Back in 1980, six years after Black Christmas, but before the likes of Silent Night, Deadly Night, a low budget slasher movie was released. Set amongst a group of teenagers, it follows the maniacal murders carried out by a crazed psycho disguised in a Santa Claus costume. The movie, To All a Good Night, starred a twenty year old Jennifer Runyon in what was her very first film role.
The following three to four years featured a few minor acting jobs in television, with brief appearances in The Fall Guy and the failed pilot for the TV version of Six Pack, among others.
In the year of ’84, Jennifer was cast in the zany rafting comedy Up The Creek, where she plays Heather Merriweather, girlfriend of Ivy League rafting competitor Rex Crandall. When Rex turns out to be nothing more than a cheating jerk, Heather dumps him, and is immediately swept off her feet by the smooth-talking Bob McGraw (Tim Matheson), who happens to be representing the worst university in the country in the raft race. The movie follows each of the rafting teams, and the scheming pranks pulled off by the preppy ivy leaguers in an attempt to win the rafting trophy.
During the next couple of years, major movie roles were sparse, with Jennifer starring briefly in Ghostbusters and taking on small roles in TV movies and smaller productions. She did, however, star in 24 episodes of the classic ’80s sitcom Charles in Charge, beside Scott Baio, Willie Aames and Nicole Eggert.
After a number of somewhat insignificant television roles during 1987, including a one-off appearance in the warmly remembered Tony Danza sitcom Who’s the Boss, Jennifer landed a part in the independent dance flick The In Crowd (known in Europe as Dance Party). Referred to as ‘the male version of Hairspray‘, and set in the ’60s, The In Crowd follows Del (Donovan Leitch), as he attempts to swindle his way onto popular Philadelphia after-school dance show Perry Parker. Jennifer Runyon stars as Vicky, a Perry Parker regular, along with her rebellious boyfriend Dugan (Scott Plank). But all this changes when Dugan is thrown off the show thanks to his badboy antics, and Del brought in as Vicky’s replacement dance partner.
The In Crowd features some fantastic ’60s tunes and dance moves, earning itself a small but loyal fanbase. Still awaiting the day when it is released on DVD, VHS copies of the dancetastic fact-based drama are sold for a pretty penny and are continually hard to come by.
1988 was a successful year for Jennifer, nabbing another main movie role in the Crown International Pictures body-swap classic, 18 Again. Starring alongside Charlie Schlatter (who, a year later, played Kylie Minogue’s love interest in The Delinquents), Jennifer plays high-school beauty Robin Morrison, who shares a history class with 18 year old David Watson (Schlatter). After a tragic accident, David and his grandfather end-up switching souls. In some of the most hilarious methods possible, the 81 year-old businessman has to adjust to high-school life in the 1980’s and attempt to cope with being 18 again! With David aiding Robin write her History paper, the two soon become more than friends, much to the disgust of bullyish fratboy and ex-boyfriend Russ.
Looking gorgeous as ever in her role as high-school sweetheart Robin, Jennifer’s career was at an all-time high in the late eighties.
Beyond the ’80s, a handful of TV and film roles followed, again mainly minor, one-time only walk-on parts. 1991 brought with it another one-episode role in the classic series, Beverly Hills 90210. Finally, in 1993, she landed her final acting job in the low budget horror/sci-fi flick Carnosaur. Classed as a low grade, ‘grindhouse’ b-movie, Carnosaur features campy special effects, a poor script, and laughing dinosaurs. Produced by New Horizon Picture Corp, who are probably best known for being involved in the distribution of the 1980 monster movie Humanoids from the Deep, Carnosaur was certainly not the most glamorous of exits.
Alas, Jennifer Runyon has since disappeared from Hollywood completely. Now, at 48, she is living in San Clemente with her two kids and husband, Todd Corman, of relation to director Roger Corman. Todd is a coach for womens basketball, and was, up until March of this year, head coach for Concordia University in California.
The chances of married-mum Jennifer ever returning to acting after 15 years of giving Hollywood the boot are pretty slim indeed. But that doesn’t stop us from loving the movies and shows she was involved in during her 13-year long career. Who says 13 is unlucky?