What Ever Happened To….?: 80s Special Request Edition

Posted by: Coco Buchanan

Aka The information you never asked for. I stalk them so you don’t have to!

In this edition of Whatever Happened To…?, I’m answering several requests from friends an colleagues about specific obscure and semi-obscure 80s starts of film and television alike.

1. The blond villain from Karate Kid


aka Johnny Lawrence, played by actor William Zabka. Perhaps the quintessential blonde, preppy bad guy, second only to James Spader. According to Wikipedia,

During the 1980s Zabka continued to define his bully role in the comedy movies Just One of the Guys (1985) [a staple of late 90s Comedy Central programming] and Back to School (1986). Zabka also … played Jack, Audrey’s insensitive jock boyfriend, in National Lampoon’s European Vacation.


Zabka is now 43 years old, and his latest projects include a 2008 drama called The Man in the Silo and the 2007stoner comedy Smiley Face starring Anna Faris. He played one of the prison guards…also, I actually kind of liked this movie.

Here are some more Zabka facts that IMDB has supplied me:

He was not at all experienced in martial arts prior to the filming of The Karate Kid. He was actually an accomplished wrestler. In the years since, however, he has earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do.

Is of Czech ancestry; the Czech translation of Zabka is “Little Frog.”

Speaks Czech fluently.

Is an accomplished singer/musician/songwriter, as is his brother Guy.

Has a sister, Judy

Wikipedia, though, has more relevant information:

During the 1990s and 2000s, Zabka sporadically acted mostly in independent films while studying to be a screenwriter and filmmaker. In 2003, he wrote and produced the short film Most, shot on location in the Czech Republic and Poland. Most (aka The Bridge) had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2003 and won numerous awards at prestigious film festivals. In 2004, Zabka was nominated for an Academy Award for Most in the Live Action Short Film category.

In 2007, Zabka directed and starred in a music video for the band No More Kings entitled “Sweep the Leg“. The video stars Zabka as a caricature of himself, living in a trailer park and obsessed with his role in The Karate Kid. The video includes cameos by several of the original Karate Kid cast members, including Martin Kove and Ralph Macchio. The video received over 80,000 views within its first week of release, and became the number one video on YouTube on March 16, 2007. As of May 2008, it had received 3 million views.

Looks like ‘ol Johnny Pollak Little Frog is doing pretty well for himself.

2. The “put him in a bodybag” guy aka Tommy from the Karate Kid


Apparently, towards the end, in the main fight scene, there was some kid, presumably a part of Johnny’s preppy gang, who yelled “Get him in a bodybag, Johnny!” Someone actually asked me to do research on him. And so I did…

This actor’s name is Rob Garrison, and is originally from West Virginia. He was last seen in 1991 on a TV show called Homefront, playing Sailor #2 in an episode called “S.N.A.F.U.” Other absolutely amazing career highlights include an episode of Coach, a movie called Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal (ummm, AMAZING!) playing the character of “Billy Dare”, an episode of the Munsters Today (amazingly ridiculous that this show ever existed), an episode of MacGuyver.

Unfortunately, the People’s Republic of Wikipedia decided that he’s not important enough to feature in his own entry, so this was all I could get, folks.

3. Patty K. Poole from The Hogan Family


aka Edie McClurg. Patty K Poole, where do I even start? First of all, the fact that Stella and I even know her name or had watched this show in any way, essentially explains any trouble we’ve had learning or remembering new things…..because our brains are too full of Patty K. Poole.

Edie McClurg’s history is fucking amazing, so I’ll only do a bulleted list of highlights. Really though, you need to read her biography on imdb in its entirety:

  • In her early days as a performer, she had to retire from a kids’ dance troupe called Kansas City Rhythm Kids, because the dance teacher was arrested on a morals charge (whatever that is) for “‘dating’ the tall and lissome, yet underage star'”. AHHH!
  • Edie’s proudest moment in life was playing her part in overthrowing the government of an un-indicted co-conspirator, John Erlichman. Seriously.
  • You may also remember Edie Mc Clurg from such films as Carrie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (as the mcclurg-2Principal’s secretary!), Planes Trains & Automobiles (amazing role as the rental car clerk!), Back To School (who WASN’T in that movie?), Curly Sue, and Natural Born Killers.
  • Her TV appearances (aside from The Hogan Family) include roles on Small Wonder, (as Harriett’s mom!!), Mr. Belvedere, The Pee Wee Herman Show, Diffr’nt Strokes, Full House, The Golden Girls (as Sophia’s enemy andl ex-nurse at Shady Pines!), Seinfeld, Empty Nest, Melrose Place, Caroline in the City, Mad About You, 7th Heaven, and Hannah Montana
  • Some of her lesser known film parts include roles from Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, Airborne (blond floppy haired skater boy, how much did I love thee? Let me count the ways), something called Murder, She Purred, Van Wilder, and Air Bud: Spikes Back.
  • She’s done voiceover work on The Smurfs, The Snorks, The Little Mermaid, Tale Spin, Bobby’s World (as Aunt Ruth Generic, clearly), Tiny Toons, Dinosaurs, Goof Troop, Rugrats Movie, and A Bug’s Life.
  • She received a National Media Award for her portrayal of a mentally disabled woman in Bill: On His Own, starring Mickey Rooney. Ummm, Riding the Bus With My Sister, eat your fucking heart out!
  • Named Best Actress of the Chicago Alternative Film Festival for her portrayal of Unabomber Ted Kascynski’s mother.

She’s basically had a role in every TV show, movie, and cartoon ever conceived between the years 1980 and 2009. But, her defining work and legacy has really been the perfection of the quintessential nosy-but-well-meaning redheaded neighbor next door. Though the character of Harriet’s mom (Bonnie Brindle) on Small Wonder was a prototype, Stella and I feel that this role types’s nuances were fully realized, and this fully “birthed”, if you will, iduring McClurg’s time on The Hogan Family.

4. Edna Garrett from The Facts of Life aka Charlotte Rae


Few people remember that the character of Edna Garrett was originally from Diffr’nt Stokes, and Fact Of Life, in its many permutations, is in fact, a spinoff.

Again, Rae’s career, like McClurg’s, is ridiculously extensive, so here are just a few highlights:

  • According to Wikipedia, Rae was a childhood friend of Golda Meir. I still can’t wrap my head around that.
  • This woman is 82 fucking years old
  • Discovered young Mindy Cohn for The Fact of Life while Rae and the TV show were at an all-facts-of-life1girls school preparing for research and casting.
  • Left The Facts of Life at the beginning of the eighth season, because she felt her character was repeating herself. After she tried to reduce her role, the producers and NBC were against her decision of her departure, so she was replaced by Cloris Leachman, who stayed on the show until the show’s cancellation in 1988.
  • Kind of off-topic, but Kim Fields’s (aka Tootie) 2001 film biography is called Kim Fields: A Little Somethin’ Somethin’. Ummmm, amazing!
  • Summary, as per imdb’s FactsofLifeGirlsFan2006, of the Fact of Life Reunion movie…SPOILER ALERT!: “Thirteen years later, Mrs. Garrett’s “girls” have all grown into successful, independent women. After a stint in the Peace Corps with her husband, a widowed Mrs. Garrett is heading back to America, ready for a new life and new romance, and also looking forward to seeing the girls again. Blair is wealthier than ever, after building a hotel empire with her husband, Tad. But she suspects he is having an affair. “Tootie,” now preferring to be called by her real name, Dorothy, has forsaken her acting hopes to host her own talk show. Natalie is a dedicated TV news producer, juggling an active love life with a frenetic work schedule that takes her all over the world. Jo, ever the free spirit, is a devoted cop, wife and mother. It’s been years since Natalie has had a Thanksgiving back in America, so she’s talked all the girls and Mrs. Garrett into spending the holiday together back in Peekskill, NY. When Jo is unable to attend the reunion, her teenage daughter, Jamie, and husband, Rick, come instead. They’re all in for a surprise when Natalie’s not one but two boyfriends unexpectedly show up at the reunion. Trouble soon starts, as both men compete for Natalie’s attention and exclusivity, so it’s up to the girls to help solve Natalie’s predicament.” Oh, Natalie, when will you get over Snake?
  • Got addicted to crack and is responsible for the arson fire at Edna’s Edibles
  • Once told Blair (Lisa Welchel) to go fuck herself and her love of Jesus in a scene that was eventually cut

Just kidding on the last couple. What’s really amazing about her though is her fucking amazing expressions of absolute insanity/senility.

Feast your eyes:


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