MR. STAY PUFT — Meeting the Man inside the Marshmallow Man

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary


I’m not one to get starstruck.

That’s not true.

I get starstruck as much as the next film buff, but I keep it internal so as to remain “professional.” To paraphrase Bill Murray (from Quick Change, not Ghostbusters), “I’m the starstruck on the inside kind, I guess.”

Every now and then, however, the internal becomes external, no more so than the time I met one of my childhood idols. One of my heroes of the silver screen. One of the inspirations for westward ho-ing my Bostonian butt all the way to Hollywood.

Spielberg… Zemeckis… Jimmy Stewart… Walt Disney…

All iconic geniuses of American cinema, through and through, but none had quite the same impact on my formative years as… the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Unlike those other icons, I’ve actually met Mr. Stay Puft, more precisely the man who played him three decades ago in the first Ghostbusters movie. What were the circumstances to bring about such a fortuitous encounter? How did I come to not just meet the Marshmallow Man, but also work with him? Why, I remember it as if it were yesteryear…

SP 4

Behind the scenes of Ghostbusters.

…which it wasn’t. It was over ten yesteryears ago, when I first moved to Los Angeles. Three months of film industry job hunting had yielded exactly one interview, at Artisan Entertainment. It was for an internship that I couldn’t accept even if it was offered (it wasn’t) because it was unpaid, and, as crazy as it may seem, I had a landlord who liked to collect rent.


So a few weeks later when I got a call from a friend of a friend of an acquaintance asking if I was available to replace a crew member on a film shoot currently in production, I immediately said yes.

I didn’t care where the production was. (Rural Big Bear Lake, a 2-hour drive north of LA.) I didn’t care when the gig began. (6:00 the next morning.) All that mattered was whether or not it was an actual industry job with actual monetary pay. It was both, so I packed my bags and headed north to the mountains for what would end up being two incredibly memorable weeks culminating in a moment of, dare I say it, destiny.


The movie was called Sabretooth, a low-budget Jurassic Park knock-off that plays on SyFy Channel every now and then. It starred John Rhys-Davies (Sallah!), Vanessa Angel (Kingpin, with Dr. Venkman himself), a pre-Lost Josh Holloway, and either Keith David or David Keith. I always get those two confused. The real star, though, was the sabretooth tiger.


The Marshmallow Man in action.


According to the movie, the tiger was brought to life via the cloning of fossilized DNA from a prehistoric sabretooth. The movie’s production team, on the other hand, will tell you that the cat in question was the product of animatronics, practical effects, and skilled puppeteers.

I worked on the production’s 2nd Unit, which shot all the footage that the 1st Unit didn’t have time for. Take for instance a moment where Josh Holloway spears the tiger. The close-up of Holloway was filmed by 1st Unit, whereas the wide shot of the tiger being speared was done by us on 2nd Unit.

My job was to help anyone who needed help, from the grips to the producers. I even got to double for Keith David or David Keith when an insert shot was needed of him shooting a gun or kicking in a cabin door. The people I liked helping most, though, were the puppeteers.


Bill Bryan and his alter ego.


Simulating a running tiger by pushing it behind underbrush, smashing a window with a paw glove, digging sabreteeth into Frosted Flakes and growling, “They’re grrrrrreat!” You name it, we did it. Except that last one.

Midway through my 2-week stint, I had earned my keep amongst the puppeteers, enough to sit with them during lunch. (They can be a rough crowd.) The conversation ultimately led to my asking:

“So what other movies have you guys done? Anything I’d know?”

Because we were working on a cheesy B-movie, I assumed that was all that these guys ever worked on. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, there was the occasional Wishmaster 3 or Dentist 2: Brace Yourself (a real title), but I was astounded when the guy next to me went around the table and pointed out each puppeteer’s claim to fame.  Emphasis on fame.

PUPPETEER: “That guy was the predator. That one played the alien queen. The one next to him operated Chucky.”

STEVE: “Wha, wha, whaaaat?!”

PUPPETEER: “See the tall, bearded guy who looks like Harry from Harry and the Hendersons?”

STEVE: “Yeah.”

PUPPETEER: “That’s Harry.”

STEVE: “No @#$%.”


The most popular sailor in town.

The list went on and on: assorted dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III… Dino from The Flintstones… the Penguin’s penguins in Batman Returns

My jaw dropped in disbelief as the cinematic creatures of my childhood assembled before my very eyes at, of all places, a lunch table. Picture Da Vinci’s The Last Supper with yours truly surrounded by aliens, predators, killer dolls and Bigfoot. Toss in Yoda and The Last Supper allusion would be complete since I’d have obviously died and gone to Hollywood Heaven.


As jaw-droppingly awestricken as I was, it would be nothing compared to how I’d react when learning about the good-natured, unassuming everyman who embodied the sabretooth tiger.

STEVE: “What else has Bill done?”

PUPPETEER:Bill Bryan? Oh, he played Mr. Stay Puft.”

STEVE: “Come again?”

PUPPETEER: “Billy played the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.”

I nearly fainted.

STEVE: “You’re not yanking my chain, are you?”


STEVE: “Mother pus bucket!”

Forget Sallah, Sawyer and Keith David/David Keith. Bill “Best Movie Monster Ever” Bryan was the real star of the shoot as far as I was concerned.


“Now where did I put that giant smiley head?”


I loved Mr. Stay Puft as a kid. In lieu of teddy bears, I slept with a Stay Puft action figure. I was a Marshmallow pre-Veronica Mars fans and was genuinely disappointed to learn that, after searching every supermarket in town, Stay Puft Marshmallows did not exist.

My favorite episode of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon was the one where Egon enters the containment unit and encounters the Marsh Man, which, now that I think about it, doesn’t make sense since, unlike other ghosts who were actually trapped, Stay Puft was destroyed in an explosion of marshmallowy ecstasy.

No matter!

The character was a favorite and here he was right in front of me. I was like a kid sitting next to Santa Claus on a plane. No. It was better than that.


After rolling up my tongue and placing it firmly back in my mouth, I peppered Bill with questions:

“Was it hot inside the costume? What’s it like to step on a church? Were you ever mistaken for the Michelin Man?”

He politely and jovially answered each inquiry:

“So hot that I had to flap my arms to get air into the armpit vents… I couldn’t see the church… No Michelin mistakes.”

But I didn’t stop there.

I asked him questions at the log cabins where we stayed.

I asked him questions in the transpo van on the way to set.

I asked him questions in the transpo van on the way back from set.

I asked him questions while he flossed.

I had to know everything about one of my favorite films of all time from one of my favorite film characters of all time.


S’mores anyone?


Puppeteers spend a lot of time on-screen, yet we never see their faces behind the masks. So when fans bestow upon them adulation normally reserved for movie stars like Dan Ackroyd or Sigourney Weaver, they enjoy it.

Bill was no different. He appreciated my appreciation of his talents. At first. By week’s end, it was a slightly different story.

He still politely answered my interrogations, but with gradually shorter, more succinct responses.

“Yes.” “No.” “Maybe.”

In just a few short days, he went from feeling like a star, to feeling like a star with a stalker. I’m sure by the time we wrapped and went our separate ways, he was thankful for the anonymity of acting inside creature costumes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the paraphrased words of Ernie Hudson echoed through his mind on the long drive back to Los Angeles, “When someone asks if you’re the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, you say NO!”



Thanks for your hard work, Bill.

As for me, I went away from that experience feeling good. Feeling transformed.

The move to LA was now complete thanks to my first film industry job, which had welcomed me with open arms. Open arms topped off by marshmallow fingers.

Next time I meet a cinematic icon, I’ll downplay my inner Spanish Inquisition. Mr. Stay Puft and myself, however, will always have Big Bear.

Though Bill may not feel the same.


In addition to his Puft passion, Ghostbusters was instrumental in teaching a young Steve D’Arcangelo the Birds and Bees by piquing his curiosity enough to ask mom and dad the true meaning of “Gatekeeper” and “Keymaster.” Needless to say, he was not allowed to see the sequel.

Steve is a regular contributor to Beyond the Marquee, writing various reviews for movies, TV shows, soundtracks, and comic books. He resumes critiquing duties on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. starting with next week’s season 2 premiere.

He also writes BTM’s The Projection Booth, an ongoing opinion column that examines various Hollywood topics with a humorous slant, everything from lazy sequel titles (“Don’t just slap a 2 on it!”) to movie poster clichés. (“Why is everyone walking toward camera?”)  

His articles can be found via this link:

In his spare time, Steve likes to collect spores, molds and fungus.


Interested in more Ghostbusters content?

Check out the following links for more Ghostbusters-related articles, interviews, videos from our GHOSTBUSTERS WEEK which was Sept. 15th-19th, 2014.


Beyond the Marquee interviews Ghostbusters Producer, Joe Medjuck.



Beyond the Marquee visits with Sony Consumer Marketing and the Ecto-1.

Video and Article:


Beyond the Marquee has some fun on-location at the Ghostbusters Firehouse in LA.

Video and Article:


Beyond the Marquee reunites the Ecto-1 with designer Stephen Dane.

Video and Interview with Stephen Dane:


If you’re on this page, then you’ve most likely seen it!


Ghostbusters Week on Beyond the Marquee

Ghostbusters Week on Beyond the Marquee … Sept 15th-19th


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5 Responses to “MR. STAY PUFT — Meeting the Man inside the Marshmallow Man”

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. […] The Marquee writer Steven D’Arcangelo wrote an article about Mr. Stay-Puft or more importantly meeting Bill Bryan who played the “100 foot” […]

  3. […] Beyond the Marquee’s, Steven D’Arcangelo, humorously recalls meeting the man in the Stay Puft Ma… […]

  4. Steve D says:

    Hey Sam,

    Honestly, it was so long ago that I met Bill, and I was so flabbergasted, that I only really remember one thing — that the only air vents were in the armpits, so when he was sweating he had to move his arms up and down to get air into the suit. Kind of like an accordion.

    When you watch the movie, you can notice the arms moving slightly up and down like the little brother in A Christmas Story who dons his super heavy winter coat, but then can’t put his arms down. This was Bill cooling himself off while filming (when he can’t remove the mask).

    I wish I could remember more details, but the one big thing I recall is that he had a great time playing Stay Puft. No complaints, which is how he was on Sabretooth as well. Bill just seems like an easygoing, nice guy.

    An easygoing, nice guy who steps on churches.

  5. Sam says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I, too, had/still have an obsession with Marshmallowman and all things Ghostbusters. I was fortunate enough to get Akroyd to sign my MM bank when he came to a vodka signing in Philly last year. I still have my MM stuffed animal from the 80s too (I’m 28 and admit all of this freely). Would love to hear the answers to any and all questions you asked Bill about his work on the movie. Anything at all. Again, thank you for sharing!

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