The world lost an iconic figure on January 20th this year at the age of 74. Michael Lee Aday was known to the world as Meatloaf. One of the best-selling music artists of all time having sold over 100 million records, he’s probably best known for the Grammy-winning song I’d Do Anything For Love, the best-selling single of 1993 in the UK and his only #1 Billboard Hot 100 track. Many also fondly remember his humorous duet with Ellen Foley, Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Certainly, if he had only been active as a musician, his Bat Out Of Hell records alone would have been enough to make him an unforgettable superstar – but he was even more than that.
Meatloaf also was an actor, and despite all his memorable audio recordings, some saw treasured his acting performances even more. Beginning his career with a part in a Los Angeles production of the musical Hair, he went on to perform in several other productions (including a Broadway production of Hair). But his big moment came in 1973 when he was cast in the original L.A. stage production of The Rocky Horror Show playing both Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott. An unexpected cult hit, this led to its adaptation into one of the most iconic cult classics of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He reprised his greaser biker character of Eddie and sang the catchy tune Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul in the film. No one had any idea that 46 years later kids would still be going to see midnight screenings of it across the world, making it the longest-running theatrical release in film history.
Although he decided to focus more on his music after this, it still didn’t keep him off the stage and eventually, back in front of the camera. So, what other films did he appear in? Eddie was far from his only memorable role, and the huge release of the first Bat Out of Hell record made him a huge and much in demand star, even appearing as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1978.
He appeared in small roles in the 1979 comedies Americathon and Scavenger Hunt and got his first starring role in the 1980 musical comedy Roadie as Travis W. Redfish that also starred musicians Hank Williams Jr., Roy Orbison, Alice Cooper, Blondie, and others. While the movie wasn’t particularly well-received, and oddly doesn’t feature Meatloaf singing in it, he was praised for his performance.
Later in the 80s Meatloaf would take roles in the Anthony Michael Hall thriller Out of Bounds, the Michael Keaton action-comedy The Squeeze and the 1991 road movie Motorama. None of these did much to elevate his acting career but a fun smaller role as the ironically named “Tiny” in 1992’s hit comedy Wayne’s World reminded the world of his chops.
A number of smaller roles would follow, including a cute brief part as the bus driver for the Spice Girls in their surprisingly entertaining 1997 comedy Spice World and as an antagonist for Patrick Swayze in 1998’s trucker action film Black Dog. But it really wasn’t until 1999’s hit David Fincher film Fight Club where Meatloaf had the second role which was truly memorable, as the doomed Robert Paulson. If you’ve been seeing on your social media folks posting “His Name Was Robert Paulson” in the past few days, it was featured in the film as a line chanted by the members of his Fight Club cult around his dead body.
He appeared in a number of roles over the years since, including in a William H. Macy starring adaptation of an Arthur Miller play Focus, a small role in the Val Kilmer starring cult film The Salton Sea, and even in a comic adaptation of Bloodrayne by maligned director Uwe Boll. Sadly he never had another truly iconic part. His final performances were as a recurring character in the paranormal action tv series on the SyFy channel, Ghost Wars in 2017 (one of many television roles he played over the years) and in the 2014 Christmas comedy Wishin’ and Hopin’.
Despite a limited amount of success in his acting career, he appeared in 46 films and many more tv shows, and he’ll always be remembered for his parts in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club. Hot Patootie, bless his soul. He really loved that Rock and Roll.