Friday, May 27, 2011

In Loving Memory: Actors Who Made My Childhood What It Was

Let me tell you a little something about myself: I am one of those people who adores Grease. It's one of the handful of films I can quote off by heart, and Kenickie just happened to be my absolute favourite character. At my school's year twelve Foundation Day concert, I went out of my way to be Kenickie. (Not such a difficult feat, as I went to an all-girls' school and nobody was exactly clamouring for a guy part except me.) So I was extremely saddened to hear the news that Kenickie's portrayer, Jeff Conaway, died today at age 60.

Last night I went to a football game where Olivia Newton-John was the pre-game enterainment. (She was wonderful, by the way.) It does bum me out that while I was grooving along to 'You're The One That I Want,' Kenkickie was dying, but them's the breaks, I guess. In honour of Jeff Conaway, today's post will be about the actors who well and truly defined my adolescence, all of whom have been taken too soon.

Corey Haim

Even my mother knew who Corey Haim was, which is big considering that her grasp of pop culture ended when people stopped giving a shit about David Cassidy. It does make me sad to think that we will never again have a complete set of Coreys.

Brittany Murphy

Oh, cluless Tai. Oh, interrupted Daisy. Oh, just married Sarah. After she died, I was surprised to learn how many Brittany Murphy DVDs I actually own. She's the favourite actress you never realised you loved.

Patrick Swayze

Johnny Castle lifting Baby up in the air like he just don't care is STILL one of the few movie moments my friends and I actually cheer about without the aid of alcohol. Whether he's yelling at Jerry Orbach for forcing his daugther to sit in a corner (the horror!) or getting all freaky-like on a pottery wheel with Demi, Patrick Swayze had all our hearts. Also, Roadhouse. Just...just Roadhouse.

Belinda Emmett

She may not have been internationally-known, but for a Home and Away addict such as myself, Belinda Emmett was a golden goddess who died when she was only 32.

Esben Storm

Anyone who's had even a halfhearted look around this blog knows my deep, unfaltering love for Round the Twist, so it should come as no surprise that I was devastated upon hearing that Esben Storm, the creative genius behind the show (and the guy who played Mr. Snapper) died in April this year.

Heath Ledger

I've said more than enough about my biggest childhood crush, Heath Ledger, in previous posts, but I couldn't compile a list like this without adding him. He taught us that it's okay for men to sing their hearts out on the bleachers in an attempt to woo soccer-playing feminist intellectuals.

River Phoenix

Talk about your tragic ends. River Phoenix was the super, super talented kid we first got to know in Stand By Me. Hell, I would've gladly braved those train tracks and that leech-infested water just to call him my friend.

Ashleigh Aston Moore

Now and Then is one of those films you saw a million times, because it was just that good. It told a tale of friendship, teen romance, naked Devon Sawa...and Moore's clueless Chrissie was a highlight for many.

Paul Gleason

Principal Vernon makes the list by virtue of being in The Breakfast Club, my all-time favourite movie of all time. In the film, he was a nasty-pants of epic proportions, and his portrayal of the evil antagonist principal hit home with many a high school student.

Natasha Richardson

She was the loving working mother of Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap, and I can remember really wanting her to be my mother as well. I also wanted to find my twin at summer camp though, so make of that what you will.

John Hughes

No, he's not an actor, but he occasionally did cameos in his films, so that counts, right? Doesn't take away from the fact that John Hughes was pretty damn important. He was responsible for the thinking person's teen movie. These movies had less to do with apple pie and more to do with socially awkward and downright weird teenagers desperately trying to fit in. He gave Andie a quirky fashion sense and a soft spot for cute richies named after major appliances. He gave Samantha a very memorable birthday. He gave Bender a tough childhood and a beautiful new love interest. He gave Ferris a day off. His films look and sound so very eighties, but in each of them lies a message that will go on speaking to each new generation -- you're not the only one who feels like this.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch Grease again. And I apologise in advance to my neighbours, because I will be singing. Oh yes, I will be singing.


  1. So sad. Great post. I never knew the chick from Now and Then passed away though.

  2. I never knew about the death of round the twist guy. And sad that jeffnconaway never got the same fame as Travolta. But the saddest i've ever been has been for River Phoenix and then Heath Ledger. I have nearly every River Phoenix movie on dvd. I always had the fantasy that if a time machine was available, i'd save River :(