Friday, June 02, 2006

Michael Schoeffling (1960- )

Any child of the 80s (like me) is most likely endeared to the films of John Hughes, whose films (including The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful) have served as sort-of a coming-of-age rite of passage for teens in that decade. His directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, featured a native of Wilkes-Barre as the epitomical dream date, Jake Ryan.

Sixteen Candles tells the story of Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) whose parents, caught up in preparations of the wedding of their other daughter, completely forget about her 16th birthday. Visting relatives, an exchange student by the name of Long Duck Dong, and an obsessive geek don't make Samantha's forgotten birthday any better. The sole hope she clings to is her crush on high school senior (and birthday dream date) Jake Ryan, played by Wilkes-Barre native Michael Schoeffling.

Born in Wilkes-Barre on December 10, 1960 and raised in New Jersey, Michael Schoeffling studied acting at Temple University and the Lee Strassberg Institute, and he also became a model whose photographs were featured in magazines such as GQ.

Schoeffling's first major film role was as the "dreamy" Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles. His later film credits include Vision Quest (with Matthew Modine and Madonna), Sylvester (with Melissa Gilbert), Merchant Ivory's underrated comedy Slaves of New York (a look at the 1980s New York art scene, with Bernadette Peters), Longtime Companion (one of the first films to directly address the AIDS crisis) and Mermaids (with Cher and Winona Ryder). Schoeffling last appeared on screen in Walt Disney's Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken in 1991.

A Google! search for his name results in a list of several websites that pose the question, "Whatever happened to Michael Schoeffling or "Jake Ryan?".

After taking a permanent break from acting in the early 1990s, Michael Schoeffling opened (and still operates) a handcrafted furniture store in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where he presently lives quietly and out of the limelight with his family.

Sixteen Candles and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken are all available to borrow on VHS from the Lackawanna County Library System.

You can watch the movie trailer for Sixteen Candles by clicking here.