What the Hell Happened to Thora Birch?

Thora Birch

Thora Birch

Thora Birch was a child actor who seemed to be making a successful transition into more mature roles.  For a brief time, she seemed poised for a long and exciting career.  And then almost immediately, that career dried up.  These days, she is known for being fired from a Broadway play and having an over-bearing father/manager. Birch has been banished to direct-to-video schlock and Lifetime movies.  Recently, there was an internet rumor that she was dead.

What the hell happened?

Birch comes from show biz parents.  Jack Birch and Carol Connors were “adult film stars”.  They both appeared in infamous porno, Deep Throat.  They named Thora after the Norse god of thunder.  Her younger brother is named Bolt.  Presumably after a thunder bolt rather than the animated dog.

Must have been an interesting childhood.  Reportedly, Birch’s parents were reluctant to let their daughter get into show biz.  Given their histories, it’s easy to see why.

Thora Birch - 80's Quaker Oats Commercial

Thora Birch – 80’s Quaker Oats Commercial

Eventually, a nanny talked them into auditioning their daughter for commercials.  Here is Birch shilling Quaker oatmeal with Wilfred Brimley:

Can’t get enough?  Here’s one more.

She also appeared in commercials for  Burger King, California Raisins, and Vlasic Pickles.


Thora Birch – Day By Day – 1988-1989

In 1988, at the age of six, Birch landed a role in the short-lived sitcom, Day by Day.

After the success of NBC’s family comedies, The Cosby Show and Family Ties, TV was awash in wholesome situation comedies.  Growing Pains was a cheap copy of Family Ties.  And Day by Day was a knock off of Growing Pains.  The cast included Birch, Courtney Thorne-Smith and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

birch - purple people eater

Thora Birch – Purple People Eater – 1988

That same year, Birch appeared in Purple People Eater.  The family film starred Neil Patrick Harris, Ned Beatty and Shelley Winters.

It was based on the 1958 novelty song of the same name because apparently someone thought that the story of a one-eyed purple monster that eats people needed to be adapted into a movie for children.

Next: Patriot Games and Hocus Pocus


Posted on May 1, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 85 Comments.

  1. So sad that this poor girl’s promising career was derailed by her dad like that. I developed a crush on Thora thanks to “American Beauty” & the 2 Jack Ryan films she was in. I hope things get better for her down the road.


    • Jack Birch seems like a real character. The stage parent from hell. I won’t blame him for derailing her career per se. For one thing, she probably never would have been as successful as she was without her dad pushing her. And her career probably would have sunk as she reached adulthood as it does for most child actors. But at this point, he’s definitely doing her way more harm than good.


      • As I was researching Birch and her dad, I kept thinking aboult Culkin. I have been reluctant to cover child actors, but I imagine I will make an exception for Culkin eventually.


        • Given his childhood, I’m kind of impressed by how he turned out. There was no doubt he’d be weird, but he’s not knocking over gas stations yet. I consider that a victory of sorts.


  2. daffystardust

    My impression of the “Purple People Eater” song was that the monster only ate people who are purple. That would make anyone I know personally safe from being devoured.

    I could see myself retreating from my own career if my parent was acting that way. There is a tendency for exactly that to happen with child actors when the parents are too involved. Birch just made it to legal adulthood first. Unfortunately, that makes the situation partly her own fault. If she wants to continue her career in acting (who knows, at this point she may be ambivalent about it), she needs to arrange for some sort of restraining order when she’s at work. I don’t know if those things can be selective based on location, but it would be worth looking into.


    • That must be why they needed to make a movie. To explore the questionable eating habits of the Purple People Eater. It makes sense now.

      From the most recent interviews I read with Birch, she defends her dad’s behavior 100%. Apparently she had a run-in with a stalker at some point in her career and it left her fearful. In her Dracula contract, it was stated that she was allowed to have a body guard around her at all times. Her dad was the body guard.

      At her age, it makes sense for Birch to pull away from her parents at least a little bit. Especially professionally. But when your parents have been guiding every aspect of your life, you may not realize it’s time to pull away. Even after the Dracula incident, she had nothing but praise for her father. She claimed not to understand what happened.

      Unfortunately, she only makes headlines these days when her dad misbehaves. (Or if someone on the internet claims she is dead.) So, that’s her reputation. Since she is in no way a box office draw, not a lot of people are going to deal with her difficult daddy. There’s no upside.


      • Thora Birch’s creepy ex-porn star dad gets her fired:,49037/

        It hasn’t been easy being Thora Birch, whose career since her breakout turns in American Beauty and Ghost World has lately tapered into a string of questionable choices. But things might be a tad easier for her were it not for her dad-slash-manager Jack Birch, a former adult film star (he and Birch’s mother, Carol Connors, were both in Deep Throat) whose insistence on being present at his daughter’s every performance has been noted as overbearing at best and creepy at worst.

        Most recently, there was the incident where Jack insisted on giving the cameraman pointers while Birch filmed a sex scene in last year’s Winter Of Frozen Dreams, which one insider describing thusly: “The director is saying, ‘Harder! Faster!’ and the father is giving [her co-star Dean] Winters the thumbs up.” However, Jack soon rescinded that seal of approval, reportedly freaking out and threatening to “kill the assistant directors” and “pull her from the movie with three days of shooting left”—a story that doesn’t exactly encourage other directors to want to work with Birch, so long as she and her dad are a package deal.

        Today’s report in the New York Times probably isn’t going to help that perception: Birch has now been fired from an Off-Broadway production of Dracula (where she was playing Lucy) and ordered to “leave the theater immediately.” This all happened a mere four days before the show’s scheduled debut, reportedly because her father had threatened one of the actors. According to the show’s director, Paul Alexander:
        Mr. Birch asked the actor why he was rubbing Ms. Birch’s back during the scene. The actor—whom none of the sides would name—said that he had been directed to do so as part of the scene. Mr. Birch objected, saying that the back rub was unnecessary, and told the actor to stop. (It is unusual for anyone other than a production’s director to instruct an actor.)

        When the actor tried to explain further what he was doing, Mr. Birch said, according to Mr. Alexander: “Listen, man, I’m trying to make this easier on you—don’t touch her.”
        Mr. Alexander said the actor felt uncomfortable with Mr. Birch’s directive and tone. Asked if the actor felt threatened, Mr. Alexander said, “I can’t have one of my actors in a situation where he is physically threatened by the father of anyone.”

        However, according to Jack, he was just “trying to convey Thora’s discomfort,” and “in no way was I making a threat.” Instead, he claims that producers told him the reason Birch had been let go was that Alexander had been dissatisfied with his daughter’s performance, despite the fact that, by Jack’s own admission, Alexander had never once expressed any reservations during rehearsals—which is certainly strange! (Birch herself said she was “blindsided” by the decision.)

        Of course, it wasn’t just about the threat: As in the past, Birch’s father was once again a constant, looming presence during rehearsals, with Alexander noting that one time they were running through a scene set in a library when he noticed Jack on stage, peering through one of the windows. But Jack said this was all perfectly reasonable, as at that moment he was backstage examining a “loose, wobbly platform” as a potential safety hazard, because not only was he serving as Birch’s moral support and manager—he was acting as her contractually obligated bodyguard, because “Thora had had some stalking issues in the past.” Right, and there’s nothing more disruptive or unsettling than some guy watching your every move, and constantly trying to insinuate his life into yours like some sort of crazy person.


        • 6 Insane Reasons Formerly Famous People Dropped Off the Map:

          #6. Thora Birch Stops Getting Work Because of Her Creepy Dad

          The Fame:

          Most of you remember Thora Birch from American Beauty, but she was already kind of a big deal by age 8, winning the Best Young Actress Under Nine Years of Age award (yes, that exists) for a movie called Purple People Eater. Then her stardom peaked as a teenager with those breakthrough performances in American Beauty and Ghost World. In other words, she made the oh-so-rare jump from “cute kid” roles to “serious Oscar-winning dramas” and was set to become the go-to sexy-yet-comically-sullen-and-stoic girl of her generation.

          But Then …

          She has appeared in virtually nothing of note since 2001. And the cause appears to be her ex-porn star father.

          Yes, Jack Birch was a 1970s porn star, most famous for appearing in Deep Throat. He functions as Thora’s manager, although not a very good one, since all he seems to do is cause trouble and get her fired.

          Jack’s background might help explain his rather bizarre behavior, particularly when it involves his daughter’s body. For instance, during the filming of Winter of Frozen Dreams, Jack insisted on being present for her adult scenes. Now, this was understandable with American Beauty, because she was underage and parental supervision was required for anything involving nudity. But she was now 26, and Dad was still hanging around, giving the crew instructions on how to make his baby girl look like a good lay.

          He even threatened to pull her off the movie and kill the assistant directors because they weren’t shooting the sex scenes the way he wanted. At one point, he gave the actor playing Thora’s lover a “thumbs up,” while he was having sex with her.

          But at least Thora got to finish the film — in 2010, he got her fired from an off-Broadway production of Dracula because Jack apparently physically threatened another actor for rubbing Thora’s back during a scene (we don’t get it, either). Jack’s bulls*** cost his daughter a job again less than a month later, when she was fired from Manson Girls. Are you noticing a theme here? The jobs keep getting worse, and her dad keeps getting her dropped from them.

          Of course, it’s hard to fire your own parents (it makes Thanksgiving awkward as hell), so what can she do? At this point Hollywood has apparently decided that Birch isn’t worth the trouble she brings with her (and be warned, if you ever get cast to have sex with her, make sure you do it right. He’s watching you).


  3. Wow.. I feel sorry for her. Upon first seeing her name in the polls my first thought was, WHO The hell is this as opposed to What the hell happened… and then I remembered, Oh yeah American Beauty. I hadn’t realized she had always been around as a child actress. It does sound her career was about to take off and her dad needs to take a major step back. Beyond being a “stage parent” though he just sounds a little off. So protective yet allowed her to be filmed topless at age 16? That doesn’t really go together, hollywood or not.


    • That’s the reaction I typically get. Who? Oh American Beauty. Yeah. What happened to her?

      I didn’t realize she had such a long career as a child actor either. I remember watching her cheesy sitcom and the Jack Ryan movies, but I never really took notice of Birch until AB and Ghost World. And then she was gone just like that.

      Her dad seems like he’d sell his daughter into slavery to benefit himself. I have read descriptions that make him sound like a biker Charlie Manson.


  4. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit this… but I just watched the “Day by Day” clip in its entirety. By the time I got to “All the Brady men have perms…. so our hair doesn’t get in our eyes when we’re fixing our bikes!” there was real danger of my spitting coffee all over the keyboard. I had forgotten all about Day by Day – and you are so on the money, it was a ripoff of Growing Pains which was the successor to Family Ties…which by the way were all good shows! For some reason Day by Day, also a decent sitcom, unlike the others, didn’t get good ratings and it didn’t last. Thanks a million for posting this, I needed the laugh and loved the trip down memory lane, especially seeing Florence Henderson, Ann Davis and Robert Reed.


    • I remember the episode and that it was fun. It was kind of the prototype for the Brady Bunch movies that followed. Christopher Daniel Barnes even played Greg Brady in the movies. I haven’t rewatched the episode in its entirety yet myself, but I probably will eventually.

      I wouldn’t want to go back to the days of the 80’s family sitcom. But I do have a soft spot for them. I watched them pretty reguarily as a kid. My parents were very strict with what was and wasn’t allowed on the TV. I remember certain episodes of Family Ties being cut off early when they decided to focus on an issue my dad didn’t want in the living room.

      I think Day by Day suffered from the fact it came late to the party. By then, Cosby, Family Ties and Growing Pains were all waning in popularity. They got there just in time for the end of the era.


      • Perhaps another factor was that by the late ’80s, we got more dysfunctional and cynical type of domestic sitcoms like “Married…with Children” and “Roseanne” (and you can also put “The Simpsons” in that category even though it’s animated). Even popular more “traditional” ’90s era sitcoms like “Home Improvement” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” arguably had a bit of a sadist streak to them.


  5. I get the impression her folks are kind of out there. They named their son Bolt. As in “thunder bolt”. As in “god of thunder”. They had a Norse god theme naming their kids. That’s just odd.


  6. Whatever Happened to Thora Birch?:

    About ten years ago, Thora Birch was a young actress on the come. She had a memorable supporting role in the Oscar-winning Best Picture, American Beauty, and then two years later gave an assured performance in Ghost World, my favorite film of 2001. She was not yet twenty, and stardom seemed assured.

    But what happened? I haven’t had much call to think about her since then. Last week she was in the news for being fired from an off-Broadway production of Dracula (too bad, if she were in it I’d go to see it). The published reason for her dismissal was the cast and crew’s response to the overzealousness of her father, who is also her manager. Both of her parents were actors in adult films, including Deep Throat. I don’t think I knew that, although I remember the controversy surrounding her topless scene in American Beauty, which was only possible because her parents gave permission.

    That story got me thinking about Thora, whom I’ve admired more for “second-brain” reasons than anything else. So I Netflixed some of her recent films–she has not stopped working–and am sad to report that she is now a fixture mostly in straight-to-DVD horror films. Ghost World seems an era ago.

    Slingshot, from 2005, features Birch in a supporting role. The main roles are played by David Arquette and Balthazar Getty. They are a couple of grifters who roll into an affluent community in Connecticut, hoping to seduce rich women and then steal from them. Birch plays the daughter of one of the targeted women, whom Getty falls in love with, making Arquette jealous. The film is odious from start to finish, with no sympathetic characters.

    Train, from 2006, is well-made trash. Basically Hostel on a train, Birch is one of a group of college athletes on tour in Eastern Europe (apparently this region of the world is full of sadistic torturers). They end up on a train that is really a rolling organ-trafficking outfit, as Birch’s pals are caught and cut open, their organs given to wealthy recipients. I find it hard to believe that anyone would be given a heart after it was ripped from someone’s chest by the greasy hands of a maniacal butcher, but that’s just me. The film does have high production standards, given its limited budget, but anyone who enjoys this sort of torture-porn needs psychological help.

    Deadline is also fairly well made, an atmospheric ghost story starring Brittany Murphy, in one of her last roles. She plays a screenwriter who is getting over being assaulted by her boyfriend. Of course she takes refuge in a large old house in the middle of nowhere. Soon she finds videotapes made by a young couple who lived there before, with the wife being played by Birch. It becomes apparent that Birch was murdered by her jealous husband, and her ghost is guiding Murphy toward the truth. The story is pretty skimpy, and doesn’t really fill out the ninety-minute running time, but it’s got some good scares.

    Dark Corners is perhaps the worst of her films, an awful-looking psychological thriller that recalls the otherwise forgettable Demi Moore film Passion of Mind. Birch plays two roles–a pretty blonde woman who has a wonderful life. She has dreams, though, in which she’s a brunette who leads a squalid life as a mortician. But which one is real, and which one is the dream? Unfortunately, I didn’t care, and the ending made no sense. It’s an ugly, ugly film, made without any discernible skill.

    Finally there’s Winter of Frozen Dreams, which is about a real-life crime supposedly committed in Wisconsin about thirty years ago. It’s based on a novel, but I have a hard time understanding how anyone was interested in this case–it’s deadly dull. Birch plays a woman who seems to seduce lonely men and murders them to get their life insurance, but no one in this film is very interesting, and there’s nothing clever about her, or even sinister.

    Birch’s performance in this film may be the key to why she’s been reduced to the straight-to-DVD ghetto–she’s not a very good actress. Whatever Terry Zwigoff got out of her in Ghost World is missing in these films. She has a tendency to keep everything bottled up, delivering her lines with little smirks, as if letting the audience know she’s above this crap. If I were casting a movie and looked at these films as an audition, I wouldn’t cast her.

    It’s easy for me, though, sitting here in my house, to dump on someone like Thora Birch, who’s out there working steadily. Most actors make choices based on wanting to pay their mortgage and put food on the table. To castigate them for “bad choices” seems to me petty and childish. As Birch puts it on her Web site:

    “Someone asked me if I’d like to be in a film that get’s a theatrical release. LOL Been there, done that, and guess what, they all end up on the home viewing shelve anyway…

    “In all seriousness, the answer would be sure, of course, who doesn’t? But, that’s not going to change how I navigate my own life or career, which are two interconnected realms.

    “See, the way the industry views it, as an actress, ideally I should be prepared to cut off my hands, feet, and tits in order to get a cameo in a Judd Apatow, or Scott Rudin film. Call me a defiant rebel, I just can’t bring myself to actually behave in a manner that would signify that that was my outlook on things. I don’t have time to be desperate. Do things bother me? Am I unsatisfied? Of course…..but I’m in line on that one; my ticket number is 2,987,874,000 out of 6 bil.”

    Reading that took some of the starch out of my sails. If I were a struggling actor, and I got an offer to do Train, I’d probably leap at it with both feet, and do my very best, with all the effort I would give a performance in Hamlet.


  7. Thora Birch: Latest victim of the ‘American Beauty’ kid-star career curse?:

    Remember how fantastic Thora Birch was in American Beauty? And Ghost World? It really felt like she was going to be the Next Big Thing. Kinda like Wes Bentley. And Mena Suvari. Hmmm. I’m beginning to see a Beauty alum pattern. But now Birch is doing Z-grade schlock like Winter of Frozen Dreams (probably my favorite Huh? film title since Bruce Willis’ Tears of the Sun), a true-life crime drama where she plays a prostitute turned murderer. The trailer for the flick, costarring Keith Carradine(!), just recently popped up online. What do you think PopWatchers? Are you as bummed about Birch’s career path as I am?


    • “Remember how fantastic Thora Birch was in American Beauty? And Ghost World?” No, she was just good. Can’t we separate the huge talent of the moviemakers from the competence and pleasant appearance of the largely stone-faced young actress?


      • You’re not wrong. But at the time, seeing her in those roles where she was well-cast, the material gave the impression that she was a promising actress. Having seen her give stone-faced performances in a dozen or so movies since, it’s obvious where her talent level is.


  8. Ghost World, or Whatever Happened to Thora Birch?:

    Whilst recently rummaging through an old box of DVDs, I had the fortune of coming across Ghost World. I’ve seen it before, of course – not during its initial cinematic run – but after buying it a number of Christmases back. It’s easy enough to see why the film received such critical acclaim in 2001. Based on the comic book by Daniel Clowes and named for some graffiti the illustrator spotted, Ghost World is nihilistic commentary on the wasteland of late twentieth century America, a frank, potently bleak look at the frenzy of pop culture synonymous with the ‘90s. A proclamation that originality has been pitifully extinguished, that everything we see is a postmodern mixture of everything that preceded it. Apathetic protagonists, and best friends, Enid and Rebecca, trudge from the bland backdrop of high school to ‘50s-style diners, endowed with none of the fervent charm and intrigue of Pulp Fiction’s Jack Rabbit Slim’s but derided for being a gimmick. It’s the antithesis of Clueless, though its characters are precisely that. A movie that would hate Shoreditch. And yet, despite all the subtle digs at contemporary culture for which the film is renowned, what stuck out in my mind (at least following a viewing in 2013) is whatever happened to Thora Birch?

    Fans of ‘90s cinema will know immediately who I mean, and fans of anything else will require little more than a succinct bio to jog the memory. She was the leading lady in bleak British horror The Hole. The young Empress Savina in computer game spinoff Dungeons and Dragons, the little girl in Hocus Pocus and the perturbed Jane in American Beauty, for which she scooped a BAFTA nom. (I hear a handful of readers sighing a collective: “Oh, heeeeerrrr.”) Unwittingly, Birch now finds herself jammed in that category of actors, amongst Bill Pullman and Kristen Johnston, whose names aren’t instantly familiar, but mention a portion of their past works and recognition trickles in. “You remember X. S/he was in that movie with Y.” “Oh, of course! X! God, I forgot about him/her. What happened?”

    It’s curious that since 2002, Birch has almost disappeared. Twelve years have passed since Ghost World: where has she been hiding? A swift iMDB search gives us a bit more info, though most of the message board posts, intriguingly, are primarily preoccupied with where she went. There’s a list of pretexts as to why she’s not worked so steadily of late: her dad’s her manager, and apparently a tad tyrannical, at loggerheads with producers left and right. Her Broadway debut was set for 2010 with a part in Dracula, but she was fired four days before the first show, allegedly following her father’s interference. She was cast as Blanche Barrow in the remake of Bonnie and Clyde, a role which earned Estelle Parsons an Oscar in 1967, though with Hilary Duff cast as Bonnie, the film was never destined for noteworthy glory, and production plans have since been scrapped. Granted, it isn’t often news when an actor disappears for a bit: we assume they’ve moved on to theater, to campaign work, to focus on their family. Yet Birch’s disappearance from the limelight is made more astounding by the fact she could hold her own against virtually anyone. She vitalised scenes alongside notorious actors like Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons. Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson looked unknown alongside her, their acting skills paling in comparison. So why the transformation into Hollywood’s Jane Doe?

    Bear in mind when considering this, that Birch was a child star, and child stars fit into three distinct categories. Category A, the star destined for success – cases in point, Drew Barrymore, Jodie Foster (Queen of the child stars), Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt – the list is longer than we ever assume. Category B consists of those that fail, though they don’t just fail: they fail cataclysmically, and in the public eye, their pimply red faces splashed across the tabloids, a grotesque close-up of them climbing out of a cab without make-up (for shame). Finally, Category C, the vanishing act, to which Thora Birch applies. This category consists of a variety of former actors – those, like Mara Wilson and the little boy from The Shining – who opt for anonymity, and those that still claw at a career on reality TV shows, being told by Bruno Tolioni that their footwork’s off, forever remembered as “him/her off that.”

    Surreptitiously, however, a new category has emerged, one that doesn’t obey the old axiom that once you’ve had your fifteen minutes of fame, you’re not entitled to another five. Introducing Category D – those that bounced back. Keifer Sutherland, Anna Paquin, even Hollywood wonder boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who took a temporary back seat before making a name for himself again with impressive performances in indie flicks Brick and Mysterious Skin. These stars left the limelight to grow up, and are better off for it. To me, nothing sounds more traumatic than spending your teenage years plagued by paparazzi, shunting aside photographers to step into a hotel, having ever step of any relationship you stumble into scrutinized in painstaking detail – “X and Y: Where It Went Wrong, Part 1 of 9.” A hiatus is undeniably necessary.

    Birch has talent, and it’s a shame to see her (or not see her) fade into obscurity. I hope at some point she’ll find her way into Category D, and won’t get lost in the graveyard of child stars famed for their past accomplishments: a real, desolate Ghost World.


  9. Whatever Happened To?:

    Thora Birch

    The fact that Mena Suvari ended up having the better post American Beauty career ahead of Wes Bentley and Thora Birch is shocking. I have nothing against Suvari personally, I just cannot fathom why Thora Birch is not a bigger name right now. She was consistently good as a child actor and now is the point where her career should really be taking off. Clearly Birch has been a good luck charm for many actors/actresses whom have worked with her. Keira Knightly, Elijah Wood, Scarlett Johannson, Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffman, and Mena Suvari have all had decent careers since working with Thora. It would be great to see Ms. Birch doing some quality indie films again. Maybe even a few big budget projects sprinkled in as well.

    Career Highlights: Ghost World (2001); American Beauty (1999); Clear and Present Danger (1994); Paradise (1991); Patriot Games (1992); Silver City (2004); Alaska (1996)

    Low Points: The Hole (2001); Dungeons and Dragons (2000); Now and Then (1995); Hocus Pocus (1993); Monkey Trouble (1994)

    Last Seen On The Big Screen: Silver City (2004)

    Where You Will See Her Again: Crossmaglen with Claire Forlani


  10. Hahah this is a great article. My quesion before reading was WHO the hell is the thora birch. I’ve literally never heard of her (though I actually have seen ghost world)


  11. Wait scratch that…American Beauty! She’s great in that yet somehow I totally forgot about her!


    • Glad you enjoyed it.

      Audiences have a short memory. After American Beauty and Ghost World, I thought Birch had a bright future. But then she disappeared and I forgot about her like most everyone else. Years later, I started hearing about her dad causing trouble and I filed that info away for a rainy day.


  12. You wonder if Thora’s daddy dearest is the the splitting image of Brooke Shields’ mama before
    Brooke found the courage to break away from her? Wonder why Thora hasn’t found a way to
    put her foot down and finally say enough to him?


  13. A stage parent even worse than Dina Lohan,perhaps???


  14. Defending a stage parent like Thora’s doing is kinda like a tea partier defending their party over country,don’t you think?


  15. I fell in love with her in Monkey Trouble. Given that we’re the same age(1980s), I have no problems with that. 😛 Maybe someone needs to slap her dad with a clue by four that he is no longer famous(except for being the ass that she keeps losing roles because of), nor in control.


  16. Didn’t her mum have a part in the original Deep throat?
    Now how can you go wrong than


    • Both of her parents did. Quite a distinction.


      • There’s a write-up in Yahoo on why Thora fell out of favor,so check for that!!!


        • “I tried to walk a fine line between being alluring and somewhat glamorous but maintain a strong identity and pursue things that were a little more thoughtful, and I guess nobody really wanted women to do that at that time… I just felt like I was making people angry, because I wouldn’t wear the frilly bows. I just didn’t take advice and I think people got pissed off at me for not taking advice.”

          That’s one way of looking at it.


        • re: “…because I wouldn’t wear the frilly bows.”

          Jeez, that’s even more “surreal” (i.e., delusional) than Meg Ryan “walking away from Hollywood” (after her ph #/e-mail was cleared from assorted databases) and wanting to “live the simple life” in New York City (a town known for its down-to-earth and laid-back ways).

          But hey, maybe she — like Paquin, Sutherland, and others who’ve had lukewarm/cooled-off movie careers — can “re-invent” herself in TV. Believe it or not, I’m not even a fan, but she did some fine work back-when and I wish her luck. She needs to ditch her dad as an agent or “career adviser.”


        • I have a hard time imagining anyone trying to force frilly bows on an adult actress. Maybe this is a carry-over from her child actor days when she wore lots of frilly outfits. I’m sure there were directors who wanted to sexualize her. But then, she has also done that herself.


        • re: I’m sure there were directors who wanted to sexualize her. But then, she has also done that herself.

          Like some/too many actresses, Birch likely wants it both ways: To be TAKEN SERIOUSLY as an actress and/or not be viewed as a “sex kitten/object” while exploiting her sex appeal/beauty when it’s convenient to do so. One of the BEST ‘letters to the editor’ I’ve ever read was in ROLLING STONE in response to their K. DUNST article wherein she appeared on the cover in Victorian underwear: [I paraphrase but it’s close]

          “Dunst doesn’t want to be seen as a sex object. Neither do I — that’s why I don’t appear on the cover of a national magazine in my underwear.”

          Michelle Rodriguez was quoted as “I don’t want people thinking of me sexually. I don’t want people to be like, ‘She’s hot-looking,’ you know? I want them to listen to me for what I am saying.” OH, so THAT’s why she appeared in a midriff-bearing, cleavage-accenting top in the movie “Machete,” because IT WAS CRUCIAL TO THE PLOT.


        • OOPS – I meant to type “in ‘Machete Kills'” above.


        • I wonder how many actresses actually believe this stuff when they say it. My guess is, it’s just something they feel they have to say or a convenient excuse after their career fails to take off.


  17. Won’t wear the frilly bows????

    Well that’s a way of getting blacklisted of sorts,to be honest!!!!


    • She said repeatedly that she pissed a lot of people off, which is true. But I don’t think it was due to lack of bow wearing. She is correct in that she failed to pull off the delicate balancing act of being edgy/sexy without objectifying herself. But the way she says it makes it sound like she took the high road. Which is a strange perspective when she did a nude scene at 17 and then made a bunch of steamy and/or bloody movies.

      Also, I don’t think Dungeons and Dragons was exactly “a little more thoughtful”.


      • “Denial” ain’t just an Egyptian river, dig?


      • re: the way she says it makes it sound like she took the high road

        YES, that’s sort of common these days: Make verbal noises to give the impression of “taking the high road” while being self-serving all-the-while. Another sterling example: In the news recently:

        WELL, that’s so NICE of him…but didn’t the Courts ORDER or REQUIRE him to make restitution? Belford makes it sound like he’s “giving” — what a swell guy! I guess he isn’t the slimy, selfish pr*ck of a con-man that movie made him out to be! I hope he remembers to “reimburse” the non-millionaires he fleeced.


  18. The Guardian newspaper actually has an interview with her here today (1/24/14) –

    I comment and get replies from the writer- my tag is Phillyguy.


    • Yep, that’s the full interview that was being circulated on Yahoo. It’s a good read if not especially enlightening. I also read your comments back and forth with the author. I share your desire to get more straight-forward answers out of Birch. But I also understand where the interviewer is coming from. She was trying to create a portrait of he subject which I think she was successful in doing. Every interview I have seen with Birch whether it was in writing or “live” she doesn’t give straight answers. I think she’s somewhat delusional about how and why her career went off the rails. But then, it’s hard to be fully objective when discussing your own short-comings. Or those of your family.


      • I do sympathize with Ms Freeman- it probably wasn’t easy- and she even brings up the possibility of libel when the subject of her father’s behavior comes up (the UK has tough libel laws)

        But- in a way- I think she gave Birch enough rope to hang herself with- which maybe Freeman was happy with- but I would have liked for Birch to have saved herself- she didn’t.

        Ms Freeman was replying back to me as fast as possible- it was interesting-


        • I’ll bet. Seems like you had a spirited conversation.

          I do think it’s pretty obvious from Birch’s evassive answers what is really going on. So yeah, she got enough rope to hang herself.

          Fortunately, I’m not held to the same professional standards. So I’m free to speculate all I like. 🙂


        • She said during the chat that she’s looking for an agent at this point………a sad price to
          pay for having a medding daddy to manage her fortunes,perhaps????


        • Too little, too late. Especially if her dad is still sitting on the sidelines.


  19. Would you think of Thora as a cross between Linda Fiorentino & Alicia Sliverstone,to a point?


  20. 1-Don’t pick fights with directors like Linda got with Kevin Smith(in Thora’s case,the Dracula
    fiasco had daddy dearest involved!).

    2-Don’t fall into career cluelessness,like what Alicia ended up when her star slipped!!!


  21. 10 Actors Who Blew Their Big Chance Before They Got Going:

    Thora Birch

    The rise and fall of Thora Birch is a particularly sad story, because her performance in 1999′s American Beauty still wows new viewers today; she’s natural and vulnerable onscreen and if you go to seek out her work sure to find a list of credits as long as your arm, you’ll be confronted by 2001′s Ghost World and not a lot since. Although several news outlets have attributed this solely to her father, a former porn star and his daughter’s manager who allegedly physically threatened one of Birch’s co-stars in an off-Broadway revival of Dracula in 2010, Birch herself admits that she was an abrasive presence on set.

    Although acting like a diva is grudgingly permitted if you’re an established A-lister guaranteed to rake in millions, young actors can’t afford to be unprofessional, and Birch seems to have earned herself a reputation as difficult. In a recent interview with The Guardian she cites her firing from Alexander Payne’s Election at the age of 14 for instigating several disagreements with the director as an example of her refusal to conform. Normally the manager would intervene to sort this out, but Mr. Birch’s priority appears to be ensuring that Thora’s sex scenes are filmed correctly, if a report in 2009 is anything to go by. Apparently he gave the director of crime drama Winter of Frozen Dreams tips on how to make his daughter look good, and was a constant presence behind the camera although Birch was then in her late twenties.

    With all the baggage Thora Birch seems to bring to a set, it’s not surprising that she’s no longer in Hollywood’s inner circle and now sticks mainly to direct-to-video films. As with her fellow new talents who blew it, there’s a phrase which immediately comes to mind: what a waste.


    • Blink And You Miss ‘Em: Celebs Who Were Famous For, Like, Five Minutes:

      Forget the fact that Thora Birch’s parents were porn industry vets who starred in Deep Throat. She was the furthest thing from that — in fact, she was real Hollywood vet by the time she was ten years old (remember her turn as Harrison Ford’s daughter in Clear and Present Danger?). And then she hit puberty, and bowled us over with her slacker/outsider/grunge performances in 1999’s American Beauty and 2001’s Ghost World. According to her, she pissed a lot of people off, rendering herself unhireable. “I wouldn’t wear the frilly bows,” she said. “I just didn’t take advice and I think people got pissed off at me for not taking advice.” Birch took small roles in small flicks until 2010, when she landed the lead in an off-Broadway revival of Dracula — but was fired when her manager dad threatened to beat up one of the other actors. Time for new management.


  22. Let’s bid Thora a happy 32nd!!!!!


  23. I just figured out who Thora’s mom is/was. Carol Connors- yeah- I remember her!.

    No surprise that Thora – er- blossomed – with CC as her mom.


  24. Scarlett ended up as Black Widow only after Emily Blunt had to take a pass ’cause of
    scheduling reasons,but does anyone could’ve imagined Thora in the role?????


    • I am sure she would have been up to the task.


    • 9 Actresses Who Were Supposed To Make It Big But Didn’t:

      1. Thora Birch

      During the ‘90s, Thora Birch had roles in an impressive list of Hollywood productions, including “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “Now and Then.” She got her big break in the Academy Award-winning movie “American Beauty” and went on to nab a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in “Ghost World.” Birch seemed like she was here to stay; however, since her success in “Ghost World,” she has more or less faded into oblivion.


      • Cast Of Now And Then: Where Are They Now?

        Thora Birch

        In Now and Then, Birch played rich girl, childhood version of Teeny, and was considered one of the most promising actresses of the ensemble. Birch starred in American Beauty (which won five Oscars) and Ghost World, which pointed Birch toward the stars by 2001. Birch’s career was hot, but short-lived. She was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2001, then was fired from the set of Dracula in 2010, went quiet for two years, and then made her last acting performance in 2012.

        Birch claims she was partly wiped off the map for her refusal to conform to Hollywood’s beauty ideals for young actresses of the time. She told The Guardian in 2014: “I tried to walk a fine line between being alluring and somewhat glamorous but maintain a strong identity and pursue things that were a little more thoughtful, and I guess nobody really wanted women to do that at that time,” she said. Though, the politically aware and opinionated actress admits that she “pissed a lot of people off” during her career.


      • 16 Stars Who Were Going To Be The Next Big Thing…But Vanished


        Birch became one of Hollywood’s most recognizable child stars with roles in Hocus Pocus and Clear and Present Danger. She made the successful transition to adult stardom with American Beauty, playing a troubled teenager opposite Oscar-winning Kevin Spacey, to great reviews. She continued to win great notices playing the lead in Ghost World, a part which nabbed her a Golden Globe nomination.

        Then Birch ran into trouble. A series of roles in unremarkable films slowed her career momentum, and her attempt at a stage comeback in a production of Dracula fizzled when her manager/father’s behavior got her fired from the show! After taking a few years off, she returned to acting with a role on the series Colony, though major film parts continue to elude her.


    • 10 Actors Who Profited From Films That Ruined Careers:

      1. Scarlett Johansson – Ghost World

      The hat trick of co-stars who went on to succeed where their headlining colleagues failed finishes with perhaps the most sought after actress working today: Scarlett Johannson. What makes this so surprising is that her headlining co-star in Ghost World, Thora Birch, had recently starred in American Beauty and looked set to be heading for stardom.

      That it was Johansson who ended up going on to become one of the most famous stars in the world may or may not have something to do with her also being twice ranked the sexiest woman alive by Esquire magazine (no one else has been chosen twice), but regardless of her status as a sex symbol her acting is clearly up to a high standard and she has worked prolically throughout her career.

      Birch, on the other hand, soon slipped into the obscurity of made-for-TV-movieland and announced last year that she’d decided to take a break from Hollywood to focus on branching out in life.


  25. Why great comics don’t always make great movies:

    by Noel Murray

    I read every installment of Daniel Clowes’ graphic novella Ghost World when it was originally serialized in Clowes’ comic book Eightball back in the mid-1990s, so when I heard Clowes had collaborated with Crumb director Terry Zwigoff on a movie version of Ghost World—and read some of the early raves for the film—it became my most anticipated film of 2001. Ultimately though, I found the Ghost World movie disappointing. The film’s bright colors—and its emphasis on one middle-aged man’s grumbling—struck me as too off-model from the muted, female-focused coming-of-age story I loved in comic-book form. As the year played out, and more critics talked up Ghost World, I bit my tongue, not wanting to be one of those insufferable grumps who goes on and on about how a movie failed its source material. Yet even today, I think the Ghost World comic is beautiful, and the movie is scattershot. And the reason for that is that comics and movies aren’t as closely aligned as some may think.

    Because comic books look a lot like motion-picture storyboards, comics seem like they should be easy to adapt: Just position the camera with the same perspective as the comic-book panel, have the actors recite the dialogue verbatim, and then no one can say the filmmaker didn’t faithfully translate the comic to the big screen. But while cinema and comics are both strongly visual mediums, they follow different conventions. Superhero comics in particular often depict action and dialogue happening simultaneously, in ways that would be impossible to film. And comics of all kinds often vary perspectives from panel to panel, in ways that would look choppy and visually incoherent if a movie did the same. The art of adapting comics often involves taking specific memorable images from the original pages and then filling in the action so it’s all more cinematic—similar to how the cel animators of old would draw the key points of motion in a scene and leave the rest of the movements to the “inbetweeners.”

    Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City movies offer a counter-example—one that exposes the limitations of staying faithful. Miller and Rodriguez use digital technology to copy the look of Miller’s original artwork fairly precisely, right down to his high-contrast lighting effects. The Sin City movies also try to replicate the comics’ evocation of old dime novels and pulp magazines, by treating each individual film as an anthology of interlocking stories.

    I haven’t seen Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (which opens today), but while I find Sin City interesting as an experiment, I don’t think it’s all that successful as a film. The Sin City movie reminds me a lot of “motion comics”— that bastard form of straight-to-video entertainment that adapts fan-favorite comics storylines by adding limited animation to the original artwork. To me, Miller’s drawings are more dynamic on the page than they have been in live-action, where they’ve been so weighed down with makeup and effects that they barely move.

    That said, Sin City is truer to its creator’s actual writing than a lot of comics adaptations ever attempt to be. That matters, because Miller’s Sin City comics aren’t just about a batch of recurring characters and an organizing premise, as a lot of superhero comics are. Miller gives the dialogue and plotting in his Sin City comics a precise punch. Too much divergence from that, and the film would cease to be Sin City.

    My main beef with Ghost World isn’t that I wanted the movie to be a panel-for-panel copy of the comic; it’s that Clowes’ conception of his two above-it-all teen-girl protagonists is evident in the film only fleetingly. Even though Clowes was involved in the production—and even though Zwigoff had longstanding connections to the alt-comics realm as a buddy of Robert Crumb—the Ghost World movie doesn’t trust that Clowes’ original elliptical, episodic storytelling is strong enough to support a movie. The comic itself recalls lightly bruised youth movies like The World Of Henry Orient and Harold & Maude, but the film is more like a compendium of funny bits from various Clowes comics, periodically filtered through the perspective of a grumpy older man, played by Steve Buscemi. The movie Ghost World has its merits, don’t get me wrong. But to me, it’s not Ghost World.


  26. Sometimes a thing which we fel that we should get rrid oof it is still expensive.

    Thhe dealers will be replying you along with their quotes and
    sso before actually sellling it to a dealer offering cash for cars, you can just get qotes from manmy such dealers for arriving at the right decision with respecdt to the dealer, who is rdady to offer higher price for your vehicle than the
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    card user since the rental car company is assured of receiving a


  27. Lebeau, I think you’ll find that Deep Throat gagging is hard to avoid.

    I actually came here following the gallery posting to say, oh dear, I always struggle with Thora Birch because I immediately mentally go to Thora Hird, who is a very different actress. But ewwww … poor Birch. What a mess. Daddy is definitely a massive problem, isn’t he? And if even she admits that she’s not always the most compliant of actors, then it’s no wonder she’s probably one of the most under-employed WTTH? subjects.


    • She really is under-employed at the moment. And she’s reaching an age where doors would start closing even they hadn’t closed already. So I don’t really think a comeback is in the cards. Which is a shame. She’s a talented and beautiful actress.


  28. Nostalgia Critic Real Thoughts On: Dungeons and Dragons

    Feed this movie your RAGE!


    • 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Disastrous Dungeons & Dragons Movie


      A lot of actors have been accused of giving the worst performance of all time in a motion picture. Tommy Wiseau is a common target of this for his wailing in The Room, while a young Jake Lloyd was accused of ruining Star Wars with his emotionless portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

      Thora Birch’s portrayal of Empress Savina in Dungeons & Dragons beats them all, as she refuses to act throughout the whole movie. She reads her lines without exhibiting human emotions. Birch just recites her dialogue without any attempt to make them seem like anything other than words in a script.

      You may be surprised to learn that Thora Birch was actually nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Young Actress for Dungeons & Dragons. This is a legitimate awards body that has been around since the ’70s.

      Thora Birch didn’t actually manage to win any awards for her performance in Dungeons & Dragons, but that was only because there were no 17th level Clerics around to cast Miracle.


  29. What Happened to Thora Birch? Where is Thora Birch Now?

    In the year 2000, few budding careers seemed more promising than that of Thora Birch, the starlet who dazzled audiences as Kevin Spacey’s depressive, troubled daughter in the 1999’s modern masterpiece, American Beauty. After the film virtually swept the 72nd Academy Awards, the future could not have seemed brighter for the cast of American Beauty, which is now regularly placed on all-time greatest films lists. The cast would mostly go on to great things, with Kevin Spacey starring in a series of major films and the Netflix original series, House of Cards; director Sam Mendes would go on to direct Road to Perdition and the newest James Bond films; writer Alan Ball would create and write for the critically acclaimed television shows Six Feet Under and True Blood. Thora Birch, however, would play the lead in another lauded drama, Ghost World, and then mostly disappear from the Hollywood spotlight. The story of why Thora Birch’s career never took off is somewhat unsurprising, and yet still quite tragic.

    Thora Birch began acting as a young child, starting with parts in food commercials and a role on the television series Day by Day, a Family Ties spinoff about a couple that opens a day care in their home. Her parents, former pornographic actors, served as her managers, and they managed to net her several other large roles around this time. Most notably, she appeared in the family film Purple People Eater as the sister to star Neil Patrick Harris, who starts a rock band with an alien in order to save an elderly couple. The film won Birch her first Young Artist award, an award which she would go on to win three more times in coming years. She also worked with Harrison Ford in two films, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and she had a starring role in Disney’s Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, working with Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker. The young actress was off to a very promising start.

    After several more minor film roles and a few TV guest spots, Birch would get her big break in American Beauty. The Academy Winner for Best Picture in 1999, American Beauty was a film that defied easy thora-birch-primedescription or interpretation. The story was nominally about Lester Burnham, a “loser” of a family patriarch who decides to quit his job, get in shape, and start living life for himself again, while his daughter Jane, played Birch, experiences a series of coming-of-age moments as she discovers love with an unusual neighborhood boy. The film also contained intertwining plot-lines involving Lester’s adulterous wife, the neighbor boy’s troubled family life, and Jane’s insecure best friend, with whom Lester is secretly in love. The movie is in turns beautiful and disturbing, exploring themes of suburban monotony and decay, repetition, redemption, conformity, sexual truth, and secret violence. Audiences and critics both responded well to the unsettling, shimmering vision of tragedy and hope presented by American Beauty. The relatively small $15 million dollar budget ballooned into a box office gross of nearly half a billion dollars, and the movie received nearly universal acclaim from film critics. Birch’s role in the film was mostly praised, but experienced minor controversy for a topless scene when Birch was under 18, filmed with her parent’s permission. Birch would play a similar character while taking a more central role in 2001’s Ghost World. Appearing with Scarlett Johansson as two high school girls who struggle to fit in with people their own age, Birch’s performance in Ghost World was even more strongly acclaimed.

    Birch’s following films marked her spiral out of the limelight. She appeared in a straight-to-video film, The Hole, a made-for-TV movie, Homeless to Harvard, and several horror films, Dark Corners, Train, and Deadline. Several factors influenced her fall from grace, but the short version seems to be sad and simple. Like many former child stars before her, Thora Birch grew up with an unhealthy relationship to the cruel machine of Hollywood and wasn’t able to transition into a billable professional adult actor. For one thing, her parents’ management seems to have not helped her career, with their overbearing nature often clashing with directors’ visions for Birch’s characters. For example, Birch was fired from an off-Broadway performance when her father threatened one of her costars. Additionally though, Birch herself is famously mouthy and allegedly difficult to work with. When she was 14, she was fired from the film Election, after refusing to read the script as written. Interviews with Birch about her career are frequently dotted with obscenities, sudden changes in tone, and claims that people are out to get her. We may never know everything that happened, but what is clear is that Birch developed a bad reputation in Hollywood that made it increasingly difficult for her to find fulfilling roles.

    Two moments in Birch’s film career are perhaps most telling as to what ultimately became of the once promising star. First, it is sadly true that Birch’s most successful role in her more recent career was playing a troubled woman suffering from split personalities in the film Dark Corners. Birch was called convincing and natural in this role, perhaps because of the psychological challenges that the actress herself has endured. Second, towards the end of her acclaimed film Ghost World, the two main characters paths diverge. Scarlett Johansson, who has found major sustained success in Hollywood, plays a character in Ghostworld that begins to conform, discovering teenage boys and clothes and summer jobs, while Birch’s oddball character Enid continues to buck the norm and suffers for it. Unable to find love, friendship, or a purpose, Enid eventually decides to run away, ending the film. This seems to mirror Birch’s own struggles to find her place in the world of Hollywood, including her slow vanishing act from the silver screen. Significantly, two of the other former child stars with which she worked, Brittany Murphy and Brad Renfro, had similar difficulties dealing with the Hollywood lifestyle and both later lost their lives to the machine. Birch has commented that things could be worse for her. In 2012, she produced and started in her own film, Petunia. The film struggled to find mass distribution and was not well received.


  30. American Beauty’s Thora Birch joins USA’s Colony:

    The Ghost World star will play “a laid-back software engineer with a conscience” on the USA drama series.


  31. Nostalgia Critic: Hocus Pocus (1993)


    • Hocus Pocus: Who Should Star In The Remake?


      Remember precocious little Dani, who taunted her brother from the sidelines and threw tantrums over Halloween candy? She was the perfect little sister— always several steps ahead of the game and able to call her brother Max out on his nonsense. It’s not easy to replicate that kind of fun banter and volatility on screen, but actress Millie Davis has more than enough moxie to give audiences a laugh or two.

      Davis, who recently starred alongside Jacob Tremblay in Wonder, has everything audiences could want in a modern-day Dani. In all her roles to date, she’s been absolutely adorable and fun to watch. She’s also got the smarts to give Dani the same edge she had when Thora Birch originally stepped into her shoes.

      All in all, a great casting choice for this fun role. Let’s hope Hollywood pays attention!


  32. Cast of American Beauty: How Much Are They Worth Now?

    Thora Birch

    Estimated Net Worth: $8 Million. Thora Birch came to fame as a child actress in the early ‘90s with films like Monkey Trouble, Hocus Pocus, and Now & Then, but she made the transition to more serious flicks with American Beauty and her portrayal of Jane Burnham. The role earned her international acclaim and she went on to earn a Golden Globe for her role in Ghost World. She currently works on the 2016 series Colony. All of her film and television work has earned her an estimated net worth of $8 million!


  33. It’s interesting to see how Thora’s trying to resurrect her career after several years hiatus. She’s quiet about it, but going down a decent path — first a recurring role on a basic cable sci-fi series, now starring alongside a Shakespearean actor in an indie adaption of a Spanish novel. I haven’t heard any news regarding her father since her hiatus. Perhaps she finally left the nest?


    • That would be good. I would love to see her career gain traction.


    • What ever happened to Thora Birch?

      by Andy Scott

      For a brief moment in Hollywood history, Thora Birch was everyone’s “It Girl,” a child actor on the verge of superstardom. Sadly for her, the fame didn’t last. Why not? Let’s take a closer look.

      She’s barely acted in more than a decade

      At the end of the ’90s, Birch seemed on the verge of accomplishing the impossible: a successful transition from child actor to adult movie star. The 16-year-old’s performance in American Beauty in 1999 garnered rave reviews and a BAFTA nomination for best supporting actress. Birch’s winning streak continued two years later when she starred in Ghost World, earning a Golden Globe nomination and another round of raves from the critics.

      And then, just like that, everything fell apart. Birch’s last major work of note from that era was the Lifetime television movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story, for which she received an Emmy nomination. After that, the titles become a mix of forgotten movies and indies you’ve probably never heard of. Examples include the 2008 thriller Train, a 2010 Lifetime movie called Pregnancy Pact, and indie flick Petunia, which Birch co-produced and claimed “got in, like, two cinemas,” according to a 2014 interview with The Guardian.

      Her father got in the way

      Some have argued that Birch’s father, Jack Birch, played a key role in the demise of his daughter’s career. Bizarre headlines about Jack, who met Thora’s mom on the set of the ’70s porn movie Deep Throat, began popping up in 2007.

      Rumor had it he was behaving strangely on the set of the indie movie, The Winter of Frozen Dreams. According to Page Six, Jack “horrified” members of the film’s crew when he demanded to be on set to watch his daughter film a sex scene with her co-star, Dean Winters. “It was so wrong,” a source told Page Six. “The director is saying, ‘Harder! Faster!’ and the father is giving Winters the thumbs up.”

      Page Six sources also said Jack clashed with the film’s director, Eric Mandelbaum, over camera angles that he felt would most flatter his daughter. “All of a sudden, the front door is being kicked in. Her father was threatening to kill the assistant directors,” a source said. “Then he threatens to pull her from the movie with three days of shooting left.”

      She was fired from major projects

      As the new century rolled into its second decade, Jack’s bad behavior reportedly continued, causing his daughter to get fired from not one, but two high-profile projects. The first instance came at the end of 2010, when Thora was unceremoniously fired from an Off Broadway revival of Dracula. According to The New York Times, the decision to terminate the actress came after her father allegedly threatened an actor who was instructed to rub Thora’s back during an emotional scene. “Listen, man, I’m trying to make this easier on you—don’t touch her,” Jack said, according to the play’s director, Paul Alexander. Thora denied her father’s alleged wrongdoing and was reportedly “blindsided” by the firing. “I’m totally in a state of shock over this, I still can’t believe it,” she said.

      Weeks later, Jack made headlines again after he reportedly caused problems during production of the movie Manson Girls. “Thora is a great actress,” director Susanna Lo told Planet Fury (via IMDb), “but there have been several problems with her father/manager that make it too difficult to work things out in an ensemble cast situation where everything needs to be balanced and fair to the whole cast. You can quote me on that.”

      She wasn’t always easy to work with

      Getting fired from projects wasn’t exactly new territory for the young actress. At the height of her fame. Thora was fired from the movie Election, reportedly due to clashes with the film’s director, Alexander Payne. “I read the script one way and it became clear that [Payne] had seen something else, so that was it,” she told The Guardian. “I just thought, this is ridiculous: why is it written this way?” Thora had reportedly been hired to play Chris Klein’s closeted lesbian sister, Tammy Metzler. She was replaced by actress Jessica Campbell.

      She didn’t want to conform

      Speaking to The Guardian in 2014, Thora admitted she had trouble conforming to Hollywood’s standards of fame and beauty as she transitioned into adulthood. “I tried to walk a fine line between being alluring and somewhat glamorous but maintain a strong identity and pursue things that were a little more thoughtful, and I guess nobody really wanted women to do that at that time,” she said. “I just felt like I was making people angry, because I wouldn’t wear the frilly bows. I just didn’t take advice and I think people got pissed off at me for not taking advice.”

      She was greatly affected by two famous deaths

      Thora told The Guardian she became disillusioned by Hollywood after the tragic deaths of two actors she had previously worked with: Brittany Murphy and Brad Renfro. “I’d seen Brittany here and there before and thought she was cute and lovely and all that stuff,” she said of Murphy, with whom she worked on the 2009 movie Deadline. “But when I worked with her I saw the condition [she was in] and I thought, that can’t be good.”

      Switching to Renfro, Thora admitted to being “shattered” by his condition when they filmed the 2001 movie Ghost World. “I wish I’d said something, like: isn’t there something that should be done, other than a guardian who is not a guardian?” she said.

      Renfro died of a heroin overdose in 2008. He was 25. Murphy died the following year, at age 32, from “pneumonia combined with iron-deficiency anemia and multiple-drug intoxication related to prescription and over-the-counter medications,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

      She became a blogger

      Thora spent a few years writing blog posts on her official website,, which were as random as they were infrequent. Her last post is dated May 31st, 2014. It’s dedicated to Maya Angelou. “Wherever she is, we at least know she’s still reading,” Thora wrote, then the rest of the post turns into a rant about a video she watched online for free.

      She’s (slowly) making a comeback

      After all of her career ups and downs, Thora may finally be showing signs that she’s ready for a comeback. In 2015, she appeared in two episodes of USA Network’s sci-fi drama, Colony, opposite Lost alum Josh Holloway. She’s also filming a movie with Brian Cox called The Etruscan Smile. That one’s due out in 2017, according to IMDb.

      Her recent string of gigs seem to reflect her words from a 2014 interview with The Guardian. At the time, she said she was looking for an agent, trying to get a screenplay produced, and working in movies that “people actually watch.” She said, “I’m just cognizant that I wanna move forward, and people will let me or not, who knows?”


      • Re: Actors who were poised to be superstars and then fell off.

        My sister and I were watching “Hocus Pocus” on Halloween, talking about how much we both liked Thora Birch. She asked me what had happened to her — the rumor is that her weirdo father basically destroyed her career. Her parents were both in adult films (I think the dad was in “Deep Throat”); that isn’t anything to hold against anyone, but supposedly her dad is a real creep and was either her manager or just insisted on always being on set even after she came of age. He got a reputation for being demanding and difficult and because it was sort of a package deal — if you hired Thora, the dad would be there, too — people just didn’t want the hassle and stopped hiring her altogether. I don’t know if this is true. She had a website a couple of years ago, and it looks like she writes, maybe. I did read an interview with her a while ago and she wasn’t very forthcoming about her family or being a child actress…I’m not even sure if she was promoting anything. Anyway, I like her and hope she’s doing well.


        • 15 Rising Stars Whose Careers Were Sabotaged

          THORA BIRCH

          Thora Birch seemed like she was on a glide path to superstardom at the turn of the century. After a successful run as a child actor in films like Patriot Games and Hocus Pocus, Birch transitioned into more adult fare with panache, giving arresting performances in films like the Academy Awards darling American Beauty and the cult classic Ghost World. And yet by the end of the 2000s, Birch had been relegated to the bargain bin of direct-to-video horror films.

          By most accounts, this was largely down to Birch’s father, Jack, who also served as her de facto manager. Jack Birch, a former adult film star, had a history of bizarre onset behavior, ranging from demanding he be allowed to direct a sex scene featuring Thora to threatening to attack one of her co-stars for reasons no one could quite articulate – the latter of which got Birch fired from a Broadway run just before production.


  34. To be frank, I think her career was derailed by Ghost World, which was (IMHO) the biggest POS of 2001. But what’s been said here sounds convincing too.


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