Ah, the 80’s. There are many reasons why everyone looks back at the decade with such fondness. It was the period of dance music, big computers, parachute pants, fanny packs, and scrunchies. For people who weren’t born then, Hollywood has fortunately managed to immortalize the iconic era with legendary films and TV shows. Several decades have passed since then, so there is no better time to see what our favorite 80’s stars are up to!
The ’80s gave us many classics such as The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Die Hard, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Goonies, The Karate Kid, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. We could go on and on! These films would not have been made without the stars of the decade. We’re thinking of people like Alyssa Milano, Bo Derek, Brooke Shields, Erika Eleniak, Harrison Ford, Madonna, Nancy McKeon, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks. Some of them continue to make waves in the entertainment industry, though they would not have attained the same level of fame if they did not shoot into stardom back in the ’80s! For this reason alone, we need to credit the decade for the blockbuster hits they have appeared in.
There is no denying the fact that the ’80s had been a special time and those who did not live through it certainly missed out. Members of the younger generation might understand it better by listening to their parents’ stories. Otherwise, it is also possible to go on Netflix and hit play on an oldie-but-goodie flick. If you’re curious about what the celebrities in those days have been doing, we have you covered! Let’s take a walk down memory lane and check out what the stars have been doing to keep themselves busy!
This Harvard grad appeared in numerous ’80s films like Adventures in Babysitting, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III, The Karate Kid, and Cocktail. Over the years, she has raked in multiple acting awards and nominations for prestigious awarding ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and BAFTAs.
Melissa Gilbert is best known for her portrayal of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the TV series Little House on the Prairie. Back in the day, she also starred in The Miracle Worker and The Diary of Anne Frank. She worked on a number of television films as well. It is fascinating to learn that the actress ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress in the 8th congressional district of Michigan. While she won the Democratic primary, she eventually pulled out of the race due to injuries she suffered from an accident back in 2012.
During the ’70s and the ’80s, Pam Dawber was known as Mindy McConnell from the hit TV series Mork & Mindy. She also portrayed Samantha Russell in the sitcom My Sister Sam. She has since retired from the industry and now leads a quiet life with Mark Harmon.
Remember Edna Garrett from The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes? Of course, you do, she was a fan favorite on the shows! In 2009, the actress survived pancreatic cancer. Charlotte Rae, however, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2017 and succumbed to the disease in 2018.
Did you know that Barbara Eden was the star and co-producer of the movie The Secret Life of Kathy McCormick? It’s true! However, she is probably best remembered for I Dream of Jeannie. The actress received her own spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998. If you wish to learn more about her career, you should read Jeannie Out of the Bottle, her memoir.
Loretta Swit, AKA Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, shot into stardom when she appeared on the hit TV show M.A.S.H. We doubt anyone would ever forget about the character or the show! After the show wrapped up, Swit continued acting for a while. She now runs a jewelry line and works with animal rights charities.
Jeanne Tripplehorn made her onscreen debut in Basic Instinct and she has since appeared in big movies including Waterworld. She remains active in the industry and you can watch more of her in Criminal Minds.
Lindsay Wagner was a household name back in the ’80s thanks to her portrayal of Jaime Sommers in the classic The Bionic Woman. She actually won an Emmy for her performance! She later joined the cast of the medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy.
Lee Majors was already a big star back in the ’60s, though his fame rose to a whole new level when he played Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man. Others might know him better from The Fall Guy. When it comes to his personal life, he has been married a total of four times!
Catherine Bach certainly earned the attention of the spotlight when she played Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. The “daisy duke look” has been attributed to her! She is currently busy with the soap opera, The Young and the Restless.
Next up, we have an ’80s pop star – Debbie Gibson! The talented actress, record producer, and singer-songwriter became popular for the hit songs “Lost In Your Eyes”, “Say Goodbye”, and “Foolish Beat”. Apart from pop, she also appeared on the Broadway stage in Grease and Les Miserables.
We daresay that Rob Lowe’s career gained momentum back in the ’80s when he appeared in legendary films such as Oxford Blues, The Outsiders, About Last Night…, and St. Elmo’s Fire. He went on to land high-profile projects such as Brothers & Sisters, Parks and Recreation, and The West Wing. Did you know that the successful actor also happens to be a huge philanthropist?
Laura San Giacomo
Sex, Lies and Videotape was Laura San Giacomo’s big break. The 1989 Steven Soderbergh film earned her a Golden Globe nomination and a ‘Los Angeles Film Critics Association- New Generation Award’. She also starred in Pretty Woman as Kit De Luca.
You probably recognize Erika Eleniak from Baywatch as the gorgeous Shauni McClain. Not only was Erika an actress, but also a former model and Playboy playmate. Although she isn’t her young chipper self these days, Erika continues to act in both films and television. Her last credit was in the popular series Desperate Housewives.
How can we ever forget about Jennifer Grey when she starred in two of the most iconic films of the ’80s? Of course, we are talking about none other than the classic movies Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! She was actually nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the former. She has not appeared in a lot of projects since then, though she did win the eleventh season of Dancing with the Stars!
Phoebe Cates is most recognizable for her appearances in classic ’80s films like Gremlins and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. She decided to retire from acting as early as 1991, though she did come back briefly in 2001. She appeared in The Anniversary Party to help out her best friend!
Lisa Bonet began her career acting in commercials at the young age of 11. When she was just 16 years old, she landed a role on the hit comedy The Cosby Show as Denise Huxtable. The show’s popularity helped her gain celebrity status in Hollywood. She also acted in the show A Different World and in the films Enemy of the State and High Fidelity.
When 17-year-old Cassandra Peterson became the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history, she certainly made a name for herself. The king of rock ‘n roll, Elvis Presley advised her to travel to Europe to get her singing and acting career underway. After she returned to the U.S. she blew audiences away with her musical comedy show “Mama’s Boys”. However, it is her show, Movie Macabre (1981) that truly boosted her stardom. It was also her character, Elvira, that became an overnight sensation. Now she is 67 years old and she is as active as ever.
Kirsten Vangsness is best known for her performance in Criminal Minds as Penelope Garcia. This actress also starred as Penelope in the spin off show Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Kirsten lives in Los Angeles and writes plays and performance art.
Nancy McKeon is best known for her portrayal of Jo Polniaczek in the NBC show The Facts of Life. As one of the longest-running sitcoms in those days, it definitely made its mark in history. She has since appeared in several television and film projects, though the actress has chosen to devote her time to her family instead.
Lauren Tewes was on The Love Boat for nine years, though she later had to be cut out after her substance abuse problems interfered with her work. Nowadays, she is busy doing voice work and appearing in regional theater.
Mexican-American leading actress is a head-turner, an amazing star and her husband is worth $26 billion. She starred in Frida, and continues to act to this day. Salma currently resides in LA with her husband and their young daughter.
We all know him as Bolo Yeung from the best fighting movies like Enter the Dragon which he starred in with Bruce Lee; Bloodsport alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and many other movies. He actually started his martial arts career at the tender age of 10 years old. Today, at the age of 72, he has fully retired from films, yet he still continues to work out and maintain his impeccable figure.
From child star to one of the most famous actors in Hollywood! He made his mark in the industry starring in the film Raging Bull. Over the years he has stars in films such as Goodfellas, Casino, Easy Money, Once Upon a Time in America, Lethal Weapon 2 & 3 and Home Alone.
Cyndi Lauper came out with her first solo album called “She’s So Unusual” back in 1983. The rest, as they say, is history. Everyone adored her back then and we love her even now! Aside from making it big in the entertainment industry, she is also big on humanitarian work.
Brooke Shields started her career in the entertainment industry as a child model. By the time she was 12 years old, she received critical acclaim when she took on the lead role in Pretty Baby. In the ’80s, Shields kept on modeling and starring in projects like Endless Love and The Blue Lagoon. When it comes to recent developments in her career, she has a recurring role in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Antonio Salvatore Iadanza, better known as Tony Danza, is best remembered for appearing in Who’s the Boss? and Taxi. He later went on to win four Golden Globes and an Emmy! He continues to act, though he has not gotten a lead role in quite some time.
Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron was nominated twice for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Mike Seaver. He later starred in several TV shows and films after the show was taken off the air, though he now works as an Evangelic church leader.
Kelly LeBrock began modeling at only 16 years old. In those days, she graced the covers of many fashion magazines. When the ’80s rolled in, she played many “fantasy” woman roles in movies. In 2013, she finally made her comeback to the industry.
Kelly McGillis is yet another film star who made a name for herself back in the ’80s! In those days, she played Rachel Lapp in Witness opposite Harrison Ford, Charlie in Top Gun, and Kathryn Murphy in The Accused alongside Jodie Foster. More recently, the actress played the lead character in the thriller Mother of All Secrets.
Whoa, how is it possible that Lisa Whelchel still looks so gorgeous? The actress is most recognizable for appearing on The Facts of Life and The Mickey Mouse Club, though we bet you already know that. Nowadays, she works as a motivational speaker.
Claudia Wells earned a lot of fame in the ’80s when she played Jennifer in the hit film, Back to the Future. However, she opted out of the sequels when she learned that her mother had breast cancer. In 2011, she made a comeback and she has been taking on acting jobs every now and then.
Jason Patric became a big star when the ’80s rolled in. He became popular after appearing in Narc, Speed 2: Cruise Control, The Lost Boys, and Geronimo: An American Legend. We daresay those long, brown locks are just as iconic today as they were back then.
Come on, you can’t possibly have forgotten about Kirstie Alley! Her breakthrough came with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan back in 1982. In the film, she played Lieutenant JG Saavik. If you remember her, you have probably heard of her weight loss and weight gain in the past. In 2013, she decided to return to the industry. You can catch more of her in the new Fox show, Scream Queens.
The lovely Julia Roberts looks just as beautiful as ever! She launched her acting career in 1987 and three years after her debut, she starred in Pretty Woman opposite Richard Gere. She has three Golden Globes and an Academy Award, the latter she earned for her performance in Erin Brockovich!
Rebecca De Mornay
Rebecca De Mornay got her well-deserved breakthrough when she bagged the part of Lana in the film Risky Business. After starring in the thriller, she went on to appear in ’80s blockbuster hits such as The Trip to Bountiful and Runaway Train. She continues to act to this day!
Justine Bateman portrayed Mallory Keaton in the TV sitcom Family Ties from 1982 until 1989. Apart from acting, she has also dabbled in directing, writing, and producing! Impressively, this multi-hyphenate earned a degree in Computer Science and Digital Media Management from UCLA in 2016.
Many celebrities have a philanthropic streak and Victoria Principal is one of them. When it comes to her acting career, she is most famous for appearing in Dallas. These days, she mostly works as an entrepreneur instead.
When she was only eight years old, Nicole Eggert managed to snag a part in Rich and Famous (1980). Since then, she managed to bag roles in projects like Baywatch and Charles in Charge. She also starred in several Lifetime Christmas flicks.
You can call her simply ‘Kylie’. The Australian actress, singer-songwriter, philanthropist, and dancer first made it big when she appeared on Neighbours, an Australian TV show. She later made a name for herself as the “Goddess of Pop” or the “Princess of Pop”. She released an album just this 2018 so make sure to check it out if you are a fan!
Sara Gilbert was definitely memorable on the popular TV show Roseanne. The show originally ran from 1988 to 1997 and she earned two nominations for the Primetime Emmys back then. She reprised her old character for an eight-episode revival this year. Aside from this, she is also the creator and co-host of the program The Talk and guest stars in The Big Bang Theory.
Lola Falana impressed all of us with her acting, singing, and dancing skills from 1964 until 1997. She has enjoyed a great career over the years, although her multiple sclerosis diagnosis has made her life more challenging. She turned to faith and religion during those trying times. It has turned out to be her calling and she has chosen to spread the word about spirituality instead of performing.
Melanie Griffith might have launched her career back in 1969, though she only got her big break in 1984 when she appeared in Body Double. She managed to land many roles in various TV and film projects since then. One of her most recent projects is the 2017 film Dabka.
Alyssa Milano is a producer, activist, actress, and singer in one beautiful package. She is best known for her appearance in Charmed, Melrose Place, Who’s the Boss?, and My Name is Earl. She launched her entertainment career at a very young age – she was only 7 years old when she started out!
As an incredibly successful woman in the industry, you probably know everything there is to learn about Demi Moore already. She has been in the biz since 1981 and she has yet to show any signs of stopping!
Jennifer Beals has worked on more than 50 films in the course of her Hollywood career! However, we think she will forever be remembered as Alex Owens in the romantic drama film, Flashdance (1983). More recently, she was in the teen drama flick, Before I Fall (2017).
Lea Thompson will probably forever be remembered as Lorraine Baines from the classic adventure flick Back to the Future. She also earned a lot of attention when she starred in Caroline in the City. Aside from acting, she is a TV producer and TV director! She played Kathryn Kennish in the show Switched at Birth from 2011 until 2017.
Born and raised in New York, Diane Lane has been acting since the year 1971. She is most famous for her performances in A Perfect Storm, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, Man of Steel, The Outsiders, Under The Tuscan Sun, and Unfaithful. She continues to act at the age of 53!
The list would not be complete without the Queen of Pop, of course! She got her big break sometime between 1982 and 1985. She later became the biggest female fashion icon of the decade with her lace tops, fishnet stockings, and skirts above capri pants! Over the years, Madonna has been able to sell more than 300 million records and she snagged the second spot in the list of Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time by Billboard.
Anthony Michael Hall
During the ’80s, the “Brat Pack” was a group of talented young actors and actresses who appeared in teen flicks. Anthony Michael Hall was one of them. Come on, you probably remember him from Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and National Lampoon’s Vacation. He has since taken on more diverse roles as well as dipped his toes into directing and producing.
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen launched her career as a model and she was so successful she was dubbed the “Model of the Year” by Cover Girl! The title probably helped her snag the part of Kelly Kapowski in Saved by the Bell later on. She has since appeared in numerous projects. In 2015, she started hosting her own show called Dinner at Tiffani’s on the Cooking Channel.
Ally Sheedy is yet another alumna of the famous “Brat Pack”! She made her film debut in Bad Boys, though she only became extremely successful after appearing in St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club. She has not acted in quite some time as she is more focused on her writing career. She might have grown older, though we think she still looks amazing!
Tom Cruise was a huge star back in the 80’s, and he still is today. He has been in some of the most memorable movies such as The Outsiders, Risky Business, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Cocktail, and Rain Man. In 1993, he decided to do more than just act, and the star began producing films and TV shows. Forbes was quoted saying Tom Cruise is the “world’s most powerful celebrity”.
Barbi Benton began her modeling career at just 16 years old. When Barbi was 18, her beautiful face was splashed across the cover of Playboy magazine. Apart from modeling, Barbi dabbled in music and released a few successful albums. Barbi was also in the country variety series Hee Haw.
Look at Jeff Cohen’s chubby cheeks on the left!! So cute. This child actor was in Steven Spielberg’s The Goonies as none other than Chunk. Jeff left the acting world and later got into law. He is currently an attorney and a partner at Cohen & Gardner, LLP.
Emilio Estevez is best know for starring in films such as The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire and The Outsiders. Emilio isn’t doing much acting lately, but instead, he’s gotten into directing, producing and screen-writing. He surely knows the business which must have helped him change careers.
During the 70’s, Kim had a very successful modeling career, so she moved to LA in the 80’s to pursue acting. Her big break in Hollywood was the 1983 film Never Say Never Again, where she played Bond girl Domino Petachi. Kim even went on to receive a nomination at the Golden Globes for her outstanding performance in The Natural. Although she has gotten some work done over the years, we must say, she is still quite gorgeous and natural looking. Kim continues to act today, her most recent roles were in The Nice Guys and Fifty Shades Darker.
You may recognize Mia Sara as Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This star also starred in the amazing films, Legend and Timecop. We are sad to say that Mia has officially left the acting world as she announced her retirement in 2013.
We’ll never forget Mark Hamill thanks to his amazing performance as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films. Star Wars has become a legendary franchise that would not have reached its current fame if Mark hadn’t played Luke. Mark is also an amazing voice actor who has lent his voice to many animated TV shows, movies and video games.
Lori Singer started out as a Julliard-trained cellist and later changed paths to become an actress. But, we are happy to hear that she still plays to this day! She is most recognized for acting in the TV series Fame and the film Footloose. Lori still continues to act but she also produces, and is the executive producer of the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.
Elizabeth Berkley was none other than Jessie Spano in the beloved TV series Saved By The Bell. She continues to act to this day, her most recent roles are in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Melissa & Joey, and New Girl. She was even a contestant on a recent season of Dancing with the Stars!
Molly Ringwald is one of the most famous stars from the 80’s, her leading roles in award-winning films, and her fiery red hair getting her there. She was in both The Facts of Life and Tempest, where she received a Golden Globe nomination for each. Her name in Hollywood solidified even more when she became a teen icon in films like Sixteen Candle, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Molly continues to act today, and currently stars in Riverdale, a CW TV series.
Remember the hit song “Kids in America”? That was sung by the talented Kim Wilde! It was 1981 when she released her single, which later became #2 in the UK. Since releasing this tune, Kim has sold over 10 million albums and 20 million singles…not too shabby!
Bo Derek’s big break in Hollywood was the film 10, released in 1979. Along with the film, a bestselling poster of Bo in a bikini drove ticket sales up, and also prompted her to become one of the biggest sex symbols of the 80’s. Over the years, she has occasionally made documentary, TV and film appearances.
Nicholas Cage is quite the household name, but where did this incredible actor get started? Well, it was 1981 and he appeared in films like Valley Girl, Birdy, and Moonstruck. He has since made a name for himself in Hollywood, and has won many awards for acting as well as producing.
Sheena Easton is another star who got started in the industry in the year 1981. The Scottish singer is also a recording artist, as well as a stage and screen actress. Sheena has received many awards over the years thanks to her amazing voice. She is also the “first and only artist in history to have a Top 5 hit on five different Billboard charts consecutively.” Pretty amazing!
Judd Nelson was another one of John Hughes’ classic stars, starring in St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club. Judd is remembered for his parachute pants, Ray Bans and long hair, the typical “bad boy”. Judd continues to act today, but is also a producer, screenwriter and author.
Suzanne Somers is most well-known for her acting skills on Television programs. She was Carol Foster Lambert on Step by Step, and Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. The star has released many self-help books over the years that have reached best-selling status!
Soleil Moon Frye
Soleil Moon Frye got started in the business at quite a young age. Her first big role was in the hilarious show Punky Brewster. Soleil is still active in Hollywood today, but mainly as a voice actor.
Kathleen Turner’s performance in Body Heat is what most fans remember her from. Throughout her career she was awarded 2 Golden Globe Awards. She is known for her especially raspy voice, where today she uses it and is a voice actress and performs in the theater.
Can you believe that almost every film Dianne Wiest has starred in has either been nominated or won an award?? Now that’s saying something! This actress has racked up two Oscar nominations, one BAFTA Award nomination, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards and two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress. She continues to act today, starring in the film Darling Companion in 2012.