15 People Who Guest Starred on Pete & Pete
If Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a way station for future stars on the road to fame, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which ran from 1993 to 1996, was more of a fun side gig for those who had already made it. Below are 15 famous folks that you probably forgot guest starred on the Nickelodeon series. (Or had no idea guest starred, because you were in elementary school when the show premiered.)
1. Steve Buscemi
The future Boardwalk Empire star had a recurring role as Mr. Hickle, dad of Big Pete’s best friend Ellen, and appeared in three episodes: 1993's "Apocalypse Pete," 1994's "X=Why?" and 1996's "Space, Geeks, and Johnny Unitas." At the time, Buscemi was already an established indie movie star, who had risen to fame playing Mr. Pink in Quentin Tarantino's 1992 film, Reservoir Dogs.
2. LL Cool J
In Season Two, Episode 10, Little Pete decides to fake a case of food poisoning, and the grownups at his school—including his homeroom teacher, played by LL Cool J—act like they won the lottery. By the time he appeared on the show in 1994, the rapper (real name: James Todd Smith) was a multi-platinum selling artist, widely considered to be one of hip-hop's first acts to cross into the mainstream.
3. Richard Edson
Character actor Edson, who has more than 100 credits to his name, was also Sonic Youth’s first drummer. To young audiences watching 1993's "Valentine's Day Massacre," in which older Pete develops a crush on his math teacher, he was just a wacky janitor, but at the time, grownups watching probably recognized him as Vito from 1989's Do the Right Thing and the parking garage attendant from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
4. Chris Elliott
5. Gordon Gano
A singer and guitarist for the Violent Femmes, Gano guested as a teacher at Ellen and Big Pete’s high school in 1994's "X=Why?" Gano's big break had happened more than a decade earlier with the release of the Violent Femmes' self-titled album. That record included a little tune called "Blister in the Sun."
6. Janeane Garofalo
Garofalo also appeared in "X=Why?," as an English teacher who calls Steve Buscemi—er, Mr. Hickle—in a rage after Ellen asks her why they they have to learn "any of this stuff." Like Elliott, Garofalo was already a pretty well-respected comedian. She had starred on The Ben Stiller Show, and would join Saturday Night Live and appear in Reality Bites the same year her Pete & Pete episode aired.
7. Debbie Harry
The '70s rock legend and Blondie frontwoman pops up as one of the Wrigley family’s neighbors in 1993's "New Year's Pete." Big and Little Pete try to convince her to let them sweep her yard for land mines.
8. Patty Hearst
While their parents are out of town in 1996's "35 Hours," Pete and Pete accidentally sell their house to John Waters pal, Cry-Baby star, and kidnapping victim Patty Hearst. Oops.
9. Luscious Jackson
If the band on stage at younger Pete’s middle school dance looked familiar, that’s because they were ‘90s alt-rockers Luscious Jackson. Although their biggest hit, "Naked Eye," was still a year away at the time of their 1996 "Dance Fever" cameo, the group had already appeared at Lollapalooza, been featured on the Clueless soundtrack, and were musical guests on Saturday Night Live and House of Style. (Fun fact: Member Kate Schellenbach was the original drummer for the Beastie Boys.)
10. John McLaughlin
When Dad's bowling ball is up for grabs, the uncompromising political commentator, playing himself, shows up to voice his support for Big Pete’s bid in 1994's "When Petes Collide." It makes sense, given that McLaughlin had been tackling the important issues of the day on his show, The McLaughlin Group, since 1982.
11. Bebe Neuwirth
The Broadway star and Cheers alumna—she played Frasier's wife, Dr. Lilith Sternin—was featured in two episodes, 1994's "The Call" and "Sick Day," as an observant Wellsville mail carrier, who keeps a recorder with her at all times in order to take note of the things she sees on her route.
12. Kate Pierson
Pierson, singer for the B-52s, has a cameo as an eccentric millionaire who helps the boys figure out what happened to Mr. Tastee in 1993's "What We Did On Our Summer Vacation." Offscreen, Pierson and her band were credited with helping start rock's new wave movement. In fact, in a 1980 interview with Rolling Stone, John Lennon says the group's hit "Rock Lobster" inspired him to get back in the studio.
13. Iggy Pop
The legendary punk rocker appears in several episodes as James “Pop” Mecklenburg—dad to the cast-wearing Nona, who is Little Pete’s best friend. The Stooges frontman (and pal of David Bowie) was featured in 1994's "Halloweenie" and "Farewell, My Little Viking," 1995's "Road Warrior," and 1996's "Dance Fever."
14. Michael Stipe
After Mr. Tastee disappears, R.E.M.’s Stipe plays a cranky old fisherman peddling sludgesicles to the children of Wellsville in 1993's "What We Did On Our Summer Vacation." At the time, his band was enjoying massive critical and commercial success, thanks to 1991's Out of Time and 1992's Automatic for the People.
15. Adam West
Exhibit 489809 that Pete & Pete was the coolest show ever: Batman played Little Pete’s killjoy principal in 1995's "Last Laugh" and "Allnighter."
All images courtesy of Nickelodeon.