Fame can be bittersweet. While all the money and attention can be flattering for some, others are quick to feel the pressure attached to the industry.
Hollywood is a cut-throat place filled with an array of hopefuls from all types of backgrounds fighting for the spotlight. It doesn’t matter if you’re ten or thirty, one way or another, the suffocating expectations of the entertainment world can lead you down a dangerous path.
These scenarios are often seen with child stars who are too young to withhold their personal identities. The young stars from networks such as Nickelodeon and Disney have all hit rough patches in their careers and personal lives at some point. It’s difficult enough trying to discover who you really are, but with millions of eyes on you tracking your every move, growing up becomes less easy to handle. With different people telling the young actors and singers how to act and dress, the urge to rebel and make their own decisions intensifies. The fact of the matter is that the pressure to control fame can be too much.
Whether they are still attached to the industry today or simply vanished from public eyes, theses 15 child stars are the ones who completely failed at being famous.
15. Britney Spears
As a pop music phenomenon Britney Spears quickly rose to fame with her talented voice and dance moves. A far cry from her days as a Disney Mouseketeer, Spears’ crop tops and suggestive lyrics made her a hit among all audiences.
To an outsider, it may have appeared that Spears had it all; money, success, and even a short acting career, but on the inside, Spears was definitely feeling the stress attached to the lifestyle. No one can forget Spears’ infamous 2007 meltdown where she proceeded to shave her signature blonde locks off. And then attack an innocent car with an umbrella as the shutter of multiple paparazzi cameras sounded. Needless to say, in that moment Spears hit rock bottom and failed at handling her fame.
Spears was able to make a remarkable recovery after being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and now headlines her own show in Vegas featuring her most popular hits. While Britney was able to come back form her meltdown, other child stars weren’t so lucky.
14. Taylor Momsen
Best known for her performance as Cindy Lou Who in the 2000 film Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Taylor Momsen began to make a name for herself in Hollywood. After appearing in various motion pictures such as Hansel and Gretel and Spy Kids 2, Momsen transitioned to television. For four seasons, she portrayed the innocent and fashion-obsessed Jenny Humphrey in The CW series Gossip Girl.
Despite the success the show received and her prominent role, Momsen expressed her interest to leave acting behind for good. Fans of the show weren’t surprised by her announcement as they witnessed the physical appearance of Jenny shift from preppy to gothic with heavy dark eye-makeup.
After quitting acting, Momsen focused on her music career by starting her own band, The Pretty Reckless. While the band has found more success across the pond, the former actress isn’t shy about leaving acting after excessively voicing that the industry forced her to be someone she wasn’t.
13. Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki was a hot commodity among Hollywood casting agencies for children’s roles in the late 90s and early 2000s. His notorious roles in Stuart Little and Jerry Maguire paved his way for a successful future in the entertainment industry.
However, after his prominent roles in blockbuster hits, Lipnicki faced the challenge of only being selected for independent films. His failure to land roles following his triumphant childhood career has put Lipnicki on the back-burner in regards to landing serious acting jobs.
Despite not starring in movies on the big screen, he still manages to star in movies for smaller audiences. When the former child star isn’t focused on school and training in Mixed Martial Arts, he also is an avid speaker for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Though he may have failed at being famous, Lipnicki is using is background to rally support for the causes.
12. Brenda Song
Any avid Disney Channel viewer was aware of Brenda Song’s success as London Tipton on the hit comedy series, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Portraying an airhead hotel heiress, Song was one of Disney’s biggest stars. While she did record a few songs in relation to Disney movies and shows she starred in, she never attempted a serious music career like other Disney actors.
Song’s acting abilities allowed her to stand out among the sea of triple-threat Disney actors. Following the end of the show in 2011, Song has appeared in several shows such as Scandal and New Girl but hasn’t been able to secure a serious role. Song has managed to keep a low profile and avoid the public eye as she continues to pursue her acting career. In her personal life, her engagement to Miley Cyrus’ brother and Metro Station’s Trace Cyrus came to an end after a long time romance.
11. Jeremy Jackson
As an American actor and singer, Jeremy Jackson is best known for his role on the hit television show Baywatch. He quickly became a heartthrob among female viewers during his time as Hobie Buchannon and even beat out Leonardo DiCaprio for the role.
While it appeared that he had it all, Jackson admitted to having a severe drug problem during and after his time on Baywatch. In fact, his decision to leave the show was based on the control his addiction had over him. After being arrested for possession and a long sting in a drug rehab, he claims to be sober and appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to illustrate his recovery from a steroid addiction.
Jackson attempted to make a comeback to television when he was cast in the United Kingdom’s reality television series Celebrity Big Brother. However, he was immediately removed from the house after opening the robe of a female housemate without her consent. Needless to say, Jackson clearly failed on handling any type of fame.
10. Shia LaBeouf
Before he was in Hollywood blockbuster hits such as Michael Bay’s Transformers and Indiana Jones, Shia LaBeouf was one of Disney’s brightest stars on the network’s series Even Stevens. For three seasons, LaBeouf portrayed the quirky Louis Stevens for the Disney Channel’s weekly program that earned him a Daytime Emmy Award for his performance. Following the end of the series, LaBeouf starred in multiple movies that were essentially career breakthroughs that separated him from his Disney past.
While LaBeouf continues to find great accomplishments in the industry in front of the camera, it’s the events occurring in his personal life that question his control over his fame. In 2014, the actor arrived at the Berlin Film Festival red carpet wearing a brown bag over his head which read, ‘I am not famous anymore.’ That same year, LaBeouf was arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal trespass in New York after refusing to leave a theater. After that arrest, he began seeking treatment for alcoholism and continues to make headlines for both upcoming projects and personal transgressions.
9. Aaron Carter
“Oh Aaron, oh Aaron, what are we going to do with you?” What once were popular lyrics to one of his songs, is now a valid question when referring to Aaron Carter’s latest transgressions since his career hit a dead end.
As the younger brother of Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter, he had no problem jump-starting a music career when he was just ten years old. He quickly became a heartthrob for young girls. Despite the success he encountered, his time away from the spotlight got him into trouble. In 2008, Carter was arrested in Texas after he was pulled over for speeding and police discovered marijuana in his car. The singer then participated in a stint at rehab in hopes of reaching sobriety.
He insists that he has conquered his problems with substances and alcohol now, though he did encounter another dilemma when he filed a bankruptcy petition in 2013 for a $3.5 million debt. As for now, he continues to work in the studio to produce new music.
8. Drake Bell
Any 90s kid can attest that Drake Bell was a swoon-worthy Nickelodeon actor. His best roles for the network included his work on The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh. Bell’s comedic timing on the shows clearly aided in their success.
When not in front of the camera, the actor expresses a great deal of passion for music. In fact, Bell wrote and sang the Drake & Josh theme song. In 2005, he released his first album entitled, Telegraph, which debuted moderately well.
While Bell continues to land small roles and continue his music career, his personal life has experienced several hindrances. Bell encountered his first run-in with the law when he was arrested in 2009 for a DUI. After his second arrest in 2016 for another DUI, his license was suspended and he pleaded not guilty. However, after his hearing, Bell was sentenced to 96 hours in jail, but only served less than 48 due to good behavior. In 2014, Bell filed for bankruptcy and lost his Los Feliz home.
7. Frankie Muniz
The thirty-year-old actor may not be appearing in any headlines today, but in the 2000s, he was considered one of Hollywood’s most successful teen actors. His role on Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle was a catalyst for jump-starting his acting career and even earned him the “Young Star Award” from the Hollywood Reporter.
Muniz had no trouble landing lead roles in movies that received strong praise such as Big Fat Liar and the Agent Cody Banks series. While Muniz credited those films as a transition from a child actor into a respectable adult actor, those movies did little to secure his budding career.
In 2008, the former child star took a step back from acting to pursue an open-wheel racing career in which he accomplished many titles. When not racing or expressing his passion for music, Muniz has been known to make some guest cameos in television shows, but has yet to land any permanent acting gigs.
6. Gary Coleman
The four-foot-eight-inches actor was not only known for his short stature, but also for his acting chops that declared him a promising star in the 1980s. Gary Coleman’s role as Arnold Jackson in Diff’rent Strokes made him a household name with his infamous catchphrase “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”. Following the end of Diff’rent Strokes, the actor appeared in several movies and television shows either portraying himself or reprising his role as Arnold Jackson.
However, in his personal life, Coleman was stirring up trouble when he married the young Shannon Price. Their toxic relationship led the two appearing on Divorce Court to air their dirty laundry in 2008. Prior to the failing marriage, Coleman sued his adoptive parents and former business advisor over issues with his trust fund. A year later in 1999, the former child star filed for bankruptcy protection. The actor then faced more legal issues when he was charged with assault in 1998 while he worked as a security guard. Coleman and his former wife engaged in multiple domestic disputes and both were arrested for their violence. His piling medical expenses hindered his account and caused Coleman to sell personal items which he had autographed on eBay to pay his bills. In 2010, Coleman died after suffering an epidural hematoma from head trauma after he fell down the stairs at his home at the age of forty-two.
5. Mackenzie Rosman
For eleven years, Mackenzie Rosman played the youngest sister of the large family portrayed in The WB’s (now The CW) hit family series 7th Heaven. Before her role as Ruthie Camden, Rosman appeared in several television commercials for Nike and Tuff’s Diaper. In addition to 7th Heaven, the young actress appeared in independent films that failed to achieve any notable attention. While fans of the show witnessed Rosman’s transition from a curly-haired child to a young adult, they were exposed to a much more ‘mature’ Rosman when she posed for Maxim magazine in 2013. Barely dressed in lingerie, the former child star proved that she was no longer the pastor’s daughter which she played for over a decade. Rosman no longer expresses an interest in acting since her long time run on the series as she illustrates her travels and time with friends on her official Instagram account. Despite separating herself from the industry, she still keeps in touch with her former co-stars and meets up with them anytime it coordinates with their schedules.
4. Jodie Sweetin
Landing her first role when she was just five years old, Jodie Sweetin went on to be one of the industry’s youngest stars with her long time role as Stephanie Tanner in Full House. To outsiders looking in, Sweetin appeared to have it all. However, her fame at such a young age eventually led to her reaching her lowest point. The former child star admitted that she turned to alcohol when she was just fourteen following the wrap of Full House.
Her abuse with alcohol eventually transitioned to her using drugs such as ecstasy, methamphetamine, and crack for over fifteen years. In her memoir, unSweetined, she stated that she was bored with her life after her acting career ended and turned to the drugs to fill a void.
With a past of substance abuse and three failed marriages, Sweetin used her struggles to address young audiences on the dangers of drinking and drugs. Now sober and a mother to two young girls, Sweetin received a second chance to relaunch her acting career when Netflix produced a Full House spin-off series titled, Fuller House.
3. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes was a prominent child star in the late 1990s and early 2000s with her hit Nickelodeon series All That and The Amanda Show. Unlike other child stars, Bynes achieved great success after leaving Nickelodeon to pursue more mature roles. Her hit show, What I Like About You, with Jennie Garth was well-received by The WB audience.
When not on the small screen, Bynes was landing roles in silver screen movies such as She’s the Man, What A Girl Wants, and Hairspray. Bynes was becoming a major hit in Hollywood with her comedic acting skills, but in 2012, she announced that she would be taking a hiatus from acting to pursue a fashion career.
Her departure from Hollywood led her to several legal issues. The same year that she announced her retirement, Bynes was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after side-swiping a police car in West Hollywood. After being involved with multiple hit-and-run charges later in the year, she was sentenced to three years’ probation. During all of this, Bynes made several changes to her physical appearance and underwent psychiatric evaluations and was hospitalized for a mental-health evaluation for 72-hours. According to the actress’ lawyer, Bynes is now doing well and focused on her studies at the Los Angeles campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
2. Lindsay Lohan
When she was just three years old, Lindsay Lohan began a modeling career, but it was her role in Disney’s 1998 remake of The Parent Trap that put her name on the map. Lohan received multiple praises for her performance in the film and it allowed her to continue her journey in Hollywood.
Over the years following, she gained success for starring in films like Life-Size and Freaky Friday; all well-acclaimed movies. Her biggest hit since The Parent Trap was the teen comedy Mean Girls, which continues to be a popular movie with all demographics today. With her appearance in comedy, Lohan’s fame rose significantly.
While she did become a household name, it seems that it was more due to the personal interruptions in her career rather than her acting gigs themselves. In 2007, Lohan was arrested and charged with a DUI and entered rehab. Two weeks following her release from rehab, she was arrested once again for possession of cocaine, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. Multiple other arrests occurred while on a three-year probation and trying to keep her acting career alive. With no current acting plans and officially probation-free, Lohan is now facing relationship troubles as she admitted that her Russian fiancé Egor Tarabasov is physically abusive towards her.
1. Macaulay Culkin
Notorious for his role as Kevin McCallister in the family comedy Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Macaulay Culkin became a famous child actor at just ten years old. While Culkin received attention for his roles in Uncle Buck and My Girl, his acting career hit a roadblock as he grew older. Other movies that he starred in, failed to receive the same success as his previous roles.
After years of inactivity in the acting scene, Culkin landed some guest-starring roles and even did theatrical work in London’s West End. In 2013, the former actor debuted his New York-based pizza-themed comedy rock band called The Pizza Underground. While the band achieved some success, despite a few disastrous performances, Culkin announced in July that the band would be splitting after the release of their final album.
Along with his career struggles, Culkin faced legal issues when he was arrested in 2004 for possession of marijuana and other controlled substances. He had three suspended prison sentences and was forced to pay just over five hundred dollars in fees. In addition to his legal troubles, Culkin raised questions regarding his relationship with Michael Jackson that allegedly began when he was just a young boy. While he denies that the pop icon ever touched him inappropriately, he did claim that the two would sleep in the same bedroom on multiple occasions.