The Sandlot has become a childhood classic, reminiscent of summer days spent running around the neighborhood. But if there’s one stand-out character we all remember, who wasn’t part of the gang, it’s Wendy Peffercorn. The lifeguard of Michael "Squints" Palledorous dreams was played by Marley Shelton.
Wendy Peffercorn was the object of many crushes, and in the movie, she and "Squints" married and had nine children. But how did things play out in real life for the woman behind the blonde beach babe character? Whatever happened to Marley Shelton from The Sandlot?
Spoiler, she’s still a babe thirty years later.
Shelton was born in Los Angeles, California on April 12th, 1974. Her mother was a singer-turned-teacher, while her father was a director and producer. So it’s safe to say she was born into the industry. Naturally, she and one of her sisters, Samantha Shelton, would go on to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Growing up in a residential neighborhood just outside of the hustle and bustle of LA, Shelton attended Eagle Rock High School. After graduating, she became a film and theater student at the University of California, Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before she began seriously studying acting under the direction of Larry Moss and Robert Carnegie. During this time, Shelton was also auditioning for minor roles in film and television.
A Quiet Start to an Acting Career
In 1991, at age seventeen, Shelton made her debut in the film Grand Canyon, where she played the girlfriend of the character Roberto (Jeremy Sisto). The movie had an ensemble cast, but only a few minor roles came out of its release for Shelton. She appeared next in a for-television movie called Up to No Good and a couple of television bit parts in shows like Family Matters and Crossroads.
What would really jump-start Shelton’s career was a smaller part in a coming-of-age sports movie – The Sandlot.
In 1993 Shelton was cast as lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn. With blonde hair, classic white sunglasses, bright red lipstick, and an equally alluring red swimsuit, Wendy was the object of many young boys’ affections while lifeguarding at the local pool.
One in particular, Michael "Squints" Palledorous, would be the source of Shelton’s main scene in The Sandlot. The character, played by Chauncey Leopardi, faked a drowning incident only to get Wendy to kiss him. Though the movie was released to mixed reviews, Shelton’s on-screen appeal wasn’t overlooked.
After Her Shift as a Lifeguard
She continued to rack up acting credits (and eventually, The Sandlot developed a cult following). Following the film, Shelton received parts in Hercules in the Underworld, Nixon, Cybill, When Friendship Kills, Trojan War, and Warriors of Virtue. The latter, released in 1997, led Shelton to drop out of UCLA to pursue acting full-time.
Unfortunately, both Trojan War and Warriors of Virtue flopped. However, critics cited Shelton as the only one in the films worth watching.
Finally, in 1998, Shelton received her first major role in a film that was positively received by critics and audiences. She played Toby Maguire’s love interest, Margaret, in Pleasantville. Her ability to nail the mannerisms and emotions of a typical teenage girl (despite being in her early twenties) was what launched her into a variety of nineties and early-aughts films aimed at teen audiences, such as Never Been Kissed, The Bachelor, and Sugar and Spice, and Bubble Boy.
Shelton has continued to pick up a mix of minor and major roles throughout the decades. She has garnered attention in films like Grindhouse, the Scream series, and Rampage while also relentlessly accepting minor parts in television series such as American Dad and Mad Men.
What is Marley Shelton Doing Now?
Marley Shelton never disappeared from the industry, but her early peak and the subsequent steady stream of smaller roles have left many wondering, whatever happened to the actress that played Wendy Peffercorn?
Shelton’s most recent role is in the Paramount+ television drama 1923, where she plays Emma Dutton, a minor but recurring character. She also recently appeared in Scream 5 as Sheriff Judy Hicks, whos character was first introduced in 2011’s Scream 4.
She fondly recalls her time on The Sandlot set and is flattered when anyone brings up Wendy Peffercorn. Today, the red-suited lifeguard is still a relatively popular Halloween costume.
Once, Shelton’s husband found a shirt with Wendy Peffercorn’s silhouette and swimsuit printed on it and wore it to her birthday. Speaking of her husband…
Shelton met Beau Flynn, a film producer, on the set of Bubble Boy in 2000. They were married a year later, in July 2001. The couple has two daughters, West Flynn, born in 2009, and Ruby Jeanne Flynn, born in 2012.
Unfortunately, Shelton’s recognition hasn’t always been flattering. In 2010 she was arrested for driving under the influence, receiving a fine and probation after she pled no contest.
These days, however, things appear to be going swimmingly for the femme fatale lifeguard. You can find her on Instagram or catch her in the currently airing Paramount+ series 1923.