These child stars became household names at a young age, and during their time in the limelight, we followed them every step of the way. Still, as they all got older, we’re anxious to find out who made it through Hollywood and thrived and who slipped into a downward spiral of depression, rehab, eating disorders, or substance abuse. Some of these child stars actually managed to spin successful Hollywood careers. Others found out the hard way that living the Hollywood life is sometimes not all it’s cracked up to be. There’s actually a lot of pressure and with fame, money, and plenty of temptations to lead stars astray. So we’ve compiled a list of all your favorite child stars, and reveal what they’re up to today!
Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osement had his big break in the iconic movie Forrest Gump, before cementing his fame as the kid who saw “dead people…” in the hit movie The Sixth Sense. He then continued his Hollywood career, with leading roles in Secondhand Lions, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Pay It Forward. However, as he got older he began to struggle to get acting parts as began to lose his status as an adorable child star. In 2006, he was in a car accident, where he was found with weed and alcohol, so he had a short stint in rehab. But later he then decided to enroll at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and successfully graduated in 2011. He worked as an actor and voice actor to help finance his studies and continues to act today.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT) was a teen heartthrob in the 1990s and set plenty of teenage girls’ hearts racing. He jumped to fame playing the mischievous child on The Brady’s and In Living Color and as for seven years as Randy Taylor on the long-running hit series Home Improvement. He also made it onto the big screen with appearances in movies like Man of the House and Tom and Huck and as the voice of Simba on The Lion King. In spite of his huge success, he took a Hollywood break in 1998 to study art and history at Harvard and Columbia University. Over the years he appeared in TV shows like 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and Last Man Standing and currently has a net worth of $15 million.
Amanda Bynes stepped into the limelight at a young age. Known for her infectious sense of humor and radiant personality, she rose to fame on her Nickelodeon self-titled show “The Amanda Show”. She then had her big break in Hollywood with films like Big Fat Liar and starred on the TV show What I Like About You. However, she soon began to crack under the Hollywood pressure and her life took an unexpected twist. As her life spiraled, was caught with drugs on multiple occasions, and suffered from panic attacks and paranoia from being followed by the paparazzi. In 2012 she retired from acting and took some time-out. Reportedly she is sober now and is setting her sights on becoming a fashion designer.
Edward Furlong shot to fame as John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and became a teen idol in the 1990s. He even won the Saturn and MTV Award for his role in Terminator before continuing his star-studded Hollywood career. He starred alongside famous actors like Jeff Bridges, Edward Norton, Kathy Bates in American Heart, American History X, and Detroit Rock City. However, his career started to slow down when he was arrested multiple times for drugs and developed an alcohol problem, so had various stints in rehab. However, he gradually weaned himself off his addictions and had a comeback in 2015 playing the role as Fixer in the 2015 Star Trek: Renegades movie.
Patrick Renna moved to LA to pursue acting at a young age. He had his breakout role in the film The Sandlot and Disney’s The Big Green. and we’re happy to hear he didn’t slip through the Hollywood cracks. In fact, he went on to appear in over 25 films and also starred in many hit TV series like CSI and The Closer. Renna is now trying his hand at being a producer and produced and acted in Bad Roomies. He’s also become an enthusiastic Scientologist and opened a center in his community in Los Feliz.
Famed for his iconic line “Oops! Did I do that?”, Jaleel White became a household name starring as the nerdy Steve Urkel on Family Matters. He spent nearly a decade dressed in geeky suspenders and thick glasses for the show before leaving his post for better things. However, he found out the hard way that it was hard to shake off his role as Jaleel and his acting experience wasn’t enough to make it in Hollywood. So he enrolled in UCLA Film School where he graduated in 2001. He did continue with minor roles on TV shows like Boston Legal and House and Dreamgirls, but is still waiting for the big break he needs to finally shake off his nerdy type-cast.
Jason J Richter
When Jason J. Richter moved with his family from Oregon to Hawaii, he was spotted by a Japanese casting agency and kick-started his career in several commercials. When his family relocated to LA, he was cast as Jesse in 1993 hit Free Willy and appeared in the rest of the trilogy. He also starred in Cops and Roboters and The Neverending Story III before taking time from acting to attend college. After he graduated with his BA in 2009, he starred on shows like Bones and Criminal Minds. He now acts sporadically and works behind the scenes as both a director and assistant producer.
Brandon Bug Hall
Brandon Hall was nicknamed “bug” by his family in Texas, but he became better known as Alfalfa Switzer in the film Our Gang which was an adaption of The Little Rascals. He even won a Young Artist Award for his part and continued to land roles in hit films like The Big Green, The Stupids and Honey. After the 1990s he continued to act but was cast in smaller roles in films like Skipper Parts and Get A Clue and TV shows like CSI, 90210, and Criminal Minds. He also has an impressive social media base of fans and recently tweeted this epic pic with a beard with the caption, “I’m like a teenage girl…with a freakin SICK beard, yo!” So cool!
Ariana Richards shot to fame as the adorable Lex Murphy in the Jurassic Park franchise. She also tried to make it as a singer and released a music album in Japan called First Love and in 2008 recorded a cover version of David Foster’s “The Prayer“. The talented Ariana then took a break from acting to focus on her art career as a painter. She also married her beau Mark Richards in 2013, had a child together and earned a degree in Fines Art and Drama. Ariana is now a successful painter and has also continued acting in movies like Battledogs and Tremors 3.
At the tender age of 8, Pratt kick-started her career in adverts and commercials. She also appeared in shows like Walker, Texas Ranger, but had her big break on the Disney Channel series The Proud Family and One on One and sang cover songs on the Disney channel. Later on, she appeared as Eddie Murphy’s daughter in the Dr. Dolittle movies and in the Recovery Road, which is based on Blake Nelson’s teenage novel. She also found love and is in a relationship with Danny Kirpatrick, a songwriter and hip-hop artist, and they have two daughters together.
Andrea Barber started out on the soap opera Days of Our Lives, but really made a name for herself as Kimmy Gibbler on Full House. After the show she went on to earn a degree in English Literature at Whittier College, married, and has two children. Although they later divorced, they are on good terms. Fans were happy to hear that she also made her comeback on the sequel show Fuller House and reunited with the Full house cast again.
Miko Hughes started at the tender age of 22 months old, appearing on a public service announcement and didn’t stop there. He soon became one of the busiest childhood actors, starring in movies like Jack the Bear, Pet Sematary, Apollo 13, Kindergarten Cop, and Mercury Rising alongside Bruce Wills. He then continued to act and appeared in a recurring role on Roswell (2000) and Boston Public (2003). Although after his acting career slowed down, but he did land a minor role next to Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder and the lead role in Remains. He also focused his talents as a writer and director and even produced the ‘See’ segment in the show Chilling Visions: 5 Sense of Fear.
Jamiee Foxworth started her career modeling at the age of five and appeared in commercials. But she really became a household name as Judy Winslow on the TV sitcom Family Matters, which she starred in for four seasons. After she left the show she formed a musical group named S.H.E with her two sisters but struggled to find work in the movie industry. Unfortunately, she then fell down the slippery Hollywood slope of substance abuse, alcohol and painkiller addiction, and depression. She also appeared in adult movies and used nearly all of her trust fund to save her family from filing for bankruptcy. However, since she turned her life around and stopped working in the adult movie industry, became clean, and in 2009 had a baby boy with her long-term boyfriend.
Jonathan Brandis was another early starter and began his career as a child model at just 2 years old. At 6 he landed his first part in a soap opera and by 10 he appeared in hits like Alien Nation, Who’s The Boos, Full House, The Wonder Years, and more. He was also cast as Lucas Wolenczak in Steven Spielberg’s Sea Quest 2031. Although he later played a minor role alongside Bruce Willis on the film Hart’s War, he later struggled to get big parts and suffered from depression. He even tried to change his appearance but is still waiting for his next big role.
Beverly Mitchell was first spotted in a shopping mall by a talent agent and was quickly cast in roles in TV and commercials. She landed her debut role in Big Brother Jake in 1990 and the film The Crow: City of Los Angeles. Still, she became best known for her role as Lucy Camdenon the TV series 7th Heaven. Whilst she was busy with her acting career, she also graduated from Loyola Marymount University in LA studying film. In 2008 she married Michael Cameron and today she loves to sing Country music and spend time with her two children. Beverley was also recently named the lead cast of the series Hollywood Darlings alongside Christine Lakin and Jodie Sweetin.
Rider King Strong shot to stardom as Shawn Hunter on the TV show Boy Meets World, which lasted for nine years before it’s sequel Girl Meets Boy. In 2004 he found time to earn a degree in English literature and another degree in Fine Arts at the Bennington College. He later appeared in movies like Cabin Fever and on the show Pepper Dennis. Rider is also happily married to Alexandro Barreto and enjoys spending time with their son Indigo.
Michelle Trachtenberg started her budding career at just 3 years old, appearing in commercials and on TV shows like The Adventures of Pete & Pete and Harriet the Spy. She really had her big break starring as Buffy’s sister on the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Michelle also earned a degree in Social Studies and Religion, which she received a scholarship from the California Scholarship Federation. After this, she continued to act and became well-known as Georgina Sparks on the hit show Gossip Girl.
Emil Minty became immortalized as the feisty mute feral kid in the iconic movie Mad Max 2. The movie franchise soon earned cult status, and Emil was one of the most memorable characters to this day. After the movie’s success, he landed roles in the Fluteman and The Winds of Jarrah. However, he didn’t pursue a career in acting after this and now manages a jewelry store in his native Sydney.
Demi Lovato stepped into the spotlight as a child actress on the show Barney & Friends. In 2008 she appeared in the Disney Channel film Camp Rock. Later she signed a record contract with Hollywood Records and her debut album was No.1 on the billboards. Her success only grew as she landed her own TV show Sonny with a Chance. In 2010 she started to develop some personal emotional and physical issues went down the slippery slope of depression, self-harm, bulimia, substance abuse, suffered many stints in rehab, and was later diagnosed with Bi-Polar. In spite of her challenges, she has also become a hugely successful best-selling singer and won acclaim as an advocate for the LGBT community.
Selena Gomez is one childhood super-star that we can’t forget. She first started her career as a Disney prodigy, being cast in shows like Barney & Friends, Hannah Montana and The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody. Selena starred in various Disney productions but really rose to fame on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly. She then started her own production company and was signed by Hollywood Records with her band Selena Gomez & the Scene. She has since found success an internationally-renowned artist. Although she has also been public about her struggle with Lupus and has been in rehab for prescription drug abuse, she has become a household name, and has her own clothing label and is the most followed Instagram user in the world. Recently Selena has set her sights on producing and produces the original series 13 Reasons Why on Netflix.
Danielle Fishel became a household name as the adorable Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on the iconic 1990s TV series Boy Meets World. Since the show, she struggled with weight issues although she is now a brand an ambassador for Nutrisystem. Although she did once date her on-screen lover Ben Savage, and N’Sync member Lance Bass she later studied at California State University where she met Tim Belusko. They did marry but filed for divorce in 2015. She did however continue acting and in 2014 reprised her role of Topango in the 2014 spin-off Girl Meets World, which is still airing on the Disney channel.
Jodie Sweetin landed her first role on the show Valerie in 1987 but shot to fame as the adorable Stephanie Tanner in Full House. While she enjoyed her time on the show, after she left she struggled to make it as an actress and was only cast in minor roles. It was a big blow for Jodie and she ended up falling down the slippery slope of alcohol and drug abuse. Thankfully she later became clean and published her memoir called unSweetined, in which she talks about how she overcame her addictions. She has also been married three times and is now the mother to an adorable daughter. Sweetin also made her comeback in the hit spin-off TV series Fuller-House.
Candace Cameron Bure was spotted for her talents at a young age too and began her career starring on several TV commercials and in smaller roles on TV shows. But she really won us all over when she landed the role of D.J Tanner on Full House. After the show ended she guest-starred as Cybill and Boy Meets World, but then took a break from acting. Although she did suffer from bulimia in her twenties, she received treatment for this and in 1996 she got married to Valeri Bure, an NHL hockey player, and is happily married with three children. Candace later showed off her dancing skills and came third place as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. She has also tried her hand as a producer, author, talk show panelist and is co-host of The View. Candace also reprised the role of D.J. Tanner on the spin-off Fuller House.
When Rico Rodriguez was younger, he dreamed of becoming a “a NASCAR chef who is going to the moon”. However, he soon changed his tune when his sister started acting in 2006 and we’re glad he chose to become an actor too. Soon enough, Rico became a household name, landing the role Manny Delgado in the ABC sitcom Modern Family, and is still part of the cast. In the meantime, he also published his book Reel Life Lessons in 2012 and has appeared in several TV series and movies like The Muppets (2011) and Epic Movie (2007).
Vanessa Hudgens shot to stardom as Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series, and her glittering career didn’t stop there. She continued as a Disney queen, starring in various Disney movies and series with her co-star Zac Efron, with whom she famously had an off-on relationship with. Vanessa later became an international artist and released two best-selling albums. She is now a household name and is currently focusing more on her acting career, starring in movies like Beastly, Bandslam, Sucker Punch, Spring Breakers, and Machete Kill.
Abigail Breslin also began her career at a young age, starring in commercials and some minor roles. But she got her big break playing the lead role in Little Miss Sunshine. The film became a box office hit and Abigail became the youngest actress ever to win an Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actress. After this, her career sky-rocketed and she became a sought after actress. She starred in many movies like Ender’s Game (2013), Haunter (2013), My Sister’s Keeper (2009), and headlined the first season of the horror-comedy series, Scream Queens (2015). In 2017 she was cast in the coveted role of “Baby” in the recreation of the iconic classic movie, Dirty Dancing.
Brandy was huge in the 1990s and became internationally renowned as a singer, songwriter, and actress. Having been born into a musical family, she started as a backing vocalist. She then released her first album in 1992, which became the best selling hit. But she really jumped into the limelight when she starred in the hit sitcom Moesha, which ran for more than six seasons. In 1998 she released another album with the legendary duet “The Boy Is Mine”. In 2012 she starred in the reality MTV series, Diary Presents Brandy: Special Delivery, which followed her pregnancy journey. Brandy also co-found the Norwoods Kids Foundation with her brother to help children. She has also appeared on several TV series, has been a judge on America’s Got Talent, has sold over 40 million records and in 2016 released an album and a worldwide tour.
Ben Savage started out acting at the tender age of 8, but will forever be immortalized as Cory Matthews on the sitcom Boy Meets World, which ran from 1993 until 2000. The talented actor is also smart, earning himself a degree in Political Science from Stanford University. While he was reported to have once dated his on-screen flame Danielle Fishel, he keeps his personal life very private. Nowaday he is still acting in the successful spin-off series, Girl Meets World.
Keshia Knight Pulliam
Keshia Knight Pulliam first found fame at just 9 months old, starring in commercials and on several TV shows. But she became best known for playing the legendary role of Rudy Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show, which ran from 1984-92. She was ranked at no. 19 on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Child stars” and became the youngest actress that ever was nominated for an Emmy Award. After she left the show, she continued acting, landing the role as Miranda Lucas-Payne on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne from 2007 to 2012 and appeared in the Celebrity Apprentice and on the celeb show Splash. She was married for a short time to Edgerton Hartwell and they had a baby together.
Elijah Wood is one child star that made it big at a young age and has never looked back. After starting star-studded his career with small parts, he made his movie debut with a minor role in Back to the Future II. From there his career sky-rocketed and he is best known for his role as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s blockbuster Lord of the Rings film trilogy. He then reprised the role in The Hobbit series. His other acting credits Wilfred (2011), TRON: Uprising (2012), Radio Flyer, The Good Son, North and Flipper and he has been nominated for several awards. Aside from acting, he also loves music and has been actively involved in charity campaigns like as Keep A Child Alive And ALDO/Youth Aids.
Frankie Muniz shot to stardom playing Malcolm in the iconic family sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. Frankie was awarded the “Young Star Award” and by 2003, he was considered “one of Hollywood’s most bankable teens”. He went on to appear as a guest star on various TV shows and movies and has amassed over US$ 40 million. Malcolm later took a break from his acting career to pursue other dreams like racing. He participated as an open-wheel racing competitor in the Atlantic Championship. Sadly in 2012 and 2013, he was hospitalized for having two mini-strokes, but now he is happy and healthy again. In 2012 he became a drummer in a band called Kingsfoil and recently got engaged.
Having been born in Canada, Anna Paquin grew up in New Zealand. Luckily, she landed her first acting job at the tender age of 9 years old in the film The Piano, which was incidentally shot in New Zealand. At just age 16 she moves to LA and later moved to New York and graduated at Columbia University. Between 2001-2004 she starred in theater productions, ans a few commercials and TV roles. In 2007 her career got a major boost when she starred in HBO’s True Blood which was shot until 2014. Reportedly each episode earned her US$ 275,000, and she also met her actor husband Stephen Moyer on the set. They married in 2012 and she gave birth to fraternal twins in 2012. Anna has also starred in movies like X-Men Days of Future past, which earned her a massive US$ 2,800,000. Still, we’re happy to hear she is really involved in charities and foundations like the Make A Wish Foundation.
Tia & Tamera Mowry
Tia Dashon Mowry and Tamera Darvette Mowry catapulted to fame as teens on the ABC sitcom Sister, Sister. The identical twins also have an acting brother, who was a regular on Full House, which is where they were originally discovered. After the show, the twins both enrolled at Peperdine University to study Psychology before starring in a reality TV show Tia & Tamera from 2011 to 2013. In 2006 Tia had a son with her fiance, and her sister Tamara is married to her beau Adam Housley and has two children together. Tia is still acting and Tamera is a co-host of The Real talk show, alongside Jeannie Mai, Loni Love, and Adrienne Bailon.
Dakota Fanning was a star in the making from the day she was born. After attending acting lessons at a young age, she was recognized and signed to a talent agency and started her career in commercials. She shot to fame with memorable TV appearances in shows like Friends and got her big movie break at 8 years old starring along Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer in the film I Am Sam. The film earned her multiple nominations and a Screen Actors Guide Award. Since then her career has rocketed with success, and her other acting credits include Man on Fire with Denzel Washington, Hide and Seek with Robert De Niro, and War of the World as Tom Cruise’s daughter.
Melissa Joan Hart
Melissa Joan Hart became a national sweetheart at a young age. After starring in commercials and TV roles from the age of four, she shot the limelight for her teen role as Clarissa on Nickelodeons series Clarissa Explains It All. After the show she continued to star in shows and movies like Melissa & Joey and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and Drive Me Crazy. In 2003 she married a famous musician Mark Wilkeron in Florence and they are happily married with two sons.
Fred Savage was discovered young and made his debut at just 9 years old on the TV show Morningstar/Eveningstar. He really became a household name for his role as Kevin Arnold in the hit TV series The Wonder Years. He was hugely successful and received the People’s Choice Award and Young Artist Award. Fred is the brother of Ben Savage, who was also huge on Boy Meets World. After the Wonder Years, Fred graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in English and married Jennifer Lynn Stone and has two children. He made some TV appearances in shows like Law & Order and did land lead roles in two sitcoms, but these failed to take off. However, in 2015 his career took off again as he starred as Stewart on The Fox series The Grinder, and has been filmed directing and producing.
Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen
The Olsen twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were born in 1986 and found stardom at just 9 months old when they shared the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House. They continued to star in that role from 1987-1995 and after appeared in several children’s movies like Double, Double, Toil and Trouble and other sitcoms like Two of a Kind. By 2000 the Olsen fan club that was so popular, fans even paid a subscription and the sisters became co-presidents of Dualstar which sold collectibles and branded products to the pre-teen market. The duo fast became some of the wealthiest women in the entertainment industry with around US$ 300 million to their name. Although they did both suffer from issues like anorexia, nowadays they are both focusing on fashion designing and have various fashion labels. Mary Kate is married to Olivier Sarkozy and Ashley is reportedly dating George Condo.
Macaulay Culkin peaked as a child actor at a young age and was ranked by VHI and E! as one of the greatest child stars of all time. After starting in smaller roles, he was forever immortalized as Kevin McCallister in the family comedy Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Since then he landed roles in movies like My Girl, Uncle Buck, Party Monster, and Richie Rich. Still after his peak, he found it harder to get the big roles. He took a break from acting in 1994 began to spiral and had some issues with substance abuse. But in 2003 in made a come back and appeared on shows like Will and Grace and in the film Party Monster (2003). Culkin also landed small roles and commercials and shows and doing music with his band The Pizza Underground. He has been married to Racher Miler before and dated Mila Kunis but since 2013 has been in a long-term relationship with All My Children Actress Jordan Lane Price.
Shaun Weiss jumped into the spotlight when he was cast as Goldberg in The Mighty Ducks and as John in Disney’s success story Heavyweights. After taking a break from acting, he shot to fame once again on shows like Boy Meets World, The King of Queens Freaks and Geeks. His last big role was playing Drillbeat Taylor in 2008 and he has since tried his hand at becoming a stand-up comedian.
Barret Oliver started his career on smaller TV and movie roles, but really got his big break in 1994 when he landed the role as Bastian in the Neverending Story. He continued his success when he was cast in the lead role as the android in D.A.R.Y.L. However his career slowed down in the 1990s, and he has been linked to rumors about drug addiction and Scientology. Nonetheless, he focused his talents and became a successful photographer and printer. He actually used a technique from the nineteenth century and published his first book, A History of the Woodburytype in 2007. Today his work in exhibited across the US in museums and art galleries.
Madeline Zima found stardom at a young age, being cast in a commercial at 2 years old. When she was 7, she starred as Grace Sheffield on the beloved The Nanny with Fran Drescher. After this, she was only cast in smaller roles, before landing the big role as the 16-year-old Mia Lewis in the hit series Californication. This gave her career a big boost and helped her earn roles like Gretchen on Heroes Grey’s Anatomy, Royal Pains, and The Vampire Diaries.