5:27am PDT, Aug 26, 2021
Some child stars craft long careers that extend into adulthood. Others shine brightest in their youth. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at some of the iconic child stars we’ll never forget, starting with “Home Alone,” “My Girl” and “Richie Richie” alum Macaulay Culkin, who turns 41 on Aug. 26, 2021… After he starred in “Richie Rich,” Mac took a lengthy break from acting. He reemerged nearly a decade later as an adult actor in films like “Saved!” and “Party Monster” and on TV shows like “Kings” and “The Jim Gaffigan Show.” The former child actor is actually having a pretty big year: He currently stars on the 10th season of “American Horror Story,” which debuted on Aug. 25, 2021, and he and longtime love Brenda Song welcomed their first child, son Dakota, in April.
Now keep reading to catch up with more iconic child stars…
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Jonathan Lipnicki, who turned 30 in October 2020, shot into the spotlight in 1996. In addition to making his movie debut as spiky-haired scene stealer Ray Boyd opposite Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire,” he also landed a recurring role as Justin Foxworthy on “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.” Jonathan went on to star as George Little in the 1999 family comedy “Stuart Little” and its 2002 sequel. In recent years, the mixed martial arts enthusiast has been acting more and more, appearing in a handful of smaller independent films and popping up on episodes of shows like “The Resident.” He also appeared on the reality shows “Drop the Mic,” “Celebs Go Dating” and “Worst Cooks in America.”
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Long before he starred as Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother,” Neil Patrick Harris portrayed the titular child medical genius on “Doogie Howser, M.D,” a role he landed at 16. (The medical drama aired from 1989 to 1993.) He’s appeared in a wide range of films in recent years — from “Gone Girl” and “Downsizing” to “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and the “Harold & Kumar” trilogy. He also starred on Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and won a Tony Award for his performance as the titular rocker in the first Broadway production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Next up, Neil — who shares twins with husband David Burtka — will appear in the upcoming fourth installment in the “Matrix” franchise.
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A pint-sized Raven-Symoné starred as adorable Olivia Kendall on “The Cosby Show” from 1989 to 1992. She then portrayed Nicole Lee on “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” from 1993 to 1997. Raven also appeared in films like “Dr. Dolittle” and “Dr. Dolittle 2” and released her debut studio album, “Here’s to New Dreams,” in 1993 when she was just 7. The child actress became a Disney star in the early 2000s, starring on “That’s So Raven” from 2003 to 2007, voicing Monique on “Kim Possible” from 2002 to 2007 and headlining two “The Cheetah Girls” made-for-TV movies. In 2017, she returned to the role of Raven Baxter on the reboot “Raven’s Home.” In recent years, she also had a stint on “Black-ish,” competed on “The Masked Singer” and co-hosted “The View.” In 2020, she married social media manager Miranda Maday and released two EPs. (Her 2019 EP “33000” marked her first new music in more than a decade.)
Around the same time Macaulay Culkin was taking the world by storm, Anna Chlumsky — his co-star in 1991’s “My Girl” — was doing the same. She went on to star in “My Girl 2” and “Trading Mom” before taking a lengthy break from acting to attend college and work in publishing. She returned to Hollywood in the late 2000s and achieved a major comeback with “Veep,” on which she starred from 2012 to 2019. (She scored six Emmy nominations for her efforts.) In recent years, she’s also had stints on “Hannibal” and “Halt and Catch Fire.” Up next, she’s set to star on “Inventing Anna,” Shonda Rhimes‘ biographical miniseries about infamous scammer Anna Delvey. The actress has two daughters with husband Shaun So.
Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson immediately made their mark in Hollywood when “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” debuted in 2001. Ten years and seven films later, they bid adieu to the Wizarding World with 2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” Daniel went on to reinvent himself as a theater star and indie darling before returning to mainstream fare like the TBS anthology comedy series “Miracle Workers,” on which he currently stars, and the 2020 Netflix interactive movie “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend.” Emma graduated from Brown University, found her second calling as an activist and continued working in major Hollywood productions like 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” and Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of “Little Women.” And Rupert worked predominantly in his native England before landing a starring role on the M. Night Shyamalan-produced Apple TV+ psychological horror series “Servant,” which will enter its third season in late 2021 or early 2022. He also welcomed daughter Wednesday with longtime love Georgia Groome in 2020.
From an early age, it was clear that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was an exceptional talent! He scored his first acting credit in the 1988 television film “Stranger on My Land” and went on to appear on two episodes of “Family Ties” later that year. As a child, he landed roles in films like “A River Runs Through It” and “Angels in the Outfield.” At 15, he made his debut on the NBC sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun,” which ran from 1996 to 2001. He also appeared in the hit 1999 teen rom-com “10 Things I Hate About You.” As an adult, Joseph landed starring roles in films like “500 Days of Summer,” “Inception,” “50/50,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Premium Rush,” “Looper” and “The Night Before.” In 2013, he made his directorial debut with “Don Jon” — he also wrote and starred in the romantic dramedy. In recent years, he’s popped up in Netflix movies “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Project Power” and he can currently be seen on the Apple TV+ dramedy “Mr. Corman.” He and wife Tasha McCauley welcomed sons in 2015 and 2017.
She was only a child star for about seven years, but during that time, Mara Wilson managed to become one of the most iconic young actresses of the ’90s. Starring in films like “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” Mara was a lisping cutie who stole our hearts with her big eyes and gentle smile. Her fame skyrocketed in 1996 when she landed the titular role in the film adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s novel “Matilda.” Sadly, shortly before the movie premiered, Mara’s mother died of breast cancer, leaving the 8-year-old actress devastated. Not long after her mother passed away, Mara took a decade-long break from acting to focus on writing. She’s since penned a play, published a book and booked a few small acting gigs — most notably, she’s voiced characters on “BoJack Horseman” and “Big Hero 6: The Series.” Mara came out as bisexual in 2016.
Twins Dylan Sprouse and Cole Sprouse made their feature film debut in 1999’s “Big Daddy.” They went on to land roles in films like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “The Master of Disguise” and “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” In 2005, they kicked off a three-year run on the hit Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” which spawned the spinoff series “The Suite Life on Deck” and the made-for-TV movie “The Suite Life Movie.” The duo stepped away from the spotlight in 2011 to attend New York University, where Dylan majored in video game design and Cole studied archaeology. Both brothers have since returned to acting: Cole has starred on The CW’s “Riverdale” since 2017, while Dylan starred in 2020’s “After We Collided” and a handful of other smaller films.
One of the few child stars on our list who is more famous today than he was as a kid is Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Thanks to his youthful good looks, Leo played younger characters well into his late teens and young adult years on shows like “Parenthood” and “Growing Pains” and in movies like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” — for which he earned his first Oscar nomination — and “This Boy’s Life.” Today, Leo is best known for films like “Titanic,” “Inception,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the movie for which he finally won an Academy Award: 2015’s “The Revenant.” More recently, he starred in 2019’s “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.” The actor, who’s also a super-successful producer, has several big projects currently in the works including Martin Scorsese’s upcoming historical drama “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
Long before Drew Barrymore was a rom-com queen and the star of the buzzy TV series “Santa Clarita Diet,” she was one of Hollywood’s most prominent child actors. She started working as an actress when she was just a toddler in 1978 and scored her first big breakthrough just four years later with 1982’s “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” Her time in the limelight, however, sent her down a dark road of partying, substance abuse and self-harm that led to her being hospitalized at 13. She eventually got clean and returned to Hollywood stronger than ever, entertaining us in films like “The Wedding Singer,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “50 First Dates” while also working behind the scenes as a producer. Since September 2020, Drew — who has two daughters with ex-husband Will Kopelman — has hosted an eponymous talk show on CBS.
Years before Elijah Wood’s name became synonymous with the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, he was a popular child star appearing in some of our favorite ’90s films — from “Forever Young” and “Radio Flyer” (pictured) to “The Adventures of Huck Finn” and “Flipper.” He went on to appear in films like “Deep Impact” and “The Faculty” before making his debut as Frodo in 2001’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” In recent years, he’s starred on the quirky comedy series “Wilfred” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” worked as a voice actor on “Star Wars Resistance” and portrayed real-life FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier in the 2021 Ted Bundy biographical drama “No Man of God.” The uber-private actor welcomed his first child with partner Mette-Marie Kongsved in 2019.
Frankie Muniz is best known for his starring role on the FOX sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle,” which debuted in 2000 when he was 14 and ran until 2006. (He earned an Emmy nod and two Golden Globe nominations for his work on the series.) As a teenager, he starred in films like “Big Fat Liar,” “Agent Cody Banks” and “Racing Stripes.” Then in 2008, he stepped away from acting in an effort to pursue a career in open-wheel racing — he even competed in the Atlantic Championship. After suffering two mini-strokes in 2012 and 2013, Frankie revealed that he’d suffered from substantial memory loss. In recent years, he’s mostly stepped away from acting, though he competed on the 25th season of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2017 (and came in third!) and then hosted “Dancing With the Stars: Juniors” in 2018. That same year, he and Paige Price — whom he married in early 2020 — purchased the Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars shop in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It’s become our lives,” he told the Arizona Republic in 2019. The couple welcomed a son, Mauz Mosley, in March 2021.
Remember in the early 2000s when it seemed like young Dakota Fanning was in just about every movie? After scoring her first big break alongside Sean Penn in the 2001 drama “I Am Sam,” the tiny powerhouse landed roles in “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Hansel & Gretel,” “Uptown Girls,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Man on Fire” (pictured), “Hide and Seek” and “War of the Worlds” — which were all filmed before she was even 12. More movies followed including “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Secret Life of Bees” and three “Twilight” films — they all arrived before her 18th birthday. In recent years, she’s starred in films like “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” and “Ocean’s Eight” and on the 2018 miniseries “The Alienist” and its 2020 sequel, “Angel of Darkness.”
Peter Billingsley’s time as a child star was brief, but thanks to his classic 1983 holiday film “A Christmas Story,” he’s remained an icon. He went on to star in films like “The Dirt Bike Kid” and “Russkies” and appeared on several TV shows like “Punky Brewster” and “The Wonder Years” before turning his attention to filmmaking. Today, Peter primarily works as a producer: He’s worked on “Iron Man” and “Four Christmases” as well as on shows like “Sullivan & Son” and “F is For Family.” In 2019, Peter returned to the big screen for the first time in six years to reprise his role from “Iron Man” — former Stark Industries scientist William Ginter Riva — in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
Even though it’s been more than 80 years since a young, curly-haired Shirley Temple made her film debut in 1932’s “Red Haired Alibi,” she’s still regarded as one of the most iconic child stars of all time. Before her 18th birthday, Shirley starred in more than 35 films, including her most famous movies, “Curly Top,” “Captain January,” “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “The Little Princess.” By 1940, as she transitioned into her teen years, the young actress’s popularity had started to wane. Although she continued to work in Hollywood, her roles were fewer and farther between, and in the 1960s, she refocused her efforts on humanitarian work and politics. During the latter part of her life, Shirley was a U.N. ambassador and a foreign service ambassador as well as an author — she published her autobiography, “Child Star,” in 1988. Shirley — who had three kids from two marriages — died at 85 in 2014.
After appearing in films like “Casper Meets Wendy” and “Human Nature,” Hilary Duff scored her first major breakthrough with the Disney Channel series “Lizzie McGuire,” which aired from 2001 to 2004. She went on to star in “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “A Cinderella Story,” “Raise Your Voice,” “The Perfect Man” and “Material Girls.” Hilary also found success as a pop star, releasing five studio albums including 2003’s “Metamorphosis” and 2015’s “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” Following a six-episode stint on The CW’s “Gossip Girl” in 2009, Hilary landed a starring role on the hit TV Land series “Younger,” which debuted in 2015 and concluded in June 2021. The singer-actress — who’s currently shooting the upcoming sitcom “How I Met Your Father” — welcomed her second daughter with second husband Matthew Koma in March 2021. She also has a son with ex-husband Mike Comrie.
Abigail Breslin made her feature film debut with 2002’s “Signs.” Just five years later — following appearances in “Raising Helen” and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” — she scored an Oscar nomination for her performance in “Little Miss Sunshine” (pictured). She went on to star in “Definitely, Maybe,” “Nim’s Island,” “Zombieland,” “August: Osage County” and “Ender’s Game” before turning 18 in 2014. She then starred on two seasons of “Scream Queens” and in the 2017 made-for-TV remake of “Dirty Dancing.” More recently, she returned to the role of Little Rock in the 2019 “Zombieland” sequel and starred opposite Matt Damon in the 2021 drama “Stillwater.”
From the late ’70s to the mid-’80s, no child star was more famous than young Gary Coleman, who starred as Arnold Jackson on “Diff’rent Strokes.” After the hit sitcom ended in 1986, Gary — who was then 18 — struggled to book new roles. (The actor, who was born with a congenital kidney disease, maintained a youthful appearance throughout most of his life, which ultimately made it difficult for him to land adult roles in Hollywood.) Gary kept at it, though, booking small roles in indie films and on various TV shows (frequently as versions of himself) until his death in 2010 at 42 following a fall in his home that caused a hemorrhagic stroke.
Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen practically ruled the world after making their on-screen debut as infants on “Full House” in 1987. After the sitcom came to an end in 1995, the duo starred on the short-lived ABC series “Two of a Kind,” in the Kirstie Alley comedy “It Takes Two” and in a series of super-popular direct-to-video and made-for-TV movies. Their final film together, “New York Minute,” debuted in 2004 — the same year they turned 18. The twins became increasingly private in their adult years as they focused on expanding their massive fashion empire, though Mary-Kate continued acting for a short period of time after Ashley retired. She had an eight-episode stint on “Weeds” in 2008 and appeared in the 2008 romantic dramedy “The Wackness” and in the 2011 romantic-fantasy film “Beastly,” which is a modern-day take on “Beauty and the Beast.”
Brooke Shields, who was born in 1965, began her career in Hollywood in 1974. She landed a highly controversial role as a child prostitute in 1978’s “Pretty Baby” (pictured), in which she appeared unclothed at 12. As she got older, she continued to star in major films including “King of the Gypsies,” “An Almost Perfect Affair,” “Tilt,” “Wanda Nevada,” “Just You and Me, Kid” and “The Blue Lagoon.” By the time Brooke turned 18, she’d already starred in more than 10 films and posed for a popular Calvin Klein ad campaign. As an adult, Brooke — who graduated from Princeton University — continued to act, starring on shows like “Suddenly Susan,” “Lipstick Jungle” and “Jane the Virgin.”
In 1994, 6-year-old Haley Joel Osment made his big-screen debut as young Forrest in the Oscar-winning drama “Forrest Gump.” Five years later — after starring on “The Jeff Foxworthy Show” from 1995 to 1997 — he scored an Oscar nomination for his work as Cole Sear in “The Sixth Sense.” He went on to star in films like “Pay it Forward,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and “Secondhand Lions.” But as so often happens with beloved child stars, as Haley aged, he landed fewer solid roles. He never walked away from acting, though: In 2015, he starred in the “Entourage” movie, from 2017 to 2019 starred on the Hulu sci-fi comedy “Future Man” and more recently had stints on lauded shows “The Boys” and “The Kominsky Method.”
Miley Cyrus is one child star whose career has continued to flourish well into adulthood. Though she was initially known as the daughter of country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley’s fame soon surpassed her dad’s after she began starring as the titular pop star on the hit Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana,” which ran from 2006 to 2011. While filming the teen sitcom, Miley released three studio albums: “Meet Miley Cyrus,” “Breakout” and “Can’t Be Tamed.” After the 2009 “Hannah Montana” movie, she scored her first big film role with 2010’s “The Last Song.” She promptly fell for co-star Liam Hemsworth, whom she dated of and on for nearly a decade. (They finally married in late 2018 but then split for good less than a year later.) In recent years, Miley has focused predominantly on music. (She hasn’t had a major acting role since the 2016 Woody Allen-created Amazon comedy series “Crisis in Six Scenes.”) More recently, she released her seventh studio album, “Plastic Hearts,” in late 2020.
Keshia Knight-Pulliam began her career as the adorably sassy Rudy Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” in 1984 when she was just 5. She stayed on the sitcom until it wrapped in 1992. She then stepped out of the spotlight for nearly a decade — returning only once in 1997 at 18 to make a cameo on a 1997 episode of “Cosby.” Then, from 2007 to 2012, she starred on the Tyler Perry sitcom “House of Payne.” She also appeared in a handful of films including “Beauty Shop” and “Madea Goes to Jail.” In May 2021 — after more than a decade away — she returned to the role of Miranda Lucas-Payne on the “House of Payne” revival. She’s also competed on the reality shows “Celebrity Big Brother,” “The Apprentice” and “Splash.” Keshia got engaged to “For Better or For Worse” actor Brad James in late 2020.
Jerry Mathers will forever be known for his childhood alter ego: Beaver Cleaver on the family sitcom “Leave it to Beaver.” Prior to landing the classic role, Jerry earned acclaim for his work as Arnie Rogers in the 1955 film “The Trouble With Harry,” which ultimately led to his casting as Beaver in 1957. The show continued until 1963, ending when Jerry was 15. The young actor wouldn’t return to Hollywood until he reached 18 and from there — while serving in the Air Force Reserve and attending college — he made occasional appearances on TV shows and in made-for-TV movies. In 1983, Jerry reprised his role as Beaver on the modern reboot of the show, “The New Leave it To Beaver,” which featured him as an adult divorcée living with his mom and two kids. When the series ended in 1989, Jerry performed occasionally, landing minor roles in films like “Down the Drain,” “The Other Man,” “Better Luck Tomorrow” and “Will to Power.” We haven’t seen Jerry since his 2015 appearance on the TV show “Dad Dudes” and in the comedy short “Lucky Day.”
Although Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley began acting in 1991, it wasn’t until they landed the roles of Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell — long-lost twins who find each other by accident — on the sitcom “Sister, Sister” that they became household names. When the series ended five years later in 1999, the actresses — by then 21 — continued to work together, appearing on shows like “Detention” and in TV movies like “Twitches,” “Twitches Too” and “Seventeen Again.” Eventually, Tia and Tamera began landing roles separately, with Tia appearing on shows like “Love Inc.,” “Girlfriends,” “The Game” and “Instant Mom” while Tamera picked up parts on “Strong Medicine,” “Roommates” and “Things We Do For Love.” For a time, the sisters reunited as the stars of the reality series “Tia & Tamera,” which ran from 2011 to 2013. Today, both women are married moms continuing their successful careers. Currently, Tia stars on the Netflix comedy series “Family Reunion.” Tamera, who co-hosted “The Real” from 2013 to 2020, competed on the fifth season of “The Masked Singer” in early 2021.
Although her show “Punky Brewster” was only on the air for four short years, Soleil Moon Frye quickly became one of the most recognizable and beloved child actors of the ’80s. As the titular foster kid, Soleil enchanted audiences and kicked off numerous fashion trends. After the show ended in 1988, she appeared in several made-for-TV movies and popped up on episodes of shows like “The Wonder Years” and “Saved by the Bell.” It wasn’t until 2000 that she landed her next major role: Roxie King on “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” She also voiced Zoey Howzer on “The Proud Family” from 2001 to 2005, which kicked off her lucrative second calling as a voice actress. During a lengthy period of time away from the spotlight, Soleil became an entrepreneur, an author and a mom. In early 2021, she returned to the role that made her a star on a short-lived “Punky Brewster” revival. She’s also set to return to another role from earlier in her career on the upcoming Disney+ “The Proud Family” revival.
Kirsten Dunst made her acting debut in 1989’s “New York Stories.” Just six years later, she scored her first Golden Globe nomination for her work in “Interview with the Vampire.” (She was barely in the double digits when she starred alongside Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the gothic-horror film.) She then appeared in a wide range of movies — from “Little Women” and “Jumanji” to “Small Soldiers” and “The Virgin Suicides.” After a few years of starring in teen-skewing comedies like “Bring It On” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” she reached a new level of fame when she made her debut as Mary Jane Watson in 2002’s “Spider-Man.” She hasn’t stopped working since then. In 2016, she earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her work on “Fargo.” She also met partner Jesse Plemons while working on the FX anthology series. (The couple, who got engaged in 2017, welcomed their second child in 2021.) More recently, Kirsten starred on “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” — and earned her third Golden Globe nomination for her efforts. Up next, she’s set to star in Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” alongside Jesse and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Admit it: The only reason any of us watched “Family Matters” was to see Jaleel White as Steve Urkel — the nerd with the impossibly nasal voice who somehow won our hearts each and every episode. Jaleel was 13 when he landed the role, which he played until the sitcom came to an end in 1998 when he was 22. As an adult, Jaleel landed roles on TV shows like “Grown Ups,” “Fake it Til You Make It,” “Drunk History” and “Me, Myself and I” as well as in movies like “Big Fat Liar,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Preacher’s Son” and “The 15:17 to Paris.” In recent years, Jaleel — who competed on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2012 — has had stints on “Raven’s Home” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”
Throughout most of the ’90s, Christina Ricci was the child actress to watch. After making her big-screen debut alongside Cher in the family drama “Mermaids,” Christina quickly landed roles in popular films of the decade like “The Addams Family,” “Casper” and “Now and Then.” As an adult, she’s starred in everything from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Speed Racer” to “Sleepy Hollow” and “Monster.” She also had noteworthy stints on “Ally McBeal,” “Pan Am,” “Saving Grace” and “Grey’s Anatomy” — for which she scored an Emmy nomination in 2006 — and starred on the series “Z: The Beginning of Everything” and “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.” Up next, Christina — who’s currently expecting her second child with boyfriend Mark Hampton following a painful 2020 split from husband James Heerdegen, with whom she shares son Freddie — is set to star in the upcoming fourth installment in the “Matrix” franchise and on the Showtime drama series “Yellowjackets.”
Fred Savage stole our hearts as Kevin Arnold on “The Wonder Years.” The young actor — who’d already become quite the Hollywood star thanks to his earlier roles in films like “The Boy Who Could Fly” and “The Princess Bride” — remained on the show for five years until it ended in 1993 when he was 17. After taking some time away to focus on his education, Fred returned to acting in 1996, landing roles in 2002’s “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” various made-for-TV movies and shows like “Working,” “Crumbs” and “The Grinder.” (Fred even made a cameo on younger brother Ben Savage’s hit sitcom “Boy Meets World” in 1998.) In addition to appearing on camera, Fred’s steadily worked behind the scenes for decades as a director on shows like “Modern Family,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “2 Broke Girls” and “The Connors.” In recent years, he’s portrayed versions of himself in “Super Troopers 2” and “Deadpool 2,” starred on the Netflix comedy series “Friends from College” and voiced various characters on “American Dad!” Up next, he’s executive producing the ABC reboot of “The Wonder Years” — he also directed the pilot episode of the new series, which debuts in September 2021.
Mayim Bialik appeared on a number of popular ’80s shows before she scored her first big break as the titular teen on “Blossom,” which aired from 1990 to 1995. But fame wasn’t enough for the child star, who earned an undergraduate degree and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. Then, after years of working predominantly as a voice actress, she had memorable stints on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” before scoring her next big break when she made her debut as Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory” in 2010. She starred on the hit sitcom for nearly a decade and earned four Emmy nominations for her efforts. The divorced mother of two currently stars on the FOX sitcom “Call Me Kat,” which was renewed for a second season in mid-2021. In August 2021, Mayim was announced as the new host of the “Jeopardy!” primetime and spinoff series.
Ron Howard might be known today as an Oscar-winning director, but long before he was a filmmaker, he was a popular child actor. Ron, who started acting when he was 2, scored his first recurring role on TV’s “Dennis the Menace” when he was just 5. (He appeared on six episode of the series between 1959 and 1960.) He then starred as Opie Taylor on the feel-good sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1960 to 1968. A year later, a teenaged Ron made his directorial debut with three shorts, kicking off his passion for moviemaking. In the years that followed, he starred in 1973’s “American Graffiti” and booked countless small roles on popular TV shows. In 1974, he made his debut as Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days,” which aired for a decade until 1984. He then transitioned to mostly behind-the-scenes work, though he also narrated and occasionally appeared on “Arrested Development” between 2003 and 2019. His biggest hits as a director now include “Splash,” “Cocoon,” “Parenthood,” “Apollo 13,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind,” “The DaVinci Code,” the Oscar-nominated “Frost/Nixon,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and, more recently, the Oscar-nominated 2020 drama “Hillbilly Elegy.”
While Lindsay Lohan is better known today for being a tabloid star, as a child, she was one of the most sought-after young actresses in Hollywood. She started acting in 1992 and scored her first major role as twins Hallie Parker and Allie James in the 1998 remake of “The Parent Trap.” As a teen, she continued to land great roles in movies like “Freaky Friday,” “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” “Mean Girls” and “Herbie Fully Loaded,” catapulting her to superstar status. But as Lindsay got older, issues surrounding her on-set behavior and hard-partying ways led to her eventual downfall in Hollywood. As an adult, Lindsay’s made several comeback attempts, including launching a fashion line, starting a production company and starring on a short-lived MTV reality show, “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club.” In 2018, Lindsay — who in recent years has lived in London and Dubai — made a brief return to the small screen on the British crime-comedy series “Sick Note.” It was her first big acting gig in five years. In May 2021, she signed on to star in an upcoming Netflix holiday rom-com that’s reportedly due in 2022.
If the ’80s had an iconic child star, it was, without question, young Corey Feldman. The actor, who began working in Hollywood when he was just 2, was a fixture in many of our favorite films of the decade including “Gremlins,” “The Goonies,” “Stand By Me” (seen here), “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” “The Lost Boys” and “License to Drive.” Like other child stars including Lindsay Lohan and Drew Barrymore, Corey’s superstardom led him down a path of partying and drug abuse that affected his career. Today, Corey’s sober and has continued to act — albeit with less mainstream success. He also appeared on several reality shows including “The Surreal Life,” “Marriage Boot Camp” and “The Two Coreys,” which co-starred his close friend and fellow former child star Corey Haim, who died in 2010 at 38. Feldman — who’s also made music for years — has published several books, including his headline-making 2013 memoir “Coreyography.” He’s long been an advocate for ending childhood sexual exploitation and holding abusers in Hollywood accountable and has gone on record to discuss the abuse he experienced as a child star.