The Last Picture Show was a 1971 period piece that followed two high school kids coming of age in a small Texas town during the 1950s. The film featured an impressive ensemble cast, including many no-name actors that would go on to become big stars. These included Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd. The film directed and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich. It received immense acclaim upon it’s release and considered one of the biggest classics of the 70s. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at the cast members of The Last Picture Show then and now, as of 2022.
Timothy Bottoms as Sonny Crawford
Timothy Bottom starred in The Last Picture Show alongside Jeff Bridges, with them portraying the two main teens the film’s plot revolves around. In the film, Timothy played the character of Sonny Crawford. Timothy had just broke out into motion pictures earlier the same year of The Last Picture Show’s release with the lead role in the 1971 adaptation of the Dalton Trumbo novel Johnny Got His Gun. Timothy’s appearance in The Last Picture Show came just around the corner, and both roles together made him a star.
Following his appearance in The Last Picture Show, Timothy could be seen in several other hit films throughout the 1970s. Besides The Last Picture Show, one of Timothy’s biggest hits of the decade was 1973’s The Paper Chase. Although Timothy continued working into the 1980s and is still working today, he hasn’t maintained his celebrity status quite the same way that costar Jeff Bridges has.
Due to Timothy’s decreased star status by the point in time, he have a reduced role in The Last Picture Show’s. 1990 sequel in comparison to some of the other cast members, with Jeff Bridges’ character Duane getting the majority of the film’s focus. By the new millennium, it seemed that Timothy’s career in the industry might be over. However, his career given an unlikely revival thanks to his uncanny ability to impersonate George W. Bush.
In 2001, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone created the short-lived That’s My Bush!, which was a parody series that depicted the life of then-president of the United States George W. Bush if he lived inside of a sitcom. Timothy Bottoms cast as the titular political figure. And those who remembered the actor from his earlier career taken by surprise. The Comedy Central series didn’t end up lasting very long, but Timothy went on to portray George W. Bush in other pieces of media. These included the feature film The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, and even a made-for-television feature named DC 9/11: Time of Crisis that saw Timothy play the role seriously.
Timothy has been married twice throughout his lifetime and has several children, though he seems to be currently divorced. He is still working today, with one of his latest roles being in the 2020 adventure feature Tar.
Jeff Bridges as Duane Jackson
Jeff Bridges is arguably the most successful star that came about from the release of The Last Picture Show. In the film, Jeff portrayed the character of Duane Jackson. Best friend and fellow high school senior of Timothy Bottoms’ Sonny Crawford. Though the two quarrel throughout the film; they end up setting their differences aside and bonding over the titular final picture show of the film.
While Timothy had made his first appearance on film the same year that The Last Picture Show debuted, Jeff Bridges had been at it since childhood. He came from a show-business family. And made his first appearance in the 1951 feature The Company She Keeps, alongside his mother and brother. Prior to his breakout turn in The Last Picture Show, Jeff received acclaim portraying a high school student in the 1970 racial drama Halls of Anger. This performance that ended up getting Jeff cast in The Last Picture Show.
Jeff Bridges received an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Duane Jackson in The Last Picture Show, and is still a major star today. Over the course of the 1970s, Jeff followed up his role in The Last Picture Show; with turns in films such as Fat City, The Last American Hero, and The Iceman Cometh. In 1974, he received another Academy Award nomination for his appearance alongside fellow star Clint Eastwood in the film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
While Timothy Bottoms’ career took a downward trajectory in the 1980s, Jeff Bridges only became more of a star during the decade. Some of his highest-profile roles throughout the 1980s included his turns in 1982’s Tron, 1984’s Starman and 1989’s The Fabulous Baker Boys. In 1998, Jeff Bridges took on what has arguably become his most iconic role, with that being the role of Jeff “the Dude” Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.
In the new millennium, Jeff has appeared in the blockbuster films Iron Man and Tron: Legacy. He even finally won an Academy Award thanks to his appearance in the 2009 independent drama Crazy Heart. Jeff has only married once throughout his lifetime, and remains married to his first and only wife today! That wife is Susan Geston, and the pair have three daughters together.
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Cybill Shepherd as Jacy Farrow
After Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd is the other biggest star that came in the wake of The Last Picture Show’s success. Following her appearance as high-school beauty Jacy Farrow in The Last Picture Show,; Cybill could seen in the equally successful 1970s features The Heartbreak Kid and Taxi Driver. However, in the 1980s and beyond, Cybill would become better known as a major television star than as a major film star. The actress made her first notable television appearance when she appeared in a 1983 episode of the hit series Fantasy Island. Her status as a television star would be cemented when she took her iconic role alongside Bruce Willis on 1985’s Moonlighting.
Following the success of Moonlighting, Cybill was given her own hit series in 1995. This series was simply titled Cybill. It was a big hit with audiences during the time that it was on the air. Cybill Shepherd has been a mainstay on television in the years since; with her having done notable stints on the series Psych and The Client List. Cybill started her career as a model. And continues to work as both a model and an actress into her 70s. The actress has been married twice, is currently divorced, and has three children.
Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion
Ben Johnson got his start in the entertainment industry working as a horse wrangler for Howard Hughes. Ben’s big break came when director John Ford noticed him, and a career in Western films followed. Later on in his career, he performed the memorable role of Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show. He was married only once during his lifetime. Remaining with his first and only wife from 1941 until her death in 1994. Two years later, Ben passed away himself, suffering from a heart attack in 1996.
Cloris Leachman as Ruth Popper
In The Last Picture Show, Cloris Leachman played the character of Ruth Popper. Ruth was an older woman that the character of Sonny engaged in an affair with over the events of the film. Cloris had already been working in the entertainment industry for some time. Having worked on the stage before debuting on television at the cusp of the 1950s. Following her successful turn on The Last Picture Show. Cloris went on to play an iconic part on the hit series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, even securing her own spin-off.
Cloris was married to director George Englund from 1953 to 1979, and they had five children together during their marriage. Not long before her recent passing in 2021; Cloris made history by being the oldest actress ever to appear on the reality series Dancing with the Stars. She was 82 years old at the time, and passed away at the age of 94.
Ellen Burstyn played the character of Lois Farrow in The Last Picture Show. In the film, Lois is the parent of character Jacy. Following Ellen’s appearance in The Last Picture Show, she could be seen in The Exorcist and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. The latter of which garnered her awards acclaim. The critically acclaimed actress is still alive today, though hasn’t been working much since the 1990s.
Eileen Brennan as Genevieve
Eileen Brennan played the character of Genevieve in The Last Picture Show. Prior to Eileen’s passing in 2013, she could be seen guest-starring on notable television series such as 7th Heaven and Will & Grace.
Clu Gulager as Abilene
Clu Gulager played the part of Abilene in The Last Picture Show, with Abilene being the physical laborer that becomes the lover of character Jacy. After appearing in The Last Picture Show, Clu appeared in several notable horror sequels in the 1980s. Including A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Clu’s role in the film has made him a favorite at horror conventions, where he still likes to appear today at the age of 93.
Sam Bottoms as Billy
Sam Bottoms played the mentally disabled character of Billy in 1971’s The Last Picture Show. Though he became better known for his appearance in Apocalypse Now later in the decade. He passed away in 2008.
Randy Quaid as Lester Marlow
Hollywood actor Randy Quaid had a fairly small role in The Last Picture Show, playing the character of Lester Marlow. Randy went on to become better known for his other film roles, including his turn in 1996’s Independence Day.
The classic 1971 film The Last Picture Show featured an incredibly impressive ensemble cast. And many of it’s stars have gone on to do equally impressive things afterwards. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that many of the cast members of The Last Picture Show are still alive and working today. And that some of them are still big Hollywood stars? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!