If you had to make a list of some of your favorite Christmas movies, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” would probably be near the top. It’s the rare type of movie that is both an integral part of a long lasting franchise AND a beast all of its own at the same time. Some people don’t even realize that there were two other movies that came before this one (“National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”) starring the same cast. That’s part of the beauty of it – you don’t need to have seen those two movies to enjoy everything on display here because Christmas is such a universal topic. As “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” approaches yet another anniversary, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the shining members of the cast to see what they’re up to these days. Some have remained in the public eye; others (we’re looking in your direction, Randy Quaid) have started to lead lives away from show business that are… odd, to say the least. Regardless, when you compare the cast of the movie then versus the way they are now, we’re confident that there are a few in particular that will have your jaw on the floor before you know it.
CHEVY CHASE (CLARK GRISWOLD)
Over the years, Chevy Chase has developed the type of reputation where people see him as difficult to work with… to say the least. His, let’s just say, “negative attitude” precedes him so much that when a book was written in the last decade about the early days of “Saturday Night Live,” its unofficial nickname quickly became “Why They All Hated Chevy Chase.” His most notable work in the last few years has been on the cult classic NBC/Yahoo series “Community,” which is something that ended in a spectacular debacle for Chase after profanity-laden voicemails he sent to the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, were leaked to the press. The last time audiences saw Chase was actually in the “remake/sequel” to “Vacation,” also titled “Vacation,” that was released in 2015. Still, if you’ve got the type of money that he probably does after one of the most successful careers in comedy film history, you probably don’t have to worry about where your next paycheck
BEVERLY D’ANGELO (ELLEN GRISWOLD)
Beverly D’Angelo is still out there, showing up in the occasional film role and making her presence known. The thing is that you probably haven’t seen any of her recent work, as it’s largely all been “direct to video” films and movies that only air on cable channels in the middle of the night. She also reprised her famous role of Ellen Griswold in the most recent “Vacation” movie, but beyond that she’s been in films like “All American Christmas Carol,” “Popcorn Ceiling,” “Black Water Transit” and a wide range of other things that almost nobody has seen.
RANDY QUAID (COUSIN EDDIE)
Randy Quaid is having a rough couple of years. Right around the time he appeared in the Academy Award winning film “Brokeback Mountain,” things seemed to get… odd for Mr. Quaid, to say the least. He began talking to anyone who would listen about how there was a secret conspiracy to kill Hollywood actors (including, so he says, the late Heath Ledger), and things only got weirder from there. After fleeing to Canada with his wife for several years, he was most recently detained a the border between the US and Canada in a situation that continues to play out in spectacular fashion every few months. These days, it’s pretty hard to tell where Cousin Eddie ends and Randy Quaid begins. Who knew he was this method?!
MIRIAM FLYNN (CATHERINE JOHNSON)
Miriam Flynn has continued to have a successful career on both television and in voice work, lending her talents to hugely popular video games like “Star Wars: The Old Republic” and starring on TV shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Suburgatory.” She’s also been a significant part of the “Land Before Time” franchise, which is not only seeing the release of its thirteenth sequel in 2016 but was also a TV series for a limited time all the way back in 2007. The most shocking thing about this is that there are 14 “Land Before Time” movies, to be completely honest. Who knew!
JOHNNY GALECKI (RUSTY GRISWOLD)
Johnny Galecki has spent the vast majority of the last two decades in television, which is something that he is absolutely not complaining about in any way. After joining the cast of the popular sitcom “Roseanne” not long after “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” he took a few years off to star in the occasional Broadway show before joining the cast of another little show that you may have heard of… “The Big Bang Theory.” Who knew that little Rusty Griswold would one day go on to not only star in one of the most successful sitcoms ever created, but also become the highest paid actor in television working today?
JULIETTE LEWIS (AUDREY GRISWOLD)
Juliette Lewis is one of the few cast members of “Christmas Vacation” that didn’t start out as a movie star but quickly transitioned into one. She had a number of popular roles over the years, with perhaps the most famous being in the Quentin Tarantino written, Robert Rodriguez directed “From Dusk Til Dawn” alongside another young up-and-comer that you may have heard of, Mr. George Clooney. These days, Lewis still pops up in movies but is spending an awful lot of time on the road with her band.
ELLEN HAMILTON LATZEN, RUBY SUE (EDDIE’S DAUGHTER)
Ellen Hamilton Latzen thankfully didn’t let Randy Quaid influence her too much. After “Christmas Vacation,” she continued to appear in the occasional movie like “Boys Life 2” until 1997, when she pretty much disappeared from the acting scene altogether. After attending boarding school and later college, she seemed content to just live a completely normal life away from the hustle and bustle that Hollywood is known for.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS (MARGO CHESTER)
If you were watching “Christmas Vacation” in 1989 and had to pick one person who would become the most successful alumni, Margo Chester the “Annoying Neighbor” probably wouldn’t have been your top selection. And yet that’s exactly what happened, as the same year she started work on what became the biggest show in television history, “Seinfeld.” Even after “Seinfeld” ended she still continued to work in shows like “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Arrested Development” and “Veep” on HBO.
NICHOLAS GUEST (TODD CHESTER)
You’ve probably seen a lot more Nicholas Guest movies than you realize, but that’s because you didn’t see him in them – you only heard them. Guest has continued to have a career as a successful voice actor, providing his talents to films like “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “Rio,” “Over the Hedge” and more. He also appeared in one of the most famous music videos of the last 30 years, the Aerosmith video “Janie’s Got a Gun” in the role of the father of the title character.
DORIS ROBERTS (FRANCIS SMITH)
Doris Roberts is yet another “Christmas Vacation” cast member who would go on to make a massive impression in the world of television. She went on to star on “Everybody Loves Raymond” as Ray Romano’s mother in a role that put a roof over her head (probably a new one every year, based on just how successful that show really was) for over a decade. What is it about “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” cast members and successful television shows, anyway?
DIANE LADD (NORA GRISWOLD)
The role of Nora Griswold was admittedly a small one, so you can be forgiven if you didn’t realize that it was played by Diane Ladd. At the time, Ladd may have been the most successful member of the cast to begin with, second only to Chevy Chase. She had a pretty important role in a movie that many consider to have the best script of all time, “Chinatown” directed by Roman Polanski. Since “Christmas Vacation” she’s been in a large number of different movies like “Joy” for David O. Russell and the show “Enlightened.” Her daughter, Jordan Ladd, also has a pretty impressive career of her own.
NICOLETTE SCORSESE (MARY THE LINGERIE COUNTER GIRL)