Every Thursday night at 8pm, my friends and I would be riveted to the TV to watch the next episode of Fame, the TV series in the early 80s. It was the precursor to American Idol, Glee, and High School Musical. I shared my ups and downs with the characters that seemed like my friends after two seasons. Coco, Doris, Julie, Leroy, Danny, and Bruno were my idols for growing up.
I recently bought the first and second season of the show from Amazon. I also bought the only album released by “The Kids from Fame”. I’ve been watching episode after episode for over a month now. It’s like returning to the past, a strange kind of reunion with my old friends.
I must say, the show still holds up. Some 80s shows are coated with a lot of syrup. But “Fame” always had an edgy sense for telling a tale, and dealt with controversial subjects that still are around today.
So, then I began to wonder. What happened to all of them? Many of the cast members were playing kids that wanted to go on to show biz. Did they? One of the more famous, Lori Singer who played Julie, became famous after the series ended. Lori Singer played opposite Kevin Bacon in “Footloose” which basically sealed her into Trivia Pursuit games for the 80s set. But what about the others? What happened to the Kids from Fame?
I’ve been looking them up. The first thing that shocked me is that Gene Anthony Ray, who played Leroy, died of a drug overdose in 2003. That fact still makes me upset. I see all the energy and talent, and can’t believe he’s gone. Valerie Landsburg, who played Doris, continued to do some acting and walk on parts. She’s started to direct and put out an album called “Valerie Landsburg: Grownup” in 2003. She even has her own acting workshop and tours the country coaching people in acting.
Bruno was the most interesting. Lee Curreri, who played Bruno in the movie and the TV series, has been getting attention from the movie remake. Like his character, he has become a composer for several movies including California King(2008) and I Tried(2007).
It just makes me reflect on the fact we all grew up. All the stars and people that worked with the show have gone on to other things. But it was so different than other shows, more of a cross between American Idol and High School Musical. Lori Singer could really play the cello. She was a child prodigy and has gone on to be a concert cellist. Valerie Landsburg seems to be happy with her course in life teaching her acting craft with acting tours called “Wholeacting”.
These characters were like friends to me. Growing up, you need characters to make the mistakes and then try to find a solution. It helps with the heart ache or other problems of growing up. Someone has gone through it and you’ve seen the consequence. Do you want the same thing to happen to you?
I think that’s why I wanted to know what happened to them. You’re always wondering growing up, will I be ok? What will the future be like? Well, sometimes reality doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. But sometimes you just want to know what happens.
The Fame Kids all grew up, and so did I. And things did turn out ok, or at least I survived the growing up process. Really, that’s all you can do.