Fishburne spent much of the 1980s in and out of television and periodically on stage. In the early 1980s, he worked as a bouncer at punk rock clubs. He appeared in the early 1980s movies Band of the Hand, Death Wish 2 and The Cotton Club, and had a minor role in the critically acclaimed Steven Spielberg film The Color Purple. Fishburne had a recurring role as Cowboy Curtis on Paul Reubens' CBS children's television show Pee-wee's Playhouse. He also appeared in the M*A*S*H episode, "The Tooth Shall Set You Free". In Spenser: For Hire, he was a guest star for the second-season episode "Personal Demons". He also appeared alongside Kevin Bacon in Quicksilver. His stage work during the 1980s included Short Eyes (1984), and Loose Ends (1987), both produced at Second Stage Theatre in New York City. Also in 1987 he played a part in the third A Nightmare On Elm Street film as a hospital orderly. Fishburne featured in Red Heat (1988) beside Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi. Fishburne also starred as "Dap" in Spike Lee's School Daze (1988). Fishburne's character was a depiction of an African American, culturally inclined college student at a historically black college.