Nine Fun Facts about ‘Stand By Me’

Editor's Picks, Movies, On the Road, Traditions, Trivia
on March 24, 2011
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Nine fun facts about the 1986 box office smash that was based on Steven King's The Body. The boyhood adventure, set in the 1950s, features a group of four friends who set off on a two-day trek to find the body of a missing teenager.

  1. The song for which the movie got its title wasn’t actually on the radio until the decade after the story takes place. Ben E. King’s iconic version of “Stand By Me” was a Top Five hit in 1961, and charted in the Top 10 again in 1986 after the movie’s release.
  2. The song’s also been recorded by numerous other artists, including John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Muhammad Ali (yes, the boxer!). Mickey Gilley had a No. 1 country hit with it in 1980 from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.
  3. The grandfather of Wil Wheaton, who played the movie’s central role of Vern, had been an actor on TV’s Wagon Train. Wheaton’s grandparents asked director Rob Reiner if somehow the classic Western could be worked into the movie’s dialogue. It was!
  4. To keep in his “hoodlum” character during breaks in filming, Kiefer Sutherland would pick on his younger co-stars.
  5. At the insistence of Reiner, a nonsmoker, the cigarettes smoked by the young boys were rolled from cabbage and lettuce leaves
  6. Stephen King used one of his own childhood experiences for the story’s memorably icky “leech scene.”
  7. Corey Feldman and Reiner tried more than 20 different laughs before finding the one the director felt was right for Feldman’s character, Teddy Duchamp.
  8. Many of the railroad-track scenes were filmed in Cottage Grove, Ore., where the train doesn’t run anymore—most of the former rail beds have been turned into modern-day hiking trails.
  9. Stand By Me marked the movie debut of 11-year-old Jerry O’Connell, who went on to become a successful adult actor in dozens of films and TV shows. You can see him in the current CBS series The Defenders, where he co-stars as attorney Pete Kaczmarek.