Nearly a quarter of a century ago, "Toy Story" hit theaters, making kids everywhere question whether their toys really came to life when they weren't looking. As we celebrate the release of the latest sequel, "Toy Story 4," on June 20, 2019, Wonderwall.com is checking in to see how the lives of the actors behind the original characters have changed. Keep reading to find out…
Tom Hanks was already a bona fide movie star when he signed on to voice lovable cowboy Woody in 1995's "Toy Story." He got his big break on the '80s television show "Bosom Buddies" then parlayed his success on the small screen into a film career. His first movie, 1984's "Splash" co-starring Daryl Hannah, was a huge success, and he followed that up with massive hits like "Big" in 1988 (which earned him his first best actor Academy Award nomination) and the family-friendly blockbuster "Turner & Hooch" in 1989. 1993's "Sleepless in Seattle" brought him more critical acclaim. Two Academy Award winning roles — in 1993's "Philadelphia" and 1994's "Forrest Gump" — preceded his turn as Woody.
Tom Hanks voiced Woody in "Toy Story" sequels in 1999, 2010 and 2019. He also picked up two more best actor Academy Award nominations — in 1999 for "Saving Private Ryan" and in 2001 for "Cast Away." Though he didn't take home those Oscars, he did win a Golden Globe for the latter. He spend the '00s in big films like 2002's "Catch Me if You Can" and "Road to Perdition" and 2004's "The Terminal" and "The Polar Express." He earned a Golden Globe nod for his work in 2007's "Charlie Wilson's War" right after he played professor Robert Langdon in "The Da Vinci Code," the first of director Ron Howard's three films based on author Dan Brown's wildly popular book series. In the last decade, Tom has added critically acclaimed films like "Captain Phillips" and "Saving Mr. Banks" to his resume too while also starring in films like 2016's "Sully" and 2017's "The Circle." Next up for Tom? Playing Fred Rogers in 2019's "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." He has two kids (actor-director Colin Hanks and writer Elizabeth) with his late first wife, Samantha Lewes, and two kids (Chet and Truman) with current wife Rita Wilson. (Fun fact: Truman was born the same year the first "Toy Story" film debuted!)
Tim Allen first voiced Buzz Lightyear in 1995. Prior to that, he was best known for his starring role on the hit television sitcom "Home Improvement" and his equally family-friendly bit as Santa in 1994's "The Santa Clause." Buzz Lightyear marked his first time as a voice actor.
Tim Allen continued his run as a successful actor after "Toy Story," alternating between film and TV projects. He finished out his role as Tim Taylor on "Home Improvement" in 1999 and reprised his role as Santa in 2002's "The Santa Clause 2." He kept the Christmas theme going with 2004's "Christmas with the Kranks" and also starred in flicks like 2007's "Wild Hogs" and 2010's "Crazy on the Outside." More recently, he's been starring on the second smash-hit TV series of his career, "Last Man Standing," which debuted in 2011. He's voiced Buzz in all three "Toy Story" sequels. After the first "Toy Story" release, Tim had a major change in his personal life: He divorced first wife Laura Deibel, with whom he shares daughter Katherine, in 1999. He remarried in 2006. Tim and second wife Jane Hajduk welcomed daughter Elizabeth in 2009.
Don Rickles was a legendary comedian by the time he voiced Mr. Potato Head in 1995's "Toy Story." His career had spanned decades: He'd starred alongside legends like Clark Gable in 1958's "Run Silent, Run Deep," Clint Eastwood in 1970's "Kelly's Heroes" and Robert De Niro in 1995's "Casino," which came out the same year "Toy Story" was released.
Don Rickles' career continued to thrive after "Toy Story" as he popped up on various TV shows like "Murphy Brown," "The Larry Sanders Show" and "The Single Guy" throughout the '90s. He also lent his voice to 1999's "Toy Story 2" and 2010's "Toy Story 3″and voiced Mr. Potato Head in "Toy Story" shorts. Sadly, Don passed away before he had the chance to play the character in the newest installment. He died in 2017 of kidney failure, leaving behind wife Barbara Sklar, children Mindy and Larry and grandchildren Ethan and Harrison Mann.
Annie Potts rose to fame in the '80s with roles in 1984's "Ghostbusters" and 1989's "Ghostbusters II" as well as the 1986 smash hit "Pretty in Pink." She'd also starred on the popular CBS show "Designing Women" from 1986 until 1993, and on another CBS hit, "Love & War," from 1993 until 1995, before voicing Bo Peep in "Toy Story."
After the success of the first "Toy Story" movie, Annie Potts found another hit on the small screen with Lifetime's "Any Day Now," on which she starred from 1998 until 2002. She's lent her voice to the "Toy Story" sequels and maintained a successful career on television, popping up on shows like "Joan of Arcadia" in 2004 and 2005, "Ugly Betty" and "Boston Legal" in 2008, "Two and a Half Men" in 2009 and "Chicago Med" in 2015 and 2016. More recently, she had a role on "The Fosters" from 2013 to 2018 and has had a recurring role on "Young Sheldon" since it began in 2017 (alongside fellow "Toy Story" voice actor Wallace Shawn!). Offscreen, she's a mom to three sons, Clay, James and Harry. Annie has been married to her fourth husband, James Hayman, since 1990.
Audiences likely recognized Wallace Shawn's distinct voice when they were in the theater to see "Toy Story" in 1995. The actor, who voiced dinosaur Rex, had played Vizzini in 1987's "The Princess Bride." He also played a fictionalized version of himself in 1981's "My Dinner With Andre" and the same year "Toy Story" was released starred in another big hit — "Clueless" — playing lovable teacher Mr. Hall.
Wallace Shawn has reprised his role of "Rex" in all of the "Toy Story" films and in between those kept himself very busy, largely with recurring roles on the small screen. Like his "Toy Story" co-star Don Rickles, he did a stint on "Murphy Brown" and also reprised his "Clueless" role for the TV adaptation from 1996 until 1997. Other notable roles he had on television through the years include on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" from 1993 until 1999, on "Crossing Jordan" from 2001 until 2006, on "The L Word" from 2008 until 2009, on "Gossip Girl" from 2008 until 2012, and on "The Good Wife" from 2013 until 2015. These days, he's starring as Dr. John Sturgis on "Young Sheldon" and playing Tall on the kids series "The Stinky & Dirty Show," a role he's had since 2016. He never married but has a longtime partner in writer and actress Deborah Eisenberg.
John Ratzenberger was already a big name thanks to playing mailman Cliff on "Cheers" from 1982 to 1993. Prior to his big break on that hit show, he'd appeared in smaller roles in a string of giant films like "Superman" (as a missile controller), "Superman II" (as a NASA control man) and "Stars Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" (as Major Derlin). He signed on to play Hamm the Piggy Bank in the first "Toy Story" after "Cheers" ended.
"Toy Story" would be the first of many Pixar films to which John Ratzenberger would lend his voice. Aside from reprising his role as Hamm in the rest of the "Toy Story" flicks, he also voiced P.T. Flea in "A Bug's Life" in 1998, Moonfish in "Finding Nemo" in 2003, The Underminer in "The Incredibles" and "Incredibles 2" in both 2004 and 2018, Mack the truck in the "Cars" franchise, Mustafa in "Ratatouille" in 2007, John in "WALL-E" in 2008, Gordon the guard in "Brave" in 2012, Bill the crab in "Finding Dory" in 2016, and Juan Ortodoncia in "Coco" in 2017. Aside from voicing characters in over a dozen Pixar films, John has also kept busy on reality television! He competed on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007, scouted talent with his "Cheers" co-star George Wendt on Season 6 of "Last Comic Standing" in 2008, appeared on a 2009 episode of "American Chopper" and even served as a guest judge on "Hell's Kitchen" in 2015. When it comes to his personal life, John shares two kids, James and Nina, with first wife Georgia Stiny. The couple split in 2004 after 19 years of marriage. John is now married to Julie Blichfeldt, whom he wed in 2012.
Slinky Dog's voice was brought to life in 1995's "Toy Story" by Jim Varney, who was best known at the time for playing the titular character in the "Ernest" TV and movie franchise in the '80s and '90s. He'd also recently played Jed Clampett in the 1993 film adaptation of "The Beverly Hillbillies."
After the release of the first "Toy Story" movie, Jim Varney took a role on "Roseanne" in 1996 then reprised his role as Ernest in "Ernest Goes to Africa" and "Ernest in the Army." He was back for "Toy Story 2" in 1999 but passed away a year later after battling lung cancer at just 50 years old. His last project saw him voicing a character in Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." The film was dedicated to his memory upon its release in 2001.