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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 35 years since this smash-hit frathouse comedy was first released. Amazingly enough, Animal House only received mixed reviews when it came out—though both Time magazine and Roger Ebert named it one of the best movies of 1978. Critics didn’t really matter, though, since the film grossed well over $100 million, making it the third-biggest of the year, behind only Grease and Superman.
The film, which was produced by National Lampoon magazine, begins with two Faber College freshmen, Larry Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst), checking out different frats. Ultimately, they’re rejected from the snobbish Omega Theta Pis and join the hard-partying Delta Tau Chi house, which pulls all kinds of stunts that draw the ire of Faber’s uptight Dean Wormer. The college and plot were loosely inspired by writer Chris Miller’s experiences attending Dartmouth (where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi).
Find out which of the cast members went on to stardom and what they’re up to now.
Who was your favorite Animal House character? Let us know in the comments below!
Mary Louise Weller, Mandy Pepperidge
Since playing blonde bombshell Mandy Pepperidge, Mary Louise Weller had a short-lived acting career. She made appearances on several classic ‘70s TV shows, including Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, Fantasy Island and CHiPs, and had roles in The Bell Jar, Forced Vengeance and Bloodtide before making her last on-screen appearance in the final season of Quincy, M.E. in 1983.
Martha Smith, Babs Jansen
Former Playboy centerfold Martha Smith’s performance as evil cheerleader Babs Jansen was a favorite of moviegoers and launched a successful career. For four years, she co-starred on ‘80s TV hit Scarecrow and Mrs. King as well as making guest appearances on some of the most popular shows of all time, including Dallas, The Dukes of Hazzard, Happy Days, Taxi and Fantasy Island. She quit the acting business for most of the ‘90s but has had regular work for the last decade, including, appropriately, a recurring role on recent TV series Greek.
John Belushi, John Blutarsky
As a member of Saturday Night Live’s original cast, John Belushi was already a well-known comedian when he took the iconic role of drunken Delta member John “Bluto” Blutarsky, who memorably sneaks a horse into the dean’s office and starts a food fight in the school’s cafeteria. After the film came out, Belushi teamed up with SNL co-star Dan Aykroyd in a trio of classic comedies: The Blues Brothers, 1941 and Neighbors. Sadly, those roles were his last; Belushi died in 1982 from a drug overdose.
Tom Hulce, Larry Kroger
Tom Hulce’s role as Delta pledge Larry Kroger was only his second movie job. He went on to star in the smash 1984 hit Amadeus and worked steadily through the ‘80s and ‘90s, including a supporting role in Steve Martin comedy Parenthood and as the voice of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Recently, though, he’s dropped off the radar, having had only three film roles since 1996.
Stephen Furst, Kent Dorfman
After playing Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in the movie, Stephen Furst reprised the character in Animal House’s short-lived 1979 television spinoff Delta House. Since then, he’s had dozens of roles on TV, including long-term spots on St. Elsewhere and Babylon 5 and guest appearances on MacGyver, The Jeffersons, Murder, She Wrote, Scrubs and more. The 58-year-old actor’s most recent appearance was the 2006 made-for-TV movie Basilisk: The Serpent King, which he also directed.
Kevin Bacon, Chip Diller
Kevin Bacon needs no introduction, but considering how many roles he’s had since this 1978 classic, you may have forgotten that Animal House was his very first film. Since then, he’s been in everything from Friday the 13th, Footloose and Tremors to Apollo 13, X-Men: First Class and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Currently, he plays detective Ryan Hardy in The Following. He also has two kids with his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer, whom he married in 1988.
Mark Metcalf, Doug Neidermeyer
Abusive ROTC cadet commander Doug Neidermeyer was just the start of Mark Metcalf’s acting career. He has since been in movies like The Stupids and Drive Me Crazy. He’s also had multiple roles on television shows ranging from Miami Vice and Seinfeld to Teen Angel, and a recurring role as The Master on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But you might remember him best for playing a Neidermeyer clone in the classic music video for Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit “I Wanna Rock.”
Donald Sutherland, Dave Jennings
Having gained fame in early-‘70s hits including MASH and Klute, Donald Sutherland was the biggest—and highest-paid—name on Animal House’s cast list. His small but memorable role as a pot-smoking English professor yielded some of the film’s funniest scenes. Since then, Sutherland’s had dozens of roles, from major parts in movies like JFK, A Time to Kill and The Italian Job to a star turn in TV’s Dirty Sexy Money. Most recently, he played the menacing President Snow in The Hunger Games series.