Forgotten Actresses from the 80s – Where are they now?


These actresses used to be at the peak of their fame during the 1980s. Check out who they are, their claims to fame, and what they are doing nowadays past their prime. Many of these 80s actresses still look stunning today (or very recently).

Claudia Wells gained initial recognition as Jennifer, the girlfriend of Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly on Back to the Future (1985). However, Wells did not appear on the sequels, choosing instead to take care of her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. Elisabeth Shue played Jennifer in the two BTTF sequels. After a long hiatus, Wells returned to acting in 2011 where she, among other things, reprised her role as Jennifer by providing voice work to the graphic adventure game Back to the Future: The Game.

After appearing in many TV shows and movies, Amanda Wyss got her break when she starred as Judge Reinhold’s Lisa in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). She went on to do Lawrence Kasdan’s Western movie Silverado (1985). Wyss has continued to star in a few more movies like 2009’s To Live and Die (with Joe Pantoliano).

Ally Sheedy was at her most active in the 1980s, appearing in many films like The Breakfast Club, Short Circuit and St. Elmo’s Fire. She moved on to making direct-to-video films in the 1990s, and several guest appearances in the 2000’s. Most recently she is seen in the TV movie Client Seduction in 2014.

One of the prettiest faces and the object of every man’s fantasy during that decade, Phoebe Cates starred in films such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins. Her last screen appearance was in the film The Anniversary Party (2001) where her husband, actor Kevin Kline, and their children Owen and Greta also appeared, as well as her best friend Jennifer Jason Leigh, who also directed it. Nowadays she’s busy as an entrepreneur.

Molly Ringwald was the “It” Girl during the 1980s, the Queen of the “Brat Pack,” and was voted Number the Greatest Teen Star by VH1. Of course, fans remember her for the films The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. But as the 90s loomed, her career began to wane. She also made bad choices during the decade by turning down lead roles for Pretty Woman and Ghost which could have made her a more bankable star. From 2008 to 2013 Ringwald starred on the ABC drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and in 2015 she appeared in Jem and the Holograms. Ringwald also released a jazz album in 2013, entitled Except Sometimes.

Although she made her first appearance in the film Legend (1985) with Tom Cruise, she got her break when she starred in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as Sloane, Ferris’ girlfriend. Since then she has been working steadily in films and television. Among her latest works include CSI: NY, Dorothy and the Witches of Oz and Pretty Pretty.

Singer will always be remembered for her role as the high school student Ariel Moore in 1984’s Footloose; she was 27 already when she played the role. She went on to appear a smattering of TV guest appearances, most notably Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Lea Thompson gained fame for playing Lorraine Baines McFly in Back to the Future. But thankfully, she didn’t let the 80s be her most distinguishable decade. From mid the 1990s to the 2000’s she starred in the hit sitcom Caroline in the City and has appeared in the family drama Switched at Birth since 2011.

Kelly McGillis rose to fame during the 80s through her appearances in Witness, Top Gun and Accused. But after starring in several little-known films during the 1990s, she shunned acting and chose instead to get married and raise a family. Although she has come back to acting (albeit sporadically), McGillis spends most of her time counseling women with drug and alcohol addiction in New Jersey, and teaching acting in New York.

This talented actress, the daughter of actor Vic Morrow, first became known for her appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Later in her career Leigh went on to portray more defining roles in movies like Single White Female, Georgia, and Short Cuts. Leigh is known to be a “method actress” and her body of work has been critically acclaimed.

Although she became initially known as Ferris’ resentful sister in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986, she became a breakout star when she appeared in the huge 1987 sleeper hit Dirty Dancing opposite Patrick Swayze. Since then Grey has done several TV films such as Eye of a Witness. Not surprisingly, she won the TV dance competition Dancing with the Stars in its 2010 season.

Morris became known for playing the mean girl Caroline Mulford in Sixteen Candles. Since then she has worked steadily in movies (The Gremlins 2 and Home Alone 3) and television (Sex and the City). She also currently works in real estate.

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