Remember the intense, unflappable Sgt. Debbie Callahan from the Police Academy movies? The tough-as-nails drill instructor was played by actress Leslie Easterbrook, who reprised the iconic role in several Police Academy sequels throughout the 80s.
But the ever-serious Sgt. Callahan was far from Easterbrook’s only claim to fame. The multi-talented actress built an impressive resume across film, television, and theater over her decades-long career.
Yet today, Easterbrook seems to have virtually disappeared from the Hollywood limelight. So what exactly has the Police Academy star been up to since her heyday?
In this article, we’ll take a look back on Leslie Easterbrook’s varied career and find out where she is today. Though no longer a staple on the big screen, Easterbrook has hardly faded into obscurity.
The busy actress has continued working steadily over the years through a mix of small roles and other ventures.
Leslie Eileen Easterbrook was born in Los Angeles, California, on July 29, 1949. She is a 5’ 8” (1.73 m) actress and producer who has been active in the industry since 1980.
She was adopted at nine months old by Carl and Helen Easterbrook and raised in Arcadia, Nebraska. Helen Easterbrook was an English teacher at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Carl Easterbrook was a music professor and singer. Suffice to say, Leslie started singing at an early age.
Leslie Easterbrook graduated from Kearney High School and Stephens College. Stephens College was a private women’s college in Columbia, Missouri. She was involved with the drama department at the college. In time, Leslie would turn to a career in acting, but it was slow going at first.
Leslie’s path to becoming an actor was not direct. She started singing at an early age and set out to become an opera singer. Through her connections in the opera space, she met an agent from ICM, who opened the doors for her to music theater and from musical theater she found herself in the tv and movie industry.
Leslie Easterbrook’s first role was as an unnamed hospital nurse in the romantic comedy Just Tell Me What You Want in 1980. Over the next few years, she would fill in on a few TV series, such as Fantasy Island in 1982’s episode “The Perfect Gentleman/Legend.” She would continue to make appearances in sitcoms in one-off roles through the 1980s.
However, as she was filling in various smaller series, she also started an ongoing role in a substantial TV series that would kickstart her career.
Laverne and Shirley
Leslie Easterbrook appeared in 51 episodes of Laverne & Shirley from 1980 to 1983. When the show moved locations from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Burbank, California, Leslie Easterbrook joined the cast as Rhonda Lee, a neighbor, and aspiring actress.
Reflecting on her time with “Laverne & Shirley,” Easterbrook recalls the initial apprehension she felt joining an already established show. She candidly shares her insecurities, revealing how she felt like an imposter, fearing she’d be fired. However, the experience turned out to be one of the most rewarding phases of her career, and she remains grateful for the opportunity.
Her TV career would continue with significant series over the years as well. For example, she was in 23 episodes of Ryan’s Hope from 1986 to 1987. This romantic drama television series featured Helen Gallagher, Bernard Barrow, and Nancy Addison and followed the lives of Irish Americans in New York City.
Super Bowl XVII
Leslie wouldn’t completely abandon her singing talents, in 1983 Leslie sang the national anthem for Super Bowl XVII in front of a crowd of 103,667 attendees in Pasadena, CA.
Coincidentally, a casting director for Police Academy was in the stands at the Super Bowl and after seeing Leslie sing, wanted her for the part of Callahan. Leslie mentions that the casting director had no idea, Leslie was on Laverne and Shirley and had he known, he wouldn’t have wanted to cast her for the part.
Leslie Easterbrook went on to take on the iconic role of Sgt. Callahan in 1984’s Police Academy and the comedy franchise’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th films. Because she was taller than most women in the movie, her stature helped her character appear more imposing, leading to many funny situations in the series.
Discussing her iconic role as Callahan in the “Police Academy” series, Easterbrook expresses immense pride in the character and the impact it had on audiences.
She fondly remembers the camaraderie among the cast members and the bond they shared.
However, she does express a minor regret about a particular outfit her character had to wear in “Police Academy 5,” which she felt was out of character for Callahan.
The Devil’s Reject and Halloween
Leslie Easterbrook has also collaborated with director and musician Rob Zombie on a couple of projects as part of a turn to the horror genre. She had a role in his films The Devil’s Rejects and Halloween. In The Devil’s Rejects (2005), she was cast as Ma Firefly, replacing Karen Black from the previous film House of 1000 Corpses. She would later play a security guard in Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween in 2008.
In 2011, she appeared in 10 episodes of the 2011 horror series The Funny Man. This would be one of the numerous horror projects that would pop up in her filmography.
What is Leslie Easterbrook doing now?
Leslie Easterbrook is still acting to this day with at least three in-production projects for 2022 and 2023. Her most recent role was in the film The Baby Pact in 2022.
She is known to be a member of the National Rifle Association and has served on the board of directors for the California Rifle and Pistol Association. It is unknown if she is still involved with these organizations, however.
Easterbrook’s advice to budding actors is insightful. She emphasizes the importance of passion and advises newcomers to immerse themselves in the craft, be open to diverse roles, and gain experience before moving to hubs like Los Angeles. She also encourages them to embrace every opportunity, drawing parallels to her own career where she navigated her journey like an improv exercise, always saying “YES.”
Leslie Easterbrook has been married twice. Her first marriage was to fellow actor Victor Holchak. The pair were married from 1979 to 1988 after a divorce. Victor Holchak was best known as a television actor born on August 10, 1940. He is best known for his run of 91 appearances on the soap Days of Our Lives from 1971 to 1976.
Sometime after that first marriage came to an end, she began to date Dan Wilcox. The pair were married, but the date is unknown. However, they seem to be together to this day. Dan Wilcox is a Writer and producer best known for writing M*A*S*H from 1979 to 1982 and Newhart from 1984 to 1986.
There have been no birth announcements or news regarding Leslie Easterbrook having children. It is unclear if she has children.
A few social media profiles on Twitter claim to be those of Leslie Easterbrook, but none can be confirmed to be hers. None of these profiles can be guaranteed to be her legitimate social media profiles, so it is unclear if she is on social media.