Friday, October 17, 2008

Tiffany Brissette

Tiffany Brissette is a former child star known for her role as Voice Input Child Identicant ("V.I.C.I.," pronounced "Vicki") the robot on the successful mid-1980s sitcom, Small Wonder. Brissette was born on December 26, 1974 in Paradise, California.

Brissette began her entertainment career in the late 1970s. Her mother was her biggest fan, entering her in many beauty pageants and talent competitions as a child. Such early exposure eventually led to television voice-over work and appearances in commercials for products such as the Care Bears, Florida Orange Juice, IBM, and Jell-O Puddin' Pops, to name just a few.

Brissette's first television role was in the made-for-TV move, A Woman Called Golda, where her voice was used, but she was not shown. She also had a minor voice role in the 1982 mini-series, Marco Polo. Brissette followed up with a minor role in the 1983 big screen movie, Heart Like a Wheel. In 1984 she appeared of several episodes of the hit sitcom, Webster. Her early roles led to her greatest success in 1985, when she landed a starring role on the hit sitcom, Small Wonder.

As previously mentioned in the profiles for Jerry Supiran and Emily Schulman, Small Wonder was a very usual show. Small Wonder was a hit in syndication and the show focused on the Lawson family. The parents of the Lawson family were Ted and Joan Lawson, played by Dick Christie and Marla Pennington, respectively. The son of the Lawson family was Jamie Lawson, played by Jerry Supiran. Ted Lawson worked as an engineer/inventor for United Robotronics, working on a robot for assisting handicapped children. Ted invented the V.I.C.I. robot, which was an android that looked like a 10-year-old girl. The Lawson family pretended that Vicki was the family's adopted daughter.

The show was generally focused on Vicki and her interactions with Jamie and other kids such as the annoying next door neighbor, Harriet Brindle (played by Emily Schulman). Even though Small Wonder was a weird show, I have to admit that I did watch it regularly during its initial run. I liked Brissette on the show - she was very cute and played a monotone robot with some skill. Granted, it probably was not that difficult to play a robot, but Brissette was good in her role and was undoubtedly the main draw of the show.

Brissette acted on Small Wonder until the show's cancellation in 1989. Unfortunately, Brissette's carrer practically ended with the cancellation of Small Wonder. Brissette made minor appearances on shows such as Teen Win, Lose or Draw and Parker Lewis Can't Lose between 1989 and 1991. She also appeared in a Debbie Gibson charity sci-fi play in 1991 with fellow sitcom actresses Josie Davis (from Charles in Charge) and Alyssa Milano (from Who's The Boss?), as shown in the picture below:

Unfortunately, Brissette has not managed to secure any acting roles since the early 1990s. I think it is a shame, as Brissette was a very attractive young woman and a decent actress, albeit for a sitcom. Brissette has apparently also shied away from publicity since the early 1990s as her acting roles dried up. I was, however, able to locate a few photos of her from the past decade. The picture on the left below was supposedly taken in 1999 - as shown, Brissette was still looking very good in her mid-20s. The picture on the right is of Brissette and her mother along with friends - this photo was supposedly taken in Hawaii in 2001.

In her personal life, Brissette has taken up running and is a good distance runner. On March 2, 1997, she participated in the Los Angeles Marathon and finished in 4:33:06. She placed 921st among 5,312 females, and 101st out of 545 in her age class. She placed 5,110th in an overall field of 15,899 entrants. In 2001, Brissette ran the Sunrise Stampede 10K race in a time of 46:52, which is a pace of 7:32/mile - for a female runner, that is a very good 10K time. Brissette is also supposedly the woman in the middle of the picture below on the right - this photo was apparently taken during fall 2002 at a charity marathon race.

Brissette has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Westmont College and currently lives in Boudler Colorado. She has worked as a nanny in the past and is studying to be a nurse. She is also an experimental dancer. In 2007 she appeared in a "Child Stars Revisited" video. Here are some pictures of Brissette that were taken in 2007:

As one can see from the pictures above, Brissette has changed quite a bit since her days on Small Wonder. She used to be absolutely adorable, but unfortunately her cuteness seems to have faded. She either had a really bad hair day when the pictures below were taken, or she has aged very poorly. For this and her effectively dead acting career, there can be no dispute that Tiffany Brissette is one washed-up celebrity!

*** Update - May 22, 2009 ***

I just discovered that Tiffany Brissette was interviewed on The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet in January 2009. She looks cute again, so maybe the 2007 photos were taken when she was having a bad day. During her appearance, Brissette mentioned that she currently lives in Boulder, Colorado and is still in nursing school. She also said that she enjoys skiing and biking. She is not yet married and does not have any children.

*** Update - May 31, 2012 *** 

Tiffany was interviewed by the New York Post after the story broke about Jerry Supiran being homeless and living under a bridge. Tiffany is apparently doing well - she mentioned that she voluntarily left acting herself to pursue a normal life after Small Wonder went off the air. She is still living in Boulder, Colarado and is now a nurse.

Tiffany Brissette seems to do well for herself. Accordingly, I no longer consider her to be washed up. I will, however, keep her profile up because I know that it is hard to find good information about her on the Internet and her fans like reading about her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder is an actress best known for her role as "Lois Lane" in the hit movie Superman and its sequels. Kidder was born on October 17, 1948 in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

As a child Kidder's goal was to eventually become a movie star. However, she experienced constant mood swings, but wasn't sure why. She tried to commit suicide several times - the first time was at age 14 - but would quickly recover the days following such mood swings. Kidder's father was a mining engineer and her family move frequently - she attended 11 different schools over a 12-year period. In an effort to help her deal with her emotional problems, Kidder's parents sent her to a boarding school where she took part in school plays such as Romeo and Juliet.

After graduating from high school, Kidder moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. After struggling for a while, she eventually acquired a Canadian agent and appeared in some TV shows. During the late 1960s, Kidder was based in Toronto, and appeared in a number of TV drama series for the CBC, including guest appearances on Wojeck, Adventures in Rainbow Country, and an occasional role as a young reporter on McQueen.

In 1971, Kidder appeared as a barmaid in several episodes of Nichols, a comedy Western TV show starring James Garner. Kidder lived in a beach house in Los Angeles with fellow actress Jennifer Salt during the early 1970s. While living at the beach house, Kidder and Salt befriended several struggling filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg. Kidder eventually became involved with De Palma and he later cast her in a leading role in his 1973 motion picture, Sisters.

Kidder also had small roles in minor movies and in TV shows such as Barnaby Jones, Baretta, Wide World Mystery, and Switch during the mid-1970s. In an apparent effort to raise her profile, Kidder also appeared nude in the March 1975 issue of Playboy.

Kidder's biggest break came in 1978 when she was cast as Lois Lane in the hugely successful Superman movie. Kidder's portrayal of Lois Lane as an ambitious yet vulnerable and emotionally lonely woman trying to succeed received rave reviews and made her a major movie star. Kidder reprised her role for Superman II, III, and IV. Despite her success, Kidder pissed off the Superman producers when she foolishly publicly criticized the decision to replace Richard Donner with Richard Lester as director of 1980's Superman II. As an apparently punishment, Kidder's role in Superman III was limited to a mere 5 minutes of the film.

Kidder followed up her success in Superman with an appearance in the 1979 hit horror flick, The Amityville Horror. She also appeared in many lesser roles in TV shows and in movies throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

In her personal life, Kidder has dated former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and director Brian De Palma, as discussed above. She has been married and divorced 3 times - to American novelist Thomas McGuane (with whom she had her only child, daughter Maggie, in 1976), to actor John Heard, and to French film director Philippe de Broca. None of her marriages lasted longer than a year. Since her divorce from De Broca in 1984, she has said that she prefers the companionship of her dogs.

Kidder's life had some unusual twists and turns during the 1990s. In 1990 Kidder was involved in a horrible car accident and went bankrupt when she was unable to work for two years. Kidder suffered horrible pain in her neck and took medication that left her mind "muddied."

In 1996 Kidder apparently suffered a nervous breakdown after a computer virus destroyed three years worth of files stored on her computer's hard drive. Kidder immediately began fearing that her ex-husband Thomas McGuane was trying to kill her. Kidder's paranoia caused her to leave her home and live on the street for a few days. After several days of living on the streets, Kidder was discovered hiding in a neighbor’s bushes. Kidder had cut her hair short with a safety razor in an effort to disguise herself and the neighbors mistook her for a homeless woman. Kidder claimed that during the previous days, she visited other men living in cardboard boxes and smoking crack pipes. One of the bums, named Charlie, looked after Kidder and gave her some food to eat. However, not all of the homeless men treated her well - another homeless man allegedly tried to rape Kidder, kicking her in the stomach, hitting her in the face and dislodging the caps on her front teeth.

Kidder was eventually discovered by police in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, and taken to a hospital for observation. Kidder was diagnosed with manic depression and given treatment. Kidder recovered and has since appeared in minor roles on various TV shows over the past decade.

Kidder is well-known for her left-wing politics and was publicly derided during the first Persian Gulf War for criticizing the U.S.'s war efforts. Kidder's criticism earned her the nickname, "Baghdad Betty."

Margot Kidder rose from obscurity to become one of the best-known actresses on the late-1970s. However, mental illness and her loud, opinionated mouth quickly killed her career. Although she has had a steady stream of minor acting roles over the past 20+ years, Kidder is not even close to being a "Hollywood star" right now. Accordingly, there can be no doubt that Margot Kidder is one washed-up celebrity!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Zachery Ty Bryan

Zachery Ty Bryan is a former child star best known for his role as "Brad Taylor" for his role on the hit 1990s sitcom, Home Improvement.

Bryan was born on October 9, 1981 in Aurora, Colorado. He began his entertainment career appearing in print and television advertising. He later moved to California and was cast in 1991 in his break-through role as Brad Taylor on Home Improvement. Bryan was one of three child stars in the fictional Taylor family on Home Improvement. The other two were Jonathan Taylor Thomas (who played "Randy Taylor") and Taran Noah Smith (who played "Mark Taylor"). (Of the three child actors in the Taylor family, Bryan is the only one not hounded by homosexual rumors, despite what the picture on the lower right below might seem to imply.)

The Brad Taylor character was an athlethic-type kid who was also somewhat of a punk. He was also known for sporting a long mullet. During the first few seasons of Home Improvement, Brad and Randy would often gang up to make fun of their weirdo brother, Mark. Brad would also frequently act before thinking things through, causing him to often end up in trouble.

Home Improvement was a massive hit during its run from 1991-1998 and made Bryan a star and somewhat of a heartthrob. His role led to some subsequent roles in motion pictures, including roles in First Kid (1996), The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), and The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006). His most memorable movie scene is perhaps one from First Kid in which Sinbad fired an enormous spitball at him:

Although he has managed to act in a number of small roles ever since Home Improvement went off the air, it is clear that the demand for Bryan has diminished substantially over the years. Wearing see-through shirts such as the one shown below certainly cannot be helping his career prospects.

Bryan's personal life is apparently somewhat hectic. In April 2008 he was staying at a Choice Hotel in San Diego when he allegedly went across the street to grab a Gatorade. When he returned, the hotel employees refused to let Bryan go upstairs to his room because the room was not reserved in his name. The hotel employees appear to have been under the assumption that Bryan was some kind of homeless vagrant when he returned to the hotel.

Bryan claims that hotel employees refused to let Bryan call up to the room to speak with his wife. This refusal apparently caused Bryan to fly off into a rage. In response to Bryan's behavior, a hotel employee whipped out a taser gun and tased Bryan in his neck. Bryan is currently suing Choice Hotels for $25,000 as a result of this embarrassing incident.

Although Bryan has appeared on a hit sitcom, became the "Spitball Kid" in a major motion picture, and has acted in several additional roles over the years, the fact that hotel employees automatically assumed that he was a homeless vagrant speaks volumes. Accordingly, there can be no doubt that Zackary Ty Bryan is one washed up celebrity!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Tracey Gold

Tracey Gold (born Tracey Claire Fisher) is a former child star best known for her role as Carol Seaver on the hit 1980s sitcom, Growing Pains. Gold was born on May 16, 1969 in New York City and began acting at age four. Her first entertainment job was for a Pepsi print advertisement.

Gold had a fairly prolific acting career in her youth, appearing with small non--recurring roles in many different shows, including hit shows such as Eight Is Enough, Fantasy Island, and Trapper John, M.D. In 1979, she obtained a recurring role on the one season of the TV show, Shirley, with Shirley Jones. In 1983 she had another recurring role in the sitcom Goodnight, Beantown, with Bill Bixby. Unfortunately for Gold, both of those shows were cancelled after a single season apiece. In 1981, Gold thought that she finally got her big break when she was cast as the youngest daughter in the hit sitcom Gimme A Break!, until she was replaced by actress Lara Jill Miller shortly before that show went into production.

Gold's minor roles throughout her childhood and early teen years did, however, lead to her career-defining role as Carol Seaver on Growing Pains. Growing Pains was a very successful sitcom and Gold was popular among the show's teenage fan base for her cute and wholesome girl next door looks. [This, of course, is a sharp contrast from her young co-star, fellow washed-up celebrity Jeremy Miller, who was, according to the IMDB message boards, very popular with the show's gay fan base.] Gold was integral in many of the show's storylines, several of which dealt her attraction to boys and her excellent performance in high school.

Despite being a successful child actress and co-starring on a hit TV show, Gold suffered through a highly publicized battle with anorexia nervosa. Gold claimed that she became practically obsessed with her weight and began restricting what she ate. At the age of 11, she was diagnosed as being in the early stages of anorexia nervosa after simultaneously losing weight while going through a growth spurt. Gold went into counseling over this issue and eventually returned to a normal weight.
In 1988, Gold put on some weight during Growing Pains' hiatus. Despite knowing about Gold's previous weight issues, the show's writers wrote storylines where Gold was to be subject to many fat jokes during successive episodes. Gold once again began obsessing about her weight, dropping from 133 lbs to 110 lbs while on a 500 calorie per day diet. Over the next couple years, Gold continued to drop weight, eventually getting down to a weight around 80 lbs. During the final season on Growing Pains, the show's producers suspended Gold from the show because of her gaunt appearance. She appeared in the Christmas 1991 episode but didn't appear in any more episodes until late spring, 1992.

After Growing Pains went off the air in 1992, Gold finally started to get her life in order and eventually got well enough to return to a healthy weight. In 1994 she acted in the TV movie, For the Love of Nancy, a movie about a young woman battling anorexia.

Gold still occasionally acts, although not nearing as frequently as she used to do back in her youth. On the personal side, Gold got married in 1994 and has four children. On September 3, 2004, Gold put her own life and the lives of everyone in her family in danger when she was driving her family in an SUV while intoxicated. Gold lost control of the SUV, rolling it down a California freeway embankment. The accident nearly killed her 7-year-old son, Sage, who suffered a broken clavicle and a head laceration. Gold was arrested and charged with a DUI.

Although Gold was a successful child actor and courageously won her battle with anorexia nervosa, the fact the she put the lives of everyone in her family in jeopardy by driving drunk makes Tracey Gold one washed up celebrity!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Barry Williams

Barry Williams (birth name: Barry William Blenkhorn) is a former child star best known for his role as "Greg Brady" on the hit early 1970s family sitcom, The Brady Bunch.

Williams was born on September 30, 1954 in Santa Monica, California. He grew up near actor Peter Graves. As a young child, he constantly asked Graves for show biz advice. At age 11 Williams changed his name from Barry William Blenkhorn to Barry Williams and hired an acting coach. He also took acting classes to learn film and television techniques.

Williams quickly landed a lead role in an educational school film entitled "Why Johnny Can't Read." Williams later made his television debut in an episode of Dragnet in 1967. He followed up with small roles in other television shows, such as "Gomer Pyle" and "The Mod Squad." In 1969 Williams acquired his role as Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch and became a big television star and heartthrob for teenage girls.

The Brady Bunch was a family sitcom about a blended family - a man ("Mike Brady" - played by Robert Reed) with three boys married a woman ("Carol Brady" - played by Florence Henderson) with three girls. After marriage, they moved in together as a big, happy family. Greg Brady was the oldest male child on The Brady Bunch and was an integral character on the show. The show dealt with, among other things, Greg Brady's teenage angst and his chasing of girls.

The child actors on The Brady Bunch sometimes sang songs, in an apparent effort to attract viewers of The Partridge Family, another family sitcom that was popular in the early 1970s. In 1972, Williams and the other child actors from The Brady Bunch appeared on a music album entitled, "The Kids From The Brady Bunch." The album's most popular song was, "It's a Sunshine Day."

The Brady Bunch was a popular show during its original run and remained popular in syndication for many years after the show's cancellation. However, the show's popularity has forever typecast Williams in his Greg Brady role. After the cancellation of The Brady Bunch in 1974, Williams experienced great difficulty in obtaining new acting roles. Williams was apparently so desperate for cash that he agreed to reprise his role as Greg Brady for the 1977 television variety show, The Brady Bunch Hour. Williams later reprised his Greg Brady role in the failed 1990 sitcom, The Bradys.

Williams has also appeared in several made-for-television Brady Bunch movies, including The Brady Girls Get Married (1981), A Very Brady Christmas (1988), and The Brady Bunch Movie (1995). Each of the Brady Bunch movies has been universally derided as being pure crap.

Williams was apparently a horndog in real life, as he tried to hook up with Florence Henderson, who played his mother on the show. In 1992, his autobiography, Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg was published. In his book, he claimed to have gone on a date with Henderson and to have hooked up with his Brady Bunch sister, Maureen McCormick. (His romantic exploits appear to have been limited to women - I was unable to find any evidence that Williams ever tried to get with the openly gay Robert Reed, who played his father on the show and actually died from complications due to AIDS in 1992).

Williams also claimed to have been a heavy drug user and was supposedly high on pot during the filming of several episodes of the Brady Bunch. Williams' book was on the New York Times' Bestseller list for three months and was later adapted into the 2000 made-for-television movie, Growing Up Brady.

The 30+ years since The Brady Bunch was cancelled have not been kind to Williams. He actually looks like he is far older than Florence Henderson, the 74-year-old actress who played his mother!

Williams seems to be desperate for cash and attention and will do practically anything to try to get his name back in the spotlight. In 2000 he released the horrible song "The Real Greg Brady," a spoof of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady." Williams also began touring local clubs, singing various "comedy" songs. He even opened for "The Monkees" at the Hollywood House of Blues during the summer of 2001.

In 2002, Williams appeared on an episode of Celebrity Boxing on the FOX network. Williams fought Danny Bonaduce and basically got his ass handed to him. Although much taller and bigger than Bonaduce, he was pummeled, knocked down five times before the referee finally called the match during the second round.

Williams now operates a fan portal/blog entitled The Greg Brady Project. Williams also hosts "The Barry Williams Show" on Sundays through Fridays on Sirius Satellite Radio's "Totally '70s" channel.

Williams' star has faded dramatically since The Brady Bunch went off the air in 1974. Unable to deal with his loss of fame and decreased cash flow, Williams has basically whored himself out and will do practically anything for money. For this and the fact that he looks a good 15 years older than his biological age, there can be no doubt that Barry Williams is one washed up celebrity!