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Missing Persons Report : ’90s stars that disappeared

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Jamie Walters (“Shout”, 1991)

The front-man for TVs fictional band “The Heights”, in the show of the same name, would never score as big a hit as the song that opened the series – ‘How do you talk to an Angel’ topped the top 40 charts for weeks on end. Walters would go on to dance with a recurring role on “Beverly Hills 90210″, spending most of the time beating on on-screen female friend Tori Spelling. His big film break, and the one that most assumed would’ve cemented Walters career in Hollywood as a Johnny Depp-esque film star was in “Shout”, the 1991 music-drama about boarding school kids discovering boogie woogie. John Travolta, Heather Graham, Linda Fiorentino and (an unknown) Gwyneth Paltrow also featured. But by and large, “Shout” was Walters showcase.

After leaving acting to concentrate on music, Walters hit hardships and instead switched to a steadier job – he’s been a firefighter for the past few years, based in Los Angeles.

Walters told EW that firefighting is where his passion lies and that he’s in “it for the long haul”. Says Walters, “When I was a kid, there was a fire station right around the corner from where we lived, and I used to hear the sirens all the time and my dad would carry me outside. We’d run down the block chasing the fire engine. Of course, when I was busy doing the entertainment stuff, I was like, Hey, I’m gonna keep doing this as long as the ball’s rolling. Then, I was in my late 20s, and I decided I really wanted to start a family and do some other things with my life. I started testing for the fire department, and in California, it’s a very competitive job to get. It usually takes two or three years before you get hired — there are so many tests. I love it. I work with a lot of great guys, and I get a lot of free time to hang out with my kids: We do a 24-hour shift, so you work 24 hours, then you’re off 24 hours. Every five days, you get four days off in a row. I’ve got a 10-year-old son, and three little girls, ages 5, 3, and 1. I get to take them to school. Pick them up from school. We just get to do a lot of stuff together.”

Walters says he’s still recognized from time to time while on the job. “I work at a station right in Hollywood, so every once in a while someone will spot me. I’m older, and I look a little different and people
just aren’t expecting it, so I do get a lot of, “Where do I know you from?” or “Did I go to high school with you?” All the guys I work with are sick of it. They’re like, “Ah, here we go again.””

Megan Ward (”Encino Man”, 1992)

“Milk does a body good. Check her”. Voted most likely to succeed while making men drool, when she first hit the scene in the early ’90s, beautiful Megan Ward featured in a string of films including “Trancers II”, “PCU Pit Party”, “Amityville 1992: It’s About Time”, “The Brady Bunch Movie, “Freaked” and the aforesaid “Encino Man”, with Brendan Fraser and Sean Astin. Later she’d transition to TV by way of a recurring role on “Party of Five” and later, the science fiction series “Dark Skies”. Ward returned to acting, post baby, a few years back by way of a guest stint on “Boomtown” with Donnie Wahlberg. “It was my first job after having [son] Oliver and it took me awhile to get back in shape, longer than I thought it would. On my first day of work, I was completely naked with Donnie Wahlberg in bed with four people in the room”.
Now 42, but still looking a treat, Ward continues to act, and is currently serving a full time sentence on “General Hospital”. Still, Ward is still recognized for her role as Sean Astin’s object of affection in “Encino Man”. Said the actress in a recent interview, “That’s probably my most famous movie. Encino Man seems to have this ongoing life. People still see it so it’s the one thing I still get asked about. Brendan [Fraser] had done School Ties, but he wasn’t famous yet. I don’t know if he’s the same kind of actor he was then, but he was very method. He played Link as a child so he was very friendly, but kept himself in a place of innocence. Our friendship was based on the fact that he always wanted to play my Sega Game Gear [laughs]. But I could tell…. I had a ton of auditions after that movie and a lot of casting directors would ask me about him. He was on a short list of up-and-comers and they would say, ‘Oh, you worked with Brendan Fraser. What’s he like?’ I told every single person that he was going to be a big star.”

James Marshall (“Gladiator”, 1991)

Marshall was one of the many young actors to exit David Lynch’s TV classic “Twin Peaks” and go onto steady feature film work – appearing in the likes of “A Few Good Men” and “Gladiator” (not to be confused with the Russell Crowe flick), a boxing flick in which he plays a shy street kid who, in order to pay off his dads debts, participates in a boxing comp. The film saw Marshall, then essentially an unknown entity in the world of film, share the screen with such – excuse the pun – heavyweights as Brian Dennehy, Robert Loggia, John Heard and Ossie Davis. Cuba Gooding Jr, then fresh from his debut in the acclaimed “Boyz N’The Hood”, also featured in the film.
Though he’s back acting, and also making music, Wiki says “Marshall was forced to take quite a few years off due to illness. In summer 2010 Marshall sued the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-LaRoche (a unit of Roche Holding AG) for $11 million in damages for injuries which, he claimed, resulted from his taking the drug Accutane”.
“James Marshall had the potential to be the next James Dean-like star,” Michael Hook, his lawyer, said. “That dream is gone because he took something to treat acne.” Marshall, who would reprise his “Twin Peaks” role of James Hurley for the spin-off film “Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me” (1992), claimed he had suffered Accutane-related gastrointestinal distress so severe that it necessitated a four-month hospital stay, and the surgical removal of his colon. Marshall’s acting pals Martin Sheen, Brian Dennehy (his co-star in “Gladiator”) and director Rob Reiner (“A Few Good Men”) backed up Marshall in his court case.

Annabella Sciorra (“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”, 1992)

Though the heroic mother at the centre of the babysitter-from-hell thriller went on to gain further, steady employment (in the likes of “Whispers in the Dark”, “Mr Wonderful” and “Copland”; she even popped up in “The Sopranos” – snagging herself an Emmy nomination for her turn) after the success of “Cradle”, Sciorra’s face isn’t seen as much these days. Her most high profile role in recent years was playing opposite Vin Diesel in the little seen “Find Me Guilty” in 2006. In 2010, Sciorra featured in the TV series “Mental”.

Kimberly Williams (”Father of the Bride”, 1991)

‘The Bride’ of the two Steve Martin comedies based on the old Spencer Tracy classic “Father of the Bride” is still very much married to acting, but has spent some time apart from the big screen in recent years. Williams bread and butter lies in television where she turns up for telemovies and commercials (she did a Hallmark commercial with her “Father of the Bride” beau George Newbern) as well as sitcoms like “Less than Perfect” and “According to Jim”, which she co-starred in for a sumly 8 years.

Ostensibly disillusioned with acting, and needing some firework-to-bottom stimulation, Nashville-based Williams made a movie a couple of years ago, “Shade” – it seems to have lit a fuse creatively. Williams said in a 2010 interview that she actually prefers getting behind the camera more than acting in front of it these days, “I really had been wanting to create a movie. I was actually tired of acting. I was a little bored with it, and it was partly the job that I was in. I was starting to need more stimulation and creativity. My husband was the one who said go do it, make one. I thought and thought. Finally, one night I was watching this CNN news show about this disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum, which is a severe reaction to the sun, very rare. Like one in a million in the country have it. That really hit me. Overnight I came up with the story, next morning wrote it all down, and then started cultivating my crew from my friends, and everybody jumped on board. People loved the script and loved the story. I wrote it; I directed it and starred in it. I’m really proud of it. A lot of people have seen it. It’s also raised a lot of money for the XP Society because it’s gotten the word out. And then I went on to direct a few episodes of According to Jim.”

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About OLIVIA MARNE

Olivia Marne is a Melbourne-based University graduate and full-time publisher who joined Moviehole in 2011.

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