It’s just a fact: Disney kids have been doing naughty things for over 60 years! In fact, since the 1950s. These days, young Disney stars have their Disney entourage, the Disney team that smooths the way for them, keeps their secrets out of the public eye and makes certain that, no matter what they get up to, the young stars live up to that squeaky clean Disney image. So, while they are with Disney, they are usually pretty safe. But what about when they leave? Poof. No magic entourage. No spin doctors. It’s usually not that the young stars “went bad” as they aged, it’s that the Disney magic has dropped away and they find themselves out in the big, bad world again. A case in point: When Demi Lovato went into rehab for substance abuse in 2010 while on a Disney world tour, the Disney machine put out that she had been ill. And when scandal hit a young Vanessa Hudgens, she was (literally) locked inside the studio for an entire day, while the powers that be came up with a credible story.
So from drinks to illegal substances, here are 15 Disney child stars whose childhood was so totally not innocent. By the time they turned 18-years-old, they had pretty much done it all. If you catch our drift…
15. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’ dad Billy Ray Cyrus has said that once she became Hannah Montana in 2006, he totally lost control of the teenager. She and her Disney entourage did their own thing. Long before Miley made a career of trying to be a bad girl, she was exploring her sexuality, at 14-years-of-age declaring to her mother that she was bisexual. Early in her teen years, she was smoking weed. And by 15, she was in a relationship with twenty-something actor Justin Gaston. And we all know what that means. And there’s more. When she was 15, underwear shots of the budding star appeared online. By then, she was beginning to purposefully move away from her goody-two-shoes Disney image to the “bad girl” we know today. As Joe Jonas has famously said, former Disney kids grow tired of being squeaky clean and rebel. And Miley started pretty early on.
14. Britney Spears
According to Britney’s mom, “Britney started drinking at 13, lost her virginity at 14 and took drugs at 15.” Now, if you have the kind of mom who writes a tell-all book about her celebrity daughter, well, you can kind of understand why America’s one-time favorite pop tart is pretty messed up today. When he was in the Mickey Mouse Club, Ryan Gosling gave Spears and Christina Aguilera advice on “doing it”. Seems they cornered him between cute song and dance numbers to pump him for information on positions and, well, you know. Seems like BS took it and ran with it. Blabbing mom has said that the young teenager fell in with a bad Mouseketeer group and started drinking when she was all of 13-years-old.
13. Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez has said that living life as a child star is like “watching a car crash”. Over the last few years, reports of substance abuse and rehab have blighted the 20-something’s girl next door reputation. But some say the problems go way back. Reportedly, she was a loner and bullied at school and cried when she had to leave Texas for Disney fame and fortune in Wizards of Waverly Place. There were persistent rumors about what Selena and co-star David Henrie got up to. Then came Justin Bieber. More rumors of drugs and s*x. Then, when she did Spring Breakers, there was talk of a fling with rapper Gucci Mane. And what about the teenage Gomez putting her parents down, telling them that she was the one making the money. Not them. Out of control? Definitely. And the fact that it is only just coming to light is a testimony to Disney’s ability to massage the news and keep the truth under wraps. There will almost certainly be more Gomez car wrecks in our future.
Yes, the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie was a Disney kid. When she was 9-years-old she joined the cast of Kids Incorporated, the popular kids TV show that ran from 1984 through 1994. Boy, could she sing (even then)! When Disney bought the show, she stayed on for six seasons. By then, by her own admission, she was doing drugs. She grew up doing drugs. She has said, “I got into a scene. I started going out and taking ecstasy. From ecstasy it went to crystal meth. With any drugs, everything is great at the beginning, and then slowly your life starts to spiral down.” At one point, the teen was so drugged up that her weight plummeted to around 90 pounds. She has also talked about how tough it is for a kid to cope with the pressures that riches and fame bring. Sometimes, it’s just too much too soon.
11. Lindsay Lohan
In 1998, 12-year-old Lindsay Lohan was a cute kid in Disney’s The Parent Trap and four years later, she pulled her weight as Jamie Lee Curtis’ sort of rebellious daughter in Freaky Friday. But by then, there were problems. Lohan was a twenty-something when she checked into rehab for the first time. About time, many said. She had been out of control for years. As a teen, she started hanging out with the likes of party-hard Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. A year or two later, she went public with her drug addiction and did her first stint in rehab. And we haven’t even gotten into her underage s*xual encounters with much older That ’70s Show actor Wilmer Valderrama. Wilmer, as we will see, had a thing for younger girls. Lots of Disney young girls.
10. Demi Lovato
Where do we begin? Early on, there were problems with bulimia and self-harming. In 2010, Demi Lovato hit a back up dancer on a Camp Rock world tour with the boy-band-of-the-moment: The Jonas Brothers. By that time the teenager was drinking, using drugs and generally causing trouble for herself and everyone around her. After the incident with the dancer, her friends and family called time-out and persuaded her to check into rehab. And Disney? They issued an announcement saying she was withdrawing due to illness. The truth did not come out until much later. And then there were those pictures of her in bed with, guess who? Wilmer Valderrama. And speaking of The Jonas Brothers, Joe Jonas went public saying that a stoned and giggling Demi had offered him weed when she was only 14 or 15-years-old. She was with another Disney bad girl by the name of Miley Cyrus at the time.
9. Joe Jonas
The Jonas Brothers band, complete with a preacher father, were squeaky clean (compared to most). But, Joe Jonas has admitted that it was not all sweetness and light. “The first time I smoked weed was with Demi [Lovato] and Miley [Cyrus]. I must have been 17 or 18. They kept saying, ‘Try it! Try it!’ so I gave it a shot, and it was all right. I don’t even smoke weed that often anymore.'” That often? There were frequent back-of-a-car-seat close encounters with a girl or two (or three). And he was spotted doing a bit of underage drinking. And when he turned 21 and was finally legal, he hit the party scene so hard that he blacked out and fell down a flight of stairs. Of that incident, he only says he was scared to death that a picture of him in a heap at the bottom of the stairs was going to hit the Internet. It didn’t. After all that teenage and coming-of-age excess, he has said, “Now I appreciate wine or a vodka-soda at the end of the day every once in a while.”
8. Drew Barrymore
She is a Barrymore and comes from American theatrical acting royalty. She was the adorable little girl in Steven Spielberg’s ET and in the 1980s she did a number of star turns for Disney. But behind the scenes? Drew Barrymore started doing cocaine when she was only 11-years-old and by fourteen she was doing her first stint in rehab. Her parents pushed her into the limelight, mostly for the money she could bring in. Her father, John Drew Barrymore, was himself an alcoholic. And her early years were so unstable that when she starred in ET, she begged Steven Spielberg to be her godfather. And it only got worse. After her parents divorced when she was nine her mother Jaid, would take her to nightclubs four or five times a week, where she got into drugs and “socializing” with older men. At that tender age, she called herself a “party girl”. And when she landed in rehab? Her mother only came to visit “occasionally”.
7. Ariana Grande
Here is our token Nickelodeon star. Ariana Grande has called herself “sardonic”. It means she was the kind of self-entitled child star who put people down at the drop of a hat. And with our little Ariana, she did just that from an early age. The young star of Sam and Cat and Victorious, was (even back then) noted for her diva fits and demands. All sweetness and light in public. But behind the scenes? It’s like going over to the dark side. Later on there were Perez Hilton-led rumors of party-hard-drug-taking Ariana and Justin Bieber. And there are plenty of stories of the child star walking out of photoshoots and making unreasonable demands on all those around her. Seems she may well be permanently stuck in the “terrible twos”, the kind of star who well into her twenties came out on stage wearing cute cat ears and sucking on a pacifier.
6. Vanessa Hudgens
Remember those leaked naked pictures? Well, even before those hit in 2007, the teenage Vanessa Hudgens reportedly sent naked pictures of herself to rapper Drake Bell. And nine or ten years ago when those naked pictures started appearing on the Internet, she drove the Disney machine into overdrive, leading them to lock her up in the studio until they could come up with an excuse, an angle, anything. Next to Vanessa, the pot-smoking, drinking and backseat of the car king Joe Jonas looked, well, relatively innocent. As Jonas later said, there was so much pressure on all of them that it made them feel as if they had to be perfect and never be seen to make a mistake. And that kind of pressure leads only to problems. Especially if you are a major star of blockbuster movies such as High School Musical.
5. Zac Efron
The twenty-something has faced up to the demons he has fought for years. “No matter who you are, you face challenges growing up.” And growing up in the spotlight made the already overly-anxious actor make a lot of bad choices when he was young. Drugs, alcohol, s*x. You know the kind of thing. If Ariana Grande comes from the tough as nails school of kid stars, performers such as Efron, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez are more vulnerable. While the likes of Miley Cyrus seemed to sail through childhood and into naughty adulthood, the very young Efron struggled and came to rely on drugs and alcohol as a destructive way of coping. And when, after years and years of substance abuse, the story finally comes to light, he did what every other child star has ever done: Apologize and then head straight to rehab. Will it be a pattern going forward? We hope not.
4. Hillary Duff
She was 14-years-old when Disney’s hugely successful TV show Lizzie McGuire made her a seemingly overnight star. The show was huge, so huge that Hillary Duff (who was Lizzie) sometimes felt as if there was no life beyond Lizzie. And a couple of years later, she barely had her drivers’ license when she lost her virginity to 26-year-old Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden. Oh, Disney made certain that the whole thing was pretty much invisible, until she turned 18. Remember how an underage Kylie Jenner and Tyga were pretty much invisible until she became legal? Same sort of thing. But while Kylie and Tyga seem to struggle on, the Duff-Madden thing had lost its sparkle and was about to fizzle out by the time she turned eighteen. She was well rid of him, we think.
3. Mandy Moore
Welcome to Wilmer Valderama-land of underage girls. The That ’70s Show‘s star first underage hookup (that we know about) was with Disney star Mandy Moore. She was 16-years old to his 20 plus years at the time. Seems that Valderrama aged, but his women didn’t. And when Disney did Tangled in 2010, an older and wiser Moore starred as none other than Rapunzel herself. But see, she came from a kind of “different” background. Seems her mother left her father for another woman and both her brothers are very openly gay. And Moore? Well, she was married to rocker Ryan Adams. But that doesn’t always count for much…
2. Disney Kids Have Been Baring It All For 60 Years – Number 1
Back in the 1950s, young Tommy Kirk was a Disney child star, even doing a turn on The Mickey Mouse Club. But there was a problem: He had to conceal the fact he was gay. Back then, it was beyond taboo and a certain career killer. He was “desperately unhappy”. And it did not end well. When Disney discovered that Kirk was in a relationship with a boy he met at a local swimming pool, it was goodbye Tommy. He was, by his own admission, his own worst enemy: “I was drinking, taking pills and smoking grass. In fact, I was pretty wild. I came into a whole lot of money, but I threw a lot of parties and spent it all. I wound up completely broke.” He says it’s a miracle he’s still around. Makes Miley look really tame, we think.
1. Disney Kids Have Been Baring It All For 60 Years – Number 2
Little Bobby Dirscoll voiced Peter Pan in the Disney movie and went on to star in other films such as Song of the South and Treasure Island. But, there was a problem. When he hit puberty and was obviously no longer a little boy, the studio dropped him “like a ton of bricks”. It was a devastating blow to go from child star to a has-been in the blink of an eye. What happened? Well, drugs and alcohol happened. He was a heroin addict when he was only 17-years-old. And it only went downhill from there, because Bobby’s body was found by some children in an abandoned building. He was only 31 years old. Some have criticized the studio for their treatment of the young actor.