About Us
Contact Us

--- Search
-|  -|

Bad Career Moves of the Video Game Stars

Star: The Shooter
Game: Tempest
Bad Move: Getting involved with White Power movement

After Tempest Forever was cancelled, Shooter returned to his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wis., and fell in with an offshoot of the Aryan Nation. Shooter later moved to Great Britain, where he met Skrewdriver frontman Ian Stuart. He appeared as the Nazi SS-like "S" on the band's albums before being severely injured during a riot at one of the band's shows. In 1999, Shooter repudiated his racist beliefs and returned to the U.S.

After several years of forced retirement, he ran into the X from Tempest. X was now a respected Hollywood bit player and a hot commodity thanks to his stint as Vin Diesel's xXx tattoo in the film of the same name. With X on his side, Shooter returned to the public eye as the V in the Daredevil logo.

* * *

Star: Right Pong Paddle
Game: Pong
Bad Move: Heroin addiction

Unlike his brother Left, Right had a hard time recovering from the end of the Pong craze. He fell in with former porn star John Holmes and developed a crippling drug addiction. He was busted in 1987 and did ten years for posession. While in prison, he wrote his autobiography, "Straight... Scared," and sold the rights to New Line Cinema. He was released just in time to see the resulting film, "Boogie Nights." Right finally reconciled with his brother Left, and the two of them now work together as the pipe/backslash key on most modern keyboards.

* * *

Star: Pitfall Harry
Game: Pitfall
Bad Move: Trying to add more "zazz" to Crocodile Dundee

After four straight video game hits (Pitfall, Pitfall 2, Indiana Jones, Lode Runner), the 34-year-old Pitfall Harry (nee Pitfall Moishe) had his choice of roles. But nothing excited him more than the possibility of making the jump from pixels to Panavision. Harry's early screen tests were dynamite, but director Peter Faiman never warmed to his video game-trained star. From the first day of production, the two quarreled over the script. Harry wanted the movie to focus more on his jumping and vine-swinging abilities, an idea that didn't sit well with the proud Faiman. Midway through production, Harry convinced Faiman to let him try a particularly difficult trick -- jumping over two scorpions and then vine-swinging onto a crocodile's head. Sadly, Harry muffed his leap, missed the vine, and landed in the croc's mouth. Before anyone could move, Harry was eaten. After a six-month hiatus Faiman returned to filming with Harry's understudy, Paul Hogan, in the lead role.

* * *

Star: Human
Game: Robotron 2084
Bad Move: Accepting job as Leisure Suit Larry

To this day, Lawrence Applimeld gets angry when visitors mention his debut game, Robotron 2084. According to Applimeld, the creators misrepresented the game and his role in it. At the time, Applimeld was a moderately successful Broadway performer best known for his role as Sonny Songlover in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Hooray for Sappy, Overlong Musicals!" He maintains that Robotron's creators told him it would be the world's first musical video game and promised him an extended tap scene. While the tap scene never materialized, the game's success raised Applimeld's profile in the entertainment industry. After several years of small parts (including a stint as Luigi), Applimeld opted for a role in an as-yet-unreleased game that was then called "Leisure Suit Lenny." Applimeld's talent and drive wowed his employers, and he was soon elevated to the starring role.

Sadly, this was the peak of Applimeld's career. While he drew praise for his deft performance as a lounge lizard, Applimeld's salary demands were too high for his low-budget employers. He was replaced before "Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places)" and spent the next several years in legal battles over his severance. Meanwhile, his career stalled because he'd been typecast as a sleaze.

The case was finally thrown out in 1998, and Applimeld has spent the last five years trying to rebuild his acting career. He's currently playing Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls II" at the Carpenteria (Cal.) Arts Center.

* * *

Star: Pilot
Game: River Raid
Bad Move: Getting into a fistfight with Mickey Rourke

Former New York City cop Pilot was never comfortable with his role as a video game star. Even at the height of his fame, he preferred drinking with his Bowery buddies to working the room at Atari dinner parties. He was especially uncomfortable with the fact that his game used flowers to mark levels. He got into numerous confrontations with Dig-Dug star Pooka and once took a punch at Pac-Man ghost Clyde during an AtariCon party. His bosses endured his unpredictable outbursts until 1985, when Pilot challenged Mickey Rourke to a televised boxing match. Rourke, who was actually trained as a boxer, wiped the floor with the out-of-shape Pilot. Outraged that the ref called a TKO, Pilot took a sloppy swing at the official and knocked down Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, who had entered the ring to see if his former employee was OK.

From that day forward, Pilot was persona non grata in the digital entertainment industry. Saddled with a reputation for erratic and abusive behavior, Pilot eventually drifted out of sight. At last report, he was working as a maintenance man at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

* * *

Star: Donkey Kong
Game: Donkey Kong
Bad Move: Having all those kids

A big star with a bigger libido, Donkey Kong was never seen without at least one gorgeous monkey on his arm. The downside of his US magazine lifestyle, though, was a stunning number of illegitimate children. While first-born son Donkey Kong Jr. and his younger brother Diddy Kong managed to benefit from their famous father, most of the others grew up poor. If not for the work of Danke Kong, the illegitimate son of Donkey Kong and Ms. Mabel Ook-Ook of Secaucus, N.J., most of the kids wouldn't even know who their father is. Danke Kong created the National Kong Index, a non-profit group that researches monkey DNA. At last count, NKI estimated that the king of barrel-throwing has fathered close to 100 children.

The story does have a somewhat happy ending. After an intervention by longtime friend and preacher Rosey Grier, Donkey Kong kicked the apes out of his bed and the monkey off his back. He is now attempting to reconcile with some of his long-lost progeny.

* * *

Star: Dig-Dug
Game: Dig-Dug
Bad Move: Endorsing a line of inflatable dolls

It's really no surprise that the enigmatic Dig-Dug would endorse a marital aid. During his time in the spotlight, he made an art of endorsements. Most people remember the Miller Lite ad he did with Bob Uecker, and Dig-Dug brand neckties still command high prices on eBay. But while the endorsement wasn't a surprise, Dig-Dug's obsession with the dolls was. The blue-masked actor regularly brought an inflatable doll with him to Atari conventions and handed out free dolls to visitors. As his obsession grew, his job prospects dwindled.

Dig-Dug hit his lowest point in November 2001. He was arrested for public nudity and disturbing the peace when Sunnyvale, Cal., police found him putting his favorite doll to use in the middle of a busy intersection. Doctors diagnosed Dig-Dug as a schizophrenic and put him on a strict regimen of anti-psychotics. He is now back on track and working regularly as the main character in Metroid Prime.

back to the archive
Back to
Stick It In The Slot

© copyright 2003 The Van Gogh-Goghs