What the Hell Happened to Rosanna Arquette?
Rosanna Arquette was the first of several siblings to break into Hollywood. Throughout the 80’s, Arquette seemed constantly on the brink of stardom. But her big break never materialized. There’s some memorable films on Arquette’s resume, but she was rarely the star. Over time, the actress who inspired a hit pop song was relegated to supporting roles. After a decade of buzz, Arquette’s spotlight faded. Now she’s gone and I have to say…
What the hell happened?
Oh and also, meet you all the way, Rosanna, yeah!
Arquette was born into a family of entertainers. Her mother was a renaissance woman who was an activist, a teacher and a therapist in addition to writing and acting. Her father, Lewis Arquette, was a writer and actor best known for his recurring role on the TV show, The Waltons. Her paternal grandfather was vaudeville comedian, Cliff Arquette known for his character, Charley Weaver. The point I’m trying to make is that Arquette comes from good stock. There’s show biz in her bones. So it’s no wonder that she and her four younger siblings have all been bit by the acting bug. Her Oscar-winning sister, Patricia, and youngest brother David are the most famous of her siblings.
Arquette’s acting debut was playing a teen obsessed with boys in the 1977 TV movie, Having Babies II. The second movie was the Empire Strikes Back of the Having Babies trilogy. Yes, there were three TV movies from 1977-1978 and they are about exactly what you would think given the title. All three movies are about couples having babies. The movies were successful enough to spawn a short-lived TV series. The TV series was also titled Having Babies but was later renamed after its lead character, Julie Farr, M.D.
Here’s a look at an 18-year-old Arquette in Having Babies II:
Arquette comes in at 2 minutes and forty seconds.
In 1978, Arquette started showing up all over the dial. First she appeared in the creepy mini-series, The Dark Secret of Harvest Home. Arquette plays the fifteen-year-old daughter of a couple that moves out to the country to get away from it all. They end up in a idyllic town with a dark secret. Bette Davis stars as the stern community leader who may or may not be over-seeing Satanic rituals (spoiler alert: she totally is), future Growing Pains star, Tracey Gold, plays the requisite freaky kid and Danny Noonan himself (aka actor Michael O’Keefe) plays a country boy who is sweet on Arquette.
The whole 4-hour mini-series is available on YouTube. But here’s a clip:
Skip ahead to the 13-minute mark to see O’Keefe in a lumberjack competition. When he falls off his pole, Arquette has an asthmatic episode and it’s Bette Davis to the rescue.
Davis gave the young actress some words of advice that stuck with Arquette:
I remember a day where a camera broke. We were in Ohio, and it was hot. The heat was really hellacious. And she kind of grabbed me, gave me a hug, and sat me on her lap, and said, ‘This is Hell. And just remember, you cannot have a career and a relationship. It will never work.’ And it haunted me all my life! And you know what? God, she was right!
Arquette also appeared in TV shows like What Really Happened to the Class of ’65? and James at 16 (pictured). Arquette played a classmate who befriends James. When he invites her to his house for dinner, he finds out that she is an alcoholic. Because this was a 70’s TV program, that meant Arquette got to go completely crazy while everyone around hr politely tried to take her home and ignore her problem.
Wow, this article is turning out to be a treasure trove of 70’s goodness. I feel like heating up a boiling pot of fondue and taking in an Afterschool Special. Fortunately, Arquette starred in one of those too! In the episode Mom and Dad Can’t Hear Me, Arquette played a teenage girl who is embarrassed by her deaf parents. It’s all right there in the title, people!
My kids are writing their own Afterschool Special titled My Dad Blogs About Actors I’ve Never Heard Of. I’m hoping to be played by David Duchovny but I’m thinking it’s more likely to be Jim Belushi.
Next: Zuma Beach and S.O.B.