For a handful of years in the 1980s, Molly Ringwald lived out many teen girls’ fantasies. The iconic redhead starred alongside some of the decade’s most eligible heartthrobs in classic coming-of-age movies like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. But Ringwald was so much more than her collaborations with John Hughes. Here are 48 facts about Ringwald’s life—so far.
Molly Ringwald Facts
1. Ringwald Around the Rosie
Ringwald was born in Roseville, California on February 18, 1968, and was the youngest child of parents Adele and Robert Ringwald. She has an older sister named Beth, and an older brother named Kelly. Sadly, another brother died before she was born.
2. Caught Red-Headed
Here’s a shocker: Molly Ringwald isn’t a redhead. She’s a natural brunette, but she dyed her hair auburn throughout the 1980s.
3. So Much for Toddler Antics
When most children were still running around in diapers, Ringwald was singing lead in her father’s Dixieland jazz bands by the age of three. At the seasoned-pro age of six, she cut an album of tunes including “I Wanna Be Loved By You.” Cool side note: Ringwald’s dad is blind, but the handicap didn’t stop him from becoming a renowned pianist, bandleader, and banjo player.
4. Acting up
Little Molly Ringwald only got more ambitious as time wore on. While her older siblings were involved in local community theater, Ringwald won the role of orphan Kate in a Los Angeles-based production of Annie. She was just 10 years old. Catching a whiff of sweet success, Adele and Bob moved the whole clan to La-La Land soon after.
5. Pretty Fed up
Molly Ringwald became known for her collaborations with director and writer John Hughes; he was her mentor and she was his muse. She starred in three of his films: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink, each one more iconic than the last. But by the time Hughes was casting Pretty in Pink, Ringwald was very worried. Reluctant to typecast herself as an awkward teenager, she only took the role when they had trouble finding anyone else.
6. She Was a Lifer
In 1979, a young Molly Ringwald landed a role first on Diff’rent Strokes and then on its spin-off The Facts of Life. She starred as Molly Parker, a vivacious student making her way through an all-girls private school. The part got Ringwald her big break in Hollywood.
7. Getting the Boot
Sadly, Ringwald’s breakout role ended in heartache: The Facts of Life producers totally revamped the show and cut her character out after just one full season, along with several other characters. The little girl was only 12 years old at the time, and the rejection nearly crushed her. While executives said she could return to the show sporadically, she found this option “humiliating” and chose to leave entirely.
8. We’ve Created a Monster
Ringwald was so devastated by the Facts of Life fiasco that she thought about quitting acting, but her parents convinced her to stick it out. Within a year, she won her first role in a feature film—a loosely-based adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She was apparently so good in the film that one of its publicists worried all the attention would turn her into a horrific brat.
9. Eau de High School
Ringwald attended the prestigious Lycée Français de Los Angeles. Other notable alumni are Christie Brinkley and Jodie Foster.
10. Spoiled Brats
In 1985, New York magazine coined the term “Brat Pack” for Molly Ringwald and her cohort of other actors like Demi Moore and Rob Lowe, many of whom starred in either of the teen movie blockbusters The Breakfast Club or St. Elmo’s Fire.
11. Going on a Bender
Molly Ringwald inspired Hughes before she even met him. While writing the screenplay for Sixteen Candles, he asked for a stack of actress headshots. Ringwald’s photo was one in the pile, and he apparently plucked it out, put it on his bulletin board, and started writing. Amazingly, Hughes reportedly wrote the entirety of the classic movie in just one long weekend.
12. In the Pink
Hughes also used Ringwald as inspiration for Pretty in Pink. He came up with the title after Ringwald told him about The Psychedelic Furs song of the same title.
13. Well, Pardonnez-moi
Tsk-tsk, 9-to-5ers. Yet another one of Ringwald’s side hustles is as a book translator. The actress is perfectly bilingual in French, and she translated a 2017 LGBTQ love story by French writer Philippe Besson into English.
14. Maybe Next Time, Aragorn
Lord of the Rings heartthrob Viggo Mortensen was actually in the running to play Sixteen Candles‘ resident hunk Jake Ryan. When Ringwald and Mortensen did their screen test together, they had to kiss—and the young girl was a big fan. “He made me weak in the knees,” she later said (we feel you there, Molly) and lobbied to have him get the part. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
15. Making Time for Music
When does she sleep? In addition to her many other pursuits, Ringwald also managed to follow up on her childhood dreams and record an adult jazz album. She released the album, Except Sometimes, in 2013. Ringwald calls jazz music her “musical equivalent of comfort food.” Midnight snack-attack, anyone?
16. She’ll Never Forget
True to her roots, Ringwald recorded a jazzy cover of The Breakfast Club‘s famous theme song, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” for her first jazz album.
17. Fashion Victim
The iconic scene in Pretty in Pink has Andie (played by Ringwald) coming out to the dance in a pink dress, naturally. The trouble was, Ringwald absolutely hated the garment, which had been stitched together out of two different dresses. Hughes, however, had other ideas. He thought it was perfect for her character and pushed her into the dress.
18. One and Done
Ringwald has said that she would never want to act in a sequel to one of her Hughes films, stating, “It is not a good idea to do remakes of great classic films.” More than that, Hughes reportedly didn’t want to remake any of her films. Though Ringwald was briefly interested in a Sixteen Candles sequel at one point, she now wants to respect his last wishes.
19. All Prettied out
Buh-bye, pretty? Ringwald apparently turned down the leading role in Pretty Woman, made famous by Julia Roberts.
20. Three’s a Crowd
Pretty in Pink saw the trio of Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, and Jon Cryer team up as the dashing Blane, the adoring Andie, and the eccentric Duckie, respectively. But the young actors didn’t get along on set. Ringwald found Cryer “needy” during filming and thought he was constantly begging for attention. As she said, “He was very sweet, and very needy, and I had no patience for it.”
21. A Ghostly Comparison
Ringwald auditioned for the role of Molly in Ghost. But as we all know today, it was Demi Moore who ended up making that fine pottery with Patrick Swayze.
22. Au Revoir
In the early 90s, Ringwald boldly left the US to get a “different perspective” as an expat in Paris. While living in the City of Light, Ringwald began to really work on her French, taking hours of classes a day. She still kept one foot in Hollywood, but she generally enjoyed her time away from the searing spotlight America put on her.
23. Amour Me, Amour Me Not
While living in Paris, Ringwald hooked up with French writer Valery Lameignvère, marrying him on July 28, 1999. However, the chic couple just couldn’t make it work. Their union ended in divorce in 2002.
24. Mother Knows Best
One of The Breakfast Club‘s many iconic moments is when the kids all sit in a circle, smoke, and talk about themselves. The young actors famously improvised the scene under Hughes’ direction, and he was so happy with how it turned out that he dragged Ringwald’s mother in to watch the rushes and see how wonderful her daughter was. Instead, Adele was scandalized. She didn’t like that they were smoking!
25. Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are
Ringwald served as grand marshal of the 42nd annual Los Angeles pride festival in 2012. In an interview, Ringwald also confessed that she always thought Duckie from Pretty in Pink was gay, but he didn’t know it yet. As she said, “If John [Hughes] was here now, and I could talk to him, I think that he would completely acknowledge that.”
26. Mine, All Mine
The studio initially courted Jennifer Beals for the role of Andie in Pretty in Pink. Although Ringwald was somewhat reluctant to play Andie, she still didn’t necessarily want the upstart Beals to come in and take her part. As she said, “I remember actually hearing that Jennifer Beals was in the running, and it was sort of upsetting to me to imagine her in that.”
27. Living Spoof
Ringwald ‘s brief appearance in the teen flick spoof Not Another Teen Movie earned her a nomination for Best Cameo at the MTV Movie Awards.
28. Sister, Sister
Ringwald’s sister Beth had a bit part in Sixteen Candles. The role was supposed to be larger, but Beth’s onscreen boyfriend looked too old for high school. Destination? Cutting-room floor.
29. Oh, Wise One
What do you ask a woman who’s done “pretty” much everything? Try anything. In September 2014, The Guardian published Ringwald’s first advice column on matters of “love, family, or life in general.” The column ran for a year, and Ringwald dealt with everything from adult bullying to doubts about settling down and raising a family.
30. Role Reversal
Ringwald’s final teen movie was For Keeps in 1988, where she plays a teenage editor of a high school newspaper who accidentally gets pregnant. Decades later, Ringwald would star in The Secret Life of an American Teenager, playing the mother of a pregnant teen.
31. Comeback Queen
In recent years, Ringwald has had something of a comeback. In addition to working on The Secret Life of an American Teenager, she slowly made her way back into Hollywood. Ringwald most recently had a recurring spot on the hit Netflix show Riverdale, playing Archie’s mysterious mother Mary Andrews. The role leans into her Teen Queen roots with a winking smile.
Ringwald has said her sexiest on-screen kiss ever was with Andrew McCarthy at the end of Pretty in Pink.
33. Real Chemistry
It’s no small wonder that, all these years later, Ringwald still says that her kiss with McCarthy in Pretty in Pink was the sexiest: She had a huge crush on him while filming. In fact, just like with Viggo Mortensen in Sixteen Candles, she was smitten with McCarthy when casting was still up in the air, and pushed for him as her co-star.
Apparently, producers thought he was “twerpy” instead of a heartthrob candidate, but this time she got her way.
34. All That Razz
Ringwald didn’t always make hits. In 1991, she was nominated for the infamous Razzie Award for “Worst Actress,” for her supposedly anti-Oscar-worthy turn in Betsy’s Wedding.
35. Let Them Eat Cake
Ringwald and Hughes shared a special something—the same birthday—on February 18th.
36. Don’t Bore Me
Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were some of the only actual teenagers starring in Sixteen Candles, and their older castmates often abandoned the young ones to go party in adult bars at night during their down time. Bored out of their minds on weekends, the pair even crashed a Bat Mitzvah just to get out of their usual doldrum routines.
37. Dance With Me
Ringwald has danced her way through many musicals, even including Broadway productions. Her dance sequence in The Breakfast Club is a meme-worthy legend, but Hughes initially wanted her to dance it alone. Ringwald was too embarrassed to do it, so Hughes made all the actors break a sweat alongside her, resulting in the iconic moment.
After all that, everyone apparently agreed that Ally Sheedy was the best dancer, not Ringwald!
38. Lipstick Trickery
In The Breakfast Club, Ringwald’s character Claire does a trick with her lipstick. However, this was all smoke and mirrors. Ringwald couldn’t actually do the trick, so the scene was faked with angles.
39. Can’t Fake Chemistry
Ringwald also had some input into the Pretty in Pink ending. She had initially wanted the handsome Robert Downey Jr. to play Duckie, and when they cast Jon Cryer instead, she confessed that she just couldn’t see any romantic chemistry between them. As Cryer later said, “It was like, ‘Wow, so I’m that unattractive?’ Thanks, Mol!”
40. Put a Little Color in Your Cheeks
To every baller with their picture on a cereal box—try scoring your own coloring book, a la the Ringwald-themed adult coloring book available on Amazon. Please pass me the crayons.
41. Here, Cougar Cougar
In 2004, Ringwald met the love of her life, Panio Gianopoulos. Gianopoulos is a Greek writer and book editor—and he just so happens to be seven years younger than the star. The couple wed in 2007, and have three children together, including a boy-girl set of twins. One of Gianopoulos’ published essays is called “Confessions of a Boy Toy,” about romancing older women. Guess Cougars for Dummies was taken.
42. Musical Tribute
Ringwald’s fame is so synonymous with the 80s, there is a legit 80s cover band called The Molly Ringwalds.
43. Part-Time Lovers
By the time The Breakfast Club rolled around, Anthony Michael Hall and Ringwald were still underage, and union rules limited their workdays to four hours, with stand-ins needing to replace them in less-important shots. This must’ve left time for a few other pursuits: Hall had been nursing a crush on Ringwald since Sixteen Candles, and the two dated toward the end of filming of The Breakfast Club.
44. Talk to Me
Molly Ringwald has confessed that she watched The Breakfast Club over again with her then 10-year-old daughter Mathilda. Ringwald had found out that Mathilda had been avoiding watching the classic during sleepovers, so she decided to watch it with her. When she finally watched it, Mathilda had a heartbreaking reaction. She was reportedly so touched by her mom’s iconic film that she cried.
45. Ending on a Low Note
There was actually a completely different ending to Pretty in Pink. In the final edit, Andie friend-zones Duckie and chases after Blane instead, but the original ending had the two awkward best friends ending up together at last. Adorable, right? Except when producers tested it with audiences, they absolutely hated it and even booed when the credits rolled.
As director Howard Deutch once said, “That shocked everyone because the architecture of the story was that love endures and overcomes everything.” He continued, “The girls in the test screening didn’t go for that. They didn’t care about the politics; they wanted her to get the cute boy. And that was it.” Never incur the wrath of teenage girls.
46. Pigging out
Ringwald worked with the late, great Luke Perry on Riverdale. While they’d shared similar success with teen audiences before, Ringwald confessed in an interview that they shared an even sweeter connection. Ringwald once owned a small potbellied pig that grew too large to keep. Through friends, Ringwald discovered that Perry owned a farm, and she arranged for Perry to adopt the pig.
47. Thank You, Next
John Hughes offered Ringwald the lead part in his 1987 film Some Kind of Wonderful, but at that point, Ringwald was thoroughly done with teen movies and wanted to start acting in more mature films. When she turned the role down and turned her back on their critically-acclaimed partnership, Hughes was allegedly heartbroken and more than a little angry. The pair never worked together again.
48. Death Becomes Him
Ringwald has gone on record saying that John Hughes was a genius. Though he suffered a fatal heart attack in 2009, she believes the director’s reputation will continue to grow following his early death.