Whatever happened to predictability, the milkman, the paperboy, evening TV…and the comedic counterparts to Tom Hanks?
Tom Hanks is mainly referred to now as the guy who makes war movies and the voice of Woody from TV. He’s also one of those guys that you can’t help but like, and really, he’s given us no reason to dislike him. His filmography is incredibly impressive and extremely diverse, and he has five Best Actor Academy Award nominations to prove it. But it’s easy to forget that in the early 1980s, he was a comedian, starring on Bosom Buddies and appearing in movies like Bachelor Party. We obviously know what Tom Hanks is doing today (starring with Julia Roberts in Larry Crowne, if we’re speaking literally), but what about some of his comedic counterparts from the past? Or the younger versions of himself from Big and Forrest Gump. Let’s find out, shall we?
David Moscow, as Josh (Big)
After two appearances on Kate & Allie, as Eugene, a friend of Allie’s son, David Moscow snagged the role of Young Josh in Big. Technically, Tom Hanks was playing Moscow, rather than vice versa, because, well, you’ve seen the movie. It was a role that netted Hanks his first Best Actor nomination at the Oscars (he would lose to Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man); as for Moscow, he next appeared in The Wizard of Loneliness and I’ll Be Home for Christmas before getting a recurring role on Live-In, a CBS sitcom about a nanny that was canceled after nine episodes. His next show, Living Dolls, a spin-off of Who’s the Boss?, only lasted 12 episodes and is mostly remembered as Halle Berry’s first big role.
Then in 1992, he got a role in one of my only-slightly-ironic favorite movies of all-time: Newsies! Moscow played David Jacobs, the kid that Christian Bale’s Cowboy becomes envious of because he has a loving family and an attractive sister. Moscow sings lead on “Seize the Day” and with the rest of his paper-carrying friends for “The King of New York” and “Once and For All.” The film should have led to bigger and maybe not necessarily better, because it’s impossible to top the perfection of “Santa Fe,” but at least more notable roles, but soon after, Moscow got a series of tiny gigs, like Adam in White Wolves: A Cry In the Wild II. He did appear as Lomez, Jr. (“You like that, don’t you?”) in the classic Seinfeld episode, “The Van Buren Boys,” though.
Things got better around the turn of the century, when Moscow was cast as Duncan in The WB’s Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane, which ran for two seasons, and as Michael Ellis, the music director who gives Jessica Alba her big break in Honey. In 2005, he starred in David & Layla, an indie film about a Jewish man (Moscow) and Muslim woman (Shiva Rose) falling in love. In the years following, it’s been a string of films like Vacancy 2: The First Cut. Moscow was engaged to actress Kerry Washington (Ray) from 2004-2007, and according to a Time Out New York article, he’s interested in developing sustainable housing in New York City, where he’s from and currently lives. He continues to act, and can soon be seen in Humdinger.
When recently asked by Wendy Cox, a former-childhood star who starred as Megan in The New Lassie, how often Moscow was recognized as Josh, he said, “All the time. Sometimes people shout ‘Josh’ out loud to get some response, but those are mostly drunk jocks at bars trying to look cool in front of their friends. I pretend not to hear. About once a day someone comes up and asks if I’m That Guy. They give me no other clues — just That Guy.”
Michael Conner Humphreys, as Forrest (Forrest Gump)
For a child actor, it can’t be easy topping a role in one of the most beloved films of all-time, featuring one of cinema’s most famous scenes. If you’re Michael Conner Humphreys, who played a younger version of the titular character in Forrest Gump (and the person who Hanks modeled his Forrest voice on), after you’re told to run, you don’t try to. Instead, you do something nobler: you become a soldier. After Forrest Gump, Humphreys decided he didn’t want to become an actor, so he stayed in school and joined the Army in 2005. He was an infantryman assigned to a tank battalion, and was stationed in Iraq for a year before getting shipped to Fort Riley. According to a Fox News profile on Humphreys, the fellow soldiers at the fort call him “Gump,” naturally. (The article also mentions that while filming the movie, Humphreys asked director Robert Zemeckis when the fourth Back to the Future film would come out, which is awesome.) In 2008, he left the Army, and three years later, he had first post-Forrest acting role: as Eddie in Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers, about the paratroopers who landed on the beach at Normandy before the rest of the troops arrived on D-Day. Tom Hanks must so proud.
Peter Scolari, as Henry Desmond (Bosom Buddies)
Taken alone, Peter Scolari’s acting resume is quite impressive. He’s appeared on Newhart (where he won three Emmys playing producer Michael Harris), The Twilight Zone, Big Love, The West Wing, Happy Days, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show, and done voice-over work for American Dad!, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Hey Arnold. He’s even appeared in Hairspray on Broadway and It Must Be Him Off-Broadway. But from now until the end of the time, he’ll be known as The Guy Who Dressed in Drag Alongside Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies, a show that wasn’t very popular at the time and only ran for two seasons, from 1980-1982, but has become a cultural fascination because of Hanks. It’s a shame, too, because Scolari’s very talented — maybe not Tom Hanks talented, but talented compared to everyone else who isn’t one of the most bankable actors of all-time.
He’s currently rehearing for the role of Ed Norton in a Broadway musical based on The Honeymooners, with Jim Belushi (oh God) set to star as Ralph Kramden (oh God!). He can also be heard doing radio advertisements for the Boston Medical Group, discussing treatments for erectile dysfunction. Scolari was slated to appear in Hanks’s new movie, Larry Crowne, but he had to drop out due to scheduling difficulties. He can be seen in That Thing You Do!, though, as a TV host, and in From the Earth to the Moon and The Polar Express.
Tawny Kitaen, as Debbie Thompson (Bachelor Party)
In Bachelor Party, a criminally underappreciated comedy, Tawny Kitaen plays Hanks’s girlfriend. Without her, there’d be no party and therefore, no movie! Kitaen was a 1980s mainstay, assuming you watched a lot of music videos on MTV and paid attention to the sex kittens in said videos. And really, who didn’t do exactly that in the 1980s? Or 1990s. Her most famous “roles” are in the videos for Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” in which she wore white lingerie and did her thing on the hood of the lead singer’s car (she would later marry that lead singer, David Coverdale), and “Still of the Night.” She can also be seen on the album cover for two (!) Ratt albums, including 1984’s Out of the Cellar.
Not wanting to be pigeonholed as simply a pretty face, Kitaen also became an actress, appearing on everything from Married…with Children to Seinfeld (as Isabel in “The Nose Job”). She even had a starring role on The New WKRP in Cincinnati, as Mona Loveland. She later expanded her acting pallet, to include voice acting (Eek! The Cat) and genre shows (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys).
Beginning in the late 1990s, however, things got rough for Kitaen. She became addicted to pills and eventually appeared on The Surreal Life, Rock of Love, and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. She was charged with domestic abuse against her then-husband Chuck Finley, charged with possessing 15 grams of cocaine, and arrested for driving under the influence in 2008. In the years since, though, she has recovered and is living a happy, stable life, raising her two daughters in California. She volunteers at an at-risk women’s shelter and is a board member for Testimony Life Resources, a counseling center. She also recently appeared on an episode of CSI.
Beasley the Dog, as Hooch (Turner & Hooch)
Tom Hanks is a big enough star now that he can look back and laugh at some of his acting missteps, like he did during the 2006 Academy Awards when he ripped on Turner & Hooch. Sure, Joe Versus the Volcano sucks, but it’s not nearly as embarrassing as playing a police investigator, Turner, paired with a dog. The beer-drinking Hooch, a French Mastiff, is no Air Bud (and Air Bud’s no Eddie) and his relationship with Turner just isn’t believable enough. For a real man/dog buddy comedy, I strongly recommend K-9, with Jim Belushi as The Man and Jerry Lee as The Dog. They’re a ruff pair, but don’t worry, their bark is worse than their bite.
Anyways, Beasley was trained by Clint Rowe, who later worked with the diva-like bears in Anchorman and Borat, and he sadly passed away at the age of 13 in 1992, presumably one day away from retirement.
Josh Kurp takes it back: Joe Versus the Volcano isn’t all bad.