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Hollywood’s Brat Pack

Only one of the famous young boys seemed to take the attention in stride—perhaps because he grew up the son of a famous actor, Martin Sheen. Just 23 years old, Emilio Estevez looks like his famous father and is a star on his own; he played the young punk in Repo Man and the jock in The Breakfast Club. His sweet smile of innocence drew still more women to the table, and he could not resist them.

“She was a Playmate of the Month,” he whispered as an exotic-looking young woman in a purple jumpsuit took the seat next to him and smiled like an old friend. “The last time she was here, we were telling her about a friend who had passed the bar exam, and she said, ‘I didn’t know you needed to take a test to become a bartender.’” He laughed at her stupidity. But then he turned his attention to her, and before long, the toasts were over. Rob Lowe went back home to his girlfriend, waiting for him in Malibu. And at 1:35 A.M., after leaving the Hard Rock and stopping at a disco and then an underground punk-rock club, Judd Nelson took off by himself in his black jeep. Emilio Estevez and the Playmate went off together into the night.

This is the Hollywood “Brat Pack.” It is to the 1980s what the Rat Pack was to the 1960s—a roving band of famous young stars on the prowl for parties, women, and a good time. And just like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis Jr., these guys work together, too—they’ve carried their friendships over from life into the movies. They make major movies with big directors and get fat contracts and limousines. They have top agents and protective P.R. people. They have legions of fans who write them letters, buy them drinks, follow them home. And, most important, they sell movie tickets. Their films are often major hits, and the bigger the hit, the more money they make, and the more money they make, the more like stars they become.

Everyone in Hollywood differs over who belongs to the Brat Pack. That is because they are basing their decision on such trivial matters as whose movie is the biggest hit, whose star is rising and whose is falling, whose face is on the cover of Rolling Stone and whose isn’t. And occasionally, some poor, misguided fool bases his judgment on whose talent is the greatest.

The Brat Packers act together whenever possible—and it would be a major achievement for the average American moviegoer not to have seen at least one of their ensemble movies over the past four years. The first Brat Pack movie was Taps, the story of kids taking over a military school, a sleeper that took in $20.5 million. Then came The Outsiders, adapted from the S. E. Hinton novel and directed by Francis Ford Coppola; Rumble Fish, another Coppola-Hinton effort; The Breakfast Club; and now, on June 28, the release of the latest matchup of the Brats, St. Elmo’s Fire.

Emilio Estevez is the unofficial president of the Brat Pack. (He is also the unofficial treasurer; other members seem to forget their wallets when they go out together, and Estevez usually picks up the check.) He may get his best notices yet, for his role in St. Elmo’s Fire.

“I’ll bet if you asked everyone in the cast who their best friend is,” says Joel Schumacher, who directed and co-wrote St. Elmo’s Fire, “they’d all say Emilio. He’s that kind of guy.”

Here are the rest:

The Hottest of Them All—Tom Cruise, 23. He first made his mark in Taps, then went on to star in the youth-movie classic Risky Business. The huge success of that movie (it made $30.3-million) gave Cruise the leverage to get over $1 million per movie.

The Most Beautiful Face—Rob Lowe, 21. He first showed it to moviegoers in The Outsiders, then starred in Class and The Hotel New Hampshire. He stars in St. Elmo’s Fire.

The Overrated One—Judd Nelson, 25. He made his reputation as a hood in Making the Grade and The Breakfast Club. And now, in St. Elmo’s Fire, he shows—with his role as a congressional assistant—that he was better off when typecast.

The Only One With an Oscar—Timothy Hutton, 24. He got started ahead of the others as a troubled teen in Ordinary People, then joined the Brat Pack in Taps. Fellow Brats whisper that he’s made one too many flop (Turk 182! was its name) and now must revive his career or risk being forgotten.

The One Least Likely to Replace Marlon Brando—Matt Dillon, 21. Everyone thought he would do it back when he made Tex and The Outsiders, but he eased into a lower gear with The Flamingo Kid, a comedy that did well at the box office.