So a thing I didn’t know was the name of the actress who played Twin Peaks’ “The Log Lady.”
And now I know it, so I guess today was a fulfilling day after all. Her name is Catherine E. Coulson, and you have never seen her in anything un-Twin Peaks-related.
Well, unless you saw, perhaps, the 1974 film The Amputee (she played an amputee), or ’82′s Trick or Treats or ’91′s Femme Fatale.
But you didn’t see those, nor did you see the made-for-TV movie Ring of the Musketeers, which actually looks like comic gold, you guys, it has David Hasselhoff and Cheech Marin in it! As musketeers!
Also, you didn’t see the 1994 indie film The Secret Life of Houses because it sounded like an architecture documentary, nor did you see the TV movie The Four Diamonds. And I can certainly tell you that, during her 15-year break from television and film lasting until 2009 (when she returned with a role in Calvin Marshall, another movie you likely didn’t see), unless you went to a lot of theater in the Pacific Northwest, you did not see Catherine E. Coulson at all.
The good news is that she did appear in that episode of Psych that had a bunch of Twin Peaks alums as “Wood Woman,” which is so awesome you just don’t even know.
Another thing you might not have known about Catherine E. Coulson is that she was married to Jack Nance, and is now married to a rabbi.
And that is it for things that I know about Catherine E. Coulson.
So, Sherilyn Fenn, right?
So pretty, right?
And crazy, too, right? I mean, in the “actress who prefers independent films to actually making money” sense of the word. I mean, sure, it’s an art, but what do you do when you can’t afford cocktail wieners, Sherilyn? What do you do then????
Anyway, Sherilyn Fenn’s career peaked in the early ’90s with her role as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. (Because I say it peaked then, that’s why.) What has she been up to since then? Well, to find out, first we need to take a look at her past. (Because I say we do, that’s why.)
Fenn’s career began with a role in 1984′s Wild Life, which I want you to know starred Chris Penn, Eric Stoltz and Rick Moranis, making it the most ’80s movie I’ve never heard of. Also, I feel like here is as good a place as any to insert that when she was born in 1965, her name was Sheryl Ann.
Her next appearance was in the made for TV movie Silence of the Heart, which I think I actually watched at a friend’s house, and is about a guy named Skip who killed himself. Probably because his name is Skip, because who would want to live saddled with that moniker?
She appeared on an episode of Cheers in the ’80s, and was in 1987′s Zombie High as Suzi “with an i.” (I don’t know if she actually ever said that, but you would have to assume she must’ve.) Also in the ’80s, she was an an Afterschool Special (remember those things? Whatever became of them?) And also something called True Blood, which has nothing to do with HBO’s gothic vampire series. Her career plodded along briefly along those lines until boom! David Lynch put her in Twin Peaks. (And her career peaked, as I already mentioned.)
(Actually, he had previously worked with her on Wild at Heart, but since her role was “Girl in accident,” I wasn’t sure if that was worth mentioning.)
Things continued to look bright for Fenn in the early ’90s, with roles in Of Mice and Men and … Boxing Helena, which was Jennifer Chambers Lynch’s directorial debut and possibly her attempt to out-crazy her father.
In retrospect, taking that role may have been a mistake, as she followed it up with 1993′s Three of Hearts (not worth explaining) and Fatal Instinct, one of those spoofs that wasn’t as funny as Airplane!. (That’s all of them, by the by.)
Some TV movies here, small roles on Friends there, until Rude Awakening, a sitcom that ran between 1998 and 2001, and that I have never heard of until just this very moment. Anyway, Fenn starred in that, so bully for her! More TV movies and guest roles followed, including one on Law & Order: SVU in 2002, because CSI: NY wasn’t around yet, I guess, and later one on NCIS, because go to hell CSI: Miami! Also, and I think this is great, she played Dr. Harleen Quinzel in the unaired pilot of Birds of Prey, a role later co-opted by previous Whatever Happened to …? Mia Sara! Worlds collided! Boom!
In 2003, she was in something called Dream Warrior, which I’m only including because the title makes me laugh a little, and 2004 saw her in a role in the TV movie Mr. Ed. Yes, about the talking horse. She had a recurring role on David E. Kelley’s Boston Public and finally did get that role on CSI: Miami in 2006. Hell, she was even on Gilmore Girls, a show I never watched. She also had a role on House, but by then they were really focusing on that damn Olivia Wilde’s boring character instead of Hugh Laurie, so I didn’t see it.
And most recently, she was on that episode of Psych that featured the cast of Twin Peaks, and God bless her for it.
So I had already planned to do a “Whatever Happened to …” Piper Laurie today, and then I saw that Leslie Nielsen died, and I cursed Thanksgiving, the murdering bastard that it is. (Seriously, check your local papers the weekend/week after Thanksgiving. There’s a definite increase in obituaries, and I say that as someone who input 25 obituaries today.) So I just sat back, crossed my fingers and said, “Man, I hope Piper Laurie’s not dead too.”
And she’s not! (Yet.) (Stupid murderous Thanksgiving.)
If you’ve never heard of Piper Laurie, you are either a teenager or dead. The woman’s been starring in movies and television series since the 1950s. But after Twin Peaks, I really lost track of her.
Apparently, I was dead, because she’s been really, really busy.
(I’m sorry, Piper Laurie! It’s just that I don’t get out to the movies very often, and I hardly ever watch anything that’s not Chuck!)
If you take a peek at the talented Ms. Laurie’s IMDB page, you will see her list of roles after Twin Peaks is a lot longer than most Twin Peaks’ alums ENTIRE list of roles, because the world at large agrees she is awesome.
Some highlights include a role in something called Wrestling Ernest Hemingway in 1993, which I can only hope was about real wrestling and not metaphorical wrestling, and, knowing Papa H., probably was. She was in a couple of episodes of ER in the mid-1990s as someone named Sarah Ross, which makes me think she probably played George Clooney’s mother, which would be, also, awesome.
She’s had guest roles in Diagnosis Murder, Touched by an Angel, Frasier and Cold Case (but not L&O:SVU, because L&O:SVU is not as awesome as Cold Case. (I assume, I mean, I’ve never even heard of Cold Case until now, but they got Piper Laurie and that other show didn’t.))
More recently, she was in something called Bad Blood … the Hunger, because why not, you know? Her most recent role is in the film Art’s Demise, which comes out in 2011, and also has another awesome actor, Harry Dean Stanton and also that guy who cut off the cop’s ear in Reservoir Dogs. So that looks promising.
So, in conclusion, Piper Laurie is still alive and has been acting her little tail off, and I guess I need to watch some movies or something. Oh, and also, I didn’t know she was born as Rosetta Jacobs, I always figured it was Laurie Piper or something. Or that she’s Hugh’s auntie.
Are you sitting down? I hope you’re sitting down. Because if you’re not sitting down, you’re standing up (or possibly lying down, I guess, or propped up against something, or maybe even curled up in the fetal position), which makes working at the computer difficult.
(By “working at the computer,” rest assured that I mean “reading my blog.”)
OK, so are you sitting down now?
Are you ready? Are you totally ready? I know that you think you’re ready, but maybe you’re not ready. In fact, you’re almost certainly not ready for the wave of awesome that I am about to unleash on you.
Are you ready?
USA’s Psych has an upcoming epsiode featuring — are you sure you’re ready for this? Because this is so awesome, you don’t even know! — the entire cast of Twin Peaks!
OK, maybe they didn’t say “entire.” Maybe they just said “cast.” But they definitely said the “of Twin Peaks” part.
I know, it’s OK. I wet myself a little too, when I heard.
Isn’t this just the best news ever? Right? Anyone?
Jeremy, you care, right?
Sure, I have a deep and abiding love for Agent Cooper, but it borders more on worship than “hey, let’s stay in and watch an action film tonight.” That, and he’s hella crazy.
(People have stopped saying “hella” now, haven’t they.)
Which is why I began looking at Sheriff Harry S. Truman and his head of lush curls with a more discerning eye.
And it’s also why, when I turned off the last episode of Twin Peaks, I said, “Huh. What’s Michael Ontkean, also known as Sheriff Harry S. Truman, up to nowadays?”
(I seriously said that.)
(I wish I had someone to talk to.)
In learning what he’s up to nowadays, I learned a few things about what he was up to thenadays, like he was a hockey player, which I totally didn’t realize, because his teeth looked to be in pretty good shape, ha, ha, ha.
Like many Twin Peaks alums, or at least the one I’ve looked up so far, Ontkean began his career as a child actor, with a role as “Jeremy” on a 1950s TV series called “Hudson’s Bay,” which I have just now heard of. Then there’s an 11-year gap (during which I can only assume he focused on hockey and/or masked vigilanteism) before his role as “Man” on Ironside, which is probably a TV show about a boat, but I’m going to pretend is about robots.
His big break came with 1977′s Slap Shot, in which he played a hockey player and sat next to Paul Newman in a scene or two.
He did some more stuff that I’m not even going to pretend to have heard of/care about, and finally it was the ’90s and Twin Peaks was birthed from David Lynch’s brain like some sort of crazed Athena.
Ontkean wowed audiences by acting like he was in love with Josie Packard, who was dreadfully played by Joan Chen. (As an aside, it took me until this most recent re-watching of Twin Peaks to finally decide that it is not that Josie Packard is a horrible actor, but that Joan Chen is.) Also, he put up with Cooper’s mystic bullshit like a champ. Also, he had that gorgeous head of hair.
And, of course, like other former Twin Peaks stars, Ontkean went on to have a productive and fulfilling career in … wait, where did he go for the last two decades, anyway?
Well, immediately after Twin Peaks, he did some TV movies, including one called Legacy of Lies (1992), which was probably some incest story or something. Also another one called The Stepford Husbands (1996), because no one has come up with an original idea since Twin Peaks apparently. In the late ’90s, he had a role in Disney’s Summer of the Monkeys, which, shame on me, I assumed was a horror film like Dawn of the Dead, but is apparently a family-friendly flick. About monkeys.
Then it was on to more made-for-TV movies, like 2002′s A Killing Spring and guest appearances on the Outer Limits. Which actually happened before A Killing Spring, so I wrote that sentence totally out of chronological order.
From 2004 to 2005, Ontkean played Gordon Matthews on North Shore (some sort of romance drama), which doesn’t even get his name listed above Shannon Doherty’s on North Shore’s IMDB page. That makes me sad. In 2008, he was in the short-lived comedy Sophie, which I’ve never actually heard of before now. (OK, actually, everything on his resume, except for Twin Peaks, I’ve never heard of before now, even that hockey movie with Newman.) His most recent IMDB entry is as Cousin six in a movie in post-production called The Descendants, which makes me hope he’s making a real living coaching hockey or something, because that six is totally not capitalized.
He currently lives in Hawaii, so there’s hope for a guest shot on Hawaii Five-O, which I assume won’t be canceled despite CBS’ insistence on keeping Daniel Dae Kim fully clothed.
So I finally finished re-watching every episode of Twin Peaks, even the really, really crappy ones at the end.
And when it was all over, one thing stuck in my craw.
Why did they let Shelly Johnson compete in the Miss Twin Peaks pageant?
Shelly Johnson is the wife of Leo Johnson, which makes her a married woman, which makes her a Mrs., which makes her ineligible! If it was open to married women, shouldn’t they call it the Ms. Twin Peaks pageant?
And I know that shouldn’t bother me so much, especially when there are far more major annoyances to consider, like: why did they throw Heather Graham into the show at the last minute as a love interest for Dale Cooper?
Why did Billy Zane’s character tuck his sweater into his pants (that were hooked with a belt)?
Why was Sheriff Truman so easily satisfied with someone calling an attempt on his life a result of “sexual jealousy”?
Why did Windom Earle suck so bad?
Why did the “man from another place” have such a horrible, horrible combover?
How did Killer BOB possess Cooper?
WHY DID I KEEP WATCHING THIS SHOW AFTER IT STARTED SUCKING, JESUS!
So, trying out an experiment on this here blog. There’s a lot of actors/one-hit wonders/famous people that I’ve been wondering what became of them. Especially since I started re-watching Twin Peaks, because that show was apparently the death knell for a lot of actors. (Or was it? Pretty sure it was.)
In these posts, I will address “Whatever Happened to …” so and so through some creative use of googling. (By creative, I mean typing in their names and reading some stuff about them. Possibly on wikipedia, which is always truthful because the general public edits it.) But hopefully, it will be more entertaining than reading their imdb page, because I aim to please. Myself, mostly, but hopefully my tens of readers as well.
So, let’s kick things off with our boy Dana Ashbrook, most famously known as Bobby Briggs on Twin Peaks.
Dana Ashbrook’s career began in 1978, when he starred in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! as “Boy on Boat.” I guess “starred” might be too strong a word.
Anyway, he went on to be featured in shows like Cagney & Lacey, Knots Landing and 21 Jump Street, before landing the plum role of “Guy who makes out with Madchen Amick a lot” on Twin Peaks.
After that, I thought he died or something, but it turns out he’s been keeping himself busy doing a bunch of things I don’t actually care about. He starred as Clyde in a TV movie version of Bonnie & Clyde, and he was on episodes of The Pretender (remember that show? Yeah, me neither.) and Charmed, and apparently had a recurring role on Dawson’s Creek.
And of course he’s been on an episode of Law & Order: SVU, because who hasn’t at this point?
Also, he’s been playing “Jimmy” in the television series Crash, which I think was based on the movie Crash, but not the one about people who got aroused by car wrecks.
Also, imdb says: “In his spare time, he plays basketball and tennis. He is also an accomplished harmonica player.” So there’s that.
In conclusion, Dana Ashbrook is not dead, and is probably making a pretty decent living as an actor. Now you know, and I like quoting G.I. Joe. And rhyming. I like rhyming too.
It’s a battle of guys named (descriptor) Bob! Which automatically eliminates Bob the Builder, but he sucks anyway, so it’s OK.
For those of you not in the know, Sideshow Bob is a character on The Simpsons. Killer BOB is part of the Twin Peaks mythos, and is the part that always makes me scream in terror a little bit, because the actor is terrifying.
On to the battle!
Physicality. Sideshow Bob is an animated character with really, really big feet. He played second fiddle to a clown (a Klown?) for many years. From that alone, I think we can infer that he’s none too attractive. Killer BOB, with apologies to the actor who plays him, has scraggly hair and is all sorts of evil/fugly. Winner? Nobody. Gods. They’re both hideous.
Is the physical embodiment of evil? Sideshow Bob is a criminal mastermind (?) who has terrorized Bart Simpson for years, in addition to framing Krusty the Clown for bank robbery and various other feats of evil-ty that I 1) can’t be bothered to list now; and 2) that’s because I can’t remember what they are specifically. Killer BOB is an evil entity that possesses people and makes them commit evil acts, like (spoiler alert!) murdering their very own precious daughter. Winner? You think this is a gimme for Killer BOB, don’t you? Well, you forgot that Sideshow Bob is a clown. It’s a tie.
Actually committed evil-er acts, then. Fine, since The Simpsons is a family show and hardly ever kills anybody, except for all those people that they have killed, this category goes to Killer BOB. Winner? Killer BOB.
Has a strange relationship to shoes somehow. Sideshow Bob has freaky big feet. Like, the kind of feet that make ladies sit up and take notice. Yeah. So it goes without saying that it’s pretty hard for Sideshow Bob to find shoes that fit. Actually, it doesn’t go without saying, because I said it. Killer BOB roomed with a guy above a gas station, and that one-armed man named Mike eventually became a shoe salesman. Twin Peaks doesn’t make sense sometimes. Winner? It’s another tie!
Why is Killer BOB’s name capitalized? I don’t know.
Provokes a deep, almost inadvertent, emotional response? When I see Sideshow Bob, I laugh like a little girl, because I know that Kelsey Grammer is doing the voice acting, and for some reason, that slays me. When I see Killer BOB, I scream like a little girl, because I’m afraid he will slay me for real. Those are both deep emotional responses. Winner? It’s a tie!
Has crazier hair? Killer BOB has scraggly gray hair, which we covered already. But it’s no match for Sideshow Bob’s mop, which doesn’t have gravity to deal with. Winner? Sideshow Bob.
Who’d've thought these guys were so evenly matched up? Nobody! Nobody would’ve thunk it.
The tie-breaking question? Is coming up.
Has a better cohort in crime? Sideshow Bob has Sideshow Cecil, who will live on forever via the immortal line: “And now to kill you. There may be a slight ringing in your ears. Fortunately, you’ll be nowhere near them.” Sideshow Cecil is so cool. Killer BOB has Mike, the one-armed man who has turned into a shoe salesman. Twin Peaks is so godsdamned weird. Winner? The guy whose brother is voiced by one of my heroes, David Hyde Pierce. Sideshow Bob.
Overall winner? Sideshow Bob. I’d say by a hair, but we all know it was the big feet.
Dear Extra who danced into homeroom in the pilot episode of Twin Peaks,
I think I love you.
Not for your looks, because, for the brief moment I saw you, you were markedly average. Not for your brains, because you’re an extra playing a high school student. Not for your fashion sense, because Twin Peaks aired a long time ago, and only Coop’s clothes still look good. No, not for any of those things, Extra who danced into homeroom in the pilot episode of Twin Peaks. I love you for the way you danced into homeroom in the pilot episode of Twin Peaks.
It was beatiful. The bell rang, signalling class time. The last of the extras walked across the hall. And then you — marvelous, wonderful, spectacular you! Did a crazy dance into homeroom. Almost as if you could hear the music that we, the viewers, were listening to.
It was beautiful, and I love you, Extra who danced into homeroom in the pilot episode of Twin Peaks.
(I mean, you’re no Coop, but it’s not like I stand a chance in hell with him.)
(Plus, it’s like everybody in your town is cheating on each other, Extra who danced into homeroom in the pilot episode of Twin Peaks, and I’m hoping that you, as an extra, just wouldn’t have the budget for that sort of behavior.)
Anyway, save a dance for me!
Some characters are dead when their television series begin. Especially when it is their horrible, brutal murders that propel the plot along. Two such characters are Veronica Mars’s Lilly Kane and Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer.
So they have that in common, at least.
But which of them was the better murder victim?
Or is that just cruel to ask?
Anyway, on to the battle of dead chicks!
Physicality. Lilly Kane is played by Amanda Seyfried, whom I believe we can all agree is one smoking hot lady. She’s got the looks, she’s got the figure, and if someone would make me a wig of her hair, I would be the happiest girl in the world. Laura Palmer is played by Sheryl Lee, who is nearly 20 years older than Amanda Seyfried, who has the power of youth on her side. But Sheryl Lee still looks pretty damn good, and also, Twin Peaks is, like, two decades old, so she was young then. And gorgeous. Winner? It’s a tie. I can’t choose between these two ladies, and I don’t think anyone should have to.
Whose death was discovered in a more dramatic manner? Lilly Kane’s body was discovered beside her family’s back yard swimming pool, her head having been brutally beaten with a nearby ashtray or some damn thing. On the other hand, Laura Palmer washed up onshore, her body’s discovery leading to one of the greatest lines in television ever: “She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic!” Winner? Laura Palmer’s wrapped in plastic-ness certainly was more mysterious and gave early viewers their first impression of what we were to expect, so she wins. How lucky for her!
Worked the whole good girl/bad girl routine? Lilly Kane was the most popular girl in school, was dating a movie star’s son and was on the cheerleading squad. She was also having an affair with her boyfriend’s dad, and the local gang leader, and had mommy issues. Laura Palmer was the homecoming queen who delivered Meals on Wheels and dated the high school quarterback. She was also a cocaine addict who sexed it up with whoever, including the embodiment of evil who eventually killed her, and local bad boy James “the worst character in Twin Peaks” Hurley. Also, she worked at a strip club. Winner? Neither of them were angels, but Laura Palmer really, really, really had everybody fooled. So she wins.
Better best friend? And not like in a more loyal sort of way, although Donna (Laura’s pal) would lose here, for totally dating her boyfriend once she was dead in a very unloyal display of thinking with her loins. More like in a who’s best friend is more of a badass? Now, we all know that Lilly Kane’s bestest bud, Veronica Mars, was a bit of a wallflower when Lilly was alive, but once that girl was killed, she came into her own, with the whole snarky girl detective working the cute blonde haircut thing. Also, she totally solved Lilly’s murder. Laura’s best friend Donna Hayward attempted to help solve Laura’s murder, but mostly she stole her dead buddy’s stupid biker boyfriend and was played by the excessively thin Lara Flynn Boyle. Winner? Lilly Kane.
Creepiest murderer? Ahem, spoiler alert, as I am about to reveal who both these girls were killed by. Lilly Kane was murdered by her lover, aka movie star and father of her boyfriend, Aaron Echolls, upon discovering she stole some secret sex tapes he had made of the two of them and was either going to blackmail him with them or just sell them to the tabloids. Which he totally deserved, because who makes secret sex tapes of their illicit relationship with a high school student? Laura Palmer was murdered by Bob, the embodiment of evil/her lover, who, it turned out, was at the time possessing her father. Ew. Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew. Winner? Laura Palmer, for which we should pity her profoundly.
Inspired a kick-ass song? As far as I can tell (via a very cursory google search), nobody’s actually written a song about Lilly Kane. There’s this, though. But Laura Palmer inspired You Say Party! We Say Die! to write Laura Palmer’s Prom, which is awesome. Winner? Laura Palmer.
Was on a better show? Oh, man, this is hard. I love Veronica Mars. Wait, let me rephrase that. I love the first season of Veronica Mars. It was quick-paced, well-written and fun to watch, which is everything television should be. I love Twin Peaks. Once again, let’s make that the first season. And Fire Walk With Me. I love Fire Walk With Me. What a great film! Twin Peaks was quirky and weird and creepy and everything you expect from the mind of David Lynch. Winner? It’s a tie, because these two shows are so completely and utterly different, it’s like choosing between Beethoven and The National. You just bloody well can’t.
Went on to have a career in the movies? As much as I hate rom-coms, Amanda Seyfried is certainly making a nice bit of green for herself starring in them. Sheryl Lee has mostly done television work. (And every time I see her in a show, I have to admit that I squee a little and go, “It’s Laura Palmer!”) Winner? Amanda Seyfried, which means Lilly Kane, I guess.
Overall winner? As the original, the first and the best murdered girl whose death sparked a television series, Laura Palmer deservedly takes this one. But I still love you, Lilly. Don’t worry.