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'Bosom Buddies' Cast: Where Are They Now?

by Kim Potts, posted Nov 24th 2010 3:00PM
Bosom BuddiesWhen I first moved to New York, I lived in a building called The Webster, a professional-women-only building where, for reals, dudes were not permitted past the lobby, and enforcement of that rule was taken seriously.

It was clean, affordable and made the big city a little less scary for a newbie, and when I would tell friends about the place, I eventually shorthanded the description to, "You know, it's like on 'Bosom Buddies.'"

There were no men in disguise hanging at The Webster -- as far as I knew, anyway -- but that idea made for the high-concept, charming, sadly short-lived sitcom 'Bosom Buddies,' the show that sparked the careers of Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari (who, let's be honest, while charming, also made for two of the more unattractive men in drag ever).

The pair played pals Kip and Henry, who donned drag to snag an affordable abode at the Susan B. Anthony Hotel: A Residence for Women after their apartment was demolished.

The quirky comedy ran for just two seasons on ABC -- 1980-82 -- but earned such a devoted fanbase in later syndication airings that there was briefly talk of remaking it. "We were left alone. Nobody was paying attention to us," 'Buddies' showrunner Chris Thompson once told a reporter. "We were all really young, but it was like we had daddy's Porsche. We had $500,000 to play with every week."

The glitch with the re-do plan: It was 1984, and Hanks had become a big-screen star in 'Splash' and 'Bachelor Party,' while Scolari was a regular on 'Newhart.'

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the memorable series' debut on Nov. 27, 1980, it's the perfect time to catch up with what Hanks, Scolari and the rest of the cast have been up to since their days at the Susan B. Anthony.

Tom HanksTom Hanks
Kip Wilson/Buffy

Hanks was graphic artist Kip, who, with BFF and aspiring writer Henry, dressed up as ladies -- Buffy and Hildegarde -- to land a cheap apartment at a hotel for women. Kip and Henry, who pretended to be Buffy and Hildegarde's brothers, also worked together at an ad agency, and started their own agency in the second season.

As for post-'Buddies, you may have heard a thing or two about this young actor after the show was canceled. You know, about those little back-to-back Oscars he won for 'Philadelphia' and 'Forrest Gump' ... things like that.

Actually, post-'Buddies,' Hanks has continued to be a TV presence, including his stint as the embezzling, drunken Uncle Ned who Alex P. Keaton idolized on 'Family Ties,' producing and starring in the miniseries 'From the Earth to the Moon' and 'Band of Brothers,' producing and narrating HBO's most recent World War II epic, 'The Pacific,' hosting 'Saturday Night Live' eight times and producing the HBO series 'Big Love.'

The Emmy/Oscar/Golden Globe winner's big-screen accomplishments are also numerous, including Oscar-nominated performances in 'Big,' 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Castaway,' voicing cowboy Woody in the 'Toy Story' flicks, starring as one half of one of the greatest romantic comedy couples ever, with Meg Ryan, in 'Joe Versus the Volcano,' 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'You've Got Mail,' producing movies like 'Mamma Mia!' and 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding,' writing, directing and starring in the infectious pop music flick 'That Thing You Do!' and starring in and/or producing upcoming flicks like the film adaptation of the bestselling book 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,' a musical co-produced with Michael Stipe and with tunes penned by Barry Manilow and producing the film adaptation of the Tony-winning Green Day Broadway musical 'American Idiot.'

According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, Hanks is the most bankable Hollywood actor of all time, with his films having earned more than $3.9 billion.

Peter ScolariPeter Scolari
Henry Desmond/Hildegarde

Henry, who went along with Kip's plan because his friend convinced him the experience of living at the Susan B. Anthony would make a great book, also launched an ad agency -- Sixty Seconds Street -- with Kip in season 2. Also at the beginning of the second season, Henry and Kip's ruse was revealed, though they were allowed to continue living, in drag, at the hotel.

As for Scolari's post-'Bosom Buddies' career, he won three Emmy nominations as the hyper producer of Dick's TV show on 'Newhart,' also starred in the TV series adaptation of 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' and guest starred on shows like 'King of Queens,' 'ER,' 'The West Wing' and 'Big Love.' He has also recently been heard on the radio touting The Boston Medical Group.

On the big screen, he has continued to occasionally collaborate with Hanks, with roles in Hanks flicks 'That Thing You Do!' 'The Polar Express' and the upcoming Hanks/Julia Roberts/Bryan Cranston dramedy 'Larry Crowne.'

Wendie Jo SperberWendie Jo Sperber
Amy Cassidy

Amy was not only Kip and Henry's ad agency co-worker, but, for a while, she was the only one privy to their Buffy/Hildegarde secret. She also had a big crush on Henry.

Sperber, who also co-starred with Hanks in 'Bachelor Party,' played Linda McFly in 'Back to the Future' and had a recurring role on the TV series adaptation of 'Private Benjamin.' She married and had two children, and survived a bout with breast cancer, while continuing to work on TV shows like 'Will & Grace,' 'Home Improvement' and 'Grounded for Life,' but her cancer returned and she died in November 2005.

Her last works included 'Roger 'n' Me' and an episode of 'American Dad,' as well as continuing to work with weSPARK, the cancer-support organization. Sperber's commitment to the group, which has been supported by her celeb pals Tom Hanks, Eric McCormack and Bryan Cranston, was documented by filmmaker Beth Murphy in the documentary 'The Show Must Go On.'

Donna DixonDonna Dixon
Sonny Lumet

Nurse, model and dance Sonny was the object of Kip's affection, and one of the main reasons he decided to live at the Susan B. Anthony, where Sonny was a resident. She finds out about his Buffy bit in season two, but forgives him for the scam.

Shortly after 'Buddies' wrapped, model and beauty pageant queen Dixon co-starred in 'Doctor Detroit' with funny guy Dan Ackroyd, and the two fell in love and were married. They co-starred again in the movies 'Spies Like Us' and 'The Couch Trip,' and have three daughters together.

Dixon's most memorable post-'Buddies' role was as Garth's dream woman in 'Wayne's World,' and she also guest starred on 'Who's the Boss,' 'Moonlighting' and 'The Nanny.'

Holland TaylorHolland Taylor
Ruth Dunbar

Ruth was Kip, Henry and Amy's boss at the ad agency, Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin, and she had a sneaky habit of taking credit for Kip and Henry's work whenever talking to her boss, the unseen Mr. Rubinowitz. In season 2, when Kip and Henry start Sixty Seconds Street, Ruth is their silent partner, albeit a silent partner with a big mouth.

'Buddies' may be the first primetime role fans remember Taylor from, though she was a daytime soap star on 'The Edge of Night,' where her evil character, Denise Norwood, was so rotten that she committed suicide just to frame her husband!

In primetime, she went on to star in 'The Naked Truth,' win an Emmy for her role as randy Judge Kittleson on 'The Practice' and earn four Emmy nominations for her role as Charlie Sheen's mom on 'Two and a Half Men.'

On the big screen, the sexy 67-year-old is best known for playing Reese Witherspoon's tough, but supportive Harvard Law School professor in 'Legally Blonde,' and, earlier this year, she, Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari, Donna Dixon and Telma Hopkins reunited as the cast of 'Bosom Buddies' at the TV Land Awards.

Telma HopkinsTelma Hopkins
Isabelle Hammond

A Susan B. Anthony resident in season one, aspiring singer Isabelle became the hotel's manager in season 2, where, after finding out about Kip and Henry's secret, she allowed them to remain (still in drag) residents.

Hopkins, who started her career as a back-up singer for Motown legends like the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye before becoming a member of the '70s pop group (and variety TV show stars) Tony Orlando and Dawn, continued her acting career post-'Buddies,' with roles as Nell Carter's BFF Addy on 'Gimme a Break!' Harriette's sister Rachel on 'Family Matters' and as Rachel True's mom on the UPN sitcom 'Half & Half.'

She also had recurring roles on 'The Hughleys' and 'Any Day Now,' and currently stars as Terry Crews' mom on the TBS sitcom 'Are We There Yet?' Fun fact about her singing career: She's the woman who shouts "Shut your mouth!" in the 'Shaft' theme song.

Lucille Benson
Lilly Sinclair

On 'Buddies,' she was season one's Susan B. Anthony hotel manager Lilly, who was among the many fooled by Kip and Henry's alter egos. Teacher-turned-actress Benson was a familiar face to TV viewers, with memorable guest spots on 'Little House on the Prairie,' 'Simon & Simon,' as Helen's mother on 'The Ropers' and as the mother of Roscoe P. Coltrane on 'The Dukes of Hazzard.' After her stint on 'Bosom Buddies,' she played Mrs. Elrod in 'Halloween II' and had a recurring role on 'Alice.' She died of liver cancer in Alabama in 1984.

Chris Thompson
'Bosom Buddies' executive producer/showrunner

Thompson says he was a shoplifting juvenile delinquent who also went through a booze-and-drugs phase before turning his attention to comedy writing, and he was a member of the 'Laverne & Shirley' writing staff when he was asked to steer the 'Bosom Buddies' ship. Post-'Buddies,' he was also a producer/writer on 'The Larry Sanders Show,' created the Tea Leoni sitcom 'The Naked Truth,' co-wrote the screenplay for the Whoopi Goldberg big-screen comedy 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' and produced and wrote the Alfred Molina sitcom 'Ladies Man' (which also featured Betty White) and one of the most underrated, hilarious skewerings of Hollywood ever in the Jay Mohr comedy 'Action.' Most recently, Thompson created the Disney Channel series 'Shake It Up!'

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To answer your question "My Life" was written by Billy Joel and sang by Tom Hanks with the rest of the cast as back up. It wasn't on the DVD because Billy Joel wouldn't release the rights. My uncle co-wrote it along with some Cheers and Mr. Belvedere episodes. Some people really like his work and some don't. To each his own.

January 02 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Holland Taylor is currently touring the country in the one-woman show, "Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards" (about the life of Texas' BEST Governor, Ann Richards)

December 07 2010 at 3:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Garth sings (mimes) to Donna Dixon in Wayne's World. Kim Basinger is in Wayne's World II.

December 06 2010 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim S

The show was released on DVD a few years back and while it can be hard to find, it was part of Big Lots' Black Friday TV seasons sets sale. I picked up Season 1 for $6.

Apparently, they made changes either for DVD and/or syndication and "My Life" has been replaced by other music.

December 02 2010 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim S's comment
Jim S

Although he probably doesn't appreciate the mention, Peter Scolari made a brief, fully clothed appearance in the 1978 porn film, "Take Off" under an assumed name. Barney something or other.

December 02 2010 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Myreah Moore

Hey Kim:) I used to love this show also and like you when I first moved to the Big Apple I lived at 'The Brandon" on the UWS (upper west-side) for you non-New Yorkers. The uptown version of the Webster and I would always tell friends, Where I live is like "Bosom Buddies":)
I have been Blessed to meet and work with several of the former cast members of this show (including Mr. Hanks and his lovely wife Rita)and they were all not only talented by very gracious and loving people.
Thanks Again for the update:)

November 30 2010 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The song is Billy Joel's. The main male singer, even the backup singers and arrangement sound very close to his orginal score, but none of it is the orginal Billy Joel song. Does anyone know who it is?

November 30 2010 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SO THERE!!!!!!! :)

November 28 2010 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I saw this in syndication not too long ago, and they had changed the opening song. Probably a legal thing.

November 28 2010 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Pete986's comment
Marty Daglio

Yeah. Music rights are always a hangup for syndicated shows. The actual stars want way too much money, so they redo the songs to keep from using the originals.

December 05 2010 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the theme song, and have heard it on the radio many times, but couldn't remember who sang it. Somehow I kept thinking Billy Joel, but it never occurred to me it might be Tom Hanks. I've never heard of him as a singer, but then again, there's lots of things I've never heard of. Or wish I hadn't heard of. LOL

November 28 2010 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All I can think of when I see Hanks is how embarrassed he said he was about having done this great show. He has way more to be embarrassed by now. Funny is hard to accomplish and rare to find. This was a very funny show.

November 28 2010 at 12:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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