The Brat Pack of the 1980s: Decades Later

The 1980s

Ah, the 1980s. A decade filled with big-hair bands and coming-of-age movies. A decade when teen idolization became a huge fad and posters from teen magazines plastered bedrooms across the world. During this time, John Hughes, movie writer and director, made it big by making The Breakfast Club in 1985. Joel Schumacher did the same thing in the same year and showcased St. Elmo's Fire in 1985 as well. These two movies shared some core actors and actresses between them. These stars, along with some peripheral ones, became known as the "Brat Pack" and went on to make a few more movies together.

The term, "Brat Pack," although not well liked by the actors and actresses themselves, was a spin-off of the Rat Pack of the 1950s and 60s, referring to a group of very successful twenty-somethings. Initially, "Brat Pack" was used to refer to only those who starred in the two aforementioned movies, however, in later years, the inclusion of the actors in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders (1983) was allowed.

The nine original "brat packers" included:

  1. Andrew McCarthy
  2. Judd Nelson
  3. Mare Winningham
  4. Anthony Michael Hall
  5. Demi Moore
  6. Rob Lowe
  7. Molly Ringwald
  8. Emilio Estevez
  9. Ally Sheedy

The Breakfast Club

The Actors and Actresses

  • Emilio Estevez
  • Anthony Michael Hall
  • Judd Nelson
  • Molly Ringwald
  • Ally Sheedy

St. Elmo's Fire

The Actors and Actresses

  • Emilio Estevez
  • Rob Lowe
  • Andrew McCarthy
  • Demi Moore
  • Judd Nelson
  • Ally Sheedy
  • Mare Winningham

The Gang

Demi Moore
Demi Moore | Source

Demi Moore

  • Born in 1962, Roswell, New Mexico

Demi Moore lived a very unstable early life, moving around quite a bit as her stepfather, Danny Guynes kept changing his job and moving the family. Her parent had a very rough-around-the-edges relationship and in the middle of her teen years, her stepfather committed suicide. Moore dropped out of school at age 16 and started a career as a pin-up model. She married Freddie Moore, a musician, when she was 18 and became a regular on General Hospital, an American Daytime Soap Opera. Her marriage to Freddie lasted four years.

She landed a job playing a key role in St. Elmo's Fire in 1985. She was fired by the director for coming to work high but managed to attend rehab, sobering up enough to finish the film. She returned clean within the week and has stayed clean since. After her appearance in the Brat Pack film, she made a name for herself in Hollywood with the movie Ghost, filmed in 1990. Today, she is one of Hollywood's most sought after and most expensive actresses.

Demi Moore Trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Married to Bruce Willis, 1987 - 2000 ~ three daughters, Rumer (1988), Scout (1991), Tallulah (1994) ~ divorced
  • Currently married to Ashton Kutcher ~ since 2005 (since divorced)
  • The only "Brat Pack" member with a long-lasting film career
  • Named Demetria, after a shampoo her mother saw in a magazine
  • Ally Sheedy was one of her bridesmaids in her wedding to Willis
  • Legal name: Demi Guynes Kutcher
  • Big-time movies: A Few Good Men, Indecent Proposal, Disclosure
  • Splits her time between Hailey, ID, near Sun Valley Resort, and Los Angeles, CA

Ally Sheedy with Matthew Broderick in War Games
Ally Sheedy with Matthew Broderick in War Games | Source

Ally Sheedy

  • Born in 1962, New York City, New York

Ally Sheedy's acting career started off on stage where she has memories "dancing and doing plays." She danced with the American Ballet Theater from age six to fourteen. When she was twelve years old, she wrote a book about a mythical encounter between Queen Elizabeth I and a mouse called, She Was Nice to Mice. While promoting her book on the Mike Douglas Show, an agent noticed her and immediately got Sheedy into television commercials. She was 15 at the time. Pretty soon after that, she landed some significant television roles on The Best Little Girl In The World and Splendor In The Grass among others.

Almost immediately after the discovery of Ally Sheedy in television, she started to get cast in movies, playing opposite Sean Penn in Bad Boys and Matthew Broderick in War Games. She received starring roles in both The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire.

Ally Sheedy trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Dated Richie Sambora, Eric Stoltz, and Woody Harrelson
  • Turned down Kelly McGillis' role in Top Gun
  • Has been treated for an addiction to sleeping pills
  • Married David Lansbury, nephew of Angela Lansbury, in 1992. Sheedy filed for divorce in 2008.
  • Has a daughter, Rebecca Elizabeth, born March 15, 1994
  • Published a poetry book in 1991 ~ Yesterday I Saw The Sun: Poetry
  • Also known for her roles in Short Circuit and Maid to Order
  • Still acting in B-movies with very small roles

Andrew McCarthy
Andrew McCarthy | Source

Andrew McCarthy

  • Born in 1962, New York City, New York

Andrew McCarthy spent the first 15 years of his life in New Jersey. He then moved to Bernardsville where he attended prep school. He played basketball and performed in numerous plays at Pingry School. At age 18, he attended New York University as a theater student and landed a leading role in Class, filmed in 1983, which launched his film career. He has also been in several on and off-broadway plays as well as numerous television roles.

McCarthy was cast in St. Elmo's Fire and began an addiction to smoking. He has since quit the habit. Andrew also starred in John Parr's St. Elmo's Fire music video.

Andrew McCarthy trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Worked alongside James Spader in Pretty In Pink, Mannequin, and Less Than Zero
  • Starred in Weekend at Bernie's, one of the last "big" films
  • Married childhood sweetheart, Carol Schneider, in 1999 ~ divorced 2005
  • Has one son with Carol Schneider named Sam McCarthy, born 2002
  • Currently with partner, Dolores Rice ~ has daughter, Willow, born 2006
  • Has some short-term roles on television shows and small bits in film

Emilio Estevez
Emilio Estevez | Source

Emilio Estevez

  • Born in 1962, New York City, New York

Emilio Estevez grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side with his parents, Martin and Janet Sheen and three siblings. In 1968, when Estevez was only six, the family relocated to Malibu, CA. Estevez graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1980.

Both Emilio's father and brother decided to use "Sheen" as their stage names rather than the more ethnic Estevez. Emilio chose to retain his family name in order to avoid riding his father's coattails. He wanted to establish himself as an actor, independently, which he did with his roles in both The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire. Soon after he found stardom in these two films, Estevez wrote and starred in That Was Then...This Is Now. Since then, Emilio has been writing, directing, and acting in many movies, the most recent being Bobby, a film about Robert Kennedy. His films today often deal with serious social issues. He mainly works behind the scenes in many of his movies today.

Emilio Estevez trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Was once married to Paula Abdul ~ 1992 - 1994 ~ divorced
  • Was once engaged to Demi Moore
  • Close teenage friends: Rob and Chad Lowe, Chris and Sean Penn
  • Best man to Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers
  • Two children with ex-girlfriend, Carey Salley ~ Taylor (1984) and Paloma (1986)
  • Engaged to Sonja Magdevski, a writer
  • Makes his own wine ~ grows grapes in his backyard in Malibu
  • Has spent his recent years writing and directing

Judd Nelson with Jeanmarie Simpson
Judd Nelson with Jeanmarie Simpson | Source

Judd Nelson

  • Born in 1959, Portland, Maine

The son of Leonard and Merle Nelson, Judd attended St. Paul's prep school in Concord, New Hampshire before pursuing a degree in a philosophy degree at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. His interest in acting hit when he was obliged to audition when accompanying his friend, winning a role in the college play.

After he graduated from college, Judd Nelson headed to New York where he landed a role in Making the Grade. He also had a part in Fandango in 1985 before finding his way into both The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire. From his upbringing, he was able to bring in a degree of "preppyness" to his roles, which allowed him to continue his acting career with roles in Billionaire Boy's Club, From the Hip, and New Jack City.

After that, his career seemed to take a dive. He has been in some underrated, under-promoted movies and television shows. He doesn't seem to have what the casting directors are looking for in recent movies.  He has been cast in some television movies in recent years.

Judd Nelson trivia:

  • One of the nine original "brat packers"
  • Starred in John Parr's music video of St. Elmo's Fire
  • Was once engaged to Shannen Doherty
  • Currently lives in Los Angeles, CA
  • He spends much time reading, writing, riding his motorcycle and playing golf

Anthony Michael Hall
Anthony Michael Hall | Source

Anthony Michael Hall

  • Born in 1968, West Roxbury, Massachusetts

Anthony Michael Hall's career started in the television commercial industry. His first big role in the movies was as Molly Ringwald's geeky friend in Sixteen Candles (1984). He was also cast in television movies, shows, and specials. Anthony Michael Hall also ended up being the youngest Saturday Night Live cast member, although that was short-lived. His one-year tenure on SNL ended when he had to attend rehab for his alcohol addiction.

Anthony Michael Hall's characters in his John Hughes films, including The Breakfast Club, were based on Hughes' real life. John brought in his own personality through Hall's characters.

Anthony Michael Hall trivia:

  • Youngest member of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Birth name: Michael Anthony Hall ~ reversed names because there is already a Michael Hall in the Screen Actor's Guild
  • Has a band, Hall of Mirrors: plays bass, drums, and guitar
  • Briefly dated Molly Ringwald
  • Partnered with Robert Downey Jr. in Weird Science (1985), Johnny Be Good (1988), and Hail Caesar (1994)
  • Starred in USA's The Dead Zone ~ 2002 to 2007
  • Lives in Playa del Rey, CA

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald | Source

Molly Ringwald

  • Born in 1968, Roseville, California

Molly Ringwald is the daughter of blind jazz pianist, Bob Ringwald. At the age of five, Molly starred in a stage production of Alice in Wonderland. At age six, she released an album entitled, I Wanna Be Loved By You, Molly Sings. She had many small roles in television commercials and stage plays in the Sacramento area when she was growing up. Along with starring in the brat pack movie, The Breakfast Club, Molly Ringwald also because a sensation with her roles in Pretty In Pink and Sixteen Candles.

Ever since she became hugely famous for her coming-of-age roles, her career has been quietly devoted to television movies and the ABC Family Network's series, The Secret Life of the American Teenager where she's been a cast member since 2008.

Molly Ringwald lived in France for a few years and is fluent in the language. She was educated at the Lycee Francaise School in Los Angeles and was married to a Frenchman for a few years.

Molly Ringwald trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Turned down the leading roles in Pretty Woman (Julia Roberts) and Ghost (Demi Moore)
  • Married to Valery Larneignere ~ 1999 - 2002 ~ divorced
  • Married to Panio Gianopolous, book editor ~ 2007 ~ daughter Matilda Ereni (2003) and twins, Adele Georgiana and Roman Stylianos (2009)
  • Has appeared in many on and off Broadway plays
  • Her parents own a cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles
  • Published her first book in 2010, Getting the Pretty Back

Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe | Source

Rob Lowe

  • Born in 1964, Charlottesville, Virginia

Rob Lowe spent most of his childhood days growing up in Dayton, OH. As a young boy, he modeled quite a bit, breaking into acting roles in during his teen years. His mother moved with him and his brother, Chad, to the west side of Los Angeles where he graduated from Santa Monica High School. SMHS also graduated Sean and Chris Penn, Robert Downey, Jr., Emilio Estevez, and Charlie Sheen. Rob Lowe became known as one of the "brat packers" for his starring role in St. Elmo's Fire.

In 1988, Rob Lowe was involved with a sexually explicit videotape, for which he served 20 hours of community service. Since then, he has sought rehab and is now a clean and sober husband and father.

In 2008, Rob and his wife, Sheryl Berkoff, had three lawsuits involving former nannies who cared for their children. One former nanny was accused of engaging in a plot to hurt Lowe and his wife by spreading lies. A second nanny falsely claimed to have an intimate relationship with Lowe. The third nanny made twelve allegations against Lowe, claiming he was sexually harassing her and breaking labor codes. All three lawsuits were dismissed in 2009.

Despite his rehab and legal issues, Rob Lowe has found success starring in some television series, including:

  • 7 years on The West Wing ~ NBC ~ 1999 - 2006
  • 4 years on Brothers and Sisters ~ ABC ~ 2006 - 2010
  • 2 years on Parks and Recreation ~ NBC ~ 2010 - present

Rob Lowe has also secured a few roles in made-for-television movies in recent years.

Rob Lowe trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Dated Melissa Gilbert on and off for many years
  • Dated Nastassja Kinski and Princess Stephanie
  • Married makeup artist, Sheryl Berkoff ~ two children ~ Matthew Edward (1993) and John Owen (1995)
  • Appeared in John Parr's St. Elmo's Fire music video
  • Deaf in his right ear
  • One of his best friends ~ John Cusack

Mare Winningham

  • Born in 1959, Phoenix, Arizona

Mare Winningham was raised in Northridge, CA where she attended schools that had theater and drama focuses as their strengths. In her senior year, high school musical experience, she played opposite Kevin Spacey in The Sound of Music.

Mare's professional career started off on television, when she won an Emmy for her supporting role in Amber Waves, a television movie. She got her movie break, starring in St. Elmo's Fire, but quickly returned to television after that. She did star in Miracle Mile and Turner and Hooch, but ultimately didn't make it in the movie world. She has, since then, made acclaimed appearances on television series such as ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. You can also find Mare Winningham in small, non-recurring roles in many television series today.

Mare Winningham trivia:

  • One of the original nine "brat packers"
  • Married to Al Martinez ~ 1981
  • Married to Bill Mapel ~ 1981 - 1996 ~ Five children ~ Riley Mapel, committed suicide (1981 - 2005), Patrick and Jack Mapel (1985), Calla Mapel (1987), and Happy Mapel (1988)
  • Currently married to Jason Trucco ~ 2008 - present
  • She is also a folk-singer who started her career in music back in 1976
  • Attended Chatsworth HIgh School with Val Kilmer and Kevin Spacey
  • Born Mary Megan Winningham
  • Born and raised Catholic but converted to Judaism in 2002

The Memories

The nine original "brat packers" have left lasting memories in the minds of those coming-of-age in the 1980s.  Both films are considered timeless classics today and are played in syndication many times throughout the year.  Everyone who can remember them grew up relating to the trials and tribulations of being a teenager and growing up to find themselves. 

To this day, lines from these two famous movies have been quoted in many American households over the years.

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Comments 6 comments

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Wonderful hub. Now I know why you are a few days behind. Your hubs have such rich information and quality.

Don't they look young!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

Loved the movie The Breakfast Club - one of my favorites although I never followed any of the "brat packers" since. Nice hub with a lot of good info.


Goldentvmemories profile image

Goldentvmemories 4 years ago from London.

Great hub - brought back some wonderful memories - I had more hair in the 80s too!


meow48 profile image

meow48 4 years ago from usa

great hub. thank you for allowing me to remember those movies and the actors. very informative and well presented. take care.


Rolf Baum 4 years ago

I found recent news on that 1980's Brat Pack from movies like Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire including Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy and others on http://hearyeenews.weebly.com/


carrie Lee Night profile image

carrie Lee Night 21 months ago from Northeast United States

Thank you for taking me back ! :) Great hub.

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