Judge Reinhold: How He Got The Name ‘Judge’ And More You Never Knew About The 80s Star
Whether he was spying on Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, getting terrorised by Gremlins or finding a banana stuck in his car’s exhaust pipe in Beverly Hills Cop, actor Judge Reinhold was a familiar face to movie lovers in the 80s. Even if he hasn’t been on top for quite some time, Judge Reinhold remains a treasured star of many of our favourite movies.
Here are some things you might not have known about the actor.
20. He fell off the A-list as a result of being ‘spoiled and arrogant’
Nowadays, Judge Reinhold might not be one of the most well-known names out there, but in the 80s and 90s, he definitely qualified as an A-lister. His status as a superstar saw him sometimes indulge in typical celebrity behaviour, meaning he often was not very fun to work with. According to Reinhold himself, the actor was convinced that he was on his way to superstardom, which made him treat everyone around him as though they were beneath him.
Reinhold soon found himself being cast less and less often, in part because he seemed ungrateful and overconfident every time he was cast. As Reinhold himself put it: “I was spoiled and I was arrogant… I was very demanding, had an overblown image of who I was and got a reputation for being difficult. And rightfully so.” Reinhold did realise the error of his ways in the late 90s but, by that point, it was already too late.
19. His father nicknamed him Judge when he was a baby
Judge Reinhold was born Edward Ernest Reinhold, Jr. on the 21st of May 1957, in Wilmington, Delaware. He was nicknamed Judge by his father when he was still a baby, and the nickname stuck, enough to become his official stage name. Reinhold’s father Edward Ernest Reinhold, Sr. was a lawyer, and the family joked that their baby boy looked as stern and serious as a judge.
Even though the name stuck, it didn’t have any impact on Reinhold’s career trajectory, since he pretty much never considered any other career path. It’s probably a good thing too, as going by Judge and trying to build up a career in law probably would lead to a lot of ridicule. On the other hand, being called Judge as an actor is a blessing in disguise, as it means you don’t get mixed up with anyone else in the industry.
18. His 2016 arrest caused a minor scandal
In 2016, Reinhold came back into the public eye in one of the worst ways: he had a major meltdown whilst going through customs at Dallas Love Field airport, which resulted in him being arrested. The actor reportedly hurled expletives at TSA agents and tore off his own shirt in protest after refusing a backpack search. Reinhold later blamed the meltdown on a reaction he was having to some prescription medication, but public opinion seemed to doubt that story. He also quickly started tweeting jokes about the situation, as well as an apology and thanks to his friends for the support, implying that maybe the situation was less the fault of the medication and more just a personal slip-up.
Reinhold is hardly the first 80s star to be found acting scandalously after they’ve fallen off the radar, so the incident didn’t stick in people’s memory for very long. It did lead to a lot of Beverly Hills Cop-related jokes on Twitter and in the papers though, which no doubt added a little extra embarrassment to the situation.
17. He responded to being arrested with some hilarious tweets
Reinhold’s low point came in 2016, when he was taken to jail following a confrontation with security agents at Dallas airport. The whole ordeal was pretty humiliating for Reinhold, since many of the publications that covered the incident jokingly referred to his role as a detective in Beverly Hills Cop. Not only that, but for many it provided further evidence that Judge Reinhold had never stopped being the arrogant actor he was in his youth; it was very possible, goes that line of thinking, that Reinhold was acting out due to his irrelevance. However, considering how upsetting the whole ordeal must have been for Reinhold, he responded to it on Twitter in pretty good spirits.
Following his release from custody, Reinhold tweeted: “Love Field Parking – $17, Grande Starbucks Latte – $4.15, Class C Misdemeanor – $363. Telling your mom you went to jail – priceless”.He followed up by thanking his friends for their emotional support, and then joked that: “Best line of a bad night – Booking Sargeant: “Hey Billy! Can’t you book yourself?”
16. He will star in a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie – providing it ever gets made
It’s probably fair to say that Beverly Hills Cop was the last big franchise that Judge Reinhold had a starring role in. Reinhold was cast as Detective Billy Rosewood in 1984, and went on to play the character in sequels in 1987 and 1994. Plans for a fourth instalment of the film have been floating around since 2016, with Reinhold publicly stating how eager he was to appear in the project.
However, plans have stopped in their tracks multiple times, with screenwriters stepping away and script treatments being passed around. As of 2019, Netflix still had plans to make the sequel, but a first draft or treatment still hadn’t been written. The film might stay in development hell forever, but both Reinhold and Eddie Murphy have agreed to star in the project, should it ever actually get off the ground.
15. His first acting job was in an episode of Wonder Woman
Reinhold got his first screen acting credit aged 22 in a 1979 episode of classic TV series Wonder Woman, alongside Lynda Carter in the title role. More TV parts followed, including the first two episodes of Magnum, P.I. in 1980, before Reinhold broke through into film. Reinhold’s first film role was one of the leads in 1980’s Running Scared, followed by supporting roles in 1981 hit Stripes and 1982 flop Pandemonium He also played a character called Bear in the TV movie Survival of Dana in 1979, which is nowhere close to the survivalist horror film you might imagine from that title.
Despite the flop of Pandemonium, Reinhold didn’t have to wait long for his career to take off, since Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released that same year. He also spent 1982 starring in a Pat Benatar music video, specifically playing a pilot in the video for Shadows of the Night.
14. He recently curated a book of Christian meditations
Between him driving a hearse, doling out frozen yoghurt and dealing with Burt Reynolds’ admirers (more on that in a moment), Judge Reinhold has had some unusual jobs. However, perhaps the most unusual job he has had is much more recently in his career history, as a few years ago he pivoted to book editing. More specifically, he and his wife Amy Reinhold edited a collection of Christian meditation exercises, read out by other celebrities and professionals.
Some of the people involved were Max Lucado, Dr Henry Cloud and Philip Yancey – who all read out meditation and mindfulness exercises related to Christianity. The book is called Be Still and was released by Simon and Schuster in 2007, though it’s not clear how successful it was. It’s also unclear why the Reinholds were given the opportunity to edit the collection, but it’s definitely a fun fact for them to tell at parties.
13. Before he was famous, he had a job rejecting Burt Reynolds’ admirers
Judge Reinhold has had some unusual jobs over the years, from frozen yoghurt salesman to hearse driver. However, like many other aspiring actors and performers, Reinhold also at one time worked in a theatre – or a dinner theatre, at least. For a time, Reinhold worked in Manatee Dinner Theatre in Port Salerno Florida, which was financed by legendary actor Burt Reynolds. Given that Reynolds also sometimes appeared in the play that was showing at the dinner theatre, the venue was always flooded with Reynolds’ female admirers.
It was Reinhold’s job to talk to the women who asked to meet Reynolds, and direct them to the bar so they wouldn’t disrupt the show. It was then Reinhold’s responsibility to gently tell the women that they couldn’t meet Reynolds, which was apparently a thankless task.
12. He’s an accomplished whistler
It’s a well-known industry fact that most actors have at least a few party tricks up their sleeves, in order to beef up their resume. Whether it’s being able to cry on cue or knowing how to ride a unicycle, it’s helpful for performers to have extra skills to help them stand out from the crowd. Judge Reinhold’s special skill isn’t as exciting as knowing how to unicycle, but it did help him out when it was time for him to appear on Saturday Night Live. When Reinhold appeared on SNL in February of 1988, he did a skit in which he whistled along to a classic cowboy song, complete with coconut horseshoes and a cowboy hat.
We have no idea if this is a skill he had previously or just something he specifically learned in order to be able to do this job, but it’s pretty impressive either way. Unfortunately, Reinhold has never donned the cowboy hat or engaged in professional whistling since, so maybe it was just a passing fad for him.
11. He only started acting to impress a girl
Judge Reinhold’s career has been filled with roles that require him to act out some super awkward moments. The infamous bathroom scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the most obvious example, but several of his characters have had their fair share of embarrassing moments. Reinhold doesn’t seem to mind playing awkward or unfortunate characters, but these roles are funnier if you know why he got into acting. It turns out Judge Reinhold got into acting to impress a member of the opposite sex, literally following a girl from his school to her acting class in order to get closer to her.
We don’t know whether Judge got the girl or not, but it’s not hard to imagine that the strategy worked – otherwise, why would he have stuck with acting throughout his childhood years? Either way, it’s unlikely that his later teenage roles did much for his love life, since they mostly cemented him as the guy who once pretended to masturbate on-camera.
10. He used to drive a hearse for a living
Even when they make it big, most actors have at least spent some time working second jobs in order to support themselves. Judge Reinhold is no different, and some of the jobs he has had over the years are hilariously surreal. The first job he took to support himself while auditioning was in a frozen yoghurt shop, which isn’t all that strange. However, he probably had to wear a silly outfit, not unlike the fast food uniform he had to wear in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
The stranger of the two jobs he had is that, for a while as an up-and-coming actor, he drove a funeral hearse to make ends meet. It’s an unusual occupation for sure, but probably a good way to people-watch, which would no doubt come in handy for a young actor.
9. Getting recognised for Fast Times at Ridgemont High proved embarrassing
Judge Reinhold was one of a number of actors who got a major breakthrough appearing in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The edgy teen comedy-drama also featured Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker and Nicolas Cage, amongst others. Reinhold’s Brad gained particular notoriety, as Phoebe Cates famously appeared topless in his character’s fantasy sequence. The actor recalled it was embarrassing to be recognised in public for this scene, with strangers loudly shouting, “Look, there’s the guy who was j***ing off!”
Even worse, every time Reinhold was recognised in public as the actor responsible for that infamous scene, the people recognising him would make it sound like Reinhold had just been caught doing the same thing, in real life. In particular, fans would catch him coming out of the bathroom in public places and crack jokes, making it sound like he was doing something incredibly unsavoury.
8. He was an Emmy nominee for his role on Seinfeld
Reinhold’s waning career enjoyed a bit of a boost in 1994 when he guest-starred on the acclaimed and top-rated sitcom Seinfeld in an episode entitled The Raincoats. Reinhold’s performance as ‘close talker’ Aaron earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. In the episode, Judge Reinhold’s character does exactly what you might expect from his nickname, and gets way too close to people’s faces while he’s talking to them. Unfortunately for him, he’s also just a genuinely nice guy who has no idea how he’s coming across, and is just trying to show the Seinfelds a good time in New York.
In a completely hilarious progression of events, Reinhold’s character Aaron goes from taking them to expensive meals and film showings, to trying to hijack the plane they are going home on. As creepy as it seems though, Aaron is just trying to check that they’re not dehydrated, because he’s just that much of a nice guy.
7. His Beverly Hills Cop character was originally meant to be killed off
One of the roles Reinhold is most famous for is Billy Rosewood, the bumbling young detective in the 1984 action-comedy smash Beverly Hills Cop. Reinhold starred in the movie alongside Eddie Murphy and John Ashton, and was one of the best aspects of the movie in the opinion of many fans. Originally, Reinhold’s character was named Siddons and was going to be killed off midway, but director Martin Brest liked the actor enough to have the script rewritten, letting him live. Reinhold would subsequently play Billy again in the two Beverly Hills Cop sequels, as well as a pilot episode for a Beverly Hills Cop TV spin-off which was shot in 2013 but didn’t get picked up for a series.
Given that Beverly Hills Cop was no doubt the last big franchise Reinhold was ever involved in, he should take comfort from the fact that his stint on the series could have ended much sooner. As it is, he may yet appear in a fourth instalment of the series, if the fabled Netflix movie ever actually comes out.
6. He believes Vice Versa killed his career
After taking supporting roles in more 80s hits (notably 1986’s Ruthless People and 1987’s Beverly Hills Cop II), Reinhold was given his first major leading role in 1988.
The role was in the Freaky Friday-esque comedy Vice Versa, in which he swaps bodies with his son (played by Fred Savage).
Despite receiving good reviews from critics, the film unfortunately flopped, and Reinhold considers that “the end of [his] highfalutin Hollywood career… That’s when the phone stopped ringing.”
The reason for the film flopping comes down mostly to the fact that the 80s had a glut of body-swap movies, allowing Vice Versa to be buried by and confused with a whole host of films.
It’s unfortunate that the film was the start of Judge Reinhold’s decline, especially since it’s actually a fairly decent flick.
However, Reinhold later admitted that he probably never would have learned to be humble and grounded were it not for Vice Versa putting a significant dent in his career.
5. He shot a TV pilot with Judd Apatow which never went to series
In 2001, Judge Reinhold had another shot at a new start: a TV comedy pilot entitled North Hollywood, written and directed by Judd Apatow. The pilot had a pretty meta concept, with Reinhold portraying a fictionalised version of himself alongside a cast that included Kevin Hart, Jason Segel and Amy Poehler. Unfortunately for Reinhold, North Hollywood didn’t get picked up for a series – but within a few years, Apatow would become a major filmmaker.
Not only that, but soon after, Judge Reinhold’s co-stars in the pilot went on to find massive success of their own in other projects. For example, Kevin Hart went on to become a part of the blockbuster Jumanji series in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in 2017. Amy Poehler also went on to see her own massive success, starring in Parks and Recreation and voicing the lead character in Disney’s Inside Out.
4. Most of his films since the 90s have gone direct to DVD
In 1994, Reinhold appeared alongside Tim Allen in box office hit The Santa Clause, and he would reprise his role in that film’s two theatrically-released sequels. However, outside of The Santa Clause trilogy, Reinhold hasn’t appeared in many major films since, with many of his most prominent movies bypassing the big screen altogether. He took over from Charles Grodin in direct-to-DVD sequels Beethoven‘s 3rd and Beethoven’s 4th, and co-starred in another direct-to-DVD sequel, 2009’s Dr Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts.
Reinhold did exit the Beethoven franchise before the fifth instalment, which was the last to feature the original characters and storyline. Surprisingly, there were actually three more instalments in the Beethoven franchise after Reinhold left, including a Christmas special, a pirate movie and one where the titular dog becomes a Hollywood star. As for the Dr Dolittle series, Reinhold appeared in the last instalment, but probably wasn’t the reason for the series being ended.
3. He was included on a recent list of ’50 things millennials have never heard of’
Given that Judge Reinhold’s career had all but fizzled out by the late 90s, it’s not surprising that he ended up on a list of things that 90s kids just don’t understand. It may sound harsh, but Reinhold appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of 50 Things Millennials Have Never Heard Of, and in the 31st position no less. Also on the list were Koosh Balls, the rubber bouncy balls with all the strings, and pop star Taylor Dane. The “bee girl”, who tapdanced in Blind Melon’s iconic music video for No Rain and later went on to become a minor celebrity in her own right, also claimed a spot on the list.
Appearing on a list of defunct cultural artefacts, alongside answering machines and Jack Palance doing push-ups at the Oscars has got to sting a little bit. Still, at least Reinhold didn’t come first in the list of 50, as that dubious honour was claimed by Glass Joe, the opponent from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, the Nintendo video game.
2. He hasn’t acted since 2017
Judge Reinhold was a big deal in the 80s and early 90s, but in recent years, his fame has kind of fallen off. In fact, since the early 2000s, Judge has appeared in fewer and fewer projects with each passing year. Even worse, as of 2017, he has appeared in no new TV or film projects, at least according to IMDB. The last movie he starred in was the 2017 TV festive film Four Christmases and a Wedding, in which he played Russ Peterson.
His last TV appearance was even further back in 2016, where he played Davey in two episodes of The Detour, the Samantha Bee-created road trip comedy that would ultimately be cancelled in 2019. Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that Reinhold doesn’t seem to have any projects in development either, so who knows when we’ll be seeing him on our screens again.
1. He has twice played a fictionalised version of himself as an actual judge
Anyone who ever watched a movie with Judge Reinhold must have pondered how funny it would be if the man himself turned out to be an actual Judge. Reinhold also clearly saw the funny side of the concept, as he has indeed played a judge with his own name on two occasions. Firstly, he played a Judge on 2000’s Clerks: The Animated Series, and later he did it a second time on a 2006 episode of hit sitcom Arrested Development.
The Arrested Development cameo, in particular, earned Reinhold some éminence grise in the comedy world but, unfortunately, he failed to capitalise on it. Reinhold did not appear in the Arrested Development Netflix reboot and, soon after his cameo, starred in the less-than-beloved Santa Clause 2.