Being a child star may, on the surface, seem like a great gig. We, of course, know that is not always the case. Numerous stories exist of child stars having a hard time adjusting to adulthood if they are unable to remain rich and famous. Some of those stories have, sadly, even ended in tragedy. The truth of the matter is that it can be a jolt to be on top of the world and beloved by millions at one point of your life only to then fade away into obscurity. Because of that, a child star who is able to lead a normal life as an adult may choose to keep his or her child out of the public eye for as long as possible.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the stories about child stars who ditched their public personas as adults and who managed to have normal lives. Truth be told, you may not even know that some of them were child stars if you were to bump into these individuals on an elevator or on the street; unless you recognize the face from a different aspect of that celebrity’s life, that is. With all that has gone wrong for some child stars, it is nice to read about those who have done well to find happiness and peace in what they have chosen to do outside of the entertainment industry.
10. Andrea Elson
The 1980s were a weird time, a time when a television show about an alien living with a family was seen by viewers as completely believable. Andrea Elson played Lynn Tanner on the TV show Alf, and she landed other acting gigs throughout the 1990s. It was on the set of Alf where Elson met Scott Hopper, a production assistant who would later become Elson’s husband. Elson stepped away from show business for a long period of time, and she is, in her own words, a “world traveling yoga instructor.” You can catch up on her activities via her personal blog.
9. Jason Zimbler
If you were a kid growing up in the early 90s, you probably hated the character Ferguson on Clarissa Explains It All. The guy was a member of the Dan Quayle Fan Club, after all. Jason Zimbler, who played Ferguson about as perfectly as that role could have been played, did not remain in acting following his days as a child star. Zimbler explained to Mashable in 2014 that he did not want to act after he was finished working on the TV show, and he went to college and became a software designer for HBO. That’ll show the haters, Ferguson!
8. Leanna Creel
Depending on which side of the fence you fell on, you either loved or hated Leanna Creel as Tori on the television show Saved By The Bell. While Creel did act into her 20s, she has since abandoned that life and instead become involved in a different aspect of the entertainment industry. Creel runs Creel Studio, a production company and creative agency that has worked with some well known clients. Disney, Food Network, Old Navy, HGTV, Virgin America and Yahoo are just some of the recognizable clients that are listed on the Creel Studio website as of February 2016.
7. Charlie Korsmo
How you remember Charlie Korsmo may be determined by your age or your preference of movies. Some, for example, may remember Charlie Korsmo as Jack in the movie Hook. Others, however, may immediately remember him because of his role in the 1990s cult classic Can’t Hardly Wait. Korsmo went on from being a child star to law school, and he became a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, which is located in Cleveland, Ohio. Korsmo was nominated by President Obama for member of the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.
6. Crystal McKellar
You can, if you are into those sort of movies, still catch Danica McKellar starring in films that air on the Hallmark Channel. Danica’s sister Crystal, however, went down a different life path. Crystal, who played Becky Slater on the show The Wonder Years, attended law school, and she became a successful attorney. Here is a random fact for the television trivia fans out there: Crystal almost won the role of Winnie Cooper, but the creators of The Wonder Years instead wrote the part of Becky Slater for her and named Danica as Winnie. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
5. Lisa Jakub
Lisa Jakub is the first of two child stars who were in the hit movie Mrs. Doubtfire. Jakub also had other noteworthy roles while in her teenage years. She left it all in the past when she was 22 years old, however, and Jakub has since stated that she has no plans on making a return to acting on a full-time basis. “You Look Like That Girl,” a book written by Jakub, was released to the public in 2015. Those of you who want to read some of Jakub’s work without heading to a bookstore or downloading her book can do so via her blog, which is updated from time to time.
4. Josh Saviano
Remember those rumors that claimed Paul from the television show The Wonder Years was actually Marilyn Manson? Those were fun times, but they were also untrue. Josh Saviano, who played the dorky yet lovable friend of Kevin Arnold, ditched the acting world to instead go to college. Saviano attended Yale, and he ultimately became an attorney. He founded Act 3 Advisors in 2015 to, in his own words, “allow me to provide strategic advice and consulting services to influencers, entertainers and entrepreneurs who are looking to make the transition from individual influencer to brand, and to existing businesses to leverage the new marketing and promotional trends featuring influencers.”
3. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Here is one that may make some readers feel a bit old. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who first emerged as a child star as a member of the hit television show Home Improvement, is now in this 30s. “JTT,” as he was affectionately known by fans, went on to receive several degrees following his days on the ABC show, and he has had some sporadic acting roles as an adult. Thomas spoke to People in 2013 about choosing to walk away from the limelight during the height of his popularity, and the well-learned former child star has said that he has zero regrets about making that decision.
2. Jeff Cohen
Unless you are a fan of one movie in particular, you may be scratching your head upon seeing the name of Jeff Cohen. Cohen, who played the character Chunk in The Goonies (we know this because it says so right on his Twitter account) may not have become a movie star as an adult, but he has found great success as an attorney. Cohen graduated from law school in 2000, and he co-founded a law firm in 2002. The former child star is involved in entertainment law. Cohen recently spoke about his famous role on a local television morning show, and he seems to be a good sport about his former life.
1. Mara Wilson
You probably recognize Mara Wilson as the young actress who played Matilda and Natalie in movies during her youth. Wilson is still technically in the public eye thanks to social media websites, but she is no longer into acting. That is not something that Wilson has been shy about over the years. In fact, Wilson has explained why she chose to walk away from acting. Along with being a writer these days, Wilson has also done some voice-over work. Cheers to Wilson and to all of these other child stars for being able to find joy in their adult lives!