All Hail Adrienne Barbeau!
Sure, she was married to the great Horror Director John Carpenter, but it’s her own cult film career that makes Adrienne an iconic “Cult Movie Queen” – and my “2021 Sex Kitten countdown” has the reasons why!
Barbeau was born on June 11, 1945 in Sacramento, California, the daughter of an executive for Mobil Oil.
She went to Del Mar High School in San Jose, California. Her desire to dance and act took her to New York, where she worked as a Go-Go dancer in a Mafia-run nightclub from 1964-1967!
She quit after the owner decided to turn the place into a bikini bar!
Here’s a fun fact: Adrienne was “Miss Wrestling” on Big Time Wrestling – and the legendary Gorgeous George threw a chair at her!
Made her Broadway debut in “Fiddler on the Roof” (1968), where she met another young, up-and-coming actress, Bette Midler! As Adrienne said later:
“I guess I adopted some of her enthusiasm and hopefully her street smarts.”
Adrienne was nominated for a 1972 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for her portrayal of bad-girl Betty Rizzo in the original Broadway production of “Grease”.
Next up was Hollywood, where Adrienne ended up with more than 150 credits, but let’s focus on a few of her classic cult films, three of them directed by her ex-husband John Carpenter!
“Someone’s Watching Me!”
This 1978 TV film was her first with Carpenter, but two years later, she had her first motion picture credit when they made this classic horror gem:
Carpenter stepped back from the slasher horror of “Halloween” for this moody 1980 film that builds a sense of dread nicely before the scares kick in.
It was a genre that Barbeau was happy to do:
“I love doing them — well, the suspenseful, tense, well-written ones; not the slasher, senseless violence, let’s get as much blood on the screen as possible ones — but I don’t enjoy watching them.”
“Escape From New York”
They re-teamed for one of Carpenter’s greatest film.
This gritty 1981 action classic introduced the world to Snake Pliskin – and still holds up today as a great piece of cinema!
That same year Barbeau appeared in “The Cannonball Run” as well!
It was this next film, however, that made her one of the great Cult Movie Queens – with her most revealing performance:
In 1982, Director Wes Craven, known for such 70’s shockers as “The Last House On The Left”, made what is arguably one of the most entertaining comic book adaptations, and Adrienne is terrific in it!
Two things made her an Icon: first, this wet t-shirt she sports in the film…but that was just the beginning, because she later takes it off in the PG-rated film – although American audiences weren’t supposed to see it:
You see, this wasn’t filmed for the US – her nude scene in the film was intended only for European release, but eventually it showed up on an American DVD release of the movie — which caused a Texas housewife to file a complaint after her son saw the scenes in the PG-rated movie!
Barbeau was actually surprised that the film has become so iconic – as she said:
“Who knew at the time? It’s the same as my horror films. It’s wonderful at this point in my career to realize there are pieces of work that have sustained themselves all this time. I’ll run into people who say, “We watch ‘Swamp Thing’ once a month!”.”
She was in one of the stories in “Creepshow” in 1982, and she was also the computer voice in Carpenter’s shocking “The Thing” that same year!
There are a number of nude photos of Adrienne online, but it’s difficult to find information on where they came from, or if she ever did a serious nude photo shoot – reports say she refused Playboy’s offer, but this magazine seems to feature her:
If anyone knows a timeline for this pictorial, let me know…she looks younger to be sure, because after this string of cult films, Barbeau’s credits were in mainstream films and TV shows, but she had a terrific run of cult cinema!
Barbeau had this brief moment in the shower in the 2003 film “Carnivale”, but many of these are hard to identify as real or not, but they are out there…
She appeared in the TV series “Maude” and remained lifelong friends with the show’s star Bea Arthur. Her memory of doing the show, however, is funny, as she said in her autobiography:
“What I didn’t know is that when I said [my lines], I was usually walking down a flight of stairs and no one was even listening to me. They were just watching my breasts precede me.”
Adrienne also wrote her memoir which is hilarious and candid…bravo to this great Cult Movie Queen for a long and successful career!
She wasn’t the only Cult Movie Queen of the 80’s:
Linda Blair rocked the decade with classic cult films like “Savage Streets” and “Chained Heat”, where she unleashed a bit herself!
Yes, Linda Blair put it all out there – including a provocative Oui magazine photo shoot!
Click on my story here to see more:
Of course, cult film fans know that her co-star in “Chained Heat” was none other than Sybil Danning:
That’s her with Blair in the shower – just one of many great cult moments for the Actress – click here to see my entire story:
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Leave a comment about your favorite “empowered women” of cult cinema!