From Friends to Frasier, there were plenty of classic sitcoms on our screens throughout the ’90s, and one of the most beloved shows of all was Grace Under Fire. This classic ABC show followed Brett Butler as Grace, a single mom struggling to cope with three kids in a small Missouri town.
The show was known for its upbeat humor and heartwarming story lines, but behind the scenes, all sorts of drama was taking its toll on Butler and some of her fellow castmates. Now, more than two decades later, what has happened to the show’s cast members? Read on to find out!
The Troubled Beginnings of Brett Butler
Brett Butler was born in Alabama in 1958. The eldest of five sisters, she had a difficult childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father and a mother who struggled to make ends meet. That’s pretty much like the character she eventually played in Grace Under Fire.
When Brett was just 20 years old, she got married for the first time and found herself with her own abusive husband. She divorced him in 1981 and was arrested for possessions of marijuana a few years later. She married her second husband in the late ’80s.
Getting Her Big Break
Many TV actors start early, but Brett didn’t make her TV debut until 1987 when she was almost 30. She appeared for the first time on The Tonight Show, later going on to appear in Dolly Parton’s variety show, Dolly.
Then, in 1993, Brett got her big break. She was cast in the role of Grace Kelly on Grace Under Fire. The show became a smash success and changed Brett Butler’s life, but behind the scenes, the actress was battling her own personal demons.
Drug Addiction and Depression
Grace Under Fire was incredible for Brett’s career. It is believed that she earned approximately $25 million during her time on the show. She also received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy and won a People’s Choice Award in 1994.
However, off screen Butler was dealing with recurring drug addiction and mental health troubles. She became addicted to painkillers after being prescribed them for sciatica, which led to erratic behavior on the set and ultimately caused the cancellation of Grace Under Fire in its fifth season.
Bad Choices after the Show
After Grace Under Fire, Brett entered rehab to try to get her life back on track, but more bad choices and unfortunate incidents were on their way. She moved to a farm in Georgia shortly after the show ended and made some sporadic appearances in films and TV.
She also spent almost her entire fortune, revealing in interviews that she felt like “one of those crazy ladies that starts to rescue everything—dogs, cats, and especially horses.” She also loaned money to people she knew, and several of them never paid her back.
Saved by Charlie Sheen
Fortunately, in the early 2000s, when Brett had finally hit the lowest point of her life, things started to look up for her. She credits fellow actor Charlie Sheen as the one who helped turn her around.
Sheen lobbied to get Butler a role on his sitcom Anger Management. The producers of the show weren’t happy, but Sheen insisted, and Butler had the part for two years, which helped her pay some bills and get her life back in order.
Butler in Recent Times
So how has Brett Butler been doing recently? Well, the COVID-19 pandemic brought more challenges to the former star. Since she was unable to work for a while, she fell behind on her rent and entered another state of depression, setting up an online fundraising campaign to get financial help from her fans.
Butler was overwhelmed by all the love and kindness from people who enjoyed her work, and she’s been doing better in recent months. She’s also doing some more acting and has appeared in the likes of The Morning Show on Apple TV+ and The Walking Dead.
Chuck Lorre Then
Chuck Lorre was the creator of Grace Under Fire. Born in New York in 1952, he dropped out of high school as a teen to try to become a rock and roll songwriter. He later moved to scriptwriting and eventually joined the writing staff of Roseanne.
Not long after that, Lorre got the chance to make his first show—Frannie’s Turn. The show was very short-lived, being canceled after just five episodes. However, it led to good things for Lorre, and his second show—Grace Under Fire—became a big success.
Lorre and Butler Butted Heads
Even though Brett Butler seemed like the ideal fit for the character of Grace, Chuck Lorre wasn’t very happy that he had to work with her. The pair frequently butted heads and argued on the set. From the start, it was clear that they were going to have a difficult working relationship.
The pair argued over little script elements and plot details. For example, Butler felt she shouldn’t be shown potty training one of the children. That eventually led to Lorre leaving the show after just one season and moving on to other projects.
Chuck Lorre Now
After Grace Under Fire, Chuck Lorre went on to become one of the biggest names in the world of comedy. He created hit after hit throughout the late ’90s and beyond, including Cybill, Dharma & Greg, and Two and a Half Men.
In the 2000s, Lorre created The Big Bang Theory, which became one of the most successful sitcoms ever written. He also created and wrote Mike & Molly, Young Sheldon, The Kominsky Method, Disjointed, and more, winning Golden Globe Awards and other prizes and awards.
Julie White Then
Born in San Diego, Julie White started acting in local plays and productions when she was just a teenager. Eventually she decided to move to New York City to pursue a career in show business after some local theater producers told her she had the talent to become a big star.
She became a big name in the theater scene, appearing in On the Verge, Largo Desolato, and Marvin’s Room, and making her off-Broadway debut in the late ’80s. A few years later, she was cast as Nadine, Grace’s neighbor, on Grace Under Fire.
Julie White Now
Julie ended up appearing on four seasons of the show. She left before the end due to problems with her co-star, Brett Butler. White wasn’t happy about Butler’s addiction and behavior on the set. However, this early departure did not dampen her career.
White went on to appear in Six Feet Under and Law & Order, as well as getting roles in the Transformers movies. She’s had a prolific career in stage acting, appearing on Broadway in Airline Highway and winning a Tony award for her work in The Little Dog Laughed.
Dave Thomas Then
Dave Thomas played the part of local pharmacist and eligible bachelor Russell Norton in Grace Under Fire. Born in 1949, the Canadian began his career as a copywriter with an ad agency, writing for brands such as Coca-Cola.
Thomas later moved into acting, breaking onto the big screen with Home to Stay and later taking on a directing role with the movie The Experts. He also created his own show, The Dave Thomas Comedy Show, in 1990, and later was cast in Grace Under Fire, staying on the show for all five seasons.
Dave Thomas Now
Dave Thomas has had quite a diverse and successful career in the years since Grace Under Fire came to an end. He’s done everything from making a game show called Family Challenge to doing voice-over work in Mission Hill.
Thomas has been quite prolific with voice work and can be heard in everything from The Simpsons to Family Guy. He had a guest voice part in Arrested Development, made a video blog where he impersonated Arnold Schwarzenegger, and guest starred in dramatic shows such as Perception and Bones. He also recently wrote a sci-fi mystery novel!
Casey Sander Then
Casey Sander played the part of Wade Swoboda in Grace Under Fire. He was Nadine’s husband and also Grace’s good buddy. Grace Under Fire was just one of many big shows Sander has been in over the course of a long and interesting career.
Born in 1956 in Washington, DC, Casey Sander became a pro baseball player, picked 10th in the draft by the California Angels. After being released by the Angels, he took an acting class and moved into show biz, appearing in college plays, films, and TV shows.
Casey Sander Now
Sander is one of those actors who tend to pop up time and time again in small roles in a wide variety of shows. He’s been on everything from Malcolm in the Middle and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Golden Girls, Criminal Minds, and Home Improvement.
Other career highlights for Sander include guest spots on Mad Men, Silicon Valley, and Sons of Anarchy, and he appeared in the Chuck Lorre sitcom The Big Bang Theory in the 2000s. He’s acted alongside some big names, including Will Smith, Bruce Willis, and Tim Allen.
Jon Paul Steuer Then
Jon Paul Steuer was another key member of the Grace Under Fire cast. He played the part of Quentin Kelly for the first few seasons of the show and was one of three actors who played the part of Grace’s eldest child over the course of the show.
Born in 1984 in California, Steuer wanted to become an actor from an early age and started modeling and acting when he was very young. He got his big break in 1990 when he was cast as Alexander Rozhenko in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
A Dramatic Rumor
Jon Paul Steuer was praised for his acting during his time on Grace Under Fire, but it all came to an end after the third season when his parents pulled him out of the production. How did that happen? Well, it was all linked to a very dramatic incident that allegedly occurred.
The word was that Brett Butler allegedly flashed her breasts at the boy who was playing the part of her son. Steuer was just 12 years old at the time. According to the rumor mill, Butler, after getting breast implants, went around the set showing off her new “assets” to everyone. But Steuer’s parents weren’t impressed and decided that enough was enough.
Jon Paul Steuer Now
After Jon Paul Steuer left Grace Under Fire, his career took a bit of a downward turn. He continued to audition for various roles, but he said that producers simply kept asking him about Brett Butler and his time on Grace Under Fire. The scrutiny took its toll on his mental state, and he ended up leaving acting because of it.
Unfortunately, his story doesn’t get any better from there. He moved to Colorado and started a band, which dissolved after a few years. He worked as a bartender for a while and opened a vegan restaurant in 2015, but then he killed himself a few years later. He was only 33.
Sam Horrigan Then
The next actor to step into the role of Quentin Kelly was Sam Horrigan. He replaced Jon Paul Steuer after he left the show in the fourth season. Horrigan was chosen in part because the two actors were quite similar physically, although Horrigan was a few years older.
The age difference meant that for the fourth season, the age of Quentin was advanced to 15. Born in 1981 in California, Horrigan had appeared on a couple episodes of Boy Meets World before getting the part of Quentin Kelly.
Sam Horrigan Now
After Grace Under Fire ended, Sam Horrigan went on to appear in other shows and films. Interestingly, one of his next jobs in the ’90s was in the film Little Giants, which also featured Jon Paul Steuer.
Sam also appeared in Escape to Witch Mountain and Brink! in the ’90s, going on to get guest roles in CSI, Opposite Sex, Grounded for Life, and 8 Simple Rules in the early 2000s. He continued acting and was recently seen in an episode of School of Rock.
Kaitlin Cullum Then
Kaitlin Cullum was another child actor who appeared in Grace Under Fire. She played the part of Elizabeth Louise “Libby” Kelly for the entire run of the show. She was the show’s only child actor to keep her role for the entire series. All the other child parts were played by multiple actors.
Born in 1986 in Los Angeles, Kaitlin is the younger sister of Kimberly Cullum, who is also an actress. Kaitlin started modeling at the age of four after a photographer saw her and asked to take her picture. She moved into acting soon after.
Kaitlin Cullum Now
After Grace Under Fire ended, Kaitlin Cullum had some interesting roles. Notably, she appeared in Galaxy Quest, a movie that has since become a cult classic, featuring actors Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver.
Cullum also had guest roles in 8 Simple Rules, 7th Heaven, and Malcolm in the Middle. In recent years, she hasn’t done much acting but has been doing some work behind the cameras as a production designer for shows such as Roomies.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse Then
The final main child role on the show was Patrick Kelly, the youngest of the three Kelly kids. Patrick was played by two actors, Dylan and Cole Sprouse. The twins were barely half a year old when they started to appear on the show.
Born in Italy to American parents who were teaching English in Tuscany at the time, Dylan and Cole were named after the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and jazz singer Nat King Cole. Patrick Kelly was the first TV part the boys ever played, but it wasn’t their last.
Dylan Sprouse Now
After Grace Under Fire, Dylan Sprouse appeared in various films and shows with his brother, including the comedy movie Big Daddy and the Disney Channel sitcom The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. That led to Dylan and Cole becoming two of the best-paid child actors in the world.
By 2007, the twins were two of the wealthiest children on the planet, earning tens of thousands of dollars for every episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. In recent years, they have done more separate work, with Dylan appearing in movies such as After We Collided and writing his own comic book, Sun Eater.
Cole Sprouse Now
Cole continued working with his brother for several years after Grace Under Fire, and the pair became two of the most loved child actors of all time. But in recent years, Cole has arguably been the more successful of the pair, thanks to his role as Jughead Jones on Riverdale.
Jughead has become one of the most popular characters on the show, thanks to Cole who has been playing the part since 2017. He has also appeared in the movies Five Feet Apart and Moonshot, as well as producing his own podcast called Borrasca. Cole is also an avid photographer.
Charles Hallahan Then
Charles Hallahan played the part of Bill Davis in the early days of Grace Under Fire. He didn’t appear in the show’s later seasons but was there for some of the best early episodes, playing the boss at the oil refinery.
Born in Philadelphia in 1943, Hallahan was often cast as a police officer throughout his career. He made a name for himself as LAPD Captain Charlie Devane on Hunter and also appeared in TV shows such as Lou Grant, The Paper Chase, and M*A*S*H.
Charles Hallahan Now
After moving on from Grace Under Fire, Charles Hallahan continued to get more roles, both in films and on TV. On the small screen, he was seen in the likes of Murder, She Wrote and JAG, as well as providing voices in the animated show Gargoyles.
In film, Hallahan had roles in Executive Decision, The Rich Man’s Wife, Space Jam, and Dante’s Peak. Sadly, he passed away in November 1997. He had a heart attack while driving his car in Los Angeles. He had been set to appear in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine before passing away.
Paul Dooley Then
Paul Dooley was the man who took over the role of the boss in Grace Under Fire after Charles Hallahan left the show. The new boss character, introduced in season two, was John Shirley. Dooley appeared in that role for 22 episodes of the show.
Born in 1928 in West Virginia, Paul Dooley worked as a cartoonist as a young man and joined the U.S. Navy before becoming an actor. He appeared in classic films such as Sixteen Candles and Popeye. He was also famed for his TV work on classic shows such as ALF and The Golden Girls.
Paul Dooley Now
In the years since Grace Under Fire, Paul Dooley continued to be a prolific actor in film and TV. He was the voice of Sarge in all the Disney Pixar Cars films and also worked with Christopher Guest on various movie projects.
Dooley has also appeared in a range of other TV shows over the years, including The Practice, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Desperate Housewives. He’s also a theater actor and has co-written a play with his wife.
Walter Olkewicz Then
Walter Olkewicz played the part of Dougie Boudreau in Grace Under Fire. Dougie was one of Grace’s best buddies at the oil refinery. He was part of a trio of friends introduced in the first season, the other two being Vic and Carl.
Vic and Carl got written out of the show for season two, but the part of Dougie, played by Olkewicz, stuck around to season four. Olkewicz was well-known for his improv comedy work and his guest appearances on shows such as Barney Miller and Night Court.
Walter Olkewicz Now
After Grace Under Fire, Walter Olkewicz enjoyed an interesting continuation of his career, working in films, TV, and even video games. He appeared in Seinfeld, The Visitor, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, Dharma & Greg, and Chicago Hope.
One of the most famous roles in Walter’s career was Jean-Michel Renault in Twin Peaks. He returned to the world of Twin Peaks in 2017, reprising his role for the return of the show. Sadly, his health declined in the latter stages of his life and he struggled to work, passing away in 2021 at the age of 72.
Don Curry Then
Another member of the Grace Under Fire cast was Don Curry. Born in Texas in 1958, Curry started off in the comedy scene, performing various shows and routines that helped him win the Comedian of the Year award at the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition in 1995.
Curry was introduced as a new character in the show’s fifth and final season. His character, D.C., ends up giving Grace a new job as his assistant, and a friendship gradually builds up between them over the course of their time working together.
Don Curry Now
So what happened to Don Curry in the years after Grace Under Fire? Arguably his biggest work was in the role of Uncle Elroy Jones in the stoner comedy movies Next Friday and Friday After Next with Ice Cube and Mike Epps.
Curry also appeared in The Boondocks and has continued to do comedy work. In 2013, he was the host of BET’s Comic View, the show that initially gave him his own big break many years before.
Lauren Tom Then
A character who was introduced in the final season of Grace Under Fire was Dot, played by Lauren Tom. Dot was a new love interest for Russell and spent most of the final season dating him.
Born in Chicago in 1961, Lauren Tom got into theater when she was just 17 and made her Broadway debut just a year later. She went on to make various appearances in films and on TV shows, including Nothing Lasts Forever, Wall Street, and The Facts of Life.
Lauren Tom Now
After Grace Under Fire, Lauren Tom’s career continued to rise. She went on to appear in many more shows, including Friends, The Nanny, The Middle, Monk, Grey’s Anatomy, The Closer, and Supernatural. She was also spotted in the 2018 Amazon Prime drama series Goliath.
Lauren is also known as a prolific voice-over artist. She started doing voices for Superman: The Animated Series and has had voice roles in countless other cartoons and animated shows, from Pinky and the Brain to King of the Hill. She was also the voice of Amy in Futurama movies and the voices of several villains in Teen Titans.
Tom Poston Then
In season three of Grace Under Fire, Russell’s estranged father comes back into the picture. His name is Floyd, played by veteran TV actor Tom Poston. Floyd was quite a silly character and brought some fun scenes and situations to the show.
Born in Ohio in 1921, Poston was a pilot in World War II, serving in Africa and Europe before returning home to pursue a show biz career. He got his first movie role in 1957 and went on to become a major TV star, appearing in dozens of shows, including The Bob Newhart Show, Family Matters, and Home Improvement.
Tom Poston Now
How did Tom’s career progress after Grace Under Fire? Well, the show would be just one of many sitcoms the famed TV star would appear in. Records show that he has appeared in more sitcoms than any other actor in America.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Poston appeared in ER, Will & Grace, The Simpsons, Coach, The Lone Gunmen, King of the Hill, and more. He also reunited with Cole and Dylan Sprouse for an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. He passed away in 2007.
Geoff Pierson Then
One of the characters who drifted in and out of Grace Under Fire was Grace’s ex-husband, Jimmy. At the start of the show, Grace leaves Jimmy due to his drinking and abusive behavior, but Jimmy makes several appearances later on and even tries to win Grace back.
The character of Jimmy was brought to life by Geoff Pierson, one of those actors you’ve probably spotted time and time again in a lot of different roles. Before Grace Under Fire, he had a notable role on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, as well as guest appearances on soaps such as Texas and Days of Our Lives.
Geoff Pierson Now
After Grace Under Fire, Geoff Pierson went on to have one of the biggest roles of his career—the lead, Jack Malloy, in the sitcom Unhappily Ever After. After that, he landed roles in shows such as Nash Bridges, That ’80s Show, The West Wing, 24, and Rodney.
He also had a long-running role as Tom Matthews in the TV show Dexter. He has recently been spotted in Designated Survivor and Splitting Up Together. He’s also done a decent amount of film work, appearing in movies such as Jack and Jill and The Wrong Missy.
Peggy Rea Then
Peggy Rea played the part of Jean Kelly, Grace’s mother-in-law in Grace Under Fire. She first appeared in the third episode but went on to make many more appearances over the course of its five-season run. In fact, she appeared in more than 50 episodes, making her one of the most-seen recurring characters.
Before Grace Under Fire, Peggy Rea had already done a lot of work in film and TV. She started off in movies in the 1960s with 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, going on to appear in The Waltons, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Golden Girls, and Made in America.
Peggy Rea Now
Peggy became quite a prominent member of the Grace Under Fire cast, especially in the last season when Jean moved in with Grace and the kids. But after the show, she didn’t do much work in the acting world.
Peggy was now in her 70s and had already done dozens of films and shows. She slowly moved away from acting and more or less retired by 1998. Grace Under Fire was one of her final TV shows. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 89 due to heart failure.
Valri Bromfield Then
Valri Bromfield played the role of Faith, Grace’s sister. Faith appeared several times throughout the first two seasons of Grace Under Fire but wasn’t seen again in the later seasons. Still, in those early years, Valri was quite a big presence in her role. Faith provided love and support to Grace on many occasions, as well as being a love interest for Russell.
Valri Bromfield was born in Toronto in 1949. She formed a friendship with Dan Aykroyd quite early in her career, which blossomed into a full-fledged comedy partnership. The pair worked together successfully at The Second City comedy company in Toronto.
Valri Bromfield Now
After Grace Under Fire, Valri Bromfield didn’t do much more work. She’d already made her mark on the comedy world with Dan Aykroyd and her appearances on comedy shows such as SCTV and Angie.
Valri did some voice acting work in the ’90s on Animaniacs and Superman: The Animated Series. She’s also part of a show biz family. Her sister, Lois Bromfield, is a comedy actor and writer. Her brother, Rex Bromfield, is a writer and former director.
Ultimately, when looking back at the cast of Grace Under Fire, we see that their stories after the show are a bag of mixed fortunes. Some of them, like Cole and Dylan Sprouse, became huge stars, while others faded into obscurity.
Some cast members experienced personal problems, while others simply retired or came to the end of their lives. But during their time on the show, each of them brought a lot of happy moments, smiles, and laughs to countless fans around the world. They all made Grace Under Fire a classic show that won’t soon be forgotten.