Dennis and Randy Quaid

Dennis and Randy Quaid


1980’s actors and their less famous siblings

My name is Matt and I was born in the 80’s, 1983 to be precise. I don’t know what it is about that era be it nostalgia, or the colours and sounds or the childhood memories, the smells or perhaps a mixture of all all of those thing but I LOVE the 80’s. I live and breathe this glorious decade through my fashion choices, the films I constantly watch and even in my job playing guitar for Popgun Ultimate 80s Tribute Band but with this series of blogs I hope to explore some areas of interest from the decade that are not always talked about like famous brothers/ sisters and who was the most popular? Who was THE best 80’s robot and who had the best hair to name but a few. I hope you enjoy this light hearted list of 80s siblings and their accolades.


1) Bill Murray and Brian- Doyle Murray

Bill Murray is regarded as one of America’s finest comic actors, but did you know that his brother Brian-Doyle Murray is also an established comedy actor. Bill and Brian appeared together in Caddyshack (1980), Scrooged (1988) and Ghostbusters (1989) as well as both being featuring in the cast of Saturday night Live. Brian also starred in the 1989 film National Lampoons Christmas Vacation which also featured another famous sibling…


2) Dennis Quaid and Randy Quaid

Nowadays he is known for being an eccentric, home squatting, America dodging, hotel bill avoiding has been BUT there was a time that Randy Quaid was known as a pretty decent comedy actor, perhaps not as well known as his brother Dennis who tended to play more straight roles throughout the 80’s and beyond.

Maybe it was their vastly different acting styles that meant they have never appeared together on screen however both had success on their with Dennis Quaid starring in the Jerry Lee Lewis film biogoraphy Great Balls of Fire (1988) and the frankly awful Jaw 3D while Randy appeared in the sequel to Caddyshack, imaginatively entitled Caddyshack 2. Interestingly Dennis Quaid featured in the 2011 remake of 80’s classic Footloose which featured one of these chaps…


3)Sean Penn and Chris Penn

Sean Penn was very famous in the 80’s, was this because of his prolific film roles and obvious acting talents? No it was because he was married to Madonna, the Oscars and the accolades would come later for him but thankfully his brother Chris was there to build up the Penn brand by featuring in arguably the most well loved 80’s film, Footloose. They did star in a film together, the 1986 thriller “At Close Range” which featured the Madonna hit “Live To Tell which adds credence to the saying its not what you know its who you blow (or get blown by). Chris starred in Best of the Best, the 1989 martial arts film with Eric Roberts where I am sure they discussed the merits and downfalls of having a more famous sibling…possibly.


4)Julia Roberts and Eric Roberts

Julia Roberts is arguably one of the best known and finest actors of the 90’s…..but we don’t care so much for the N word around here, its all about the 80s and before Julia there was Eric. Eric Roberts, nominated for a golden globe and an Oscar while Julia was still at high school. Eric was probably best known for starring in brutal martial arts hit “Best of the Best” however by the end of the decade Julia had also won an Oscar nomination for her portrayl as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie in “Steel Magnolias”. Julia Roberts was engaged to Keifer Sutherland who knows a thing or two about starring it 80’s films with actor siblings..


5) Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen and his misleadingly named Emilio (mothers maiden name) are both sons to Martin Sheen however did you know that coincidently they are also brothers?.

Emilio leads the way as Billy The Kidd in the rock n roll western Young Guns (1988) and his brother plays the supporting role of Dick Brewer. Emilio went on to become a duck and Charlie became a household name more famous for his off screen antics than his on screen talents. Charlie starred in another historical film of the 80s which as you read on will discover contained another famous sibling.


6) Matt Dillon and Kevin Dillon

Platoon was a real launching pad for a number of fresh faced 80’s actors and none more so than Kevin Dillon. His brother Matt had already made a name for himself in the bleak, coming of age gang drama The Outsiders (1983) alongside Patrick Swayze ( see 7) but this film really put Kevin Dillon up there with his brother in terms of fame. Both actors went through the rest of the decade playing quirky, often tough guy roles.


7)Patrick Swayze and Don Swayze

If you squinted your eyes, in bad light you could ALMOST pass Don off for his more handsome (Sorry Don) brother Patrick. Patrick was the king of the 80’s movies starring in Dirty Dancing and RoadHouse but poor Don could only muster bit parts in TV drams such as Matlock. They never got to feature in a film together which is a shame as Don looks like Patricks evil twin and that alone could have made for blockbuster film on its own.


8) Sylvester Stallone and Frank Stallone

Frank Stallone has spent much of his life in his brothers shadow, even appearing as a bit part actor in some of his brothers massive films (Rocky 3/ Staying alive) but he is probably best known for his singing career. In the 80’s he had his own touring band and a hit record (one more than Sly) but with an action star brother and a well known mother he was never going to be head of the table at thanksgiving.  Frank it could be argued owed some of his career to his brother as he did feature his songs and acting in his own films but one this is for sure this next actor didn’t need a famous last name to prove her point


9) Talia Shire and Francis Ford Coppola

Talia will always be best known for playing Adrian, the wife of Rocky Balboa but lots of people don’t realise ( and for obvious reasons) that she is the sister of none other that Francis Ford Coppola (Director extrodinaire) of The Godfather Trilogy. She acted in all three films either side of the 80s but really found fame in the Rocky films. Francis for his 80’s kudos directed the classic coming of age teen gang drams “The Outsiders” of whose credits read like a who’s who of 80’s heart throbs (and famous siblings) such as Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez and Patrick Swayze as well as Ralph Macchio ( a year before he became the Karate Kid and crane kicked himself into global stardom). Talia changed her last name to be appreciated on her own merits and not for having a famous brother as a director, much in the same way her nephew (Nicholas Cage) didn’t want to trade of his uncles acclaim. For this next gang, no amount of name changing could ever hide their family resemblance.


10) Alec/Stephen/Daniel/William (Bill) Baldwin

The Baldwins apart from sounding like a sitcom are made up of four brothers who all strangely share the same name!!!

Success came to all four of them in the 80’s in varying levels but we now think of Alex having achieved the most with strong performances in Beetlejuice (1988) and Working Girl (1989) while the other three all starred in major 90’s films but are included as all three featured in the Tom Cruise drama about a returning Vietnam veteran Born on the Forth Of July scraping in barely to our list (1989). Why no one has never cast all four brothers in a film is beyond me, mind you maybe there is such as thing as too much Baldwin. Alec was married to Kim Bassinger throughout the 1980’s making him the envy of most teen boys and the fear of most photographers for his well documented dislike for “press intrusion”.


11) Patricia Arquette/ Rosanna Arquette

One could almost feel sympathy for Rosanna Arquettes BAFTA award she won for “supporting actor” in Desperatley Seeking Susan (1985) when she was clearly the lead actress and pivotal point of the story but maybe that says more about co star Madonna’s celebrity in the 80’s than anything else. She later became disillusioned with Hollywood just as her sister Patricia was breaking in, acting in The sequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street (which she would have returned for the next instalment had it not been for her pregnancy). She later won a BAFTA for supporting actress too and went on to work with Tony Scott


12) Tony Scott/ Ridley Scott

In the 80’s it seems one British born Director with the last name Scott simply wasn’t enough. Ridley had already established himself as a director when his younger brother Tony and him formed a company which produced TV adverts and then later music videos but it wasn’t until the 80’s when these brother finally had mainstream success. Ridley will ever be associated with Blade Runner (1982,) the cult sci- fi ahead of its time thriller while Tony directed the Tom Cruise star making Topgun (1986). Tony also directed the sequel to Beverly Hills Cop, imaginatively titled Beverly Hills Cop 2 with Eddie Murphy, who…and yes you have guessed it ALSO has a slightly less famous brother.


13) Eddie Murphy/ Charlie Murphy

It may come as a surprise to you but Eddie Murphy was just 22 when he starred in Beverly Hills Cop as Axel Foley, but for his brother Charlie it wasn’t until the arse end of the 80’s that he had any success of note appearing in a blink and you’ll miss it scene Harlem Nights (1989) which starred his brother Eddie.


14 )James Belushi/ John Belushi

Working his way from improv groups, theatre workshops right up to America’s famed Saturday Night Live, John Belishi was destined for huge things but tragedy struck in 1982 when John overdosed on a speedball ( an often deadly cocktail of heroin and cocaine). Thankfully he had a brother to take over, and carry the baton…..kinda. James Belishi never quite hit the same heights as his brother but made some fairly decent if not forgettable films in the 80’s such as Red Heat (1988)  K-9 (1989) where it has been said he was outshone by Jerry Lee, the police dog.


15)Fred Savage/ Ben Savage

History repeats itself and here is the proof; teen coming of age drama + ___ Savage = Successful award wnining TV Series. Fred Savage was the star of late 80’s series “ The Wonder Years” and his brother had success later in “ Boy Meets World” which essentially is the same format. These two teen idols did however appear on screen together in the 1989 fantasy comedy “ Little Monsters” which despite a cult status in recent times actually took less than a million dollars at the box office, falling way short of the 6 Million dollar budget.


16) Beau Bridges/ Jeff Bridges

Coming from an acting family its hardly a surprise that these two brothers featured in many plays and films throughout their lives but perhaps them are both most fondly known for the 1989 film “ The Fabulous Baking Boys” a film where they play actual brothers struggling to make ends meet as lounge singers. Oscars and accolades followed but this film captured the Bridge’s at the top of their game and their chemistry is undeniable.


17) Joaquin Phoenix/ River Phoenix

Perhaps of all the siblings featured in this list, the tale of River Phoenix is perhaps the saddest. From the age of ten he blitzed a path through Hollywood earning plaudits and accolades right up to his untimely death in the early 90s from a drugs overdose outside Johnny Depp’s nightclub “The Viper “ Room.  Most people won’t realise but all the while Joaquin Phoenix ( often under the name “ Leaf Phoenix” had starred in a few Hollywood films such as the $100 million grossing Parenthood (1989) featuring Steve Martin. Joaquin “retired” from acting in 1991 perhaps slightly fed up of always being shadowed under Rivers successes and retreated from public view entirely after his brothers death until the mid 90’s when he enjoyed somewhat of a comeback.


18) The Wayans

There are no fewer than 10 brothers and sisters in the “Wayan family”, possibly the most influential black family in cinema history. A mass of actors, directors and writers one can only imagine that these talented bunch bounced off each other and many of their accolades have been as a team of 3 or 4 siblings much like the 1989 film “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka which was written and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans but featured Marlon, Shawn and Damon too as actors. Barely making the list for this 80’s contribution, the later years proved kinder for the family and hit films and awards were the order of the day.


19) John Cusack/ Joan Cusack

John was arguably the more famous sibling throughout the 80s and beyond except for a brief moment when Joan got nominated for an Acaademy Award almost out of nowhere for her role in the romantic drama Say Anything (1988). John’s career started out more teen idol appearing in the John Hughes masterpiece Sixteen Candles in (1984)  but shying away from the Brat Pack to find more heavier roles as the decade played out. Apart from her brief cameo in Sixteen candles, these two also appeared in Class (1983) and Say anything (1989) the latter where they actually played brother and sister.



Matt Young

Popgun- Sounds of the 80’s



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