Hairspray: Where Are They Now?

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Ah, 1988. Songs from Michael Jackson's Bad album were all over the radio, Bill Cosby was showing us a new sweater every week on The Cosby Show, and 19-year-old Ricki Lake made her feature film debut in John Waters' Hairspray. Talk about things that make you feel ancient. Here's what the cast has been up to in the last two and a half decades.

1. Ricki Lake

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I probably don’t need to tell you what Ricki Lake has been doing since her star turn as Tracy Turnblad. First there was the talk show that ran for 11 years. There were other John Waters films, including Cry-Baby and Serial Mom. She did a documentary called The Business of Being Born. She did Dancing with the Stars and came in third place. Lake most recently tried her hand at the talk show business again, but it was cancelled in February after just one season.

2. Leslie Ann Powers

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Penny Pingleton has seemingly disappeared. Hairspray was her one and only movie role, and in the DVD commentary for the movie, John Waters said he didn’t know what had become of her either. If anyone knows Ms. Powers, tell her the world is looking for her. Coincidentally, no one knows what’s going on with the 2007 Penny Pingleton, either.

3. Colleen Fitzpatrick

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That girl you know as the snotty, privileged socialite Amber Von Tussle? She grew up to be Vitamin C. Shall I pause for a moment to let that sink in? Wait, it gets better. The last we heard from Fitzpatrick, she was assaulting our ears with the syrupy song “Graduation (Friends Forever)”. But she’s been working quietly behind the scenes ever since, writing music for the likes of Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato and producing a girl group called The Stunners. And—get this—in 2012, she was named Nickelodeon’s Vice President of Music. She oversees all music for Nickelodeon and all of its sister stations, and is in charge of managing all Nickelodeon recording artists.

4. Divine

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Sadly, Divine, AKA Glenn Milstead, passed away of an enlarged heart not even a month after Hairspray's premiere. In 2011, his estate released Postcards From Divine, a collection of postcards he sent his parents while traveling the world at the height of his fame.

5. Michael St. Gerard

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Although he had several roles after Hairspray (including four as Elvis) dreamy Link Larkin quit showbiz to become a youth pastor. As of 2011, he was working at Harlem Square Church in NYC. 

6. Shawn Alex Thompson

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You know him as Corny Collins, but Thompson has been doing plenty of other things since his days as Hairspray's Ryan Seacrest. He wrote for The Outer Limits, has won three Gemini Awards (the Canadian Emmys) for his cult TV show Puppets Who Kill and has also developed several series for HBO.

7. Debbie Harry

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Debbie Harry, of course, has been busy being fabulous since she played Velma Von Tussle. Thirty-six films and seven albums, to be exact.

8. Jerry Stiller

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Jerry Stiller has also been busy being fabulous since he played Tracy Turnblad's dad back in 1988. It was five years after Hairspray that Stiller got the now-famous role as George Costanza's dad on Seinfeld, then he spent nearly 10 years playing Arthur Spooner on King of Queens. 

9. Sonny Bono

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The same year he hit theaters as Amber's doting dad Franklin Von Tussle, Sonny Bono also became the mayor of Palm Springs. In 1995, Bono became the first (and thus far, only) pop star with a #1 hit on the Billboard charts to become a Congressman.

Sadly, as most people know, Bono died in a skiing accident in 1998.

10. Clayton Prince

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Immediately after Hairspray, Prince played Reuben Lawrence on Another World. He had minor parts on JAG, Third Watch, and Spin City through out the 1990s and early 2000s. His most recent role was in a 2011 Jennifer Love Hewitt video called "Cafe." He was also involved in a 2011 lawsuit in which an undercover police officer totaled Prince's car, then used his undercover I.D. as identity. When Prince went to file insurance, he discovered that the man who supposedly hit his car didn't exist.

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June 3, 2013 - 12:30pm
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