Before Christian Bale was the Dark Knight, he was a newsie named Jack “Cowboy” Kelly with a dream of moving to Santa Fe. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe Bale was the sprightly star of the 1992 Disney musical Newsies, which focused on the New York City newsboy strike of 1899. A serious actor like Bale jumping and kicking around in the dirt for his big solo, who could have guessed? Oh, that New Yawk accent, bless that Brit for trying. At the time, the 17-year-old Bale was a child actor on the brink of adulthood who had gotten raves for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film Empire Of The Sun, where he plays a young boy who gets separated from his family in Shanghai and ends up a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp in China during World War II. But Newsies was Bale's big shot, a chance to star in a movie that could be a major movie musical. Unfortunately, it was a box office and critical bomb, but it would go on to become a children’s classic that inspired a successful Broadway musical.
While it pains me to know that Bale isn’t a big fan of the film — he told Entertainment Weekly in 2012 when Newsies was premiering on Broadway that he wasn’t “really into musicals," but was "sure the person playing the character I played exceeded whatever I did” — he has to know that so many will forever remember him as the cowboy who helped his fellow newsies organize a union and get to really meet Theodore Roosevelt. There are many Bruce Waynes, but there is only one Jack Kelly — never forget that Christian Bale.
On the 25th anniversary of Newsies, we also shouldn't forget those other stars that appeared in the film. Specifically, those you may not have recognized back when you were a kid. The actors that were already huge stars, you just didn’t know it yet. Why yes, that is Tom Hagen from the Godfather, one of the 100 greatest films in history, according to AFI. Then there were those that got their start in Newsies, but would continue to act without you even realizing. Unfortunately, no, the Trey Parker in this movie is not the Trey Parker who created South Park, but for Mighty Ducks fans, you may recognize a certain Bash Brother.
So let's take a trip down memory lane, which unfortunately won’t get you to Santa Fe but will get you feeling nostalgic.
1. David Moscow
Before he was Jack’s right-hand man David Jacobs looking to seize the day, Moscow was the little boy who turns into Tom Hanks in the 1988 classic Big. You can totally see it right? It’s the hair. Kids of the ’90s may remember him from the WB sitcom Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane, where he starred alongside Selma Blair as one of four high school friends living in New York City. Think of it as the hipster answer to Friends. From there he would go on to appear in 2003’s Just Married, starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy, and later that same year, Honey alongside Jessica Alba. But, as Moscow would tell IndieWire in 2013, he will always be the kid from Big.
Having that on your resume when you walk into an audition, someone just glances over and they land on that film and go, ‘Wait a minute. You were young Tom Hanks. And then, suddenly, it changes. I think that, compared to any of the other stuff I’ve done — I did Newsies, I was in Honey — I mean, they all had some level of success, but there’s nothing like that.
What you really should know about Moscow, though, was he was engaged to Kerry Washington before the two broke up in 2007.
2. Luke Edwards
Edwards was David’s little brother Les Jacobs, who had a knack for selling papes thanks to that pitiful fake cough of his, but the young actor became known for playing quiet dreamers. Before Newsies he was the despondent Nintendo playing savant in 1989’s The Wizard. Then he was Billy Heyward, the pint-sized owner of the Minnesota Twins, in the 1994 children’s baseball classic Little Big League. When he got a little older Edwards would appear in MTV’s late-night anthology Undressed, which took a frank look at sex and relationships, and would even have a small role on the first season of HBO’s True Detective. The now 37-year-old actor is still working and has two projects slated for this year, a TV movie called A Deadly Affair and the feature length thriller, Malicious.
3. Max Casella
Newsies fans may know Casella best as Racetrack Higgins, the cigar-smoking dandy who was carrying the banner day in and day out, but after making his feature film debut, the actor has had memorable turns as child doctor Doogie Howser’s best friend Vinnie on, what else, Doogie Howser, M.D.; Benny Fazio on The Sopranos; and Leo D'Alessio on Boardwalk Empire. Since 1981, Casella has worked steadily, appearing in over 26 films, including Tim Burton’s 1994 cult classic Ed Wood, the 2013 Coen Brothers’ movie Inside Llewyn Davis, and 2016’s Jackie. He also originated the role of Timon in the Broadway production of The Lion King.
You may recognize Casella’s voice from episodes of Hey Arnold!, Pepper Ann, and Courage The Cowardly Dog. Most recently, he starred in the HBO series Vinyl and the Ben Affleck film Live By Night, but he’ll never forget his time on the Newsies set. As Casella told the AV Club in 2015, being the oldest on set — he was 24 and living with his girlfriend at the time of filming — led to some interesting moments. “A lot of the other guys were younger,” he said. “I remember some of the younger guys kept asking me about sex and stuff!” He also can’t forget the horror movie he made on the set of the film, Blood Drips Heavily On Newsies Square, which you can watch thanks to the YouTube gods. I definitely, recommend it.
4. Arvie Lowe, Jr.
As Boots, Lowe, Jr. showed off his dance moves, but he would later show off his comedy chops on '90 sitcom staples City Guys, Sister, Sister, Moesha, and Smart Guy. Most notably, though, he would go on to play Hilary Duff’s teacher Mr. Dig on the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire.
5. Aaron Lohr
Lohr may have played Mush Meyers, but once a Bash Brother, always a Bash Brother, right? Lohr starred in all three Mighty Ducks movies as Dean Portman, whose brute force often helped those Ducks fly together. He would go on to appear in Sister, Sister and was the singing voice of Max in 1995’s A Goofy Movie. Last year, he made headlines for getting engaged to Idina Menzel, who was his co-star in the 2005 film adaptation of Rent. Like his fiancée, Lohr works in New York theater appearing in off-Broadway shows like Bare: a Pop Opera in 2004. After receiving a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, he also works as an addiction specialist in Miami.
6. Bill Pullman
Bryan Denton, the reporter who helps the newsies get some press for their cause, may have been known as the King of New York, but you probably know him better as President Whitmore in Independence Day. Or, maybe you like to think of him as the Han Solo-type in Mel Brooks’ 1987 Star Wars parody Spaceballs or the lovable furniture maker Jack Callaghan in 1995’s While You Were Sleeping. Safe to say, we all have a favorite Pullman role, but his do-good reporter has a special place in all our hearts.
It’s hard to forget Medda Larkson and her high-flying singing act but you may have forgotten that the middle-aged vaudeville star was played by the star of the classic 1963 musical Bye Bye Birdie or the 1964 Elvis Presley rock musical Viva Las Vegas. You’d probably like to forget about that baked beans scene in the rock opera Tommy, though. Whether she’s starring in Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men or the new AARP heist film Going In Style, Ann-Margret exudes confidence in every movie she's ever done.
8. Robert Duvall
Duvall’s turn as newspaper scion Joseph Pulitzer, who can’t stop shouting at Jack Kelly, isn’t one of his most memorable roles, not even close. He’s appeared in The Godfather, To Kill A Mockingbird, M.A.S.H, Apocalypse Now, and Network, just to name a few, which is why you can’t help but wonder why Duvall took this role. Seems you’ll have to keep wondering because Duvall has not revealed why. Maybe he just liked the beard?
9. Deborra-Lee Furness
As Esther Jacobs she was the loving mom to David, Les, and Sarah, who kept cakes hidden for special occasions. In real life she was an Aussie actress who like many got her start on the soap opera Neighbours. Three year later she would get raves for her starring turn in the 1988 Australian film Shame, where she played Asta Cadell, a woman who decides to take justice into her own hands after learning a young girl has been sexually assaulted. Furness would go on to marry Hugh Jackman and became an adoption activist, after adopting her two children Oscar and Ava. In 2017 she urged her fellow Australians to help those kids who need a home telling the Aussie website Mamamia, “'Australians who care about vulnerable children, and particularly those wanting to adopt, need to be vocal and outspoken... By speaking out you are advocating for a child to find a home.”
10. Marty Belafsky
Poor Crutchy. After having his crutch kicked out from under him he was taken to the refuge, which turns out, he didn’t hate. In real life, though, Belafsky has been making people laugh as a stand-up comedian. He was discovered by the legendary Rodney Dangerfield, who showed Belafsky some respect by having him open for him in Las Vegas. Belafsky would also appear in the films A Mighty Wind, Men In Black II, and America’s Sweethearts.
11. Michael A. Goorjian
Skittery was the skeptical newsie who didn’t believe one photo on the front page of a newspaper was going to lead to victory, but Goorjian found something he could believe in as Heroin Bob in the 1998 indie SLC Punk! and its 2016 sequel Punk’s Dead. Goorjian also played Neve Campbell’s boyfriend on six seasons of Party Of Five and is set to appear in the Bernie Maddoff HBO movie Wizard Of Lies starring Robert De Niro later this year. But if you want to hear Goorjian sing again check out the satirical 2005 musical about the dangers of pot Reefer Madness, which stars Kristen Bell.
12. Ele Keats
The sweet sister of David and Les, who becomes Jack Kelly’s love interest didn’t have much of a part in Newsies — though, she does have a pretty good right hook — but she would go on to star in 2015’s Insidious: Chapter 3 and the following year’s Ouija: Origin Of Evil. The French actress would appear on TV shows like Greek, CSI NY, Cold Case and Touched By An Angel. There’s also a chance you’ve seen her in the ads played between those shows; Keats has reportedly appeared in hundreds of commercials.
13. Gabriel Damon
Spot Conlon was Brooklyn’s original cool guy. He was so cool, in fact, that Gabriel Damon became one of the most popular stars of Newsies. Before the movie, Damon, who started acting when he was three years old, lended his voice to The Jungle Book spin-off TaleSpin and A Land Before Time, in which he played Littlefoot. He would later go on to appear on TV shows like Baywatch and ER. He last appeared in the 2006 short film Danny Boy.
14. Jeffrey DeMunn
No one would blame you for forgetting about Mayer Jacobs, David and Les’ poor dad who lost his factory job after an accident, but you may remember DeMunn as Dale Horvath in The Walking Dead. He is known for his relationship with The Walking Dead director Frank Darabont, appearing in his films The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist.
15. Michael Lerner
Lerner’s Weasel stayed true to his name, weaseling the newsies out of their hard-earned money, but the actor showed a softer side as Cher Horowitz’s dad Mel in the first season of the Clueless TV series based on the 1995 movie of the same name. He would also play Sidney Greene on Glee and Mr. Greenway in the modern Christmas classic Elf.
16. David Sheinkopf
Morris Delancey and his brother Oscar were the strong men who helped Weasel get his money, but since 2006, Sheinkopf has been helping you save yours as as the designer on the HGTV show Design On A Dime. In 2016, the licensed contractor, who had supporting roles on Quantum Leap, Party of Five and JAG, lent his voice to the video game Titanfall 2.
17. Kevin Stea
After his role as Swifty “The Rake," Stea continued dancing, working as Madonna’s assistant choreographer on her 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour. This ended up landing him a role in her 1991 documentary film Truth Or Dare. Stea, along with two other dancers in the documentary, would later file an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Madonna, accusing her of lying to them about the intended use of the tour footage that would later appear in the film. The suit was settled out of court in 1994.
Stea would go on to work with Beyoncé, Prince, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson, landing the role of associate choreographer on the King Of Pop’s videos for “Black and White” and “Blood on the Dancefloor.” Stea, who modeled for Calvin Klein and Jean-Paul Gaultier, also appeared as a dancer in Sister Act II and Showgirls.
Say the place and we’ll be there for a Newsies reunion. What do you say Bale?