What’s the sitch with where the Guess Who?® characters are now?
As you probably know, when Guess Who?® was first manufactured by Milton Bradley in 1979, real people were brought in to model for the game cards. The 24 faces chosen had little idea how recognizable they were to become. Each dealt with the unexpected fame and fortune in different ways; having one’s appearance picked apart, feature by feature, imperfection by imperfection, for decades, can take its toll on even the sturdiest ego. Our team here at whatsthesitch.com tracked down each of the people whose face adorned an original card, to find out how their life went following the game’s success. Last names have not been included, to protect their last shred of anonymity.
Alex was only 25 when his picture was used for Guess Who?®, so investment wasn’t at the top of the list after he started receiving millions of dollars in residuals from game sales. After a decade of bottle service, valet parking, and “making it rain,” at the swankiest clubs in Manhattan, he moved back to his small hometown of Alabama, New York with the chunk of change he had left. He settled down there with the high school prom queen from two years before his return. They are still happily married, with 12 healthy children.
While his sad eyes on the Guess Who?® card may have been uncomfortable for children playing the game, those same eyes were noticed by modeling agencies immediately upon the game’s release. Alfred had a torrid run at the top of the fashion world, becoming much more than just another Guess Who?® face. He was also a well-known advocate for red haired people all over, publicly expressing that discrimination based on brightly colored hair had gone on far too long. He died at the age of 38 in a tragic photoshoot.
An instant favorite among Guess Who?® players, Anita’s rosy cheeks, sky-blue eyes and ribboned pigtails were hard not to like. Fans still remember her effortlessly stealing the show during Q&A’s on the initial American Guess Who?® release tour. Unfortunately, her looks didn’t last long once the methamphetamine habit took its full, relentless hold. After squandering her fortune, losing custody of her four beloved cats, and failing out of rehab a handful of times, she eventually got clean, ending nearly two decades of hard living. In a foul twist of irony, she now works in a suburban mall outside of Indianapolis as the manager of a Games By James store, likely selling the very product that made her rich all those years ago.
Anne was in the midst of her final year at NYU when she found out she would be a face in Guess Who?®. At the time she was pre-med, applying to medical school with the hope of beginning the subsequent fall. She decided to take a few weeks off to go on the Guess Who?® promotional tour with the other faces, and to have a little bit of fun with her recently filled bank account. Five years later, she finally returned to NYU to finish her degree. During this extended break, she realized she was meant to be in front of an audience, and so transitioned into their theater program, graduating a couple of years later. She went on to a successful career off-Broadway, and is still a workingactress in New York.
His abrupt departure from the public eye in 1983 led to rumors that he had returned home to the small village of Zimnitsy, a six hour drive north from Moscow, through smoggy industrial outposts and skeletal pine barrens. We did not have the funds nor the all-terrain vehicle to send an investigator to confirm these reports. We hope he’s doing ok.
From the very beginning, Bill had to dispel rumors that his picture was photoshopped. His head was just a little too smooth, his cheeks almost unnaturally rosy, his curves a little too voluptuous. He has always denied these allegations, though some recent pictures taken of him by paparazzi seem to confirm the initial suspicions…
Similar to some of the other Guess Who?® representatives, after being chosen Charles enjoyed his moment in the sun, but then quickly returned to his previous life. For Charles, this meant going back to his job as a bartender at a local gay bar in rural Delaware. He has served drinks at this haven for the small LGBTQ community of his town since, and appears to still be loving it as much as he did in his youth.
Claire always stayed humble despite the attention lavished upon her and the other Guess Who?® faces. After the early years in the Guess Who?® spotlight, she went into business selling her distinctive yellow flowered hats. They were more popular than even she could have predicted, and after investing her money wisely, she is officially the wealthiest Guess Who?® personality. Rumor has it she subsequently built a room full of gold, where she spends most of her days lounging in the soft metallic stacks.
David, as you may have guessed, is Amish. This made the initial tour very difficult to coordinate. He was often late to events, by many days, as he casually rode from town to town in his horse and buggy. It led many to wonder why he was chosen at all for this decidedly modern game. The creators of Guess Who?® argued that the game was not electricity dependent, and that it is great family fun, especially for those without modern conveniences. The Amish market is niche, but it is more powerful than you’d believe. Next time you are at your Amish friend’s house, check the cupboards; there will almost certainly be a Guess Who?® game inside.
Eric grew up in coastal Maine, manning his father’s nets on their fishing boat as early as middle school. When the Guess Who?® executives heard about his upbringing, they wanted to incorporate that into his card, and asked him to wear a sailor’s hat for the photo. When Eric returned home for the first time after the game’s release, his father refused to make eye contact… he was ashamed. Ashamed that his only son would publicly humiliate the family by donning the cap of a simple SAILOR when their bloodline had been FISHERMEN for centuries. His father was very concerned with this distinction for some reason. He never forgave Eric for the Guess Who?® photo, and died a bitter old man. In fact, his epitaph reads, “Here lies a fisherman, who never sailed a day in his life.”
The night before the photoshoot to forever capture Frans’s face as part of the Guess Who?® game, Frans was nervous. And, as a Berlin nightclub fanatic, when Frans got nervous, he did cocaine. Lot’s of it. Frans arrived at the Guess Who?® offices bright and early the morning of the photoshoot, still flying high. Unfortunately for Frans, cocaine (as well as high blood pressure) are both risk factors for stroke, and as you can see from the facial asymmetry on his card, he was having an active one while his picture was taken. He required extensive rehabilitation, and still suffers from permanent deficits. He couldn’t continue onto the tour, but the Guess Who?® executives ended up leaving his face in the game, both because they felt bad, and to avoid potential litigation from Frans’s people.
After the Guess Who?® marketing team had selected most of the faces they wanted on the initial roster, they still felt they were missing a key demographic: the elderly homeless. An oft ignored market, for obvious reasons, the Guess Who?® team thought if they could get this group of down-and-out people interested in the game, perhaps they would turn their lives around and move back in with younger family members, bringing a fresh Guess Who?® game set with them. Furthermore, giving the homeless one representative on the cards would be worth it for the public goodwill it would engender. George was one of a few elderly homeless brought in to test, and wardrobe thought he looked good in the hat they had chosen.
Herman is the latest in a long line of proud plumbers. During a mid-life crisis he became disillusioned with snaking hairballs out of shower drains, and when buying a motorcycle didn’t make him feel better, he spontaneously auditioned to become a Guess Who?® face. Chosen for his combination of bald head, flame orange hair, and bulbous nose, he was as surprised as the rest of us when he was chosen. The fortune and fame made Herman uncomfortable, and helped him to realize that what he loved most was plunging a plunger into a potty plugged with poop. He gave most of his Guess Who?® money away and went back to his life as the bathroom wizard he was born to be.
Joe had lived a quiet, monogamous, suburban life with his wife and three children prior to his selection for the Guess Who?® game. After the promotional tour, Joe’s eyes were opened, and they could never be closed again. Once his loved ones found about about the stimulant abuse and repeated instances of exchanging cash for oral sex (in a different direction than you might imagine), they left him to hit rock bottom on his own. He has yet to hit, but some reliable sources, who recently saw him sleeping on the streets of Cleveland in a puddle of animal filth, say he is getting rather close.
As a beautiful Bohemian woman from Paris, Maria was an easy choice for the Guess Who?® marketing team. The problems began after her picture was taken and sent all over the world. When she saw her game-face-card, she hated it, feeling she didn’t look her best. Things only spiraled from there; she believed if she could somehow improve her looks, the public would recognize that the Guess Who?® picture was not representative of her at her most gorgeous. More than 30 surgeries later, Maria now looks like a mannequin left out in the sun too long. She still dons her distinctive green beret, hoping each morning when she looks in the mirror, it will be the stunning face she always imagined meeting her sorrowful gaze.
After a fan facetiously asked whether he was the proprietor of an Italian restaurant for the umpteenth time, Max decided to go into the restaurant business. He is not Italian and has never been a good cook, rather, this was primarily motivated by anger at all these Guess Who?® fans making the same low-level joke over and over. Despite opening the restaurant for the wrong reasons, Max fell in love with the business, and costumers did as well. He still runs Maximilian’s Ravioli Palace in suburban Fort Lauderdale, and the restaurant has a solid 3.5/5 stars on Yelp.
At 83 years old when the pictures were taken, Paul was the oldest member of the original game card group, and thus, was seen as a wise elder statesman. He was a grandfatherly figure to many of the other faces on the release tour, having them over to his trailer to bake cookies, recount stories of the Great War, and to drink a nip of brandy before talking to the media. One of the last statements Paul made before passing away shortly after the tour was, “The time spent with these swell ladies and gentlemen on this Guess Who?® promotional tour have been some of the greatest in my long life. I can now rest easy.”
Peter was a mid-level executive at Milton Bradley when the decision to go forward with the secret Guess Who?® project was made. Senior executives on the board of Milton Bradley thought he had an interesting face, and frankly, they didn’t like Peter very much. He was told of his new role within the company, as a face card for the game, and was relieved of all previous responsibilities. In retrospect, it was a savvy move by the board, sacking an unpleasant executive while avoiding a costly buy-out package. And he does have an interesting face.
During the course of our investigation, Philip was the most difficult to gather reliable information on. According to records found in Puerto Rico, Philip traveled to San Juan shortly after the initial promotional tour, but there is no record of him ever leaving. However, someone looking strikingly similar to Philip, using identification bearing the name Cordoba Villarreal, left San Juan by private yacht shortly after Philip seems to have arrived. Decades later, a man with the same name was arrested on suspicion of transporting a containership-full of stolen Ducati motorcycles into Miami.
Richard didn’t take the initial photoshoot seriously, not believing that a game called Guess Who?® would ever be successful. Moments before his picture was taken, he shaved his head bald, and put on a realistic fake beard, to be subversive. The photographers weren’t in constant communication with the marketing team that selected the candidates, so the photoshoot went ahead as planned. Richard’s picture turned out well, so he was left in the game. Ever since, before public appearances, he’s been contractually obliged to shave his head and wear a beard.
A commonly held belief among Guess Who?® fanatics is that, while Robert appears sad on his card, he was just posing the day of the photo, and is actually a very content, outgoing individual. In the course of our investigation we found that this is, in fact, a misconception. He is a very unhappy man, as his picture seems to suggest.
With the smallest mouth of the group, Sam was made fun of by the public and the media on the original tour. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to anyone except his doctors, his small mouth was a serious health issue. He was unable to take in adequate calories through his tiny food hole, and after a few years on a feeding tube, he passed away quietly at his home, surrounded by loved ones.
Unbeknownst to the producers of the original Guess Who?®, Susan began life as a Sherman, before transitioning to a woman in her mid-20s. The 1970s were a less accepting time for transgendered individuals, so Susan kept it quiet. The secret eventually leaked to the Guess Who?® public in the ’80s, and thankfully, the news was met with widespread warmth and understanding. The only backlash was with regards to how the information would change the actual Guess Who?® gameplay; education began in ernest, playing no small part in beginning to educate the American public on how to properly inquire about gender and identity.
Tom was always a game enthusiast, which is what landed him the gig as a Guess Who?® face in the first place; he was at Milton Bradley headquarters to protest the newly released Hungry Hungry Hippos game, as he had been injured during some particularly intense gameplay the night before. They offered him a Guess Who?® game card position in exchange for his silence, and he enthusiastically accepted. In the years since, he has gone into semi-retirement, spending most of his time on the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour.
We hope knowing more about each of these iconic visages will make playing Guess Who?® a richer experience, by providing more for game players to ask about when attempting to, “guess who.”
*The above images closely resemble actual Guess Who?® game pieces, a product now owned by Hasbro Toys. These depictions were not authorized by, sponsored by or associated with their trademark owner.