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Then & Now: Amy Yasbeck

09.21.2012by: Salacious Crumb

Time: The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. Last week, we discovered that bratty little children from our nightmares could also wind up becoming the woman of our dreams. This week we're going to see what becomes of the parent of such a little rascal years down the road. This hottie has parented not one, but two of the most godawful movie kids of all time. She was selected by Mel Brooks to play the lead hottie in his final, not so great (but not so bad, either) motion pictures. And of course, she was married to the late great John Ritter. She's known as one of the most comedically skilled actresses of her time, but hasn't been around to tickle our funny bone much of late. So let's head down Memory Lane with one of my personal favorite redheads, Amy Yasbeck.


Amy was born in Blue Ash, Ohio: home of gorgeous redheads and the Great Smurf Fire of 1989. She is half Irish and half Lebanese. As a youngster, Amy had her face plastered on the package for the Betty Crocker Easy-Bake Oven (and her innocent smile would forever be associated with first-degree burns). After Amy lost both of her parents early on (her father to a heart attack and her mother to emphysema), she moved to New York to become an actress. Her first gig was in an unsold TV-pilot called Rockhopper in 1985. Over the next couple years she worked in Days Of Our Lives, Dallas, Magnum P.I., and her first feature film, the ridiculous HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (a sequel to the already ridiculous enough HOUSE) with Bill Maher. Amy was pretty much just running in place at this point. What's a hot number like Amy Yasbeck gotta do to get some attention? Dye her hair blonde and go topless on national family television?

                                                                                  That's one fish I would not toss back.

Oh, I forgot, that's exactly what she did. Amy's got somewhat noticed in ABC's "Disney Sunday Movie" SPLASH, TOO, where she played another blonde mermaid coming to the big city for the first time. There's something about a hot girl who's also half fish that's creepily attractive, as box-office numbers demonstrated with the first SPLASH movie. SPLASH, TOO was aired in two parts, a week apart, which probably didn't help with the ratings. Amy starred in two other TV-movies after that, CBS's TRENCHCOAT IN PARADISE and NBC's LITTLE WHITE LIES. So what if SPLASH, TOO didn't exactly make waves in her career? Amy kept at it until she landed perhaps her most infamous role to date.

                                                                                                                           Dear God, what a monster...

I recently re-watched PROBLEM CHILD, and my dog, is it hilarious. Amy and her future hubby, John Ritter, play the Healey's, a couple looking to make a baby, but they find out Amy's character "Flo" is incapable of producing children. When Mr. Healey finally convinces her that they should adopt, they bring home the second most intolerable redheaded brat, Junior. He may be bad to the bone, but this ginger's got nothing on that crazy bitch Pippi Longstocking. Throughout the course of the film, you watch Junior dismantle Mr. and Mrs. Healey's social life piece by piece, and it's ever-so fun. I really love how Amy really grabs this role by the balls and goes for broke as the controlling, loudmouth, materialistic Flo Healey. She may be the most evil movie spouse of all time, discounting the ones who murdered their husbands with an axe. Or perhaps she's even worse than that. As a matter of fact, there's great performances all around in PROBLEM CHILD, coming from Ritter, Michael Richards, Jack Warden, Gilbert Gottfried and even Junior himself (Michael Oliver) does pretty well, cursing like a sailor and leading a bear to a campsite full of kids. It's truly an under-looked comedy that also teaches the values of parenthood. Then the sequel came along...

                                                                                                                              Whew.. that's MUCH better!

PROBLEM CHILD 2 didn't have the same amount of hoots and hollers as the first, but one of it's key qualities is the return of Yasbeck as a completely different character, and romantic interests ensue. It really impresses me how Amy could play such a wicked witch in one movie, and the very next year play a sweet, beautiful school nurse in the sequel. I'm pretty sure, as a kid, I had no idea it was her. Johnny boy got to see a whole lot of different sides to Amy before taking her out on a real date. Other than another good performance from the original cast, PROBLEM CHILD 2 just doesn't feel like the first. It seems more geared towards kids, which is weird because there's just as much cursing and dangerous activity as it's predecessor, just not as well-written. Still, Amy was getting hotter, and along with becoming Mr. Ritter's plaything, her star was beginning to shine.

Amy started popping up more in a whole slew of popular TV-shows like Chris Elliot's cult favorite sitcom Get A Life, Quantum Leap, Murder, She Wrote and many others. She and John even guest-starred alongside each other in an episode of The Cosby Show. While that was all well and good, the movie industry didn't waste time before snatching up Amy for just about anything that seemed to fit, including this...

I would be more surprised if you did remember there was a movie called THE NUTT HOUSE than if you didn't. It was written by Bruce Campbell and Sam and Ivan Raimi, so how could it go wrong? Here's how: the producer fired the original director, Scott Spiegel over an argument and replaced him mid-production with newcomer Adam Rifkin. That producer, Brad Wyman, now admits he made a horrible mistake. In fact, Campbell and the Raimi's were so unpleased with the end result of the film, they had their real names replaced with pseudonyms in the credits. The story follows conjoined twins who were separated at birth. One of them is very wealthy, married to Yasbeck, and is running for president, while the other has spent his whole life in an insane asylum. When the lost brother with multiple personalities shows up to his brother's home, there's a case of mistaken identity. Did I mention their last name is Nutt? Yeah.

So 1992 didn't quite push Amy's celebrity status much further, but she was being eyed and ogled by the legendary Mel Brooks for his next cinematic venture, ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS. The now cheeseburger-addicted Cary Elwes played Robin of Loxley who comes to the rescue (several times) of Maid Marian, played by Yasbeck. Amy is astoundingly sexy as Maid Marian, you can see why the sherif of Nottingham will stop at nothing to "deflower" her. Of course, it can't be done with that chastity belt in the way.

                                                                                                      "Call the locksmith!"

Amy proved in MEN IN TIGHTS that she was a great fit for comedy. Her chemistry with Megan Cavanagh was funny enough for Mel to consider putting them together again. Overall, it's obviously not one of Brooks' best films, but it's not the worst comedy of that decade by any means. Even Dave Chappelle's in it, which only proves Mel has a keen eye for clever comedians. After the decently received summer-release of MEN IN TIGHTS, Amy returned a full year later in the much larger success, THE MASK with Jim Carrey. 1994 was a huge year for Jim, inflating box-office numbers to ranks comedies had never been in, with ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE months before THE MASK, and DUMB AND DUMBER months after. Believe it or not, THE MASK did the best of all 3 of those films, bringing in over $351 million from a $23 million budget, which also makes this Amy Yasbeck's highest grossing film. Amy plays Peggy Brandt, a reporter with a wet spot for Stanley Ipkiss who is later revealed to be working for the bad guy. She's definitely got a perky, charming quality to her in THE MASK, probably closer to home than any of her previous roles. 1994 is also the same year Amy joined the cast of Wings, where she played the luscious Casey Chapel Davenport from 1994-1997.

                                                                       I'd let her take a ride in my cockpit.

Sure Amy was a stunner as Casey Davenport, but if you really want to see the lovely vixen with a more sex-hungry attitude, one should turn to Mel Brooks' DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT. I find it hard to believe that this is actually a Mel Brooks film. It's just a tad disappointing that the man who made YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN ended his directing career with a mediocre Leslie Nielsen spoof. Although again, it's not terrible. There's plenty of cleavage from Amy and the rest of the gorgeous female cast. As stated before, Mel also put Megan Cavanagh and Amy in a room again. I could honestly watch a sitcom with just those two. Once her character Mina gets the life literally sucked out of her, she turns into a sex-crazed vamp and it's very pleasing to see.


In 1998, Amy for some reason joined the cast of THE NUTT HOUSE director's next effort, DENIAL, with Jason Alexander. She also appeared in another TV-movie called DEAD HUSBANDS. Isn't that ironic? Don't you think? She also had a small part as a stewardess in THE ODD COUPLE II, which was her last silverscreen appearance as of today. This was around the same time she and John Ritter finally got hitched and Amy became pregnant. A few years later, John fell ill during the production of his show 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, and later passed away. Needless to say, this news took a toll on a lot of people, but first and foremost, Amy. Amy said life with John was like "having your own Clifford The Big Red Dog". She says he was misdiagnosed by the doctors, and the treatment they gave him led to his death. It truly is a shame, since they seemed like one of the most lively, fun couples in Hollywood. The two lovebirds were the wacky life of the party at countless red carpet events.

Anyways, with all due respect to Amy, it's been over a decade since I've seen her act in anything memorable. So let's get to the point of all this and see how Amy Yasbeck is doing these days...

Are we playing naughty librarian these days? Apparently so. I guess that would make sense, because she released a book of her own a couple of years ago titled With Love and Laughter, John Ritter. She's also dedicated a chunk of her time to advocating children's books and trying to get kids to read. Amy very clearly has a good relationship with her daughter, whom she always brings to premieres with her, getting on her knees to take the photos. Amy's made a number of guest appearances, mostly for sitcoms, the most recent of which is Hot In Cleveland. She was also a cast-member of the short-lived Fox comedy Life On A Stick. Let's have looksie at some more of Amy's moments over the recent years. Surely, she's not the life of the party as much as she was before, right?


I dig those leopard-print Peg Bundy leggings. Shortly after her husband's death, Amy went on to start the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health, and she works tirelessly to raise money and awareness of aortic dissection. Just less than two weeks ago, nine years after the loss of a comedic genius, Amy gathered the casts of both PROBLEM CHILD 1 & 2 to recreate scenes and promotional posters from the movies in support of the cause. Check out how pedofiley Michael Oliver looks.

Amy just turned 50-years-old on September 12th, and indeed she is still doing some acting. She stars in a web-series called Little Women Big Cars on, which revolves around a gang of soccer moms. I'm glad to see she's doing what she's passionate about once again. Amy managed to make just about all of her roles unique and interesting. She is a very full-of-life woman with a zany sense of humor. She's been through some tough times, but has really handled herself well, staying positive and turning lemons to lemon aid. Oh, and yes, she still looks delicious. Keep your spirits high, Maid Marian! The night is young, and you're still beautiful!

Extra Tidbit: How do you fellas think Mrs. Healey has turned out?
Tags: then & now


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