How A Detroit Businessman Put Big Boy In Space In ‘Austin Powers’

Would you believe it’s been 20 years since the first Austin Powers movie was released? The film became iconic in the pantheon of American comedy films, spurring a couple sequels that played on the modern livelihood of a 1960s groovy James Bond type of spy.

The first film also infused a lot of Americana from the last several decades into the story, including a giant statue of Big Boy you’ve seen outside any number of Big Boy restaurants. In the movie, the Big Boy statue is turned into a rocket for the villain — Dr. Evil — to escape and orbit the Earth for many years. 

What you probably don’t know is that one man here in Detroit was responsible for Big Boy getting into that Austin Powers movie.

Tony Michaels is president and CEO of the Parade Company, but in the late 1990s he was head of Big Boy International. He says the producers of Austin Powers approached him with a script that made fun of Big Boy by lambasting the food. Michaels says he proposed a different script that the screenwriters loved, and the rest is movie history; an iconic movie with a memorable scene with actor Clint Howard praising Big Boy’s food as the checkered statue propels through space as a rocket ship  

To hear Michaels tell the story in Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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