There have been many Christmas films that have enchanted audiences over the years, but only a select few have gone on to become holiday classics. One of those is Prancer, a 1989 children’s fantasy tale starring Rebecca Harrell, Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman and many others. Directed by John Hancock, the story follows 8-year-old Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell), who discovers a hurt reindeer in the woods. Convinced that it’s Prancer, Jessica vows to nurse him back to health and help him return to the North Pole, inspiring the entire town in the process.
Comprised of equal parts imagination and heart-warming insight, it’s no surprise that Prancer went on to become a favorite among both children and adults. Unlike other holiday films, it expertly avoids getting caught in the maudlin snare. Instead, it brims with the sort of fantasy realism that’s both relatable and admirable, reminding all of us that the magic of Christmas can be found in even the most unlikely of places.
With that said, what is this iconic movie’s cast up to now? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and find out!
Rebecca Harrell-Tickell (Jessica Riggs)
Rebecca Harrell, now Rebecca Harrell-Tickell, started acting when she was a child. In fact, her first audition ever was for Prancer, which ultimately served to jumpstart her career. Since then, she’s guest-starred on the shows Room for Romance, Dellaventura, Third Watch and Enlightened as well as scored roles in the films A Piece of Eden, Suspended Animation, Man of the Year, Saint Sinner and Sugar Creek. After 2007, Harrell-Tickell stepped away from acting for the most part. She has since become a passionate environmentalist, co-directing two environmental documentaries in 2011 called Freedom and The Big Fix.
Sam Elliott (John Riggs)
As one of the most talented and iconic actors in the industry, Sam Elliott has been involved in a plethora of projects before and after starring in Prancer. Some of his most notable credits include: Roadhouse, Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, We Were Soldiers, Hulk, Ghost Rider, The Golden Compass, Parks and Recreation, Justified and, most recently, The Ranch. Fans can expect to see him in the upcoming documentary The Gettysburg Address and the film The Hero.
Cloris Leachman (Mrs. McFarland)
Like Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman’s career is both expansive and impressive. The veteran actress, who set a record in 2008 for being the oldest person ever to compete on Dancing with the Stars, has accumulated a multitude of acting credits. Her most well-known roles include playing nosy landlady Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which resulted in her character getting a short-lived spin-off, Beverly on The Facts of Life and Ida on Malcolm in the Middle. She also guest-starred on Walter & Emily, Thanks, The Ellen Show, Raising Hope, Girl Meets World, The Eleventh and Creative Galaxy as well as landed parts in films on both the small and big screen. Fans can expect to see her in the upcoming show American Gods and the films Lez Bombs and The Gliksmans.
Rutanya Alda (Aunt Sarah)
In the years since playing Aunt Sarah in Prancer, Rutanya Alda has scored a number of film and television roles, including the shows Santa Barbara, Law and Order, High Falls and Old Dogs & New Tricks. She also landed parts in the movies The Dark Path, Safe Passage, The Glass House, Love Comes Softly, Stolen and Split. She is currently slated to be appearing in the short films High Falls and Rose’s Children.
Abe Vigoda (Orel Benton)
Before playing the kindly veterinarian Orel Benton in Prancer, Abe Vigoda was most known for playing Sal Tessio in the first two Godfather films as well as Detective Phil Fish on Barney Miller and its spinoff Fish. Post-Prancer, Vigoda guest-starred on the shows Santa Barbara, Murder She Wrote, Law & Order, Wings, Touched by an Angel, Norm and Manhattan, AZ. His last role was in 2014 in the film Sweet Destiny. Sadly, Vigoda passed away early in 2016.
Michael Constantine (Mr. Stewart/Santa)
During the 1970s and 80s, Michael Constantine guest-starred on numerous television shows, such as The Love Boat, MacGyver, Magnum P.I., Airwolf and Murder She Wrote as well as several films, including the cult classic Thinner. However, his first big role came in 2002, when he landed the part of Windex-obsessed father “Gus” in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He returned to that role in the short-lived series My Big Fat Greek Life as well as the movie sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
Ariana Richards (Carol Wetherby)
Ariana Richards may have played Jessica’s best friend Carol Wetherby in Prancer, but she is most well-known for playing Lex in Jurassic Park. Her other post-Prancer credits include the films Angus, The Princess Stallion and Battledogs and the shows Capitol Critters, Boy Meets World, and Total Security. She has no upcoming projects at this time.
Johnny Galecki (Billy Quinn)
Last but not least, we have Johnny Galecki, who played Billy Quinn. That same year, Galecki scored the role of Rusty Griswold in Christmas Vacation, which served to kick-start his career. In the years afterward, Galecki starred in the sitcom Roseanne and landed parts in the films I Know What You Did Last Summer, Playing Mona Lisa, Bounce, Vanilla Sky, Hancock and In Time. He is currently playing Leonard Hofstadter in the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory and will be appearing in the new film Rings due out in 2017.