It's time to look back at everyone's favorite intergalactic family! "3rd Rock from the Sun" followed four extraterrestrials posing as humans while on an expedition to observe the behavior of Earth's inhabitants. The Emmy-winning sitcom ran for six seasons on NBC and made John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, Jane Curtin, French Stewart and Joseph Gordon-Levitt one of the most acclaimed TV ensembles of the 1990s. With the hit comedy celebrating the 25th anniversary of its series premiere on Jan. 9, 2021, join Wonderwall.com as we look at what the cast has been up to since…
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"3rd Rock from the Sun" was an instant sensation when it premiered in 1996, becoming one of TV's highest rated comedies as audiences tuned in to follow the Solomon family adjusting to life on Earth. The series would go on to win eight Emmy Awards out of 31 total nominations, including multiple trophies for stars John Lithgow and Kristen Johnston, as well as the most wins of any show in 1997. Dwindling ratings led to the show's cancellation in 2001, but it has remained a memorable favorite in the years since through the help of syndication and streaming.
John Lithgow leads the alien crew as college professor Dr. Solomon, the patriarch of the Solomon family despite actually being the youngest of the extraterrestrials who routinely annoys everyone with his childlike behavior. The alien has a job as a physics professor and a roller coaster relationship with colleague Dr. Mary Albright, but it's his immature mishaps that get his family in the most trouble.
John Lithgow was a well-known character actor long before taking on "3rd Rock from the Sun," starting off with a major theater career in the 1970s. His stage work included his Tony-winning performance in 1973's "The Changing Room" as well as nominated work in 1985's "Requiem for a Heavyweight" and 1985's "M. Butterfly." This led to major big-screen parts in 1979's "All That Jazz," 1981's "Bow Out," his Oscar-nominated work in 1982's "The World According to Garp" and 1983's "Terms of Endearment," and box office hits like 1984's "Footloose," 1987's "Harry and the Hendersons" and "The Pelican Brief" and "Cliffhanger" in 1993. Since finishing his time on "3rd Rock," John has had a steady stream of hits and critical successes including "Shrek" in 2001, "Kinsey" in 2004, "Dreamgirls" in 2006, "Love is Strange" in 2014, "Miss Sloane" in 2016 and "Beatriz at Dinner" in 2017. He's also made quite a few TV splashes on "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers," "30 Rock," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Louie" and enjoyed Emmy-winning roles on both "Dexter" and "The Crown." John won his second Tony Award for the 2002 musical "The Sweet Smell of Success" and received another nomination for his work in 2005's "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." More recently, he starred in the 2019 hits "Late Night" and "Bombshell" as well as on the 2020 HBO success "Perry Mason." John's next gig is the 2021 thriller series "The Old Man" on FX on Hulu. He was married to teacher Jean Taynton from 1966 to 1980 and had one son. John then married UCLA history professor Mary Yeager in 1981; the couple have two children.
Kristen Johnston stars as Sally Solomon, the second-in-command of the crew. She becomes the group's resident female after losing a bet and often struggles getting used to life as a woman. Despite Sally facing more complications than her fellow aliens, she eventually finds comfort in her love life upon meeting police officer Don Orville.
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Kristen Johnston was a veteran theater actress upon landing a part on "3rd Rock from the Sun," but the sitcom was still her major breakthrough opportunity. Her performance in 1993's "The Lights" caught the attention of executives who wanted her to audition for the comedy, which would eventually win her two Emmy Awards. While doing the show, she also made memorable appearances in the "Austin Powers" sequels, "The Spy Who Shagged Me" in 1999 and "Goldmember" in 2002, as Ivana Humpalot, as well as in 2000's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" and 2002's "Ice Age." Shortly after wrapping "3rd Rock," Kristen had parts on TV hits like "ER" and "Ugly Betty" and as the aging socialite who falls out a window on the final season of "Sex and the City." She was also seen in rom-com favorites like "Music and Lyrics" in 2007 and "Bride Wars" in 2009. The Washington, D.C., native led the funny ensemble of TV Land's "The Exes" from 2011 to 2015 and joined the cast of the CBS hit "Mom" in 2018, becoming a series regular in season 7. In 2012, she released the autobiography "Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster," where the now-sober star opened up about her longtime alcohol and pill addictions. Kristen revealed in 2013 that she was diagnosed with lupus myelitis, which caused her to miss filming episodes of "The Exes" at the time.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tommy Solomon, the third-in-command of the alien crew. Despite being the oldest and smartest of the group, he takes on the form of a teenage boy and has to act like an average kid. The rest of the Solomons often treat him as their child, forcing Tommy to constantly remind them of his superior intelligence and greater age. Tommy is often seen struggling with his love life due to his family's bizarre behavior.
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As a child actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt landed a number of national commercials before making his first big-screen appearance in 1992's "Beethoven" at 11. After a series of TV appearances, the Los Angeles-born actor's big break came in the 1994 Disney sports drama "Angels in the Outfield." He landed "3rd Rock from the Sun" shortly after but still took on film roles in teen hits like "Halloween H20" in 1998 and "10 Things I Hate About You" in 1999. Joseph had a downsized role on the show's final season so he could focus on his studies at Columbia University, though he eventually dropped out to continue acting. After the sitcom, the star had a steady run of critically acclaimed indies such as 2003's "Latter Days," 2004's "Mysterious Skin," 2005's "Brick," 2007's "The Lookout" and 2008's "Stop-Loss." 2009 saw Joseph leap into more mainstream fare with hits "500 Days of Summer" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." He followed them with big-budget films like "Inception" in 2010, "The Dark Knight Rises," "Looper," "Lincoln" and "Premium Rush" in 2012 as well as "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" in 2014. In 2013, he made his directorial and screenwriting debut with the dramedy "Don Jon," in which he also starred. The actor then led the biopics "The Walk" in 2015 and "Snowden" in 2016. He more recently starred in the dramas "7500" in 2019 and "Project Power" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" in 2020. In 2010, Joseph launched the collaborative media platform HitRecord to produce short films, book and DVDs. His work for the project has won the star two Emmy Awards. Joseph married Tasha McCauley, the founder and CEO of technology company Fellow Robots, in 2014. The couple have two sons.
Rounding out the Solomon family is French Stewart's Harry, the communicator/transmitter of the group because of the frequent messages he receives from their leader in outer space, the Big Giant Head. Harry is oft-considered the simplest family member, having less trouble fitting in with humans than the others due to his frequent dimwittedness.
French Stewart made his screen debut as a series regular on the final season of "The New WKRP in Cincinnati" in 1992, following it with a part in the hit movie "Stargate" and an episode of "Seinfeld" in 1994. But his breakthrough role was on "3rd Rock from the Sun." He simultaneously appeared in the films "Broken Arrow" in 1996, "McHale's Navy" in 1997 and "Love Stinks" in 1999. He also balanced the hit series with voicework on shows like "Hercules: The Animated Series," "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" and "God, the Devil, and Bob." Following his time as Harry Solomon, the New Mexico native had parts in films such as 2002's "Clockstoppers," 2003's "Inspector Gadget 2" and 2011's "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2." He's also became a go-to TV guest star, appearing on hits like "Less Than Perfect," "CSI," "The Closer," "Castle," "Days of Our Lives," "Community," "The Middle," "2 Broke Girls" and "NCIS." French had a main role on the first three seasons of the CBS sitcom "Mom" and still makes recurring appearances. More recently, he was seen on a 2018 episode of "Roseanne" and 2019 episodes of "Deadly Class" and "No Good Nick." The star was wed to actress Katherine LaNasa from 1998 to 2009 before he married actress Vanessa Claire Stewart in 2011. The couple have a daughter.
Anthropology professor Dr. Mary Albright — Dr. Solomon's colleague and on-and-off girlfriend — is portrayed by Jane Curtin. The pair share an office, but it takes a long time for Mary to reciprocate his romantic feelings. Though frequently frustrated by his insensitive and idiotic tendencies, Mary always finds her way back because of his optimism and quirkiness.
Jane Curtin got her start as one of the original "Saturday Night Live" performers, appearing on the show from 1975 to 1980, and followed it with Emmy-winning work in the hit sitcom "Kate & Allie" from 1984 to 1989. Next came appearances on the 1990 sitcom "Working It Out" and the big-screen comedy "Coneheads" in 1993. Since "3rd Rock From the Sun," the Massachusetts native has appeared on TV shows like "Crumbs," "Gary Unmarried," "Unforgettable," "The Librarians," "The Good Wife" and "Broad City." She's also had parts in movie comedies such as 2006's "The Shaggy Dog," 2009's "I Love You, Man," 2011's "I Don't Know How She Does It," 2013's "The Heat" and 2018's "The Spy Who Dumped Me." Jane was more recently seen in the critically acclaimed drama "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" in 2018 as well as on the 2020 sitcom "United We Fall" and the Disney+ fantasy "Godmothered." She married television producer Patrick Francis Lynch in 1975. The couple have one daughter.
Wayne Knight is the show's biggest supporting player — Don Orville, a police sergeant in the Solomon's fictional town of Rutherford, Ohio, who's also Sally's boyfriend. Don is introduced later on the show's first season and becomes a main player starting on season 3 as his on-off relationship with Sally becomes a bigger part of the series.
New York City-born Wayne Knight got his start appearing in numerous hit movies in the late 1980s and early 1990s such as 1987's "Dirty Dancing," 1989's "Born on the Fourth of July," 1991's "JFK," 1992's "Basic Instinct" and 1993's "Jurassic Park." In 1992, the funnyman scored his major breakthrough as Newman on "Seinfeld." The scene-stealer was a recurring player through to the show's end in 1998, simultaneously working on "3rd Rock from the Sun." In the years since, the actor has appeared in a ton of big-screen comedies like 1996's "Space Jam," 2001's "Rat Race" and 2003's "Cheaper by the Dozen" and did voice work in the hits "Hercules" in 1997, "Tarzan" and "Toy Story 2" in 1999 and "Kung Fu Panda" and "Kung Fu Panda 3" in 2008 and 2016. His television resume is even more extensive: He's appeared on "That '70s Show," "The Drew Carey Show," "CSI," "How I Met Your Mother," "Nip/Tuck," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Hot in Cleveland," "Bones," "The Exes," "Narcos," "Law & Order: SVU" and even "The Young and the Restless." More recently, his voice was heard on TV shows like "Robot Chicken" and "Harley Quinn." Wayne was married to makeup artist Paula Sutor from 1996 to 2003 and wed Clare de Chenu in 2006. The pair have one son.
Elmarie Wendel plays the Solomons' landlady, Mamie Dubcek, who rents an attic apartment to the family for the duration of the series. Her promiscuous antics make her the perfect guide for the romantic dramas of the four new humans. Mrs. Dubeck becomes a main character on season 3 and eventually introduces her daughter to the Solomons — who goes on to become a love interest for Harry.
Elmarie Wendel had been a major TV guest actress for years before joining "3rd Rock from the Sun," appearing in hit projects like "Knight Rider," "The Jeffersons," "The Facts of Life," "Murphy Brown," "Major Dad," "Seinfeld," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Weird Science" in the 1980s and early 1990s. After the sitcom came to an end, the Iowa-born star went on to appear on shows like "NYPD Blue," "George Lopez," "General Hospital," and "The Exes" and lent her voice to "American Dad!" and the 2012 big-screen favorite "The Lorax." Sadly, Elmarie passed away in 2018 at 89. She is survived by her daughter, J.C. Wendel.
Dr. Solomon and Dr. Albright share a personal assistant, Nina Campbell, played by Simbi Khali. The sarcastic employee becomes a main cast member on season 3 and regularly gets annoyed with both of her bosses thanks to their frequent hijinks and disagreements. Nina is also one of Sally's best friends — the alien often uses her as a confidant when she's in need of advice.
"3rd Rock from the Sun" proved to be Simbi Khali's best known work, but the Mississippi native got her start on the hit sitcom "Martin" just a few years prior. She also appeared on "The Sinbad Show" and in the 1995 film "Vampire in Brooklyn." Since her time as Nina Campbell, Simbi has had roles in films like 1996's "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate," 2002's "We Were Soldiers" and 2009's "Mississippi Damned." The actress was also seen on TV shows like "That '80s Show," "The Bernie Mac Show," "Weeds" and "Better Things." More recently, Simbi appeared in a series of short films including 2020's "Buck" and "-Ship: A Visual Poem." She was married to actor Cress Williams from 2000 to 2011; they have two children.
Tommy's most successful relationship is with Alissa Strudwick, played by Larisa Oleynik. Alissa — the daughter of Dr. Solomon's colleague — is one of Tommy's classmates who's introduced on season 4. Alissa and Tommy's relationship lasts through the remainder of the series, until they hit a snag that leads Alissa to take out a restraining order on her boyfriend before leaving for good.
Larisa Oleynik joined "3rd Rock from the Sun" as a seasoned child star, having developed a large following thanks to her lead roles on the hit Nickelodeon series "The Secret World of Alex Mack" and in the 1995 film "The Baby-Sitters Club" as well as a multi-episode arc on "Boy Meets World." While doing the show, she also starred alongside her "3rd Rock" boyfriend Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the seminal teen comedy "10 Things I Hate About You" in 1999. Since then, the Southern California-born actress has appeared in a number of indie films such as 2001's "An American Rhapsody," 2002's "A Time for Dancing," 2006's "Pope Dreams," 2011's "Atlas Shrugged: Part II," 2013's "Remember Sunday," 2014's "BFFs" and 2020's "We Broke Up." Larisa also has a slew of TV credits under her belt on shows including "Without a Trace," "Psych," "Mad Men," "Hawaii Five-0," "Mike & Molly," "Pretty Little Liars," "Law & Order: SVU" and "Trinkets." She was last seen on the 2020 Netflix series "The Healing Powers of Dude."