Cast of Towering Inferno (1974) Then and Now

Cast of Towering Inferno (1974) Then and Now
Cast of Towering Inferno Updated

The 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno brought together an incredible ensemble cast, featuring major stars from the classic Hollywood era along with up-and-coming talent. Directed by John Guillermin and produced by Irwin Allen, the film was a massive blockbuster success. Nearly 50 years later, let's take a look back at the star-studded cast and see what they achieved in their careers after climbing the glass tower.

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The Leading Men

Paul Newman as Doug Roberts

  • Then (1974): 49 years old
  • Now: Died in 2008 at age 83
Paul Newman as Doug Roberts

Paul Newman delivered a typically strong performance as Doug Roberts, the architect who designed the towering Glass Tower skyscraper. By the time he played this role, Newman was already an Oscar-winning actor known for films like The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. His piercing blue eyes, rugged good looks, and effortless charisma made him one of the biggest movie stars of the 1960s and 1970s.

After The Towering Inferno, Newman received Best Actor Oscar nominations for The Verdict in 1982 and Road to Perdition in 2002. He continued working steadily in movies until his retirement from acting in 2007. Newman also became renowned for his philanthropic endeavours, launching the "Newman's Own" food brand to donate all profits to charity. He remains an iconic star and one of the most beloved actors of his generation. Newman passed away from lung cancer in 2008 at the age of 83.

Steve McQueen as Chief O'Halloran

  • Then (1974): 44 years old
  • Now: Died in 1980 at age 50
Steve McQueen as Chief O'Halloran

In the role of no-nonsense Fire Chief Mike O'Halloran, Steve McQueen held his own against cinema legend Paul Newman. By 1974, McQueen had become one of the highest-paid and most popular actors in Hollywood after smash hits like The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt and The Getaway. He personified "cool" with his rugged masculinity and rebellious charm.

Post-Inferno, McQueen received acclaim for racing film Le Mans and had hits with The Hunter and Tom Horn before his untimely death in 1980 at just 50 years old. To this day, McQueen remains an icon of radical anti-heroism and effortless cool. He is still considered one of the most influential stars of the 1960s and 70s.

Leading Ladies

Faye Dunaway as Susan

  • Then (1974): 33 years old
  • Now: 82 years old
Faye Dunaway as Susan

Rising star Faye Dunaway portrayed the role of Susan, the savvy love interest to Paul Newman's character Doug. By the early 1970s, Dunaway had begun earning rave reviews and Oscar nominations for films like Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown. Her performance in 1976's Network would ultimately win Dunaway the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Dunaway continued acting steadily after The Towering Inferno, appearing in thrillers like The Eyes of Laura Mars, Mommie Dearest and Don Juan DeMarco. Her memorable on-screen presence and captivating talent solidified her status as one of the defining actresses of the New Hollywood era. Now 82 years old, Dunaway still acts occasionally in both film and television.

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Susan Blakely as Patty

  • Then (1974): 26 years old
  • Now: 75 years old
Susan Blakely as Patty

Fresh-faced newcomer Susan Blakely held her own against veteran stars when she played the role of Patty, a secretary trapped in the inferno. The Towering Inferno marked Blakely's first major big-screen role after guest appearances on various television shows. She went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress thanks to her performance in the 1976 film The Towering Inferno.

Blakely continued working steadily in both films and TV shows like Rich Man, Poor Man throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Some of her most memorable roles came in disaster films and miniseries of the era, capitalising on her breakout in The Towering Inferno. Now 75 years old, Blakely still acts occasionally on television.

Scene-Stealing Supporting Stars

Fred Astaire as Harlee Claiborne

  • Then (1974): 75 years old
  • Now: Died in 1987 at age 88
Fred Astaire as Harlee Claiborne

At age 75, legendary dancer Fred Astaire came out of retirement to play con man Harlee Claiborne. Astaire was a vaudeville performer turned Hollywood star best known for his impeccable dancing, first in musicals with Ginger Rogers in the 1930s and then in timeless classics like Holiday Inn, Easter Parade, 1950, and Funny Face. The Towering Inferno marked one of Astaire's final feature film roles before retiring. He received an honorary Academy Award in 1950, recognising his many contributions to film.

Richard Chamberlain as Roger Simmons

  • Then (1974): 40 years old
  • Now: 89 years old
Richard Chamberlain as Roger Simmons

By the 1970s, former heartthrob Richard Chamberlain had successfully transitioned to more mature, complex roles like the deceitful Roger Simmons in The Towering Inferno. Post-Inferno, Chamberlain achieved great popularity on television in The Thorn Birds and Shogun, for which he won Golden Globe awards. He also starred in films like The Three Musketeers, King Solomon's Mines and Allan Quatermain and The Lost City of Gold. Now 89 years old, Chamberlain still acts occasionally in TV and film roles.

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O.J. Simpson as Jernigan

  • Then (1974): 27 years old
  • Now: 76 years old
O.J. Simpson as Jernigan

Before the notorious 1994 murder case that overshadowed his career, O.J. Simpson was best known for football and acting. In The Towering Inferno, Simpson took on the supporting role of Chief Security Officer Jernigan. After this film, Simpson continued his football career before retiring in 1979. As an actor, he appeared in Capricorn One, the Naked Gun spoof films, and TV shows before fading from the limelight in the 1990s.

Robert Vaughn as Senator Parker

  • Then (1974): 42 years old
  • Now: Died in 2016 at age 83
Robert Vaughn as Senator Parker

Esteemed character actor Robert Vaughn portrayed a U.S. senator trying to thwart Doug's building plans. By 1974, Vaughn was already well-known for playing suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His prolific acting career spanned stage, film and television, with roles in Bullitt, The Towering Inferno, Superman III and the TV series Washington: Behind Closed Doors, among many others. Vaughn worked steadily in both television and film until his death in 2016 at age 83.

Robert Wagner as Dan Bigelow

  • Then (1974): 44 years old
  • Now: 93 years old
Robert Wagner as Dan Bigelow

Dapper actor Robert Wagner played the chief's right-hand public relations man. Wagner rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s with films like Stars and Stripes Forever, The Pink Panther, and Harper, along with TV's It Takes a Thief. He also starred in the popular 1970s series Switch alongside Eddie Albert and Sharon Gless. Now 93 years old, Wagner continues to act occasionally, including a long-running role on Hart to Hart.

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William Holden as Jim Duncan

  • Then (1974): 56 years old
  • Now: Died in 1981 at age 63
William Holden as Jim Duncan

William Holden took on the role of Jim Duncan, the building's electrical engineer. Holden was already an established Hollywood star before The Towering Inferno, having risen to fame with films like Sunset Boulevard and Stalag 17, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1953. Some of his other well-known films included The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Wild Bunch, and Network. The Towering Inferno went on to become one of Holden's final major hits before his death in 1981 at the age of 63.

Jennifer Jones as Lisolette Mueller

  • Then (1974): 55 years old
  • Now: Died in 2009 at age 90
Jennifer Jones as Lisolette Mueller

Jennifer Jones played the role of Lisolette Mueller, an older woman who falls in love with Fred Astaire's character. Jones was also an Oscar-winning actress, honoured for her performance in The Song of Bernadette in 1943. She was known for films like Love Letters, Duel in the Sun, and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. The Towering Inferno was one of her last significant film roles before her death in 2009 at the age of 90.

Disaster Blockbuster of the 1970s

At 165 minutes, The Towering Inferno was an epic production that captured the all-star disaster blockbuster formula that worked so well in the 1970s. The film was a massive critical and commercial success, earning more than $116 million and becoming the highest-grossing film of 1974. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three for cinematography, editing, and song.

The Towering Inferno offered something for everyone - riveting rescue sequences, a lavish and luxurious setting, romance, spectacular visual effects, and a once-in-a-lifetime ensemble cast. Looking back, it is a quintessential representation of a big-budget popcorn thriller from the era. The fiery film cemented its status as a classic disaster movie featuring many of the most renowned stars of the 20th century.

Cast Continues to Burn Bright

Nearly 50 years later after its premiere, the iconic cast of The Towering Inferno remains unforgettable. Though sadly many of the stars have now passed away, their incredible talents and memorable performances will live on forever in this thrilling Hollywood blockbuster. Key players like Faye Dunaway and Robert Wagner, now 82 and 93 respectively, continue acting today and connect us to the Golden Age greats that came before them.

While cinema has evolved significantly in the 21st century, The Towering Inferno still stands tall as an incredible showcase of some of the biggest stars and slickest blockbuster filmmaking that the 1970s had to offer. Take a look back at the fiery classic to see Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Fred Astaire and many more light up the screen one more time.


Who survives the Towering Inferno?

The fate of the characters in the movie "The Towering Inferno" is a key part of the film's suspense and drama. The survival of specific characters can be determined who survives the by watching the movie.

Was Paul Newman's son in The Towering Inferno?

No, Paul Newman's son was not in "The Towering Inferno." However, Paul Newman himself played the role of Doug Roberts, the architect of the building.

Was Charlton Heston in The Towering Inferno?

No, Charlton Heston was not in "The Towering Inferno." The film features a star-studded cast including Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, and other renowned actors.

Who is the little girl in The Towering Inferno?

The character of the little girl in "The Towering Inferno" is Angela Allbright, played by actress Carlena Gower.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDB