put behind deciding to take on the project. I always assumed it went something like this: ”Three men….and ….A Baby? Highly Illogical–yet intriguing.” The point is Guttenberg became known probably best for his work on Police Academy in the 80’s as Mahoney and it catapulted the comedian into 80’s superstardom. Oddly enough, Police Academy was a film his agent suggested he pass on because he thought it was going to be a huge flop.

    However once 1990 rolled around, The “Gutt” [pronounced G-oooo-t] was seen less and less in Hollywood. He found himself along side Kirstie Alley and the Olsen twins in It Takes Two and a few minor TV roles but never really kept the traction going that he gained in the 80’s. In fact, it was hard to take a look at Guttenberg in the 90’s and think he was a box office draw the decade before. His most noteable work was a re-occuring bit part on Veronica Mars a few years back and continues to pop up on TV and indie works but generally has become a Hollywood “D List” star in the 2000 and beyond. He even found himself on an episode of Dancing With The Stars which was probably the thing that catapaulted The Gutt back into the spotlight. Mind you it was a very dim spot light (or perhaps maybe just a very bright incandescent light bulb) but a light none the less.

    Where Are They? Now

    Guttenberg’s name has popped up in a few different projects as Hollywood is looking to reboot and re-kindle anything that might have a breath of life left in it. Guttenberg claims that Hollywood is interested in Three Men and A Bride with the returning cast of Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Selleck. However, I will admit this is hard to believe as none of these once A list actors really have box office bank written all over them anymore. Guttenberg has been suggesting that they reboot the Police Academy franchise for quite sometime and it looks like Hollywood has finally taken notice. They announced a reboot in the works, but there is no word of Guttenberg taking part in the project. However, it would be very hard to believe that he wouldn’t at least have a cameo. In October of last year, Guttenberg starred on Broadway in “Relatively Speaking,” one of the trio of one-acts written by Elaine May, Ethan Coen and Woody Allen. Guttenberg appeared in “Honeymoon Motel,” the segment written by Allen; he plays the father of a groom who falls in love with the bride. He is quoted as saying that sometimes people mistake his kindness for weakness which is why he hasn’t been a successful in Hollywood as he would have liked and still hopes that he can get back into the big leagues of Hollywood. Unfortunately for The Gutt, it has been 20 years since he has really seen any box office glitz and glitter.

    Off screen The Gutt has been active in charitable organizations and created Guttenhouse, an apartment for graduated foster children and works with Sight For Students, a program that works to donate eye wear to kids in need. His passion for helping others and entertaining others hasn’t left him even though the Hollywood cameras pointed in his direction are dwindling. Behind the Hollywood scenes he has worked as an executive producer and a director on a few after school special like projects that have garnered some critical acclaim in their respective circles, once again showing his passion for child welfare.

    In early November 2008, allegedly Guttenberg was filmed jogging semi-naked through Central Park, New York Guttenberg responded by appearing on The Paul O’Grady Show, where announced that he made the video for Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die website, but then decided to release it virally “as if it were real”. In a even stranger turn of events, he then finished off the show by earning a spot in the Guinness World Records by preparing the most hot-dogs in one minute.

    In May 2012, Guttenberg will release his memior, a book that called, The Guttenberg Bible. In this honest, charming memoir, Guttenberg tells the story of how he became the star of some of the ’80s most successful blockbusters, how he spent his early days sneaking onto the Paramount lot (he pretended to be Michael Eisner’s son), meeting more celebrities and casting agents than most aspiring actors ever would and gaining a stalker or two along the way.


  31. Craig Hansen

    It still amazes me to this day that Three Men and a Baby was actually the biggest blockbuster of 1987. The movie is enjoyable and amiable enough for what it is and it doesn’t surprise me that it became a hit, but it’s an unlikely candidate for highest-grossing movie of the year, despite it becoming exactly that. It’s questionable in retrospect if Guttenberg was ever actually a definable box office draw, but he certainly had a hell of a run for about 5 years or so with a string of box office hits and blockbusters. Police Academy may have been a dumb, low-brow comedy, but I was 13 at the time, and 13 year old me back then thought it was absolutely hilarious. What can I say, I was still a kid with bad tastes in low-brow comedies. I haven’t seen it since the 80’s, I think I’ll leave it there with my 13 year old tastes.

    I think you hit the nail on the head though, despite appearing in a number of hit comedies, Steve Guttenberg was never actually…. funny. That thought never occurred to me until you mentioned it, but it’s true. He had a good-natured, amiable quality about him, and leading-man good looks, but he was never really funny. While I question if he was ever actually a box office draw on his own, I would say because he appeared in so many box office hits in the mid-to-late 80’s, I would say he was briefly on the Hollywood A-list. But as you so hilariously stated, then 1990 came and took it all away.

    Hey, I’m a bit curious, I’ve been enjoying your WTHHT series for awhile and I’ve read and enjoyed them all, and I’m just curious who was the first actor to receive the honor of being covered in this series?


    • Mena Suvari was the first. I flipped on the Day of the Dead remake on cable one night with very low expectations. Even though I knew it would be bad, I was shocked by how awful it was. And by how horrible Suvari was in it. The question of “what the hell happened” naturally came to mind repeatedly as I watched Suvari sleepwalk through a pathetic zombie remake.

      At the time, I had no intention of making it a series. It was just a stray thought. But I had always wondered what happened to Michael Keaton. So I eventually followed up with an article on him.

      In the early days, I had some pretty strict rules about who would be included. They had to be A-list at some point and they had to be completely out of the spotlight.

      Eventually, the series took on a life of its own. It is relatively rare for any non-WTHH article to crack the top ten. Faced with the undeniable popularity of the series, I decided to slowly loosen the criteria for inclusion. These days, just about any one who has peaked is a candidate.

      We’re in agreement on Guttenberg. I don’t think he was ever a draw himself. No one bought a ticket to Coccoon or Three Men and a Baby because they were fans of the Gute. He was just there – neither a draw nor a disincentive.

      He had incredibly good luck that lasted for the better part of a decade. By most standards, he’s still a really lucky guy to be working even if it is not in big movies any more.


  32. Craig Hansen

    I never would’ve guessed Mena Suvari to be the first write-up, but the way you describe it, it makes sense. I never did see the Day of the Dead remake, but in the years leading up to it I did have a bit of interest in it. In 2004, Zack Snyder did a remake of the horror classic Dawn of the Dead, which was far better than it had any right to be. I was actually a big fan of the movie. I’d go so far as to say it could almost equal the original in terms of quality, a rarity among remakes. Anyway, I figured since Dawn of the Dead was so successful at the box office (it really did kick-start the boom in zombie movies and tv shows over the last decade, didn’t it?), a remake of Day of the Dead was inevitable. Since I enjoyed DOTD so much, I kinda anticipated it a bit for a couple years. Several years passed, and eventually the Day of the Dead remake got an unceremonial straight-to-video release; that fact alone told me it was garbage and I avoided it. Ving Rhames, I believe, appears in this, the only cast member to return, but I think he plays a totally different character from Dawn of the Dead.

    Regarding Mena Suvari though, honestly I really did enjoy the American Pie movies, which is really the main reason why we even know the name Mena Suvari. She also had a supporting but sizable role in American Beauty, but if that were the only film of note to her career nobody would know her name and she definately wouldn’t have gotten the honor of a WTHHT write up. I don’t mean to undermine her career with that statement, I recognize that most actors would kill to have a sizable role in a film that actually wins the Academy Award for Bert Picture, and no matter what happens in Mena Suvari’s life, she will always have that. Anyway, I’m glad you started this series, it’s always fun and informative. And we all owe Mena Suvari a debt of gratitude for her career failing, since it resulted in such a great series of articles! ha ha


    • lol – I thank Meena Suvari every time I look at my blog stats. And then I pray that Val Kilmer never discovers low carb diets.


      • Craig Hansen

        Ha ha – funny you should mention Val Kilmer, that was actually my introduction to the WTHHT series – a perfect introduction, in retrospect. Val Kilmer is the perfect example of an actor that was just too much of an – excuse me for the language – asshole, and once his ability to draw audiences dropped, Hollywood seemed more than ready to let him fall off the face of the Earth. He just burned too many bridges, thinking his star would shine bright forever and there would never be a price to pay, and there seem to be a few of those types that you’ve covered (Debra Winger comes to mind also along those lines).


        • Iceman was a lot of people’s intro to the series. He really does exemplify WTHH. I can’t think of a guy who had so much going for him only to throw it all away.


  33. Craig Hansen

    I figured I’d just bring this all back around to Steve Guttenberg…..

    Maybe I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but were there any Steve Guttenberg films that you did like back in the day? Never in any point in my life have I considered the Gutte one of my favorite actors, but for a handful of years he did appear in some movies that I liked. The Police Academy movies were base, crude, juvenile and low-brow, but I was in my very early teens when those movies were released, and at that age I was more than ready to laugh at crude and low-brow comedy.

    And for what it’s worth at the time I did enjoy Coccoon; I think the movie turned out a lot better than the material directly because of Ron Howard’s directing, but I also give credit to the older actors in the cast like Don Ameche, Brian Dennehy, Wilford Brimley, Jessica Tandy, etc. It’s been many years since I watched the movie, yet thinking back on the movie I think more about the Fountain of Youth story angle for the senior citizens (and the touching performances of the older actors in the film) than I do Steve Guttenberg’s performance, which I can’t really remember much of ironically. Could that be the mark of his career? Good movie…. can’t remember anything distinctive about his part in it?


    • I had written a huge response to this comment only to have my computer eat it. Probably my computer’s way of saying I was rambling.

      Sure, I have liked some of Guttenberg’s movies. I don’t watch them any more, but many were entertaining back in the day. Like everyone else, I enjoyed the first Police Academy for what it was. And Guttenberg was perfect for the series. Kind of a poor man’s Chevy Chase.

      Coccoon was a good movie. Like you, I attribute that to Howard and the cast of Hollywood legends. But the Gutte served a purpose. The movie needed some young people in it for the audience to relate to. Guttenberg was relatable without infringing on the true stars of the movie.

      I laughed at 3 Men and a Baby. If you want someone to play straight man to a dirty diaper, the Gutte is your man. He won’t be funny. The diaper supplies the laughs. But he will interact with that diaper like nobody’s business.

      Forgettable performances in decent movies? That sounds about right. Which isn’t to detract from what Guttenberg brings to a movie. Sometimes you need a likeable, sort of good looking guy the audience can relate to without really getting too invested in. Gutte’s that guy. Or he was before he got old.


        • Police Academy 30th anniversary today!

          Post by mizerable on 8 hours ago
          9 hours ago Jedi-El (not an accountant) said:
          Should have stopped after the 4th one.

          I pretty much agree with this.

          While the first movie had it’s moments, it also had some pretty lousy cadets, such as the fat guy or the Latino lady killer.

          Thankfully, the second movie introduced some better characters, such as Zed, Sweetchuck and Proctor, but the move to the new precinct and the addition of lousy officers like the dirty guy or the hard-ass who worked with Jones.

          The third movie was okay…but it seemed WAY too over-packed.

          The fourth movie had probably the best force yet. The only disappointment was Kyle (or Chad) disappearing, and Mauser’s unfortunate departure, although Harris will always be known for being slightly better, I just think Mauser had the better gags played on him.

          The fifth one sucked outside of the villain. The loss of Mahoney is clearly evident here.

          The sixth one brought back Fackler…because everyone he was what the series was needed.

          The seventh movie was flat out terrible. They got the kid from Diagnosis Murder as the lead…yeah…awful.

          As far as an eighth movie? Well, two of the most prominent characters are dead. Making these movies without Tackleberry or Hightower would just be depressing.

          Post by Jedi-El (not an accountant) on 8 hours ago

          8 hours ago mizerable said:
          The fifth one sucked outside of the villain. The loss of Mahoney is clearly evident here.

          Mahoney was the glue that held it all together. While Jones, Tack, and Hightower still were funny, Mahoney was the one that held it all together.

          Post by El Pollo Guerrera on 8 hours ago
          Gotta say I really enjoyed the first one, and the rest not so much. There was a more serious tone in the first movie that was dropped in the sequels. Yes, there was slapstick humor as well, but it was the kind of slapstick you’d find in an episode of “MAS*H” and not the Looney Tunes stuff that followed.

          And I liked Lesley’s story (the fat guy).

          Post by SHAKEMASTER TV9 is Don Knotts on 7 hours ago
          First one: I never watched this one as a kid, WB11 never showed it but I liked it when I watched it a few years ago.

          Second one: My favorite as a kid. My favorite bit is Mauser blinded with his hands glued to his hair. I read Howard Hesseman hated this movie, disappointing since I thought he was funny in it.

          Third one: I liked this one as a kid but that’s because I didn’t see the first one. Basically all the funny gags from the first one, they redo in this one but with no context. Really lazy. I imagine the response at the time was “how can they call it police academy when they’re not at a police academy?” so the remade the first one.

          Fourth one: Awful, horrendous. The only one that doesn’t open with the classic Police Academy theme, a clear sign of it’s inferiority and what ended Steve Guttenburg’s participation in Police Academy.

          Fifth one: Not good either. Matt McCoy does his best as the Mahoney stand-in.

          Sixth one: Not as bad as it’s reputation. Much like the second, has it’s own non-police academy related story. I like the return of Fackler.

          Seventh one: Only one I’ve never seen from beginning to end. It was on TV and tried for 5 minutes and had to quit. It’s made worse they used a really cheap camera, it looked like it was shot on tape.

          Post by Rumble McSkirmish on 5 hours ago
          I’ll say it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. It’s hard to believe a movie franchise actually got worse once Steve Guttenberg left.


        • Movie franchises that continued once the star quit:


          Who quit? After leading the ensemble cast of the increasingly-photocopied Police Academy films for four movies, Steve Guttenberg, in the prime of his box office powers, packed up and left. His character of Carey Mahoney was not recast.

          Who replaced them? Matt McCoy. He joined the series for Police Academy 5 in the role of Nick, Commandant Lassard’s nephew. Not that it affected the script too much – much of the material that had been written for Guttenberg in the movie was just given to McCoy. The characters, it would be fair to say, were not dramatically different. McCoy would reprise the role for Police Academy 6, although didn’t get the call for Police Academy: Mission To Moscow, where the budget put a strict limit on how many cast members could be flown to Russia.

          Did it work? Well, it didn’t stop the franchise. That said, the US take dropped from $28m for Police Academy 4 to $19m for Police Academy 5 and $11m for Police Academy 6. Granted, the series had been in box office decline anyway, but Guttenberg’s absence was felt. Police Academy: Mission To Moscow took less than a million dollars.

          Interestingly, Guttenberg has subsequently expressed regret about quitting the franchise when he did, and he’s been actively involved in getting a reboot going. He was said to be a possible director for it at one stage, but more realistically, if it ever happens, he’ll be part of the reunited ensemble.


        • What Went Wrong with Police Academy 7?

          Ron Perlman and Christopher Lee featured in the last Police Academy movie to date. Join us as we look back on Mission To Moscow…


        • Steve Guttenberg held the “Police Academy” franchise together. Once Guttenberg left, they couldn’t find anybody to replace him. Hightower, Jones, and Tackleberry still had their funny moments, but without Guttenberg the franchise went downhill quickly.


  34. Craig Hansen

    “The Gutte will interact with that diaper like nobody’s business”. Man, what I wouldn’t pay to see that as the blurb on the Three Men and a Baby DVD! ha ha!


  35. Steve Guttemberg had the name on his side. Despite a so-so career in the Eighties (Cocoon was not a smash hit over here and we had the original French version of three men and a baby), that German name of the guy who invented press printing was strange for an all-American guy and easy to remember.
    We have some problems with typical English-American names: they sound quite similar to our untrained ears. That doesn’t matter if you enjoy the fame of a Jack Nicholson or Johnny Depp, but for a not-so-A-lister it can become a problem. For example, the other guy in Fast and Furious (Vin Diesel is a perfect name, however). In a galaxy of forgotten stars, the name “Guttenberg” will always shine brighter.


  36. I was a fan of The Gute, you can’t really appreciate his greatness until you have read his IMDB bio… Truly the stuff of legends!
    His movies in his heyday were like him, likable and non-threatening, but yes, he was never a big star, just a reliable guy on-screen, but his biggest hits were always thanks to the cast or the robot he shared the screen with, of course if you believe his IMDB bio he was and still is a bigger star than ol’ Tom Cruise.


  37. My ex husband used to refer to him as the always annoying Steve Guttenberg… I think he got that phrase from either Siskel or Ebert.


    • Oh man, that is NOT fair. The Gutte is practically like window dressing. He blends into the background. I can’t see how anyone can consider him annoying.

      I’m not familiar with the phrase, but it sounds like Siskel if one of them said it.


  38. I recently saw part of High Spirits- my mom had rented it because she loved Peter O’Toole- I had had a dinner with my parents (want to make it clear I don’t live with them) and stayed a bit longer while she started it up- my Lord- what a mess! I thought Neil Jordan might make a better film – but this is a screwball ghost comedy that tries very hard for the few laughs it gets.

    Gutte is OK as the near-leading man who falls for Daryl Hannah’s ghost- basically a good rep of one of his performances- OK- works with a large cast and plays the romantic lead.

    The main thing I got out of this film was how hot Beverly D’Angelo used to be!


    • OMG was D’Angelo a hottie or what!

      I never made it all the way through that movie. I tried given that I have written up both Guttenberg and Hannah. But I didn’t have it in me.


  39. “Men didn’t want to be him and although women apparently wanted to be with him, they’d have rather been with Tom Selleck.”

    I love this line- well- I dunno if I buy the Selleck part.

    Basically- to me- Guttenberg was an actor who would normally play the lead actor’s best friend. A little drama (the friend confides in him) , a little comedy (the jokes on him), a little romance (he hooks up with the lead actress’ best friend) – basically his role in Three Men and a Baby.

    Somehow his agent got him the big parts- and he was able to do OK enough to get a few more. So- basically a safe bet for a few years- the Eighties- when he had a few flops- those good roles went to other guys.


    • The thing about Guttenberg is that he always looked like he was happy to be there. He wasn’t exactly sure how he got there. But he was there and he was happy. Never for a moment did I feel like he was acting. And by that, I don’t mean that he gave a natuarlistic performance. I mean he just wasn’t acting. It seemed like he had wandered onto the set and no one chased him off. Every now and then, he’d try to act and it usually didn’t go so well.

      Oh and women in the 80’s totally wanted Tom Selleck. That ‘stache was killer.


  40. He had a run of ’84 Police Academy, ’85 Cocoon, ’86 Short Circuit, ’87 Three Men and a Baby. (Police Academy sequels from 85-87)

    In ’88 he had High Spirits and Cocoon- the Return- both flops. 1990 the 3 Men sequel. That’s basically his run- he takes the early ’90’s off and then does kid movies.

    Lets face it- he milked PA for all it was worth – and got some leading man/ensemble movie roles that worked out- he never carried a hit movie as a leading man.


  41. OUCH!

    Pretty harsh on the Gute. It’s hard to hate him if one loves the 80’s.

    I remember liking the first “Police Academy” film, but the second one was probably funnier due to Bobcat Golthwait.

    “Three Men and a Baby” was a good 80’s film, and so was “High Spirits”, while “Short Circuit” was very good. All three are kinds of movies not made anymore.

    And “Cacoon” was good too.

    The bottom line is that Guttenberg did star is some good, and in many cases very successful, films, so he probably doesn’t deserve too harsh a treatment.

    But you are right in that in the end he was never a “magnetic” star, just a friendly face to “star” in movies that really didn’t need him.

    And much like the 80’s, he represents another time when plain-looking, friendly, non-“intense”, non-“gruff”, non-“dark brooding”, non-“hyper-masculine” (or non-“feminine-looking pretty boys”) guys can still lead movies.

    Good deserved entry.


  42. Who keeps back the electric car!
    Who keeps Steve Guttenberg a star?
    We do!
    We do!
    We doooooo!

    (Google Simpson, freemason song)


  43. I was a kid when the “Police Academy” films were released, so yeah, those films were fun for me. I admit, I rather like “The Bedroom Window” (Wallace Shawn had a scene stealing part, and Elizabeth McGovern played an assertive, likable character), and Steve Guttenburg did well playing a hapless guy. Also, I feel that the Robert Palmer song that is played twice during the film, “Hyperactive”, is awesome.


  44. He was in the Chicken Chronicles in 1977 which I never even knew about until now. lol Which brought me here. He did seem to be in a lot of movies back in the day.

    Yes, the day after scared the bleep out of me too. I was a senior in high school in 83. What a glimpse into the future huh?

    Cheers 🙂


  45. The Mother Brain Files Underrated Actors Special: Steve Guttenberg:

    When one thinks of the top comedic actors of the 1980s, names like Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Richard Pryor, and even a pre-Batman Michael Keaton come to mind…. and there’s Steve Guttenberg. As a kid growing up in the 80s and early 90s, Guttenberg was definitely one of the few actors I looked up to. Perhaps it was his iconic role as Carey Mahoney in the first four Police Academy movies that made me believe he was one of the coolest guys on the planet. He had undeniable charm and likability which brought him luck and success in the film industry. In recent years, I discovered that his resume is far more extensive than one would imagine. He might be sort of a laughing stock today because he never reached the career heights of his peer, Tom Hanks. But you’d be surprised how close Guttenberg could have gotten to Hanks’ level.

    Guttenberg was born in Brooklyn in 1958. He had a Jewish upbringing in a family of five which included his two sisters. After graduating from Plainedge High School in North Massapequa, NY in 1976, Guttenberg began to study and sharpen his acting craft. From acting studies at the Juilliard School, SUNY Albany, and UCLA to studying and performing improvisational comedy with the famous troupe, the Groundlings, Guttenberg became a highly skilled actor and comedian with success in productions on and off Broadway as well as London’s West End.

    Just a year out of high school, Guttenberg started landing acting gigs on television. But success came early in movies when he appeared as a doomed Jewish-American student who uncovers a sect of Third Reich war criminals looking to resurrect Hitler though cloning in 1978’s The Boys from Brazil. Then he cast in a different kind of controversial film in 1980’s Can’t Stop the Music. The film, which was a fictional account about the formation of the infamous disco group, the Village People, starred Guttenberg as a songwriter and dee-jay who brings the group together and shoots up to fame. Cashing in on the success of Saturday Night Fever, the movie quickly died at the box office due to the backlash against disco in the early 80s.

    After a few failed attempts in television, Guttenberg gained a bit of notoriety in Barry Levinson’s 1982 directorial debut, Diner. The film was Levinson’s semi-autobiography about high school friends in 1950s Baltimore reuniting for a friend’s wedding. Guttenberg was part of an ensemble of future megastars including Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, and Ellen Barkin. Guttenberg shined as the slacker groom-to-be and the film marked the beginning of the trend in which he took parts in large ensemble films. That trend continued on with the controversial ABC television movie The Day After in 1983 where Guttenberg played a college student who is one of the few lone survivors of a devastating nuclear explosion. Even in the most serious of films, Guttenberg’s charm and likable personality manage connect with audiences.

    Up until 1984, Guttenberg only had two leading roles (the failed 1979 sitcom Billy and the forgettable 1983 comedy thriller The Man Who Wasn’t There which has no connection to the Coen Bros. movie of the same name). But then a low budget comedy called Police Academy was dumped on movie screens in March of 1984. Critics immediately trashed it. Audiences, however, rolled down the isles laughing their asses off. The same audiences that waited in line for R-rated comedy romps of the time like Animal House and Porky’s piled into the theaters and the film was number one at the box office for 5 weeks, grossing over $80 million domestically, launching a long-running franchise throughout the decade, and turning the up-and-coming Guttenberg into an overnight movie star.

    In the Academy’s ensemble cast that included Michael Winslow as the sound effects voice man Jones, David Graf as gun freak Tackleberry, NFL star Bubba Smith as the imposing but lovable Hightower, and G.W. Bailey who would forever be typecast in the role of the disciplined but nasty Lieutenant (and later Captain) Harris, Guttenberg played the lead character, Carey Mahoney, a troublemaking prankster of a cadet who could charm the ladies, humiliate his instructors, and stand up for his fellow cadets and officers. Some may argue his star-making moment was the scene where Mahoney tries to hide a prostitute and let’s just say the payoff is worth not spoiling here (Hint: It involves the prostitute, the academy head Commandant Lassard, and a podium during a big speech)! In winning the iconic role, Guttenberg beat out other future box office stars like Michael Keaton, Judge Reinhold, Bruce Willis, and of course Tom Hanks. He continued to play the Mahoney role for 3 more films before calling it quits after Police Academy 4 in 1987.

    Now on the a-list in Hollywood, Guttenberg was suddenly in demand. His next big hit was the Ron Howard sci-fi classic, Cocoon. Like Carey Mahoney, Guttenberg’s boat owner character, Jack Bonner, is big into fortune and women when he unknowingly helps a group of aliens recover cocooned members of their race known as the Antareans. The Jack character and his romance a sexy Antarean named Kitty (Tahnee Welch) was clearly written to bring younger audiences to the theatre so they were not totally turned off by the A-plot involving Florida retirees regaining their youth in a swimming pool full of cocoons. But once again, Guttenberg came across as that sweet-natured guy we love to root for and he nailed another franchise when he appeared in the sequel, Cocoon the Return, in 1988.

    Guttenberg was on a roll. He hit the jackpot again as the robotic scientist and creator of Johnny 5 in 1986’s Short Circuit which led to a Guttenberg-less sequel in 1988. He had an even bigger hit as part of the three man ensemble alongside Tom Selleck and Ted Danson in 1987’s Three Men and a Baby which went on to become the number one hit of the year and also spawned a sequel three years later. He even appeared as himself riding a police bike in the Liberian Girl music video for Michael Jackson from his Bad album. Although he was riding high on the comedy front, Guttenberg began to find it difficult for audiences to take him seriously in dramas. Among one of those underrated gems was Curtis Hanson’s 1987 thriller, The Bedroom Window. It was one of Guttenberg’s most darkest films of the 80s in which he witnesses a rape from his window while having an affair with his boss’ wife. Unfortunately, his character is played with an uneven mix of being a straight leading man and being the typical charming and goofy leading man that made him successful. Most critics felt that he was completely miscast and while Curtis Hanson went on to become a respected director, Bedroom Window marked the downslope in Guttenberg’s career. His next few films, High Spirits and Don’t Tell Her It’s Me, both flopped at the box office. By 1991, Guttenberg disappeared from movies all together.

    In the late 1990s, Guttenberg resurfaced in a few mediocre family movies like The Big Green, Zeus and Roxanne, Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays, and a made-for-TV adaptation of the Disney ride, Tower of Terror. His biggest hit of the decade was the Olsen Twins’ romantic comedy, It Takes Two, in 1995. In 2002, he made his directorial debut in the adaptation of the James Kirkwood Jr. stage-play, P.S. Your Cat is Dead! At that point in his career, Guttenberg took a chance to revisit his stage roots while challenging himself to play a struggling actor who questions his sexual orientation while bonding with a cat burglar who tries to break into his apartment. He took another chance in playing against type in the second season of Veronica Mars as the ruthless wealthy citizen, Woody Goodman. In more recent years, Guttenberg has been known more for his appearance on Dancing with the Stars as well as his Funny or Die videos including “Steve Guttenberg’s Steak House” and the infamous jogging semi-naked in Central Park video which ended up circulating on TMZ and other media outlets as a real incident. He also operates his own production company, Mr. Kirby Productions, which is named after his high school drama teacher.

    Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in Guttenberg’s career was turning down the lead role in 1988’s Big which shot Tom Hanks into megastardom. Up until that point, both actors were interchangeable in the roles they played and while Hanks went on to become an American icon in cinema, Guttenberg played it safe in comedies until his a-list status dwindled down in the early 90s. But whereas Hanks chooses his film projects carefully year after year, Guttenberg since the day he landed his first television role has been working more consistently (minus the gap in the early 90s) and steadily, often doing 2 to 3 projects a year:

    “I just want to do good stories. That’s the trap. When people say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this again’ — well, if they’re good at it, why not do it? I don’t care about switching from comedy to drama — I just like to be able to jump from work to work. I just like to be doing good work — that’s all I want to do. I just want to work.”

    There is some hope in the near future as talks of a new Police Academy movie are in the works with Guttenberg possibly returning as Mahoney as well as a third and final entry to the Three Men and a Baby series. Until then, he’ll be surfing, taking care of his dogs, and contributing to various charities and youth programs.


  46. Steve Guttenberg And His Bros Don’t Believe That ‘Ghostbusters 2′ Was Ever Made:

    Every once in a while, someone asks the all-important question: Hey, what’s Steve Guttenberg up to? That’s when TMZ cameramen really come in handy, since they seem to appear out of thin air whenever a Q-list or higher celebrity appears, just like this guy did with the star of Short Circuit while he was out in New York City last night. The photog actually asked a pretty good question, wondering if Guttenberg ever reflects on the lost role of Dr. Peter Venkman and what he thinks about the possibility of a third Ghostbusters film. Guttenberg was one of the actors who was always rumored to have been considered for the role of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters back in 1984, despite the fact that it was written for John Belushi before Bill Murray eventually made it part of his legacy.

    Guttenberg, though, wasn’t sure if he ever actually turned the role down, but he had nothing but high praise for Murray. Then he very seriously denied the existence of Ghostbusters 2, and it’s hard to tell if he’s joking through that excellent straight face. But then his redheaded bro jumped in and cut a wrestling promo and the whole thing became confusing as hell.


  47. Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Can’t Stop the Music (1980):

    Time to state the obvious: there are a lot of “bad” movies out there. Cinephiles – myself included – easily get wrapped up in discussing the works of auteurs, filmmakers that are considered geniuses and seek out their masterworks. These films prove our belief that film is an art, and that they are worthy of dissection and interpretation just as much as the symphonies of Beethoven and the paintings of Monet. Oscar geeks – again, myself included – obsess over completely subjective labels of “best” by awards bodies that treat film as an art, but trend toward “comfortable” over “difficult” when presenting their honors. We bicker endlessly about whether The Artist was really better than The Tree of Life, or debate the merits of American Beauty topping films that weren’t even nominated. But for every one of these films that makes the official “great film” canon, or has its named etched on the Academy’s historical record, or places on the decennial Sight & Sound poll, there are hundreds of other films that simply come out, are seen by people, perhaps are even enjoyed, but then disappear into the ether. Most simply suffer the fate of indifference; these films, like the Usher-starring In the Mix, vanish from the collective conscious, only remembered when they surface in a Wal-Mart five-dollar-DVD bin. But every once in a while, one of these films goes down in infamy: it’s a work that’s so bad, either in quality or reputation, that it becomes a source of fascination. These are the Showgirls, the I Know Who Killed Mes, the Caligulas; these are the films that were made to be discovered late at night on basic cable, then seen again with friends who don’t believe it could be real.

    More after the jump:

    There’s an important distinction to be made here: films like this week’s selection for Hit Me with Your Best Shot, 1980’s pseudo-biopic of Village People Can’t Stop the Music, are great “bad” movies. There are bad movies that are just awful (Delta Farce, for example, or I Am Sam). But then there are films that are bad, yet manage to fall upwards into becoming something great. A few years ago, music critic Steven Hyden defined a great “bad” album as such:
    “It’s a record where the creators are clearly not fully engaged with the project, which is reflected in the degraded quality of the songwriting and musicianship and an overall feeling of boredom, detachment, or extremely undisciplined self-indulgence that’s palpable in the music. That makes it ‘bad.’ But instead of making the record less enjoyable, this ‘badness’ actually makes the album more fascinating – so long as the artist in question is a genius – because it provides insight into what makes the artists’ ‘great’ records great, and demonstrates how functional he or she is even when operating on a lower level of artistry/sobriety. That makes it great.”

    A great “bad” film can be judged along a similar rubric. These are films in which either the talent involved seems to be removed from the reality of what the film is becoming, or are giving so much to it that they can’t see past their hubris at the folly their project is becoming. There could be a lack of narrative cohesion, or performances that are all-over-the-place, or direction that seems to be done by someone who has just discovered what a camera is. These things make the film “bad.” But everyone is so committed to what their making, and truly believes that they are making a high-quality film, that it somehow transcends formal criticism and becomes something truly entertaining and extraordinary. That is what makes it great. Where Hyden reserves the “great ‘bad’ album” treatment for artists that can be considered geniuses, great “bad” movies really come from filmmakers who believe that they are geniuses – or at least believe their film is a true cinematic treasure – while the rest of us think the opposite. That’s why it’s nigh-impossible to consciously create a “cult classic:” these are movies, more often than not, born of delusions of grandeur, not intentional “badness.” The Room wouldn’t be as astonishing as it is without director/writer/star Tommy Wiseau’s belief that he’s created a masterpiece. That’s what makes it a great “bad” movie.

    The 1970s and 1980s, for all the celebration around their big movies, produced a number of great “bad” movies. And boy, does Can’t Stop the Music fit the bill. This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: this is a movie about disco group Village People, starring the non-actors of Village People alongside professionals Valerie Perrine (Lenny far behind her) and Steve Guttenberg in one of his earliest roles. Oh, and Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner (not yet shell-shocked by years of Kardashians) makes his acting debut as the group’s lawyer. Guttenberg plays Jack Morell, a loose Americanization of Village People founder Jaques Moreli, while Perrine plays Jack’s former-model roommate Sam, who uses her connections to help the ragtag group land a record contract.

    On paper, the film is a perfect storm of “bad” elements. Hoping to build on the popularity of Village People and the disco craze, the film began principle photography mere weeks after the infamous “Disco Demolition Night” incident, which spelled the quick downfall of the genre. By the time the film came out in 1980, disco was “dead,” and the group had seen its popularity sink precipitously. On top of that, the film took significant liberties with the story it was telling, and packed it full of moments that feel thrown in just because they didn’t want to waste any idea. Director Nancy Walker was a television star (Rhoda) who had never directed a feature film, and Guttenberg was relatively untested as a leading man while Jenner had never acted before. It was a project that seemed destined to fail.

    And, to be sure, it has its failings, namely in Walker’s direction (she never directed another feature after this one). Walker seems to have a fascination with visual tricks that seem random and obnoxious. It starts with the very opening scene, the “New York – Sound of the City” sequence that features a triple split-screen, the far left and right sides being mirrors of the same image with a different one squeezed into the middle, all of them featuring Jack blissfully roller-skating through a utopian New York seemingly devoid of traffic and bad vibes. During Jack’s stint DJing at Saddle Tramps nightclub, she utilizes a strange electricity-type outlining of the crowd that gives it the feel of a bad music video:

    And when it comes to actually framing the dance sequences, she never seems to be able to capture the extent of what’s happening. More often than not, parts of the action are cut off, giving the big dance numbers a claustrophobic feel that makes them feel more like advertisements than actual musical set pieces. Somewhat appropriately, this is best seen in two sequences that are actually for commercials: the “I Love You to Death” number…

    …and the “Milkshake” number, where the group gets its first big break selling milk by intoning audiences to “do the shake…the milkshake.”

    Walker’s biggest failing as a director, though, is that she doesn’t seem to know when to end a scene. Now, this isn’t entirely her fault; as I stated above, the writers of this film seemed to decide that no idea was a bad idea, and greatly pad out the film’s narrative to the point where Village People are often supporting players in their own story. But Walker lets these scenes go on far too long, and the result is a pacing that can be quick and peppy that immediately derails into languid and dragging, especially when the jokes aren’t landing the way everyone involved seems to be thinking they are. But that’s part of what makes this film great: despite all of this, everyone involved is absolutely committed. Guttenberg playing Jack like he’s been marinating in Red Bull and cocaine for 24 hours is treated like a brilliant acting choice. Having Jenner, in his first scene, get mugged at gunpoint by an old woman with an accomplice on a motorcycle? “Why not, it’s hilarious!” “Let’s have Jenner spill something hot on himself, so we can get him in his underwear and sitting in a recliner:

    There’s your eye candy.” And the dialogue, oh man, the dialogue:

    The filmmakers go for it like they’re making the disco musical-comedy to end all disco musical-comedies. And, as it turns out, they really did.

    There are actual great aspects to this film, too. Namely, Village People themselves. None of these guys are great actors, but they are endearing for their commitment to their trademark kitsch. Felipe (Felipe Rose) prances about in his Native American headdress and skimpy shorts, David Hodo brandishes his trademark Aviator glasses and lightning-bolt hard-hat, and Ray Simpson (then the newest member of the group) never takes off his strapping police uniform. It’s all patently silly, but when they finally start performing together, there’s little wonder why they became one of the biggest disco groups in the world: they’re genuinely terrific performers with real talent. When the film actually focuses on them, and let’s them do their thing, it comes alive with giddy, goofy electricity.

    The best example of this is the “YMCA” sequence, which comes in the middle of the film. Following the film’s gonzo logic, this sequence does nothing to advance the plot or further develop the characters; no, this is here because “YMCA” is the group’s best-known hit, there’s an Olympian in the cast, ergo big music sequence featuring muscular male bodies in skintight clothing performing incredible athletic feats. In making the film, producer Allan Carr was determined to cut back on the group’s connections to the gay subculture that it emerged from, either making the group members more heterosexual or simply desexualizing them, period. Now, Carr didn’t exactly succeed in this mission. Even when neutered, these guys can’t help but be themselves and proudly embody an out-and-proud verve. But the “YMCA” sequence feels like the most obvious example of the film fully embracing the spirit of Village People, making the scene a campy, high energy celebration of camaraderie in male flesh. From Sam donning a “Macho Woman” shirt and leading the guys through a high-stepping jog through the men’s locker room (complete with full-frontal nudity, a rarity for a PG-rated film):

    best shot

    To the guys doing a simple, colorful choreographed aerobic routine:

    To the busy, over-the-top finale, with all kinds of activities happening in every portion of the frame:

    This sequence best captures the goofy, let-your-cares-go-and-just-have-fun message that turned Village People from just a novelty act to one of the biggest novelty acts in the world. That energy is also what enlivens Can’t Stop the Music and makes it the great “bad” movie that is.

    Other great shots, presented without commentary because you should just relish them for exactly what they are.


  48. oBYTuary: Steve Guttenberg

    No “celebrities” were harmed in the writing of this column. Its purpose is to mourn the loss of their careers, status, and in all likelihood bank accounts. This is an homage to their life’s work, both well-received and utterly humiliating. I have the utmost respect for all of them, even if they no longer have respect for themselves.

    by Jenn Tisdale

    The last time Prince toured a friend of mine ended up in a VIP room of one of his shows with Steve Guttenberg. That night, however, the “V” in VIP stood for vagina. Guttenberg spent the majority of the evening demanding that someone find him some pussy. And sure, we all want to believe he’s a staunch supporter of the ASPCA (SAD SONGS, SARAH MCLACHLAN, NEVER CHANGING THE CHANNEL FAST ENOUGH) but I’m fairly certain that’s not the case. That evening sums up Guttenberg’s career quite nicely.

    A couple of made-for-TV movies into his career Guttenberg landed a role in Barry Levinson’s “Diner,” (1982) which takes place in Baltimore and reminds us that sometimes that city has things that are not murder, drugs and The Wire. It also starred Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon (makin’ Bacon?), Paul Reiser, Ellen Barkin, and Mickey Rourke when he still looked like Mickey Rourke and not a papier-mâché version of himself made by a 6 year old in an arts and crafts class.

    His star began to rise when he played that wise-crackin’, womanizing, full chest of hair police officer Carey Mahoney in “Police Academy” (1984). He really showed us that a man with no life goals, no real career path, no drive…ambition…or skills…and a penchant for half shirts, can really make it in the world of law enforcement. We also learned that Kim Cattrall can act like a mannequin in films other than “Mannequin.”

    He reprised his role as Officer Mahoney in 3 more Police Academy films before moving onto bigger but not necessarily better films such as “Three Men and a Baby.” He pretty much plays the same character in this film except now he has to act opposite Tom Selleck’s moustache which, less face it, is intimidating on anyone’s best day.

    Soon after “Three Men and a Baby,” Guttenberg played a slick, fast-talkin’, jokester in “Cocoon.” Wait, is there a pattern here? Yes, there is…Wilford Brimley’s moustache has a role in this film and it could give Selleck’s a run for its money. Guttenberg had his work cut out for him.

    A sequel to both “Cocoon” and “Three Men and a Baby” soon followed but Guttenberg might forever be known for his very loose, very relaxed jog through Central Park in 2008 which really showed us all of his talent (penis).

    While he may be gone he is certainly not forgotten, and it is my sincere wish that Guttenberg fulfilled his dream from that night at the Prince concert, finding that great big pussy in the sky.


  49. Steve Guttenberg on Police Academy, Party Down, and turning down Sharknado:

    The actor: Steve Guttenberg got his start in acting in the late ’70s. While his early forays into primetime fare were short-lived, the ’80s was unquestionably Guttenberg’s decade to shine on the big screen, thanks to such box-office successes as Police Academy, Diner, Cocoon, Short Circuit, and 3 Men And A Baby. The ’90s found Guttenberg in more family-friendly fare. By the start of the new millennium, he was flying relatively low on the pop-culture radar, but he began to experience a resurgence with the help of Rob Thomas, who brought him onto both Veronica Mars and Party Down. Guttenberg can currently be seen in the new Syfy “creature feature” Lavalantula, which reunites him with his former Police Academy franchise co-stars Michael Winslow, Leslie Easterbrook, and Marion Ramsey.

    Lavalantula (2015)—“Colton West”

    Steve Guttenberg: I actually got offered Sharknado a few years ago, and I, uh, turned it down. And, you know, it obviously didn’t go anywhere. [Laughs.] No, of course, they were right. So when they called me again and said, “Hey, we’d like to do another movie that’s going to be a similar sort of send-up of B-movies, but we want to do it about giant spiders,” I said, “Sure! Sounds good! Let’s do it!”

    A.V. Club: So who is your character, Colton West?

    SG: Colton West is an action star who is having a little trouble at home with his wife; his career is in a tailspin. All of a sudden Los Angeles is attacked by giant spiders, and he has the opportunity to redeem himself. It really is a story of redemption: He takes what is an illusion—he’s an actor, an action star—and puts it into a real-life scenario so that he’s able to give himself some self-respect and, at the same time, save Los Angeles, his family, and probably the world.

    AVC: At what point in the process did they decide that they wanted to include other Police Academy alumni in the cast?

    SG: It actually came from me! Interestingly enough, the producers were kind enough to ask, “Well, how do you want to make this movie? Would you like to help cast it?” So I said, “Let’s hire some people that I’ve worked with before that are my friends.” So I was able to bring in some of the Police Academy cast, and also Patrick Renna, who was in The Big Green, and that was just terrific. Oh, and Nia Peeples, too, who was in Tower Of Terror.

    AVC: There’s been a lot of promotion about how Ian Ziering turns up in a cameo to offer a passing of the chainsaw, as it were, to Lavalantula. Having seen the Sharknado phenomenon unfold, are you happy with this film?

    SG: You know, Lavalantula’s pretty good. The director’s a young guy named Mike Mendez, a talented guy, and they did a pretty good job on it. I mean, it is what it is. It’s spoofy, a bit of a parody, and it has some weight to it, but it’s a creature feature. It’s no different, really, than Ant-Man or Iron Man—well, there’s a million of ’em. Clash Of [The] Titans, Captain America, they’re all creature features in their way. It all depends on the execution.

    AVC: Mendez also directed Big Ass Spider!, so it’s being executed by someone who’s got giant-spider street cred.

    SG: He’s just a really smart fella. He really knows his stuff, he’s got a great point of view, he knows tone and character really well, and he’s also got a good handle on pacing. I really enjoyed working with him.

    Rollercoaster (1977)—“Messenger” (uncredited)

    AVC: It looks like your first non-commercial on-camera role was in Rollercoaster.

    SG: It was, yeah!

    AVC: How did you find your way into the film?

    SG: Rollercoaster came through my godfather, a guy named Michael Bell, who’s an actor. He had a role in the film, and he was able to convince them—and they literally did require convincing—to give me one line.

    AVC: They filmed Rollercoaster in several parks. Where did you actually film your scene?

    SG: At Magic Mountain. [Abruptly.] Oh, no, wait, I’m sorry: It was at a stage at Universal! [Laughs.]

    AVC: So what led you into a career in acting in the first place?

    SG: Again, it was through my godfather. He was a a classically trained and a super-talented actor, so when I was young, I admired him. And when I was about 12, I joined a teen theater company and got right into that and started doing classics, I started taking classes in the city, and before I knew it, I was hooked.

    Henry IV, Pt. 1 (onstage, 2015)—“Henry Percy”

    AVC: Speaking of doing classics, several readers made note of your recent outdoor Shakespeare performance in New York. You actually studied under John Houseman.

    SG: I did, yeah! And I’m so glad that people knew about the show. Henry IV, Pt. 1 was one of the best professional experiences of my life. The play is done outside, al fresco, and that is such a joy to do. It’s so exciting to work under the stars. I just really loved every second of it. It was terrific. And everybody I worked with was a Shakespearean scholar. I just couldn’t have had a better time.

    AVC: And what was it like to learn from John Houseman as a young student at Juilliard?

    SG: Well, you know, I took the summer classes with him, and he was extraordinarily adept at knowing what you are not good at. [Laughs.] But then improving it and making it your strength!

    The Bedroom Window (1987)—“Terry Lambert”

    SG: Yeah! It was a fantastic experience, with the great director Curtis Hanson, and it was pre- any of his bigger hits. The experience of working with Isabelle Huppert; she’s probably one of the—or maybe the greatest—actress who’s working today in France, and maybe in the world. It was extraordinary. I had such a great time. And Elizabeth McGovern was just a magnificent lady. I don’t know if you’ve seen her recently on her television work now [on Downton Abbey], but she really has grown in leaps and bounds, and I’m so happy to be a person who has worked with her. She’s just a class act all the way.

    AVC: That film was definitely an anomaly as far as what you were doing at the time on-screen. Was that a conscious effort to show people, “Look, I’m more than just the pratfalls and the comedy”?

    SG: I don’t believe in having to show anybody anything. I just do my work. You know, making a living as an actor is such a rarity on earth. It’s like making a living as a painter. So I look at different opportunities in the same way as Jack Nicholson, who said once, “Keep popping up in different holes. That’s what you want to do: Just keep popping up in different holes.” That made a lot of sense to me.

    P.S. Your Cat Is Dead! (2002)—“Jimmy Zoole,” director, producer, writer

    SG: Well, I directed that picture, so it means a lot to me. James Kirkwood wrote a wonderful play which I was able to direct with my friend Jeff Korn, and I thought it came out terrific. He was an anxious, out-of-work actor, and I really was able to get inside his skin.

    AVC: Had you been actively searching for an opportunity to direct?

    SG: Yeah! Absolutely. I still am!

    AVC: How hard was it for you to wear all of those hats? Because not only were you the star and the director, but you co-adapted the screenplay and you were a producer as well.

    SG: You know, I think hard is working two jobs, one at night and one during the day, and having to deal with a sick relative. That’s hard. I think most of show business is just challenging to navigate the waters and get things done. So I thought that directing and acting and writing was just a great opportunity.

    The Big Green (1995)—“Sheriff Tom Palmer”

    It Takes Two (1995)—“Roger Callaway”

    SG: Oh, I had a ball on The Big Green! It was in Austin, Texas. Holly Goldberg Sloan, who’s a terrific novelist now, wrote it and directed it, and it was so much fun. Just out-of-this-world fun.

    AVC: That was the same year you did It Takes Two, right?

    SG: Yeah, exactly! It Takes Two was by Andy Tennant, who’s a very talented director. And, of course, the girls—Mary-Kate and Ashley [Olsen]—were very young, but they had a lot of grace and a lot of maturity for such little kids. And Kirstie Alley was a ball. Really a nice lady.

    Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997)—“Tim Carson”

    Zeus And Roxanne (1997)—“Terry Barnett”

    Tower Of Terror (1997)—“Buzzy Crocker”

    AVC: You were doing quite a bit of family fare at the time: you did Casper: A Spirited Beginning, Zeus And Roxanne, and Tower Of Terror all within a few years. Was that a conscious effort on your part?

    SG: No, no, I just sort fell into a great wave of family films. I mean, sometimes it happens. Genres come along, and they just make you sort of jump on. It’s weird.

    Party Down (2010) / The Mysteries Of Laura (2015)—himself

    SG: Oh, [Party Down showrunner] Rob Thomas, such an extraordinarily talented guy. Just amazing. And the cast was primo all the way. They just were so good at what they did. So I just sort of walked right into it and really had a good time.

    AVC: Was it challenging to play yourself?

    SG: [Laughs.] No, because you’re never really playing yourself. You’re always acting. It’s an illusion that you’re really playing yourself. The only time I’m playing myself is when I’m at home!

    AVC: You also ended up playing yourself more recently, on an episode of The Mysteries Of Laura.

    SG: Yeah, exactly. With the great Debra Messing. I had a good time on that.

    Veronica Mars (2005-06)—“Woody Goodman”

    AVC: Having brought up Party Down, it’s a must to jump back and ask you about your stint on Veronica Mars.

    SG: Right! There’s, uh, nothing like playing a pedophile, I’ll tell you that. [Laughs.] Good times, man. Good times.

    AVC: You hadn’t done a stint on TV in quite some time prior to that.

    SG: Well, I’d never actually done a recurring role before, but it’s all pretty much the same: a director, a cast, a crew, and a camera. So I didn’t find much really different about the experience.

    AVC: Regarding Woody Goodman being a pedophile, what was your reaction when you first spotted that particular character attribute?

    SG: Well, Rob [Thomas] told me. He said, “I’ve got something really interesting for you.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “I want you to play a child molester.” So I said, “When do I start?” [Laughs.] I mean, you know, every character is interesting, because every person is different and interesting, but this absolutely had some qualities of character that I’d never played before. I mean, he was despised. So that was really cool, actually, to play someone who I’d despise.

    Billy (1979)—“Billy Fisher”

    No Soap, Radio (1982)—“Roger”

    AVC: Early in your TV career, you starred in two short-lived series, one of which—No Soap, Radio—is, even now, one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen on primetime.

    SG: I know. It’s strange! Mort Lachman was the producer of No Soap and wanted to just go way outside the box. Way outside the planet! [Laughs.] So I was along for the ride. But it actually was a really good time. I’d just finished Diner, and my agents at the time had no belief in Diner, or anything. They just said, “You’ve got to keep working.” So I jumped on and started doing that.

    AVC: Billy was a few years before that, and it looks from the credits like it was a Walter Mitty-esque series.

    SG: Yeah! That’s exactly what it was: a take on The Life Of Walter Mitty. It was really fun, and John Rich was a powerful, great director, so I had a great time with him. A really great time.

    Diner (1982)—“Edward ‘Eddie’ Simmons”

    AVC: How was it working with the ensemble on Diner? You were all still a bunch of up-and-comers at the time, but it’s a remarkable cast of actors.

    SG: It was terrific, because you’ve got… [Hesitates.] Actors were starving to death, and it’s incredibly competitive. So I just found myself in a situation that I was reminded of when I did a Woody Allen play [Relatively Speaking] at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York: Everybody was throwing fastballs. Everybody was in great form, and it was just this side of dirty ball-playing, because everybody wanted to shine. But as I say, it was this side of it. There was no dirty ball-playing. But there was a certain amount of scene-stealing. [Laughs.] But, hey, whoever can do a dunk, they do a dunk! It was pretty fun.

    AVC: One of Tim Daly’s favorite memories about making the movie was coming back to the hotel after filming and sending random food and drink orders over to complete strangers.

    SG: [Laughs.] Yeah, exactly. That’s right, we did. We had a lot of fun. I got to know Tim very well. I really like him. Such a great guy.

    AVC: Do any other off-the-set anecdotes leap to mind? It seems like there was a lot of camaraderie between you guys.

    SG: Yeah, we spent every night together. And I think that’s good for film actors to do. You get to know each other better and better as the film goes on. So I really enjoyed myself. I had such a great time.

    Cocoon (1985) / Cocoon: The Return (1988)—“Jack Bonner”

    SG: Nectar. Nectar of the gods. [Laughs.] Top of the world, buddy. I’ve seen inside the honeycomb. Top. Of. The World. Try to beat Cocoon. Just try!

    AVC: Even though you’d been around the block a few times by that point, you must’ve been at least a little in awe of some of the folks in that cast.

    SG: Oh, my God, yeah. That was the top.

    AVC: Did anyone in particular impress you the most?

    SG: Gwen Verdon, baby. [Laughs.] Gwen Verdon, definitely.

    AVC: And how was Wilford Brimley?

    SG: Oh, man, he was a hoot. Terrific guy, smart, and opinionated. Great guy. I loved him.

    AVC: It seems like everything you see on-screen is him in real life.

    SG: Oh, yeah. [Laughs.] He’s the real deal.

    Short Circuit (1986)—“Newton Crosby”

    SG: John Badham, John Badham, John Badham. That is all. [Laughs.] I mean, the guy directed Saturday Night Fever, you know? What else is there? Nothing!

    AVC: Had you ever been in talks to do Short Circuit 2?

    SG: Yeah. I was, absolutely. But, uh, no money. They didn’t pay the money.

    AVC: Fair enough.

    SG: Yeah. They’ve got to pay the money! [Laughs.]

    Can’t Stop The Music (1980)—“Jack Morell”

    SG: Well, you know, that was insanity. Just complete insanity. It made no sense at all. The movie was crazy. I really enjoyed being around Bruce Jenner and Valerie Perrine and Village People. Allan Carr was a hoot. But I have no idea what was going on. [Laughs.]

    AVC: In an interview a few years ago, Jenner said that Valerie Perrine was kind of diva-esque on that film, complaining about everything under the sun, but that in retrospect Perrine was right to complain.

    SG: Oh, you know, films are hard. The truth is, it’s really hard to make a good movie. And you can’t blame people, you know? Everybody’s trying to do a good job.

    AVC: True. And it was Nancy Walker’s first time directing a feature film, so it was a trial by fire.

    SG: Yeah. And she did okay. Everybody tried their best. Nobody intentionally tries to make a bad movie.

    Police Academy (1984) / Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) / Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) / Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol (1987)—“Carey Mahoney”

    AVC: How did you score the role of Mahoney in the first place?

    SG: Just an audition. My agent put me up for the part. I’d just gotten done doing The Man Who Wasn’t There, which was an invisible-man movie, and I went from there right into Police Academy. I got the part from doing a screen test, and that movie was terrific because of Hugh Wilson and Paul Maslansky, the director and producer, respectively. God, they were just brilliant, brilliant, brilliant comedy guys. Just out-of-this-world brilliant.

    AVC: How much of Mahoney was on the page, and how much were you able to bring to the role? Was improv allowed at all?

    SG: A little bit. Hugh was pretty specific about the comedy, because he’s so good at it, so he kept us pretty much on book, but we were able to devise a couple of different lines here and there, and a lot of little moments that worked. I’d say that most films are on book. At certain times, though, directors will let you improv, which is always pretty terrific.

    AVC: So was there a certain point when you just decided, “I’ve had enough Police Academy”?

    SG: No, they just decided they’d had enough of paying me. [Laughs.] It was one of those deals: they just didn’t want to pay me any more.

    AVC: That’s unfortunate. Certainly most people would agree that you were a predominant draw for the franchise.

    SG: I think so. And I hope that they make some more and stick me in there.

    AVC: So you’d be up for that?

    SG: Yeah! Absolutely!

    AVC: Is there a project you’ve worked on over the years that didn’t get the love you thought it deserved?

    SG: You know, I’d say… [Long pause.] I’d say no. I think everything legitimately got the attention it should’ve gotten. I do, think, though, that Lavalantula is coming up fast, and I would like to see that getting more attention, I’ll tell you that! [Laughs.]


  50. Musical Hell: Can’t Stop the Music

    With a title like that, you’re asking for trouble.


  51. Hey, “The Big Green” is on the Laff channel this month. I thought that was worth a mention since Olivia D’Abo also stars, and she just went through a recent smackdown with her cousin last week. Basically, the picture is the soccer version of “The Mighty Ducks”, except I believe Lane Smith is pretty formidable as the rival coach in “The Mighty Ducks”, while Jay O. Sanders just doesn’t bring that same type of authority to the same sort of character in “The Big Green”.


  52. Nostalgia Critic: Zeus and Roxanne (1997)


  53. I was reading an interview with Guttenberg on the A.V. Club. The Gutte was asked if he was in talks to do Short Circuit 2. The Gutte’s response? “Yeah, I was, absolutely. But, uh, no money. They didn’t pay the money. They’ve got to pay the money! (Laughs)”


    • They wouldn’t pony up for Ally Sheedy either. And yet, somehow they found money for Fisher Stevens.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In the same A.V. Club interview, Steve Guttenberg was asked “So was there a certain point when you just decided, ‘I’ve had enough Police Academy’?” The Gutte’s reply? “No, the just decided they’d had enough of paying me. (Laughs) It was one of those deals: they just didn’t want to pay me any more.”

        Our boy The Gutte sure seems to be about the money, huh? Funny though, even without him the Police Academy series still made it to 7 entries before fizzling out entirely.


      • I’d always find time for Ally Sheedy; her poetry is, in my mind, good action.


  54. Guttenberg career is similar to kurt russell. They appeal to the every man both appeared in a lot of hits in 80s however the movie was always bigger then them. Most of Gutenberg hits the marketing did not just capitalize on his star power. It was either ensemble like police academy or the posters focused on the plot.


    • Who is/was each decade’s Steve Guttenberg?

      Steve Guttenberg had a string of big hits in the ’80s, Police Academy One, Cocoon, Police Academy Two, Short Circuit, Police Academy Three, Diner, Police Academy Four, Three Men and a Baby, but then he basically disappeared. Are there any comparable actors from other decades? I realize he never actually headlined a movie, they were mostly ensemble pieces, or he played second (maybe even third) fiddle to a wisecracking robot. But he was our everyman, the person we were supposed to relate to surrounded by larger than life ‘characters’, and, I’d argue, a household name.


  55. What Happened to Steve Guttenberg – News & Updates

    Born in New York, American actor Steve Guttenberg is probably best known for his roles in Police Academy (1984), Short Circuit (1986), and Three Men and a Baby (1987). Like some of the other artists out there, Guttenberg has his roots in theatre. As a teen, he enrolled in a summer program at the prestigious Julliard Schoolーit was then that he performed in his first off-Broadway production, The Lion in Winter. At the age of nineteen, he made his big screen debut in the crime drama, Rollercoaster (1977) where he played an extra. Later that same year, Guttenberg appeared on television for the first time in the TV film, Something for Joey (1977). Continuing with his work as a budding actor, he went on to appear in a number of projects including The Boys from Brazil (1978), Family (1979), To Race the Wind (1980), Miracle on Ice (1981), No Soap, Radio (1982), and The Man Who Wasn’t There (1983). With some effort and a little bit of luck, he eventually landed a big break in 1984 when he was cast as a main lead in the comedy film, Police Academy.

    Not only was it Guttenberg’s first major role in Hollywood, but it was also the first blockbuster hit that he had been a part of. Applauded for his performance in the film, he later returned to reprise his role in the subsequent instalments, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987). To this dayーover three decades laterーit remains to be one of his most remembered portrayals on the big screen. Since then, the actor has amassed quite a fair amount of credits (86 to be exact) to his name; for instance, he has starred in 3 Men and a Little Lady (1990), Home for the Holidays (1995), Zeus and Roxanne (1997), P.S. Your Cat Is Dead (2002), and Veronica Mars (2005), to name a few. A Daytime Emmy Award-nominee, Guttenberg has also received a Gold Derby TV Award and a Feature Film Award from the New York International Film Festival.

    Aside from acting, the Walk of Fame-inductee has also participated in various reality TV series over the years including Diner: On the Flip Side (2000), Soapstar Superstar: Bonus Tracks (2007), and Dancing with the Stars (2008). A well-respected artist, Guttenberg has been invited onto numerous talk shows such as Late Night with David Letterman (1992), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1997), Howard Stern (2003), Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2008), and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2012). In the recent years, he has also been part of the documentaries Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013), and Inside Edition (2015).

    So what has the New Yorker of Police Academy fame been up to since then? What new roles and parts have he taken on recently? What projects have he been busying himself with lately? What happened to Steve Guttenberg? Where is he now in 2017?


  56. When thinking about Steve Guttenberg’s five year hiatus (1990-1995) I do have to wonder if he became somewhat blacklisted? He doesn’t have a long, much detailed history of being difficult to work with a la Val Kilmer, Mike Myers, or Chevy Chase, but it has been alluded by even Guttenberg himself that he wasn’t the nicest person during his heyday. It just seems odd that he just stopped working for five years. It wasn’t like Steve was that big of a star that he could afford such at thing (a la Bill Murray going on a four year hiatus after “Ghostbusters”).


    • I think the reason for his hiatus was that Guttenberg just decided not to act for awhile. Though it appears he REALLY liked the money, maybe he had enough at the time to just enjoy himself for a bit. I still think, even in the Hollywood scene, that Guttenberg was pretty benign, so if he wanted work in the early 1990’s, he likely could’ve worked on something.


  57. What the cast of Three Men and a Baby looks like today

    Steve Guttenberg

    Like Danson, Steve Guttenberg was already well known to audiences from his work in the Police Academy (1984-94) movies. In fact, he had four of them under his belt by the time he starred in Three Men and a Baby as Michael Kellam, the cartoonist whose crazy drawings were featured all over the walls and even elevator doors. Did we mention this was the ’80s? You had to kind of feel bad for Guttenburg in this role. Standing almost a full foot below both Danson and Selleck, and with no real subplot to speak of, his character seemed like it was the result of a last minute studio note because someone thought Two Men and a Baby might seem too gay.

    With that in mind, it’s no real surprise that Guttenberg didn’t hit a hot streak afterward. In fact, he has almost no recognizable credits post-Three Men and a Little Lady, the 1990 sequel, except for a year-long stint in Veronica Mars ending in 2006 and Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016), which we almost feel bad mentioning. So, take a wild guess who stated publicly that he’d be up for another Three Men installment? In 2009, Guttenberg told WENN (via Digital Spy) that “Disney’s developing Three Men and a Bride. That’s going to be a smash. A smash hit. They’re bringing everybody back for that.” He also said, “Nobody knows about it. I’m the first to talk about it.” Four years later on The Talk (via Entertainment Weekly), Selleck said he’d do it if there was a decent script, and now another three years after that, still nothing. Sorry Guttes, but it doesn’t look like this is happening. (Does he go by Guttes? We feel like he should.)


  58. Episode 273 – Don’t Tell Her It’s Me

    On this week’s show, the gang goes back to Rom-com Land to talk about the totally insane, and genuinely creepy, Don’t Tell Her It’s Me! Also known as The Boyfriend School, the gang tears apart the film by asking such questions as: what’s with the wardrobe at this romance novel convention? Why did Guttenberg’s character pick the mullet? And does the creator of Ziggy have a case here? PLUS: Is that picture of the fat twins on motorcycles one of the greatest photos of the twentieth century?

    Don’t Tell Her It’s Me stars Steve Gutenberg, Shelley Long, Jami Gertz, Kyle MacLachlan, and Mädchen Amick; directed by Malcolm Mowbray.


  59. Why wasn’t Tom Selleck more successful in the movies?

    Selleck has a likable, appealing presence but not much of an edge to his onscreen personality. He’s like Steve Guttenberg, who had a decent run as a likable comedic actor, but whose career flamed out when he tried to do anything else. Not surprising that Selleck and Gutts had their biggest hit starring together in 3 Men and a Baby.


  60. Actors in the most 0 percent Rotten Tomatoes movies

    Steve Guttenberg

    Thanks to movies like Cocoon, Three Men and a Baby, and Short Circuit, Steve Guttenberg was one of the most popular movie stars of the 1980s. He was probably most associated with the Police Academy movies, the first of which has the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of the series, at 41 percent. Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol earned a goose egg—and once the 1980s were over, Guttenberg’s star also fell quickly. He starred in The Big Green, Disney’s failed attempt to do a soccer version of the The Bad News Bears, and appeared in Casper: A Spirited Beginning, the decidedly unspirited prequel to the 1995 Casper film. In 2011, he returned to romantic lead territory in A Novel Romance, and it didn’t go well.

    These days a lot of younger people only know Steve Guttenberg’s name as a punchline in the Simpsons episode “Homer the Great,” and even that episode is more than 20 years old. That just demonstrates how fickle fame can be, and how nobody really gets to choose what they’re be remembered for. Some stars shine bright enough to overcome the shadows of their worst projects, but others, no matter how hard they try, will be remembered for the bad choices they made.

    Steve Guttenberg’s 0 percent movies

    Police Academy 4 – Citizens on Patrol (1987)

    The Big Green (1995)

    Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997)

    A Novel Romance (2011)


  61. It’s official; you gotta go with your Gutt (I love “The Bedroom Window”; that’s enough for me, especially since that film contains my favorite Robert Palmer song, “Hyperactive”!).



    Steve Guttenberg

    If you were a child of the ’80s, Guttenberg didn’t make no Bibles. For about five or six very concentrated years from 1982 to 1987, one of the most successful actors in Hollywood was Steve Guttenberg (really, it’s true!), and to even say the name brings to mind the decade of the 1980s. After training for the stage including time with L.A.’s legendary improvisational troupe The Groundlings, Steve started working in pictures. When he was twenty he got a plum supporting role in the conspiracy thriller The Boys from Brazil (1978) as the first kill of the evil Nazis in that movie. After what might have been a career killer co-starring with Valerie Perrine and The Village People in the horribly horrible Disco Musical Can’t Stop the Music (1980), he quickly erased that blemish from his resume when he played hockey player Jim Craig in the made-for-TV project “Miracle on Ice” (1981) starring Karl Malden as Herb Brooks coaching the U.S. Olympic team to surprise glory at Lake Placid. But it was when Barry Levinson cast him with other unknowns like Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin, Kevin Bacon and Paul Reiser as a bunch of 1959 Baltimore guys who hang around the Diner (1982) that he really started getting noticed around town. His character is a centerpiece to the story as they are all gathering for his wedding…assuming his fiance can pass the “football quiz”. Guttenberg played the shallow and selfish young man very well, and his comic timing seemed natural.

    From there on he quickly became a bit of a star. He co-starred with Jason Robards, John Lithgow and JoBeth Williams in the landmark nuclear holocaust TV movie “The Day After” (1983), but it was the surprise hit of the patently dumb comedy Police Academy (1984) that made him. With a small budget and huge boxoffice returns, Guttenberg’s affable cadet Mahoney leading a pack of misfit would-be officers for some reason or another was popular and spawned an almost immediate line of sequels. Steve was no fool and showed up for the payday of the first four flicks, but wisely left before they petered out completely a few entries later on cable TV. But he wasn’t just going to sit back and be the Police Academy guy. Ron Howard cast him in Cocoon (1985) where his fisherman helps space aliens reel in their brothers from the ocean floor. It was a hit, and though the elder castmembers like Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy were the real stars, Guttenberg’s chemistry with Brian Dennehy and the barely clad E.T. Tahnee Welch were key ingredients to the film’s success. And now he was attached to a hit that didn’t have fart jokes and slapstick aimed at thirteen-year-old boys.

    After trying to parlay his Officer Mahoney persona into the average comedy Bad Medicine (1985), he found himself in another big hit that played to all ages: Short Circuit (1986). A secret tactical prototype robot gets a magical personality after being struck by lightning, and dopey tech Guttenberg has to keep it out of the hands of the evil Military brass while romancing a fetching young lady (Brat Packer Ally Sheedy). Much like with the old folks and aliens of Cocoon, it was the mechanical co-star that stole the show, but again Guttenberg was in the right place at the right time. He tried to change his screen image in the Hitchcockian thriller The Bedroom Window (1987) as a man who may know too much after witnessing a murder through a neighborhood window and tried for a more adult romantic comedy in the dull Surrender (1987) with Sally Field and Michael Caine. But despite his best efforts, once again it was a family-friendly comedy that became the megahit: Three Men and a Baby (1987). Americanizing a French farce, the combo of a trio of bachelors played by Guttenberg, Ted Danson and Tom Selleck changing the poo-poo diapers of an adorable infant dropped on their doorstep was a colossal hit, the fourth highest moneymaker of the year.

    But this is about where Steve’s luck runs out. After a mess of a little comedy about a haunted hotel called High Spirits with Peter O’Toole and Daryl Hannah (no less than Neil Jordan wrote and directed this turkey!), he dutifully signed up for the inevitable sequels Cocoon: The Return (1988) and Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), neither of which lived up to the expectations of the originals. After a dour little indie comedy called Don’t Tell Her It’s Me (1990) a.k.a. The Boyfriend School with Jami Gertz and Shelly Long barely even got a release, Steve took a bit of a break from Hollywood. He focused on stage and charity work before resurfacing five years later as a supporting actor in the likes of Jodie Foster’s Thanksgiving dramady Home for the Holidays (1995) and the Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen vehicle It Takes Two (1995). He’s worked sparingly in the years since and his labor of love to bring James Kirkwood Jr.’s cult play and novel P.S. – Your Cat Is Dead (2002) to the big screen as director and star ended with it barely getting distributed at all. He had a small return to at least cult glory with a recurring and key role in the second season of “Veronica Mars” as the Mayor who turns out to be a creepy child molester with V.D. Quite a ways from Three Men and a Baby.

    Certainly nobody will ever cast Steve Guttenberg as the lead in a major Hollywood feature again, but in the ’80s he wound up accidentally starring in some beloved blockbusters.


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