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10 Best Cameos In Troop Beverly Hills

30 years ago there were several blockbuster films that had us waiting in line at movie theaters. Titles like The Little Mermaid, Batman or Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade still delight us today, but there is one film from 1989 that is on par with these films in my mind, which is often overlooked. 

That movie is Troop Beverly Hills starring Shelley Long. On the surface this film about a group of rich girls turned wilderness survival champions doesn’t seem to match the adventure of the other blockbusters, nor did it earn nearly as much at the box office, but for my childhood home video watching, it holds a very special place in my heart.

Recently my fandom took a turn towards obsession as I began a quest to collect every home video release of Troop Beverly Hills sold over the last 3 decades. As you can see I have the film in formats ranging from VHS to LaserDisc and even the forgotten Video 8. I have even begun collecting foreign video releases from countries like Turkey, Spain and England, with more on the way.

In addition to great comedic performances by the entire cast and a script with a heart of gold, one of the features of the movie that makes it such a retro classic are the cameos by 80s TV and movie actors sprinkled throughout the story, so I thought it would be fun to share with you the 10 Best Cameos From Troop Beverly Hills.

Audra Lindley

The film centers around an organization called the Wilderness Girls, a stand-in for the Girl Scouts of America organization. The head of this group is a woman named Frances Temple played by Audra Lindley. That name may not sound familiar at first and the photo to the right may not even stir up any memories immediately. That is until I reveal to you her role as Mrs. Roper on the early seasons of Three’s Company. Minus the muu-muu and curly red hair she is unrecognizable, which just goes to show how cartoonish a role she was taking on each week for that wacky sitcom.

Jo Marie Payton

When Shelley Long’s character, Phyllis Nefler takes the girls in her troop to buy their Wilderness Girl uniforms they are helped by a sassy sales lady played by Jo Marie Peyton, who you might remember best as Harriett Winslow on the long running 90's TGIF sitcom, Family Matters. Another fun fact is that Family Matters actually existed as a showcase for the Harriett Winslow character who originally appeared on the sitcom Perfect Strangers, but soon a little guy named Steve Urkel showed up and his popularity pushed the Winslow family out of the spotlight to play supporting characters.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Having already earned our respect for his comedic turn in the smash box office hit Airplane! A few years earlier, this NBA star decided to jump back in front of the camera as a resident of Beverly Hills being hit up to buy cookies from the girls of Troop Beverly Hills. The establishing shot of the towering former Lakers Center is pretty hilarious as the camera pans up to take in his whole body. Unfortunately Kareem had already bought cookies from rival troop, the Red Feathers so this sale was an air ball.

Dr. Joyce Brothers

Getting analyzed was all the rage in the 80s and 90s where talk radio was full of psychologists like Dr. Laura Schlessinger or Dr. David Viscott giving mental health advice to callers in 2-3 minutes of conversation. But on TV you couldn’t turn on a late night talk show without Dr. Joyce Brothers showing up to give her psychological evaluations of the world at large, so it’s no surprise that given the opportunity she chose to appear at a fashion show in Troop Beverly Hills. It’s surprising that they didn’t write a scene for her to offer some marriage counseling to our star and her soon to be ex-husband played by Coach’s Craig T Nelson, but audiences at the time surely got a kick out of seeing her.

Robin Leach

Playing the MC to the fashion show in the film is Robin Leach, the iconic host of the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, who declares this event to be full of, “Khaki Wishes and Cookie Dreams”. This program was very popular in the 80s as American television was focused on the drama of fictional millionaires on shows like Dynasty and Dallas, so taking viewers through the mansions of their favorite celebrities and successful business people was appointment viewing. Leach had a very iconic and enthusiastic British accent, which was often parodied on comedy shows and cartoons, most notably in a pink border dream sequence on Saved By The Bell where kids were introduced to Dustin Diamond playing “Robin Screech”.

Pia Zadora

In the same scene a Cabbage Patch faced young woman also makes her way down the runway, but to much less fanfare. Pia Zadora was a child actress (having appeared in the infamous “Santa Claus ConquersThe Martians”) and later a lot of B-movies. In the 80s she got married to a very wealthy man that allegedly used his influence to get her a Golden Globe award, though she won far more Razzie awards for laughable acting on screen. Her appearance in Troop Beverly Hills makes sense as she was an affluent woman moving in Hollywood circles, even if her filmography was less than impressive.

Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello

These stars of 1960’s beach movies had just returned to cinematic prominence with the film Back To The Beach where they parodied their famous teenage adventures in the modern day, so it made sense for the duo to come jogging by as Annette crooned one of her old pop hits. Interestingly enough Pee-wee Herman made a cameo in Back To The Beach with Frankie and Annette reciprocating by making a cameo in the Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special. What does this have to do with this movie? 

Well, an episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is playing in the background during this same collection of scenes at the Beverly Hills Hotel. But that’s not the only Pee-wee connection…

Cheech Marin

After the girls win the right to attend a Wilderness Competition by selling thousands of boxes of cookies, one of the parent’s throws a party and who shows up at the bar, but Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame. Cheech briefly hits on the assistant Troop Leader named Annie Herman and asks, “Are you related to Pee-wee?” as they wander off screen. Add to this the fact that Paul Reubens aka Pee-wee Herman appeared in the Cheech and Chong films Nice Dreams and Next Movie and you’ll realize that in 1989 it was a Pee-wee world, we were all just living in it.

Ted McGinley

While most 90s TV fans know him as the handsome rascal, Jefferson on the later seasons of Married…With Children, Ted McGinley was actually a familiar face on shows like Happy Days and even played an evil frat boy in the movie Revenge of the Nerds. As he mentions in this scene while dancing with Annie (she got around), his “big break” came while playing Ace, the photographer on the iconic 80s TV program, The Love Boat which trumps Troop Beverly Hills for the sheer volume of celebrity cameos.

Officer Bill

This last one is kind of an oddball choice, but it shows that the makers of the film were actually orchestrating a very subtle cinematic crossover. You see, there is a sequence in the movie where the troop is earning achievement patches and find themselves at a CPR training course being taught by a hunky policeman named Officer Bill. This may seem like a throwaway character until you realize that the actor, William Wallace actually played a police officer a few years earlier in Beverly Hills Cop. This means that Troop Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Cop are in the same universe! Sadly there is no Eddie Murphy/Axel Foley cameo to speak of.

Well there you have it, the 10 Best Cameos In Troop Beverly Hills. If you want more fun with Phyllis Nefler and crew, you can listen to the latest episode of my podcast SequelQuest where we had a fabulous time pitching sequels to the 1989 film along with a friend of mine who actually grew up in Beverly Hills with Kim Kardashian and was an actual member of Troop Beverly Hills! Listen now on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify or Podbean at this link and enjoy the fun!

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Apr 18, 2019 at 01:33 PM

@vkimo Yeah, Shelley Long can be an acquired taste, but her character in Troop Beverly Hills is a total 180 from Diane on Cheers. Much kinder and goofier, less self-seriousness.

OldSchool80s Posted on Apr 13, 2019 at 12:08 AM

Love it! My favorite is Mrs. Roper for sure.

vkimo Posted on Apr 12, 2019 at 11:31 AM

Wow, nice connection on the Beverly Hills Cop aspect! I saw fragments of this film over the years, but never one complete sitting. Not sure if I can as Shelley Long's character, Dianne in Cheers gets on my nerves haha

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