There are those of us who grew up in the 1980s, and we were glued to the tube with our families watching sitcom after sitcom. Those characters were our onscreen families and friends. We especially loved watching the young ladies with fresh faces grow up as we did. They had perfect lives where any problems were resolved with love and care in thirty minutes. How could our generation resist? TV is much different now, with serious-themed shows hitting the airwaves and thrilling fans. Not many can relate to the carefree TV of the 80s.
The women on this list are some of my favorites growing up, with characters I could relate to, and even my parents could laugh with their often cheesy dialogue and kitchy plotlines. Oh no! What trouble has Punky Brewster gotten herself into this time? Will Winnie ever love him the same way he does her in the sunrise of their hormones raging in middle school?
We loved these actresses for doing a great job at performing as these memorable characters, beautiful and charming, sometimes getting into sticky situations with smart attitudes like Joe from The Facts of Life. Where are they now, three decades later, and how did their sweet, sexy looks hold up? I think fabulously, from the pictures I found. And some of these women have done amazing things over the years, from more acting, to singing, to being a top mathematician. I hope you enjoy finding out where they are now and what they’ve been doing.
15. Nancy McKeon – Facts of Life
Nancy McKeon is best known for one of four girls, Jo Polniaczek, in The Facts of Life. She was the cute tomboy everybody got excited for when she dressed up. Blair especially wanted to give Jo’s hair one hundred strokes. Nancy McKeon has continued to act here and there, often starting in series and then it not working out after a year or two. I think she’ll keep on trying, because those who do are more likely to get there than the rest who give up. I think she just loved to work, and she’s great at it.
14. Christina Applegate – Married With Children
Nobody watching sitcoms in the 80s missed a minute of Christina Applegate‘s Kelly Bundy on Married…With Children! Always slutty, dressed to show all, gaudy as possible, and a mind-obliterated idiot. I loved her for years. She had been a child actor, and had several roles in Broadway productions. After her sitcom days, she continued to act in many well-known movies, perhaps most noteworthy being the Anchorman series. She still looks great, and her acting has never been less than her best work. And the woman knows how to wear the color red. Just sayin’.
13. Soleil Moon Frye – Punky Brewster
Yes, I promise you this person, Soleil Moon Frye, is indeed that cute little seven-year-old Punky Brewster from the show of the same name. She grew up on the show, and continued to do a little acting once it ended. She also directed two films, Wild Horses and Sonny Boy, and wrote both a parenting book and a party-planning book. She runs an environmentally-friendly clothing company geared toward children. Busy, busy! But we all knew the spunk in the Punk wouldn’t twiddle her thumbs her whole life.
12. Tracey Gold – Growing Pains
Tracey Gold played Carol Seaver, one of the family’s children, in Growing Pains in the 1980s. She has been acting since she was four years old, and comes from an acting family. Her father had roles in some movies, and her younger sister, Missy Gold, also acts. In 2009, she co-host GSN Live, a show on the game show channel. She stays busy, continuing in her preferred profession, but we will all remember her as Kirk Cameron‘s sister in the highly popular Growing Pains.
11. Justine Bateman – Family Ties
Justine Bateman played airheaded Mallory Keaton on Family Ties. She and her brother, played by Michael J. Fox were known for their banter. This is one woman on our list who doesn’t stay idle. She’s produced, she’s acted continually in various acting mediums, she’s written, she’s certified in scuba-diving–and don’t forget the licence in piloting single engine jets. Right now she’s finishing a degree at a four-year college, studying “digital management and computer science.” She has her hands in deep in new media, and is getting to know every aspect. I don’t think she’ll ever get left behind, and she’s proven she’s never actually been that bubble noggin she played so well on Family Ties.
10. Lisa Bonet – The Cosby Show
Lisa Bonet played the perfect daughter to Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show as Denise Huxtable. After being on the show for some time, she spent a year on a spin-off called A Different World. She was in a movie where she was judged too naughty, especially after a topless spread appeared in a magazine. She continued to act in direct to DVD movies and made for TV movies, but hasn’t had the success she has as a young actress…yet!
9. Alyssa Milano – Who’s the Boss
Alyssa Milano grew from tomboy to love goddess onscreen for us to gobble up as she played Samantha Micelli on Who’s the Boss? But that’s not how she got her start. She’d been stage acting, including traveling plays, since she was seven. Over the years, she landed good movie rolls, TV spots, and continued to look more and more beautiful with age. She’s produced, been a singer, and even written in the comic book genre. She’s active and likely to stay that way. I personally related to “Sam” because we were the same age growing up. She did an excellent job portraying Sam’s unusual life in the 80s.
8. Nicole Eggert – Charles in Charge
Nicole Eggert as Jamie Powell in Charles in Charge was every boy’s favorite character to just watch. She was a knockout, and still is! After Charles in Charge, she picked up small recurring roles on other television shows. Popping up here and there, but no real big roles like the one that shot her to sexpot stardom. According to Wikipedia, in 2014 Nicole Eggert got an ice cream truck and started a business with it. Maybe she finally found her final role as the lady who cools you off on a hot day
7. Janet Jackson – Good Times
Who doesn’t know who Janet is, and that’s Jackson if you’re nasty. She played Millicent “Penny” Gordon Woods on Good Times, but that wasn’t her first rodeo. She had been singing and acting since she was born. After Good Times, she pursued music with a vendetta to top the charts with risky, pop-themed tunes. In 2015, she released her newest album, Unbreakable, to great reviews. She never quits, and she never ages, and she always knows how to move, and it’s usually forward. The world has watched Janet Jackson’s whole life on screens, winning award after well-deserved award. Props.
6. Suzanne Somers – Three’s Company
Suzanne Somers might have been the hottest of the hotties as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, but as she’s aged she’s turned into a creative force to be reckoned with. She’s written several book on topics such as poetry, diet, self-help and one controversial book about a hormone replacement process that she has been criticized for. Her company didn’t follow correct health codes and procedures while testing the therapy. She has a lot to say, and a lot of fans who want to hear it!
5. Danica McKellar – Wonder Years
I thought Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen (except for my mom), and I loved seeing a female character like her. She was unique. Sure, the show’s writing is above excellent, but McKellar owned every scene she was in with a gentle, strong presence. She continues to act in small parts, having said she found transitioning to an adult actress challenging. She has a Bachelor’s in Mathematics, and between 2008 and 2012 she wrote four books geared toward young girls who are interested in math. The titles are hysterical. She continues to be brilliant, talented, breathtaking, and ever mysterious.
4. Robin Givens – Head of the Class
As Darlene Merriman on Head of the Class, Robin Givens was the queen bee! She was classy and gorgeous, smart and sassy. After the show went off the air, she occasionally guest starred in some shows, but nothing too involved. She is more known for her disastrous and very public issues with then-husband Mike Tyson. She did marry once again, but it only lasted a year. She adopted one child, and later gave birth to another. In 2009, she published her memoir, Grace Will Lead Me Home, where she opens up about the abuse she suffered in hopes of helping others
3. Markie Post – Night Court
Markie Post, as public defender Christine Sullivan in Night Court, was a spitfire with a wit that would shame a great comedian. She performed in game shows before transitioning into sitcoms in the 1980s. Night Court was her biggest role. Over the years, she played parts in different TV shows, but nothing stands out like Christine! She was sexy, fresh, and sassy, always wanting to defend the defenseless. They had a Night Court reunion during a 30 Rock episode with a few other cast members. We miss you, Markie!
2. Lisa Whelchel – Facts of Life
Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner on The Facts of Life was Jo’s verbal sparring partner, and a snobby pretty princess on the show. She was nominated for three awards for her work on the sitcom. She went on to write ten books, some on parenting, and has become a public speaker and advocate for Christianity. She has also made Christian music of her own. There was some debate and criticism for one of her books that discussed disciplining children. She also was a Survivor contestant and tied for second place.
1. Pam Dawber – Three’s Company
As Mindy McConnell in Mork and Mindy, we watched Pam Dawber’s crazy relationship with Robin Williams‘ alien from another planet Mork. After that show ended, she was in My Sister Sam. She sang in an opera once, and did a few acting gigs over the years, but has stayed mostly private. She is married to Mark Harmon, and has been since 1987. She guest speaks for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, nationally.