• Ricki Lake (Tracy Turnblad)

  • Ricki Lake (Tracy Turnblad)

    Lake made her screen debut at 19 in the starring role of “Hairspray,” thanks to a casting search for an overweight girl with charisma and dancing skills. She became part of “Hairspray” director John Waters’ stock company, appearing in four more of his films. Having shed most of her “Hairspray” weight, she also found roles in more mainstream movies. But she became most famous for her daytime talk show, which ran from 1993 to 2004. Lake re-entered the spotlight as a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant in 2011. In 2012, the 44-year-old launched a new talk show, but it was canceled after one season.

  • Divine (Edna Turnblad/Alvin Hodgepole)

    Harris Glenn Milstead, the rotund drag performer dubbed Divine by John Waters, was the leading lady in all of Waters’ most notorious pre-”Hairspray” movies (most infamously, “Pink Flamingos,” where his character clinches the title of Filthiest Person Alive by eating a freshly-deposited dog turd). In “Hairspray,” he played his first relatively straight, non-campy female role as Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s insecure mother who blossoms when her daughter becomes famous. Out of drag, Divine also played Alvin Hodgepole, the racist owner of the TV station where Tracy dances on “The Corny Collins Show.” For his turn as Edna, Divine received glowing reviews as an actor, not merely an outrageous presence. He would likely have parlayed his accolades into mainstream fame had he not passed away of an enlarged heart at age 42, just two weeks after “Hairspray” was released.

  • Colleen Fitzpatrick (Amber Von Tussle)

  • Colleen Fitzpatrick (Amber Von Tussle)

    Colleen Fitzpatrick made her film debut at 18 in “Hairspray” as Amber Von Tussle, Tracy’s snooty nemesis. In the years since, she’s had small roles in a number of high-profile movies (“The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear,” “Liar Liar”) and TV shows (“The Amanda Show,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”), but she’s better known for her music career. As Vitamin C, the electropop singer charted with such hits as “Graduation (Friends Forever)” and “Smile.” For a while, she was popular enough, especially among kids, to have her own Mattel doll. Having composed songs for such Disney Channel tween stars as Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez, the 43-year-old was hired in 2012 by Nickelodeon to be the channel’s vice president of music.

  • Jerry Stiller (Wilbur Turnblad)

  • Jerry Stiller (Wilbur Turnblad)

    Stiller and his wife Anne Meara had been a popular comedy duo in the 1960s and ’70s. They had starred in a failed 1986 sitcom shortly before the 60-year-old Stiller landed the role of Tracy’s doting father in “Hairspray.” In the early ’90s, their son’s rising fame suggested that Stiller and Meara would soon be best known as Ben Stiller’s parents. But the elder Stiller found new fame on two long-running hit TV sitcoms, as Frank Costanza on “Seinfeld” and as Arthur Spooner on “The King of Queens.” He and his wife of nearly 60 years continue to work together; they currently have a Web series on Yahoo. The 85-year-old is also the star of the current series of commercials for Comcast’s Xfinity cable and internet service.

  • Debbie Harry (Velma Von Tussle)

  • Debbie Harry (Velma Von Tussle)

    Harry was a pop icon in the 1970s and early ’80s as the lead singer of Blondie, but she also had a side film career, with prominent roles in such films as “Videodrome” and “Satisfaction.” By 1988, when the 41-year-old played Velma Von Tussle (Amber’s ruthless mom) in “Hairspray,” Blondie had broken up and her music career was in a slump. Over the next quarter-century, Harry has had acting roles in another two dozen movies (notably, “Tales From the Darkside: The Movie,” “Heavy,” and “Cop Land”). As a singer, she has toured tirelessly, both with the Jazz Passengers and with the reunited Blondie. The 67-year-old has been performing at benefit concerts in New York this winter and plans to tour with Blondie this summer.

  • Sonny Bono (Franklin Von Tussle)

    Like his “Hairspray” wife, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono was a somewhat faded pop icon when he appeared in the John Waters movie. At age 52, he was long past his years of collaborating with ex-wife Cher on pop hits and TV variety shows. The year “Hairspray” was released, he went into politics, first as mayor of Palm Springs, California, then as a U.S. Congressman, elected in 1994. Serving in D.C. largely ended his show business career, though he did cameo in the movie “First Kid.” Bono served in the House of Representatives until his death at 62 from a skiing accident in 1998.

  • Ric Ocasek (Beatnik Cat)

    <em>(Right)</em>

  • Ric Ocasek (Beatnik Cat)

    “Hairspray” was not Ric Ocasek’s film debut; he’d actually played a silent walk-on part as a beatnik painter in Woody Allen’s “Take the Money and Run.” By the time he played another beatnik in “Hairspray,” the 38-year-old was famous as the lead singer of new wave hitmakers The Cars. The band broke up the same year “Hairspray” was released, but Ocasek transitioned into a successful career as a record producer and occasional solo performer. Two years ago, he fronted the reunited Cars. Last November, the 63-year-old published “Lyrics & Prose,” an anthology of his songs, poems, essays, and photographs.

  • Michael St. Gerard (Link Larkin)

    St. Gerard, who was 26 when he played Tracy’s dreamy boyfriend in “Hairspray,” looked so much like the young Elvis Presley that he played the King in four different TV and movie projects, most notably, the 1990 drama series “Elvis” about the singer’s rise to fame. In the mid-1990s, he underwent a religious awakening and became a minister. Today, the 52-year-old is a pastor at the Harlem Square Church in New York.

  • Ruth Brown (Motormouth Maybelle)

    Brown was an influential R&B singer in the 1950s, one so popular that her label, Atlantic Records, was nicknamed the House that Ruth Built. She put her career on hold in the 1960s to raise a family, but the 60-year-old was on a career upswing when John Waters cast her in “Hairspray” as the record-shop owner whose music brings Baltimore’s black and white teens together. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, she toured and recorded with classic R&B star Charles Brown (no releation) and Bonnie Raitt. She appeared opposite Danny Glover in John Sayles’ R&B-drenched drama feature “Honeydripper” but died in 2006 at 78 before it was released.

  • Pia Zadora (Beatnik Chick)

  • Pia Zadora (Beatnik Chick)

    Like many other “Hairspray” performers, singer-actress Zadora was something of a showbiz in-joke when John Waters cast her in the film. She’d made her screen debut as an alien tyke in the 1964 so-bad-its-good classic “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” She was 33 and in a career slump when she played the “Howl”-reading beatnik in “Hairspray.” Since then, she’s focused on her music career, alternating between dance pop and lounge standards. These days, the 58-year-old is a fixture on the cabaret circuit in Las Vegas and New York.

  • Shawn Alex Thompson (Corny Collins)

    Canadian-born Thompson had been an actor on the soap “Guiding Light” when he was cast in “Hairspray” as the host of the Baltimore teen TV dance show at the center of the plot. After “Hairspray,” he branched into writing and directing and moved back to his native Canada, where he directed and produced the hit comedy TV series “Puppets Who Kill.” These days, he’s a successful TV director in Canada, though he’s also planning a big-screen version of “Puppets Who Kill.”

  • John Waters (Writer/director)

  • John Waters (Writer/director)

    Before “Hairspray,” Waters had spent two decades as a cult director known for midnight movies meant to shock viewers, satirize conformist middle-class values, and celebrate outcasts and self-styled freaks. “Hairspray” continued in this vein, but with a story set safely in the past, and without the nudity and profanity that had caused all his previous movies to be rated R or X. The result was the 41-year-old’s first mainstream hit, one that allowed him to work with progressively bigger budgets and bigger stars. He returned to NC-17 territory with his sex spoof “A Dirty Shame” in 2004. Since then, the 66-year-old hasn’t completed a feature, but he’s still ubiquitous as a talk-show guest, conceptual artist, author, ambassador of Baltimore (his hometown and shooting location for all his movies), and cameo actor. Like many associated with the original “Hairspray,” he had a walk-on in the 2007 musical film version. He played a flasher.

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