Alongside classic cartoons like Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, '80s kids grew up watching other children walk and talk on the small (or big) screen. As a youngster, it is always mesmerizing to follow the adventures of someone the same age as you.
Wait? We can actually do THAT?!? Mum will never hear the end of this!
Kid stars do not always have it easy. While it might seem like they are set for life, young celebrities tend to struggle to enjoy childhood to its fullest extent. Remember, filming requires a lot of time and commitment, meaning these folks are working for practically the entire day. In the meantime, they still have to attend school; which is not always easy, as their classmates probably own a television and occasionally read the tabloids.
As the years roll by, many young stars end up dropping out of the Hollywood business. Whether it is due to a lack of talent or opportunities, not everyone is destined for superstardom or wants to live their lives in the public eye. Nowadays, '80s kids are raising children of their own, but we are curious to see what these famous faces have been up to.
Here are 30 kid stars from 80s shows that are gorgeous as adults.
30 Ashley Olsen - Bigger Than Any House (Part 1)
Full House might not be considered the funniest sitcom of its generation, but it did set the stage for the Olsen Twins; so, really, it is the most important show of all time. In seriousness, very few other child stars reached the same level of fame as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They were inescapable and Full House benefitted greatly from having these two on its payroll.
Fuller House needs them.
In recent days, the siblings have strayed away from acting, preferring to dedicate their time to fashion. Ashley and Mary-Kate established a couture fashion label called The Row and they are members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. While there are better actresses out there, the Olsen Twins are stars of the business world.
29 Alyssa Milano - Charmed Forever
America watched Alyssa Milano grow over the course of a decade. Who's the Boss? launched when Milano was only 12-years-old, but the series lasted for an impressive eight seasons; so, Samantha was 20 when the curtain closed on the sitcom. Milano turned from a cute kid to one of TV's leading ladies and the actress tried her best to shed the 'pure' image that cultivated around her due to ABC's sitcom.
Milano took risks in the '90s.
After settling back onto the small screen with Melrose Place, Milano ventured into the supernatural as Charmed's Phoebe Halliwell. While critical acclaim eluded the series, Aaron Spelling's fantasy show garnered a respectable following and established Milano as a mainstream TV celebrity. If nothing else, Phoebe knows how to leave viewers in a trance.
28 Drew Barrymore - Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Landing parts in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Firestarter, Drew Barrymore was a child actress who could actually act her way out of a paper bag. Charming, intelligent, and funny; the youngster seemed to have the world at her feet. After bursting onto the scene, Barrymore went through a rough spell lasting for a couple of years; thankfully, she was able to come out of it stronger than ever.
Adam Sandler says hello.
The actress went through a resurgence in the late '90s and delivered sound performances in The Wedding Singer, Charlie's Angels, and Donnie Darko. Outside of Hollywood, CoverGirl Cosmetics' picked Barrymore to serve as their model and spokeswoman, a position she has owned for over a decade. She is also an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations.
27 Fergie - She Could Always Sing
Stacy Ann Ferguson is better known as the pop-sensation Fergie. The singer reached universal fame when she joined The Black Eyed Peas, a decision that coincided with the hip-hop group experiencing a boost in popularity. When it comes to '80s kid stars, Fergie is unlikely to be the first name on anyone's lips. While the singer's later success would massively overshadow her earlier offerings, Stacy Ann had a decent acting career in the decade of hair metal. A talented singer from the start, Fergie spent six seasons on Kids Incorporated, a children's program which prioritized musical performances above acting. For a couple of years, Fergie also supplied to voice for Charlie Brown's Sally Brown. Going from Snoopy to The Dutchess is quite a change.
26 Joaquín Phoenix - Turning A New Leaf
Joaquín Phoenix arrived late into the game and was largely overshadowed by his siblings, primarily River Phoenix. The actor's breakthrough role arrived in 1989's Parenthood; at the time, Phoenix was credited by "Leaf" rather than Joaquín, but he eventually returned to his given name. An accomplished producer, director, and musician; Joaquín earned a reputation for taking on quirky and non-mainstream roles.
Retirement was one of those roles.
2010's I'm Still Here was a mockumentary following Phoenix as he "retired" from acting and pursued a career in hip-hop. Joaquín dedicated his entire life to this one part, as he pretended to be this character while out in public. People genuinely thought Phoenix had ditched acting, but we were all just playing into his hands.
25 Danica McKellar - The Best Is Yet To Come
For six seasons, fans wondered whether Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper were destined to be together. The Wonder Years ran on ABC from 1988 until 1993 and, despite the sitcomish setting, was a coming-of-age drama that tackled quite a few serious issues. As the protagonist's main love interest, Danica quickly captured the hearts of teenagers from around the world and refuses to let go. The talented actress' resume generally consists of the most popular TV shows of the last two decades, as Danica has landed parts in nearly everything. From How I Met Your Mother to King of the Hill, Winnie Cooper is unlikely to disappear from our TV screens. For gamers out there, Danica lent her voice for a couple of characters, including Invisible Woman in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series.
24 Jennifer Connelly - David Bowie And Billy Campbell
Does Jennifer Connelly qualify as a teen idol? Prior to making her film debut in 1984's Once Upon A Time in America, Connelly worked as a model, a profession she continued to pursue after making the jump to the big screen. Focusing on the earliest stages of her career, the American actress' most popular film had to be Labyrinth, where she portrayed a teenager who meets David Bowie.
Labyrinth was a documentary.
While the character was not eligible for a driver's license; at the time, Connelly was 26-years-old. As she did a decent enough job of portraying a teenager, we will let this one slide. Connelly is a Hollywood regular, landing roles in Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind and Marvel's Hulk. When it comes to critical acclaim, nothing quite matches Connelly's gut-wrenching performance in Requiem for a Dream.
23 Robert Downey Jr. - The Face Of Hollywood
Robert Downey Jr. always had all the talent in the world; yet, for quite awhile, the American actor seemed destined to fall short of his potential. With the exception of a handful of performance in the '70s, Downey's career really got going in the early '80s with films like Baby It's You and Weird Science. The youngster's star was on the rise for a couple of years, culminating with his critically acclaimed performance in 1992's Chaplin. While roles were not exactly in short supply, Downey's reputation made him somewhat of a liability.
Tony Stark is method acting.
After a long struggle, the actor returned to Hollywood's good graces and Downey launched Marvel's Cinematic Universe with his beloved turn as Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr. has had his fair share of ups and downs, but the former reached sky high.
22 Soleil Moon Frye - Penelope Brewster Meets Ren & Stimpy
In the early '80s, Soleil Moon Frye landed the role of Penelope Brewster on NBC's Punky Brewster. Sadly, the show was far from a huge hit and was dropped after its first two seasons. As the warm and funny star, Frye proved popular with children, especially those who hailed from a complicated family. Previously, the actress worked on a couple of TV movies, but NBC's sitcom was her first major role. Despite the lackluster ratings, the studio greenlit two further seasons to allow Punky Brewster to qualify for syndication. For the next two decades, Soleil Moon Frye continued to ply her trade on the small screen, landing parts on The Ren & Stimpy Show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and The Proud Family. Recently, the actress co-founded a company called MoonFrye that sells party decoration kits.
21 Jennifer Jason Leigh - Graduating From Ridgemont High
While Roger Ebert did not particularly care for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the influential critic adored Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance as Stacy Hamilton, going as far to describe the actress as a star. Whether at the beginning or end of one's career, that type of praise is worth more than any award. Leigh launched her career with a couple of bit-part television roles, before earning her stripes on the silver screen. She followed up Cameron Crowe's drama with critically acclaimed turns in The Hitcher, Heart of Midnight, and Backdraft.
Less can be more.
Describing herself as shy and introverted, Leigh has largely attempted to avoid getting involved in the Hollywood's tabloid scene. Nowadays, the talented actress prefers to lend her skills to a passionate indie project rather than a mindless blockbuster.
20 Ricky Schroder - The NYPD Get A Silver Spoon
Silver Spoons is mostly remembered for introducing viewers to Jason Bateman's quirky charm, but Richard Bluedhorn has grown up to be quite an actor. Ricky Schroder launched his career starring alongside Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway in the 1979 remake of The Champ. While the film received a less than glowing reception, Schroder actually took home a Golden Globe for his performance. Obviously, an NBC sitcom was the next logical step.
A recognizable face.
Schroder might not be a huge Hollywood name, but the actor has kept busy over the years. For three seasons, he owned the role of Det. Danny Sorenson on NYPD Blue; later on, Schroder earned a stint on 24 and Scrubs. As a huge fan of racing, Ricky won the Toyota's Celebrity Race in 1989.
19 Lea Thompson - Back To The Past
Okay; technically, Lea Thompson was not a child star. She broke through after turning 20, but Thompson's earliest roles saw her largely confined to the shoes of teenagers. Prior to her really big break, the actress showed up in 1984's Red Dawn and The Wild Life. A year later, Robert Zemeckis called and Thompson etched her name into cinematic folklore. Back to the Future is one of those films which will never go out of style or be forgotten. Thompson portrayed Marty's mother and played a big part in the franchise's most awkward scene. While nothing reaches the heights of Zemeckis' trilogy, an accomplishment few can claim, the actress has amassed a cool filmography. Nowadays, Thompson tends to split her time between film and television.
18 Jenny Lewis - A Wizard With A Guitar
1989's The Wizard is a cinematic masterpiece and we will defend this FACT until the end of time. With the exception of the legendary Power Glove, Jenny Lewis' Haley Brooks was the best thing about Todd Holland's movie. While she worked on a few TV movies and appeared in some one-off episodes, Lewis had been mostly doing commercials until The Wizard propelled the actress into the big leagues.
A difficult act to follow.
Lewis' real passion seems to be music rather than film, as the celebrity has released multiple albums with Rilo Kiley and a couple of solo records. Combining a cool personality with her soulful voice, Lewis garnered a reputation as an icon of the music scene, especially among younger fans. Recently, Rilo Kiley broke up, allowing the former actress to focus on her solo work.
17 Christian Bale - The Boy Who Grow Up To Be Batman
At one point or another, most kids have imagined a future when they would protect the world like their favorite superheroes or Saiyans. Christian Bale does not have time to dream; if he wants to be Batman, then Batman he shall be. The British actor hit the ground running, as his debut film was directed by Steven Spielberg. Bale worked consistently for a couple of years, but superstardom was not instantly achieved.
Newsies certainly did not help.
2000 proved to be the defining year for the actor. Bale followed-up a good outing in A Midsummer Night's Dream by owning the role of Patrick Bateman, a performance that propelled the actor into the limelight. From that point on, Bale's career went from strength to strength, including his run as Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy.
16 Ally Sheedy - The Breakfast Club's Outsider
The Breakfast Club took a bunch of teenage stereotypes, told them to drop the charade and start acting like real human beings. Ally Sheedy's Allison Reynolds represents the weird loner who wears her outcast badge as a status symbol. As the story develops, Allison learns that she is not alone and manages to open up to her schoolmates. In the '80s, despite already being in her 20s, Sheedy was Hollywood's go-to girl for young troubled teenagers. Alongside John Hughes' coming-of-age drama, she appeared in WarGames, St. Elmo's Fire, and Oxford Blues. Sheedy's career has struggled to match the heights set by her younger version, but she has rarely struggled for work. Currently, the actress is taking a break from the industry.
15 Keshia Knight Pulliam - Rudy Huxtable Has Children Of Her Own
The Cosby Show is one of the biggest sitcoms of all time. Over the course of eight seasons, America watched as the Huxtable family delivered laughs and life-lessons on a weekly basis. As the youngest child on the roster, Keshia Knight Pulliam was only five-years-old when she won the part of Rudy Huxtable. The youngster made the most of the situation and proved to be a capable actress from a ridiculously young age. You must be wondering, whatever happened to Rudy Huxtable?
Tyler Perry happened.
With the end of The Cosby Show, Pulliam struggled a bit to really establish herself as an adult actress. Post-Rudy, the actress' biggest success was scoring the lead role in Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Rudy also featured in 2009's Madea Goes to Jail.
14 Elisabeth Shue - Leaving Las Vegas
An argument can be made that the fictional characters are more iconic than the performers. A '90s kid is more likely to remember the name Topanga than Danielle Fishel and the same can be said for a lot of kid stars. Celebrities sometimes struggle to shed their popular personas, as viewers try to keep them locked in a nostalgic bubble.
A human time capsule.
Anyone who grew up in the decade of spandex and Bon Jovi are likely to recognize Elisabeth Shue. Appearing in The Karate Kid and Back to the Future Part II, the actress' resume reads like a greatest hits of '80s teen classics. Shue largely avoided being typecast and delivered, arguably, her greatest performance in Leaving Las Vegas. The role was nominated for an Academy Award.
13 Olivia D'Abo - The (Real) Wonder Years
The Wonder Years' Karen Arnold was far from an acting newbie. In 1984, Olivia D'Abo acted alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer, and she followed this performance with a couple of smaller appearances in film and television. D'Abo's run as Kevin's free-spirited sister allowed the British actress to showcase her range, and Karen even dated Friends' Ross for a short period. In the last two decades, D'Abo has never stopped acting, although her parts are usually restricted to one-off episodes.
The animated Black Widow.
Comic book fans are likely to recognize D'Abo's voice, as the actress has lent her skills to DC and Marvel. She was cast as Natalia Romanova for Ultimate Avengers and its sequel, while Justice League: Doom consider Karen the perfect candidate to portray Star Sapphire.
12 Ralph Macchio - Back To The Start
The Karate Kid is THE children's sports movie. The story might be cliché and the sequels trite, but Daniel LaRusso's journey was touching, inspirational, and worth remembering. Besides two other The Karate Kid sequels, has Ralph Macchio been up to anything else? He tends to be referenced quite a bit in pop-culture, mostly in relation to The Karate Kid, but the celebrity has kept busy. Macchio is an established character actor who has largely landed secondary roles. From Psych to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Macchio will never completely escape LaRusso's shadow and recently reprised the role for YouTube Red's sequel series Cobra Kai. Things really do have a habit of going full circle. Once a karate kid, always a karate kid.
11 Candace Cameron - Queen Of The House
Hey, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were not Full House's only child stars. Candace Cameron's D.J. Tanner was at the top of the sitcom's pecking order, as the actress was old enough to carry some of the heavier storylines. Prior to scoring the role of a lifetime, Cameron showed up in a handful of popular sitcoms, ranging from St. Elsewhere to Who's the Boss?
It was about time she got her own starring role!
Once Full House was just a stain in the rearview mirror, Cameron mostly continued to work on television, with a handful of cinematic roles sprinkled throughout. The likable actress' comedic timing kept pulling her back to the sitcom scene and before anyone knew what happened, D.J. Tanner was back-in-action for Netflix's Fuller House.
10 Brooke Shields - Prolific (Since The Age Of 1)
Brooke Shields was born in 1965 and hardly wasted a second before launching a career. Within a year, she was cast in a commercial for Ivory Soap and continued to work as a child model for the majority of her younger days. Conquering the modeling world by the age of 10, Hollywood was the next logical step.
A controversial start.
As a follow-up to 1976's Alice, Sweet Alice, Shields' delivered a really controversial performance in Pretty Baby. This was hardly the first and last time Shields got caught in some backlash; although, in these cases, she shared none of the blame. In the early '80s, the model was crowned "Favorite Young Performer" four times at the People's Choice Awards. Brooke Shields is an icon of the '80s and pushed the industry to its limits.
9 Lisa Bonet - Aquaman's Better Half
If push comes to shove, we would say that Denise Huxtable is Lisa Bonet's best-known role. The teenager instilled a sense of sophistication into the character. Denise was approachable, she felt grounded in our reality; as pre-adults, we could imagine hanging out with someone like Denise. While The Cosby Show might be her biggest role, Bonet's best performance can be found in 1987's Angel Heart. The actress held her own opposite Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke, playing a character who could not be further removed from Denise Huxtable. Sadly, Bonet has largely stayed away from acting, only appearing in a couple of shows and movies over the last two decades. She is married to Jason Momoa and has three children, including Zoë Kravitz with singer Lenny Kravitz.
8 Diane Lane - National Lampoon's House Of Cards
Diane Lane's career got off to an impressive start, as her turn as Lauren King in 1979's A Little Romance earned an award from the Young Artist Association. With a history of stage acting, Lane followed up her early success with highly rated performances in The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. When she was not cementing herself as one of the best young talents in the business, Lane showed up in National Lampoon's Movie Madness. Shockingly, the film failed to be nominated for any awards, but Diane's career survived the backlash. Despite a strong start, Lane backed the wrong horse when she starred in Streets of Fire over Splash or Risky Business, but the actress remained relatively popular. An incredible and critically acclaimed performance in 2002's Unfaithful brought Diane Lane back into the limelight. In the upcoming months, Lane is set to appear on Netflix's House of Cards.
7 Lark Voorhies - Saved By The Bell: Adult Years
Lark Voorhies is mostly known as Lisa Marie Turtle, Saved by the Bell's rich girl and Screech's main love interest. Originally, she was mostly relegated to a secondary role, but Voorhies was so phenomenal in the part, Saved by the Bell pushed Lisa into a more prominent position. In 1993, the actress left Saved by the Bell to pursue other goals, leading to stints on long-running soap operas Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Shows that will never end.
Voorhies' career might not have reached incredible heights, but the actress amassed a respectable resume. Turns in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and The Last Don showed a different side to Lisa Marie Turtle; in recent years, Voorhies published a couple of books.
6 Rob Lowe - The Teenager Heartthrob Who Continues Ticking
Starring alongside Emilio Estevez in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders, Rob Lowe quickly found his face plastered across tabloids nationwide. The duo reunited for St. Elmo's Fire and were considered among the biggest teen idols of the decade. Once that tier of fandom is unlocked, occasionally, celebrities find themselves struggling to move past their image. The public sees them as more than just actors or actresses, as they are expected to set trends and serve as role models for teenagers.
It is a heavy burden to carry.
For a while, Rob Lowe fell by the wayside, but the small screen gave the charismatic celebrity a second lease on life. As an actor who can legally vote, Lowe earned high praise for his portrayal of Sam Seaborn on NBC's The West Wing, before showing he could handle comedy with a stint on Parks and Recreation.
5 Alyson Hannigan - Magical
Alyson Hannigan's career can be divided into two halves: pre-Buffy and post-Buffy. The American actress spent the majority of her teenage years dealing with strange fictional parents in My Stepmother Is an Alien and ABC's Free Spirit, a short-lived comedy following the misadventures of a witch named Winnie Goodwinn. It was only a matter of time before Joss Whedon cast Hannigan as the awesome Willow Rosenberg in his cult classic series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hannigan dropped Willow's sweet act for American Pie, before landing another hit series in How I Met Your Mother. With two beloved characters under her sleeve and Lily Aldrin, the cool American actress has become a mainstay of the small screen.
4 Winona Ryder - Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice
Prior to her coming-of-age, Winona Ryder had already worked with Tim Burton, Michael Lehmann, and Ernest Thompson. While her performance as Lydia Deetz tends to be the most fondly remembered, Ryder amassed a resume impressive enough to be the envy of most of her peers. After launching onto the scene, she landed parts in films directed by Jim Jarmusch, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Ben Stiller.
The less said about Alien Resurrection, the better.
Nowadays, Ryder is one of Hollywood's A-list celebrities. With talks of Beetlejuice 2 starting to take shape, she might be set for a return to the role that helped to launch her career. As an icon of the '80s and cinema in general, Winona Ryder is unstoppable.
3 Neil Patrick Harris - Natural Charisma
Who does not love Neil Patrick Harris? The dude is an international treasure and should be allowed to host every award show for the next hundred years. If he must have an occasional break, we guess Chris Rock is a decent enough replacement. Over the last two decades, Harris' star has risen to incredible heights, but the American comedian's big break arrived in the form of a quirky comedy-drama called Doogie Howser, M.D. Harris portrayed the titular character, a medical genius who makes Dr. House seem slow. Right out of the gate, Harris possessed an irresistible charm that radiated off the small screen. Unfortunately, Doogie' film career has always been more miss than hit, but How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson guarantees Harris has a place in comedy's hall of fame.
2 Christina Applegate - Married With Children
Married... with Children took the concept of a typical family sitcom and threw in Al Bundy. Suffice to say, the outcome was a silly but legendary series that juxtapositioned wholesome comedies like Full House. As the oldest child, Christina Applegate's Kelly Bundy often stole the show. It was rare to see a sitcom teenager who was so outspoken and grounded. Married... with Children ventured into some surreal territory, but the Bundy family felt like caricatures of normal people rather than idols.
Everyone knows an Al Bundy.
Christina Applegate's career has hardly slowed down, as she is regular on the big and small screen. The actress largely sticks to comedies, including Vacation and Bad Moms; but, after all these years, Kelly has yet to miss a beat or lose her winning smile.
1 Mary-Kate Olsen - Bigger Than Any House (Part 2)
The Olsen Twins defined a generation. After a slow start, Full House proved to be a runaway hit for ABC and Michelle Tanner played a substantial role in the sitcom's success. The Twins caught the attention of the United States of America, turning the young girls into nationwide celebrities. While other stars have struggled with less fame, Mary-Kate and Ashley used their earlier success to build an empire. The celebrities largely moved away from acting, preferring to focus on modeling and fashion. Mary-Kate was thrust into an iconic role that inspired many young girls and teenagers; amazingly, the actress proved more than up to the challenge. Full House established the Olsen Twins, but their influence far exceeds ABC's sitcom.
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