The Cast of “Sixteen Candles”: Where Are They Now?

Forty years after the iconic John Hughes teen comedy premiered, see the cast then and now

<p>Alamy</p> Michael Shoeffling, Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald in


Michael Shoeffling, Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald in 'Sixteen Candles' in 1984

Sixteen Candles may be the very definition of a problematic fave. The John Hughes-directed teen comedy was a critical success and a commercial hit when it premiered in theaters on May 4, 1984, and went on to become a retro classic.

The story of a lovelorn teenage girl (Molly Ringwald) whose own family forgets her birthday, the film has continued to strike a chord with audiences to this day, even as they reconsider some of its more controversial moments.

Much of the film’s staying power is due to the hilarious performances of its sprawling cast of oddballs — including brief appearances by a young John and Joan Cusack and Jami Gertz, as well as a cameo by Zelda Rubinstein.

On the film’s 40th anniversary, take a look back at Sixteen Candles’ stars, then and now.

Molly Ringwald as Sam Baker

<p>Mary Evans/UNIVERSAL PICTURES/Ronald Grant/Everett; Dia Dipasupil/Getty</p> Molly Ringwald in 1994 and in 2024

Mary Evans/UNIVERSAL PICTURES/Ronald Grant/Everett; Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Molly Ringwald in 1994 and in 2024

Molly Ringwald was just 15 years old when she was cast as Sixteen Candles’ protagonist Sam, a suburban teen whose family forgets about her 16th birthday amidst the chaos of her older sister’s impending wedding.

The film, Ringwald’s third, marked the beginning of her work with John Hughes, who subsequently cast her in iconic roles in The Breakfast Club (1985) and Pretty in Pink (1986). Ringwald has worked consistently in film, television and theater for the past four decades, moving into more adult roles in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In the late ‘90s and 2000s, she took on supporting roles in films like Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999), Not Another Teen Movie (2001), Jem and the Holograms (2015) and The Kissing Booth (2018) that harkened back to her teen stardom in the ’80s.

She also starred in several Broadway productions, including Cabaret and Sweet Charity. On TV, she starred in ABC’s four-part adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand (1994), ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager from 2008 to 2013, and had a recurring role on The CW’s Riverdale from 2017 to 2023.

She’s also appeared in several French films and translated books by French authors Philippe Besson and Vanessa Schneider. In 2013, she released her debut studio album, Except Sometimes.

Most recently, Ringwald has entered the Ryan Murphy-verse, starring in the producer’s Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix and in this year’s Feud: Capote vs. The Swans on FX.

Ringwald, 56, has been married to writer and editor Panio Gianopoulos since 2007. The couple have three children, 20-year-old daughter, Mathilda and 14-year-old fraternal twins Adele and Roman.

Anthony Michael Hall as 'Farmer' Ted

<p>Universal Pictures; Timothy Hiatt/Getty</p> Anthony Michael Hall in 1984 and in 2021

Universal Pictures; Timothy Hiatt/Getty

Anthony Michael Hall in 1984 and in 2021

Like Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall was only 15 when he played “Farmer” Ted, a geek with the hots for Sam, in Sixteen Candles. Hughes also cast Hall opposite Ringwald in his next film, The Breakfast Club, in 1985. That same year, Hall starred in Weird Science, and went on to appear in Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Six Degrees of Separation (1993). In 1994, he directed his first film, Hail Caesar, starring Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and fellow '80s favorite Judd Nelson.

In the 2000s, Hall had smaller roles in The Dark Knight, Foxcatcher and Live by Night. From 2002 to 2007, he starred in the USA network’s The Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and has appeared in guest roles on Entourage, Community, CSI: Miami, Psych, The Goldbergs and Reacher. In 2021, he appeared opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween Kills. His next film, action thriller Trigger Warning, is set to premiere on Netflix later this year.

In 2016, Hall, now 56, was charged with felony assault stemming from a confrontation with a neighbor in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to three years probation and 40 hours of community service after pleading no contest to a lesser charge.

He married fellow actor Lucia Oskerova in 2019, and the couple welcomed a son last June.

Michael Schoeffling as Jake Ryan

<p>Alamy</p> Michael Schoeffling in 1984


Michael Schoeffling in 1984

Michael Schoeffling’s performance as Jake Ryan, the hunky high school senior who is the object of Sam’s affection in Sixteen Candles, earned the character a spot on PEOPLE’s list of the dreamiest teen movie heartthrobs in 2022. Prior to landing the role, the then-23-year-old Schoeffling had only modeled, but he would go on to appear in nine other movies between 1984 and 1991. Most notably, he played romantic leads in Mermaids opposite Winona Ryder and in Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.

Schoeffling quit acting in the early ’90s to open a woodworking shop in Pennsylvania, and has lived a quiet, private life ever since. The 63-year-old is married to fellow former model and actress Valerie C. Robinson. The couple have two children, a son, Zane, and a daughter, model Scarlett Schoeffling.

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong

<p>Universal Pictures; Scott Kirkland/Shutterstock</p> Gedde Watanabe in 1984 and in 2023

Universal Pictures; Scott Kirkland/Shutterstock

Gedde Watanabe in 1984 and in 2023

Utah-born Japanese American actor Gedde Watanabe’s Sixteen Candles character, Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong, was controversial even at the time of the film’s release, with the New York Times criticizing the film for indulging in “notably unfunny ethnic jokes” and critic Roger Ebert describing the character as a “potentially offensive stereotype.” The character is now widely considered something of a blight on the otherwise beloved film.

After Sixteen Candles, Watanabe was cast in similar roles throughout the ’80s. In the ’90s he appeared in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Boys on the Side, That Thing You Do! and Armageddon, and voiced the character Ling in Disney’s Mulan.

His TV work has included guest roles on Murphy Brown, Mad About You and Seinfeld, before he landed a recurring part on ER. Most recently, he appeared in appeared on Fox’s Call Me Kat and HBO’s The Sex Lives of College Girls in 2021. The 68-year-old’s next role will be voicing a main character in Netflix’s animated kids’ film Ultraman: Rising, due out in June.

Haviland Morris as Caroline Mulford

<p>Universal Pictures; Broadway World/Shutterstock </p> Haviland Morris in 1984 and in 2019

Universal Pictures; Broadway World/Shutterstock

Haviland Morris in 1984 and in 2019

Haviland Morris’ character Caroline Mulford, Jake Ryan’s wealthy, stuck-up girlfriend, is at the center of another uncomfortable Sixteen Candles subplot. After Caroline gets black-out drunk at a house party, Jake leaves her in the care of Ted. The film has been criticized for its implication that Hall’s character may have taken advantage of Caroline while she was incapacitated.

Guest roles on TV series Family Ties and Tales from the Darkside followed for Morris, before she landed her next film role opposite Madonna in 1987’s Who’s That Girl. She also starred alongside Sixteen Candles co-star Gedde Watanabe in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

Throughout the past four decades, Morris has appeared in guest roles on numerous TV series, including Law & Order, Sex and the City, One Tree Hill, The Good Wife and Blue Bloods. From 2001 to 2003, she appeared as Clair Baxter on One Life to Live. Most recently, she returned to the Gremlins franchise, voicing a character on the Max original animated series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.

Morris, 64, has two children with husband Robert Score. These days, when she’s not acting she works as a real estate broker in New York.

Blanche Baker as Ginny Baker

<p>Universal Pictures; John Lamparski/ Getty</p> Blanche Baker in 1984 and in 2022

Universal Pictures; John Lamparski/ Getty

Blanche Baker in 1984 and in 2022

Before taking on the role of Sam’s spacey, self-involved older sister in Sixteen Candles, Blanche Baker had already won an Emmy Award for her performance opposite Meryl Streep in NBC’s 1978 miniseries Holocaust. She’d also won praise for originating the title role in playwright Edward Albee’s 1981 adaptation of Lolita on Broadway. In 1987, she returned to the stage, originating the role of Shelby (played by Julia Roberts in the 1989 film) in the first Off-Broadway production of Steel Magnolias.

Baker has continued to work in film and TV since appearing in Sixteen Candles, taking on a supporting role in the 1990 film version of The Handmaid’s Tale opposite Natasha Richardson, and in guest roles on In the Heat of the Night, Law & Order and Clarissa Explains It All. In 2014, she reunited with Molly Ringwald in the Lifetime original Christmas movie Wishin’ and Hopin’.

Baker is currently directing her third film, Girl in a Glass Box, which she adapted with author Raf Lindia from his 2023 novel.

The 67-year-old is the mother of four children, three with her first husband, director Bruce vanDusen, and a son with current husband Mark McGill.

Justin Henry as Mike Baker

<p>Universal Pictures; Miikka Skaffari/Getty</p> Justin Henry in 1984 and in 2014

Universal Pictures; Miikka Skaffari/Getty

Justin Henry in 1984 and in 2014

At just 13 years old, Justin Henry already had two Golden Globe Award nominations and an Oscar nomination for his debut role in 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer under his belt when he appeared as Sam’s bratty younger brother Mike in Sixteen Candles.

Henry appeared in several more films in the 1980s before taking a break from acting to attend college. He returned to the small screen in 1997 with a two-episode arc on ER. The following year, he co-founded the Slamdunk Film Festival. A few more film and TV roles followed in the early 2000s, including a guest appearance on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters.

Henry, 52, currently works as a strategic account manager for software company Telestream.

Paul Dooley as Jim Baker

<p>Universal Pictures; Araya Doheny/Getty</p> Paul Dooley in 1984 and in 2020

Universal Pictures; Araya Doheny/Getty

Paul Dooley in 1984 and in 2020

Paul Dooley’s role as Sam’s dad in Sixteen Candles is just one of the many, many memorable parts he’s played before and since. He appeared in guest roles on classic 1960s comedies like Get Smart and Bewitched and in films like Robert Altman’s Popeye, Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman and the Richard Gere-Julia Roberts rom com Runaway Bride. He reteamed with Guest for 2003’s A Mighty Wind and 2006’s For Your Consideration, and earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his role in the 2007 movie musical Hairspray.

His TV credits throughout the ’90s and 2000s include roles on The Wonder Years, Mad About You, Ally McBeal, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family. He also had recurring roles on ER and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Dooley, 96, is married to screenwriter and producer Winnie Holzman and has appeared in her shows thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. Dooley is the father of three children from his first marriage to Donna Lee Wasser, as well as a daughter with Holzman. He published a memoir, Movie Dad: Finding Myself and My Family, On Screen and Off, in 2022.

Carlin Glynn as Brenda Baker

<p>Universal Pictures; Donald Bowers/Getty</p> Carlin Glynn in 1984 and in 2007

Universal Pictures; Donald Bowers/Getty

Carlin Glynn in 1984 and in 2007

A Tony-winning performance in the original Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and a handful of film roles, including her debut in 1975’s Three Days of the Condor, preceded Carlin Glynn’s turn as Sam’s mom in Sixteen Candles. The following year, she starred in The Trip to Bountiful, directed by husband Peter Masterson, and later appeared alongside Masterson and their daughter, actress Mary Stuart Masterson, in Francis Ford Coppola’s Garden of Stone.

On TV, she played former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in the 1991 miniseries A Woman Named Jackie. Her final performance was in a guest role on Law & Order: Criminal Intent in 2006.

Glynn died in 2023 at the age of 83.

And the Grandparents!

<p>Universal Pictures</p> Edward Andrews, Billie Bird, Max Showalter and Carole Cook in 1984's Sixteen Candles

Universal Pictures

Edward Andrews, Billie Bird, Max Showalter and Carole Cook in 1984's Sixteen Candles

To play Sam’s dotty grandparents in Sixteen Candles, Hughes tapped a quartet of veteran character actors. Known for his distinctive horn-rimmed glasses, Edward Andrews’ résumé included a role in The Absent Minded Professor (1961), and guest appearances on Rawhide, Bonanza and The Doris Day Show. His final film role in Gremlins came the same year as Sixteen Candles. Andrews died in 1985.

Billie Bird’s prior film credits included small roles in Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. After Sixteen Candles she appeared in wacky ’80s comedies like Police Academy 4 and Ernest Saves Christmas, and was a series regular on NBC’s Dear John from 1988 to 1992. She also had small roles in Home Alone and Dennis the Menace in the ’90s. Bird died at the age of 94 in 2002.

While Carole Cook is perhaps best known for her appearances on The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy in the ’60s and ’70s, she also had roles in The Incredible Mr. Limpet and American Gigolo. She continued working primarily in television into the 2010s, with guest appearances on Grey’s Anatomy and Major Crimes. Cook died in January 2023 at the age of 98.

Max Showalter’s extensive TV credits included appearances on classic shows like Leave It to Beaver, Bewitched, The Love Boat and The Twilight Zone. He also appeared in films like Niagra and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band before taking on his final role in Sixteen Candles. Showalter died at the age of 83 in 2000.

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