Usually, as the story goes, the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan, and flies off into the horizon, thumbing its proverbial nose at the tormentors that called it ugly. But that happens only in fairy tales. In real life, the eggs cracks to reveal a lovely duckling – all fluffy, golden bright and sunshine yellow, and then hormones step in to reveal a grown up duck.
The child actors on our list were so darn cute that they gave people heartaches. Little children couldn’t wait for these idols to grow up, and wannabe parents wanted to have little darlings like them. That is, until these little darlings grew up and out of their wholesome, sweet good looks.
For some, perhaps the pressure of being limelight’s golden girls or boys was too much, and they went into a downward lifestyle spiral – and so the drugs and alcohol took their youth and charm away. For others, the gawky teens gave way to even more of an awkward adulthood. But let’s be clear, in no way is this article dissing these celebs for who they have become – for while the fame may have faded for many on the list, life still burns bright in them – despite the fact that the spotlight literally ran away when it took one look at the adults they became, instead of the adults everyone envisaged them to be! Yep, here are the 15 celebs we like to diss when we give examples of people who were born cute, but grew up ugly!
15. Lark Voohries: From Beautiful Swan to Ugly Duckling, What Gives
She started off playing Lisa Turtle in the TV series Good Morning, Miss Bliss that was later re-launched by NBC as Saved by the Bell and also played Jasmine Malone intermittently on The Bold and The Beautiful. Once a fresh-faced girl who became a beautiful teen and then seemed to be on the cusp of equally gorgeous adulthood, Lark Voohries’ behavior and beauty both declined over time.
Two failed marriages, a libel suit against The National Enquirer over claims of her having a drug problem, and more claims by her mother about her being bipolar and having lupus later, Lark looks nothing like the pretty youngster she once was. She now looks overly made up, at times with badly applied warpaint, and seems to be on a downward spiral – going fast to nowhere. She has denied having bipolar or lupus, and has left her fans confused over what exactly is wrong with her!
14. Tiffany Michelle Brissette: From Small Wonder To No Wonder At All
From 1985 to 1989, people often stayed glued to a sitcom called Small Wonder in which a robotocist brings home his creation V.I.C.I. (Voice Input Child Identicant) aka Vicky Lawson, and then passes her off as the family’s adopted daughter, with his wife and son in on it. The series revolved around Vicky’s eventual integration into the family as a “human” – with rather hilarious side effects.
Undoubtedly, Vicky was the star of the show – played by Tiffany Michelle Brissette in an unemotional monotone – that won her many an accolade and awards. She started the role when she was 11, and ended when she was 15, and she acted till 1991. Tiffany left acting then for perhaps the roles dried up when all her cuteness kinda evaporated as she aged. Now, Tiffany is 42 and the last anyone knows of her is that she’s a registered nurse in Boulder, Colorado – beautiful of face not so much, but Tiffany proved to be beautiful of heart.
13. Jeremy James Miller: Growing Was Indeed One Big Pain For Him
The most you probably remember about Jeremy Miller is the fact that he played Benjamin “Ben” Hubert Horatio Humphrey Seaver in the sitcom Growing Pains, and for that trademark Ben Seaver scream! So while Leonardo DiCaprio also starred in the show, grew out of his cuteness and got charming instead, Jeremy, well, not so much. After seven seasons, Growing Pains finally folded in ’92, and Jeremy did appear in other roles in different series as well as movies, but his star soon faded.
In 2011, he became a spokesperson for Fresh Star Private Management Inc., an alcohol rehabilitative program that also administered his own treatment with an implant that released the anti-alcohol drug Naltrexone and in 2014 he revealed that he had starting drinking at the really early age of four, seriously getting into it by 12. Now cured, he’s still with the woman he loves, stepfather to her three sons, while remaking his life as best he can.
12. Raven Symoné: From Really Cute To… Yikes
So Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman used to be the cutest thing on The Cosby Show till she grew up, and Cosby turned out worse than rotten eggs. She then transitioned to Disney channel’s That’s So Raven, where she played a psychic trying to hide her powers and even transitioned into movies like Dr. Doolittle, and then more recently on the TV series Empire and the talk show The View. She has now quit The View and shall soon be on a That’s So Raven spin-off.
However, Raven is hardly that fresh-faced pig-tailed cutie that she once was. Once she grew up, she moved from hottie to naughty to well, just plain what-in-the-world-happened-to-Raven! From massive weight fluctuations, to her really strange hair colors to sometimes goth makeup, she has changed more styles than her name has syllables. Blonde, purple, multicolor, black, blue, pink, even rainbow colored hair and lips to match but with an attitude and sass that somehow made her carry it well, even though she kinda did grow up into “not cute.”
11. Haley Joel Osment: Once A Little Cuteness, Now A Lot Of Fatness
Once the cutest thing since sliced bread, Haley was on a roll what with important roles in successful movies such as The Sixth Sense, Pay It Forward, and many more, winning accolades and awards along the way. With his trademark cute-creepiness, who can ever forget that breathless (and eerie) admission, “I see dead people” to a shit-scared Bruce Willis.
That said, for some reason it seems like Haley’s facial features remained the same size, though his face and his body kinda grew and grew. Still, Haley never went away from Hollywood, even though his cuteness went so far as to, well, vanish – never to be seen or heard of again. Along with continuously coming in movies and series, he has also lent his voice to Kingdom Hearts and earned quite a hefty chunk from it. He was also involved in a single-driver automobile accident in 2006 where he struck a brick mailbox and overturned his car. A broken rib, a fractured shoulder blade as well as many cuts and abrasions later, Haley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor driving and drug possession on October 19, 2006 and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
10. Jonathan Lipnicki: From The Cutest Kid To The Most Awkward Dude
He is remembered most for his roles as Renee Zellwegger’s cute kid in the Tom Cruise starrer, Jerry Maguire, and then as George, the adoptive brother of the mouse Stuart Little in the movie with the same name.
The kid was a delight to watch but then he entered a really weird teen phase and kinda stayed stuck there – not in his teens, just in his awkward phase. And the roles kinda dried up and now Lipnicki mostly does indie movies with his umm, awkward face, short stature, but a rather ripped body. And don’t be fooled by that lopsided grin though, for he currently trains in mixed martial arts styles and can kick your ass, especially if you called him awkward to his face. Seriously though, the guy is a gem for he is a speaker for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and is actively involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Starlight Children Foundation, and the NBA’s Read to Achieve program. And he also works with animal rights groups such as Pets and their Stars and the Nutz for Mutts group. Aww, heart of gold and all!
9. Fred Savage: The Little Darling Of Wonder Years Is Now A Director
So seriously, don’t get us wrong, Fred Savage is by no means an ugly guy. He seems charming enough and that goofy grin seems endearing. We just have to say that the incredible cuteness of him hightailed it out of him once he grew up. From 1988 to 1993, Savage appeared as Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years and this is the role for which he is best known, and for which he received two Golden Globe nominations and two Emmy nominations, the youngest actor ever to receive these honors. He remained on the show until it ended in 1993. After this, he primarily had guest roles, including playing a serial rapist on a 2003 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
In 1999, Savage began his directing career and its credits include Boy Meets World, Hannah Montana, Modern Family, and 2 Broke Girls while in 2007, he made his feature film directing debut with the film Daddy Day Camp.
8. Austin St. John: From The Red Ranger To Being Back To Jason Geiger
Austin St. John was born Jason Geiger – and even before he was cast as the Red Ranger / Jason Scott Lee in the kid’s TV series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, he has been practicing martial arts (since he was five years old) and holds a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, a first-degree black belt in Judo, and also practices Kenpo. Austin St. John was his stage name as his management team at Pat O’Brien Management Talents didn’t think that his original name Jason Geiger was strong or catchy enough. So Jason came up with St. John himself, and Austin came from the manager.
The only thing being, he sort of grew out of his dashing good looks and turned into this wrestler-physique kinda guy who may be very strong and fit, but ain’t gonna score as much with the ladies as his younger self did. He is a certified paramedic, so despite those good looks going pop, Austin/Jason certainly has his heart in the right place.
7. Taran Noah Smith: From Home Improvement to Life Improvement?
He played the adorable blue-eyed youngest child in the 90s hit sitcom Home Improvement starring Tim Allen, which was also the launch pad of a certain Pamela Anderson. He starred in the show all throughout as Mark Taylor – starting when he was seven and ending when he was 16. Taran later said that acting was never a choice for him, for he started too early to say no – and when he was 18, he legally separated himself and his fortune from his parents and ended up marrying a woman 16 years his senior.
The cuteness gone, the roles vanished and the vegan-business that his wife and he wanted to launch went belly up. A baby and a divorce later, the banks also foreclosed on his mansion leaving him headed into a fast downward spiral headed nowhere. Unfortunately, this cute kid became yet another notation in a long list of child actors who never made it big.
6. Brandon Call: Step By Step Into Nowhere
Cute as he was, and later a teen heartthrob, Brandon Call played J.T. Lambert, Frank’s oldest academically challenged and slacker of a son (who was later diagnosed with dyslexia) all through the seven seasons of Step By Step, though he had been acting way back since 1984. After Step By Step ended in 1998, Brandon seemingly retired from acting and those heart-knocking looks apparently also decided to retire with him.
Now he seems a lot stockier, has chopped off those wavy locks, and seems to lack in that charisma that the cameras loved so much about him. FYI, in 1996 when Brandon was about 20, he got into a traffic dispute – when a car kept tailing him for a while. Brandon tried to drive past the other car but the driver leaned out and shot at him, injuring him in both arms. Brandon was treated at the UCLA Medical Center and made a full recovery.
5. Sean Astin: Hardly Handsome, But Still Going Strong
Sean Astin may have lost his cuteness but like his weight, his acting talent and role repertoire has only grown. Sean made his acting debut as Mikey in the 1985 movie, The Goonies when he was all of 13. The actress Patty Duke was his ma, and he was rumored to be the son of Desi Arnaz Jr. though later Michael Tell, a writer and producer proved to be his biological father. Of course, later he was adopted by John Astin, his mother’s second husband and also got Mike Pearce as a stepfather later, her mother’s third husband. As Sean often says, “I have four dads!”
That said, his cuteness hidden in layer of weight, roles did not abate with Encino Man, Rudy, Courage Under Fire, and then in 2000s, his breakthrough role came in the form of Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His girth notwithstanding, his repertoire of roles seems ever expanding.
4. Danny Tamberelli: He Just Grew, And Grew, And Is Still Growing
So little Pete in Pete and Pete grew up to be really big Danny. He was pretty adorable playing Jackie Rodowsky on the television series The Baby-Sitters Club as well as starring in the Nick show Figure It Out, where he was best known for his famed “head flip.” He would flip his head back after getting slimed (yeah, remember that green goo) to cover the audience in slime, and he was also known for yelling “I don’t know” at the top of his lungs whenever he got confused.
In the 90s and into the 2000s, he also appeared in many commercials, including for Lego and Wendy’s fast food. Now he’s the bassist and vocalist for the rock band Jounce, as well as the bassist for the folk/pop band Every Good Boy. Other than that, we feel he spends his “free” time, which he seems to have a lot of, stuffing his face with as much food as he can – considering his Italian background and his man boobs. Cute, so not!
3. Mayim Bialik: From Gawky Teen To Geeky Neuroscientist
So let’s face it, Mayim Bialik aka Blossom was never the cutest onscreen. But she seemed to have a certain sass and plenty of charisma and frankly, every girl wanted to dress like she did – zany, bohemian, and completely out of sync with fashion. Those skirts and hats, the jackets and the boots, the backpacks and the color combinations…
So Mayim did not turn out to be a raving beauty – but she did turn out to be a brainiac. Along with being an actress and a voice actress, Mayim Bialik is also a, wait for it, neuroscientist. Yes, she looks enough like Bette Midler to play her younger self and even did so in Beaches, but she’s also a woman of tremendous knowledge, a vegan, and recipe writer, an author, and runs her own website, Grok Nation. So is she ugly? Well, some may think so – but beauty as they say lies in the eyes of the beholder, and also is more than just skin deep!
2. Clint Howard: From The Cutest Kid To Jeez, Who Is That?
So if you remember The Andy Griffith Show, you are likely to remember the cutest little toddler who roamed around in a cowboy outfit, offering passers-by a bite of his sandwich, which they politely declined. Jog your memory a bit? Now if you also remember Star Trek, you are likely to remember a child-like alien called Balok, who was, let’s just say, barf-inducing ugly. Remember?
If you are nodding your head with a distant gaze and wondering what an exceedingly cute baby and a really ugly alien have in common, well it’s because they both were played by the one and only Clint Howard. He grew out of looks so much, well, it’s kinda indescribable. And he’s played the creepy guy in so many series and movies, and scared so many little children into wetting their bed, that they gave him an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.
1. Macaulay Culkin: From The Most Adorable Dude To Oh-My-God That Can’t Be Him
By far, Macaulay Culkin seems to be on the worst downward spiral of all, be it in his life, his career, or his looks. From that blonde-haired gorgeous boy to the emaciated, rich but lonely man he is today, Macaulay is a far, far cry from what he used to be, or even what he could have been. A man now known more for his has-been status and his drug-crazed spiral than for anything else, Macaulay is a shell of what he used to be. An early marriage and a quick divorce later, and then a relationship with Mila Kunis that went nowhere; he is also estranged from his family and not really in touch with his friends any more.
All the loneliness and the partying, the alcohol and the drug abuse, and basically living the life of a rich man in aimless abandon shows on his face – and this 36-year-old looks decades older than what he is.