'Christmas Vacation': How Have Cast Members Fared?
11. Nicolette Scorsese
Played: Mary, the sexy lingerie saleswoman
Though she had consistent work in the mid '90s, Scorsese—no relation to Martin—mostly landed typecast ''hot girl'' parts in films including Aspen Extreme and Boxing Helena (she played ''Fantasy Lover'' in that one), as well as TV shows ER and NYPD Blue (''Busty Barmaid #2''). Nice(-looking) work if you can get it?
10. Randy Quaid
Played: Cousin Eddie Johnson
In addition to stepping into Cousin Eddie's shoes for several more Vacation films during the '90s and early 2000s, Quaid continued his success as a character actor in films ranging from Kingpin to Independence Day and even Brokeback Mountain (though that relationship soured in the wake of a lawsuit). His reputation came under fire in 2009, though, when Quaid and his wife Evi were arrested, leading to a strange series of legal issues and an escape to Canada—not to mention Quaid's later tendency to rant conspiracy theories about ''star whackers''. All the drama, alas took the once successful actor mostly out of the Hollywood spotlight.
9. Miriam Flynn
Played: Cousin Catherine Johnson
Like her on-screen husband Quaid, the Second City vet booked a steady stream of character roles (Ally McBeal, Suburgatory, and Grey's Anatomy, to name a few) since Christmas Vacation. But Flynn has really flourished in voice work. Among her most nostalgia-inducing roles, Flynn played Maa in the 1995 live-action film version of Babe.
8. Beverly D'Angelo
Played: Ellen Griswold
D'Angelo was an incredibly successful actress before her trademark role as the Griswold family matriarch (with a Golden Globe nod for portraying Patsy Cline 1980's Coal Miner's Daughter and an Emmy nom as Stella in the 1984 TV movie of A Streetcar Named Desire. Since 1989, she's landed a series of memorable roles in film (1998's American History X) and TV (Entourage, a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU), though she's generally kept a lower profile than some of her fellow Vacation alums. She'll be returning for the franchise's 2015 update, too. But when you've been married to an Italian Duke and have twins with Al Pacino, do you really need to work that hard?
7. Nicholas Guest
Played: Todd Chester
Guest is perhaps the most under-the-radar success story of Christmas Vacation. (And, yes, for those paying attention, he's the brother of improv guru Christopher Guest.) Guest has been a big-time voice actor for decades, playing a variety of characters in the beloved animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold and voicing John Teller in Sons of Anarchy. Thanks to some major cool points, yuppie Todd surges into the thick of the pack.
6. Diane Ladd
Played: Nora Griswold
Well-established before and since Christmas Vacation, the three-time Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee earned two of those nods (as well as Golden Globe recognition) in the five years after playing Clark Griswold's mother, in 1991 for Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken and in 1992 for Rambling Rose. More recently, Ladd reappeared on the small screen with her Rose costar and real-life daughter Laura Dern in HBO's critically acclaimed dramedy Enlightened. Ladd also has three Guest Actress Emmy noms under her belt—just a few highlights in her long, impressive career.
5. Chevy Chase
Played: Clark Griswold
Thanks to Saturday Night Live and the first two Vacation films, Chase was already a comedy legend well before the Griswolds' Christmas misadventure. And, sure, he had a rough go of it in the '90s with some missteps in filmmaking and talk show hosting, but a resurgence courtesy of NBC's cult favorite comedy Community (not to mention a surprisingly small amount of blowback during Chase's very public rift with creator Dan Harmon) guarantee him top-five placement on this list.
4. Juliette Lewis
Played: Audrey Griswold
Fresh off her tenure as the Griswolds' snotty teen daughter, Lewis embarked upon a three-year relationship with Brad Pitt. After that, she scored a Best Supporting Oscar nomination as (what else?) a disgruntled teen in 1991's Cape Fear. When not pursuing her passion for music, Lewis has mixed parts in prestige projects (Natural Born Killers and What's Eating Gilbert Grape in the '90s, August: Osage County in 2013) with more eclectic fare (From Dusk Till Dawn, Old School). Next up, she has two TV series pick-ups—Fox's Wayward Pines and ABC's Secrets & Lies—as well as a role in the big-screen riff on Jem & the Holograms.
3. Doris Roberts
Played: Grandma Francis Smith
The top three Christmas Vacation vets are the ones who have achieved that rare feat of landing parts that have catapulted them into the financial stratosphere. First among them is Roberts, whose nine-season turn as Italian mamma Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond earned her four Emmys (out of seven nominations) and ensured she'd never have to work again. Of course she has—doggedly—but those Raymond residuals transformed Roberts from a respected actress to a sitcom power player.
2. Johnny Galecki
Played: Rusty Griswold
Though he broke out in film and has appeared on the big screen many times over the years, Galecki has thrived in television. Following short-lived sitcom stints on NBC's American Dreamer and ABC's Billy Connolly-led Billy, Galecki secured a more sustained role as David Healy on Roseanne from 1992-97. Let's just get straight to the point, though: Galecki will forever be remembered as lovesick physicist Leonard Hofstadter on CBS's The Big Bang Theory. The role has brought him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, not to mention some incredibly sizeable paychecks. Given all those Big Bang bucks, many probably would have guessed Galecki would land at No. 1 on this list. But that honor goes to...
1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Played: Margo Chester
She's one of the Emmy-winningest actresses ever. Alongside her husband, Brad Hall, she's had a hand in producing some of her most successful series (The New Adventures of Old Christine, Veep). And on top of that she has enough Seinfeld lucre to fuel a small nation. JLD ticks all the boxes of success in terms of her critical praise, commercial success, and just straight-up awesomeness. She also occasionally gets to make out with Bryan Cranston. All that, and you can't even really envy the woman because she has earned all the love coming her way. For this and more, you win, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. You win. (Even if Margo and Todd never figured out why the carpet was all wet.)
Honorable Mentions: William Hickey, Mae Questel, John Randolph, and E.G. Marshall
Played: Aunt Bethany, Uncle Lewis, Clark Griswold, Sr., and Grandpa Art Smith
Though they've all passed away since National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation hit theaters in December 1989, Hickey (who was 69 when he died in 1997), Questel (who died in 1998 at age 89), Randolph (who was 88 when he died in 2004), and Marshall (who died in 1998 at age 84) all had prolific careers before their quotable turns in the film. Randolph and Hickey followed Christmas Vacation with even more memorable moments in You've Got Mail and The Nightmare Before Christmas, respectively. So let's raise a glass to Lewis, who'll never have to ask Grizz for another stogie again; to Bethany, who's saying grace with Gracie Allen; Clark Sr., who's bathed in the twinkles of Christmas lights that no short fuse can interrupt, and Art, who'll never need to roll his eyes at his dope of a son-in-law again.