It may seem like a sweet gig to be a child star what with all of the fame and fortune, the opportunities to travel to exotic, fun locations and to meet and work with huge names in Hollywood. But when that hit show or movie franchise dries up and fades into the distance, what happens to the adorable cherub-faced little cutie pies whose antics we used to laugh at? Well, sometimes they leave Tinsel Town for good to find themselves, and what they find is sometimes pretty strange!
Actually, it’s easy to give former child actors a hard time. But none of us everyday Joe and Jane Schmoes who were lucky enough to live relatively normal childhoods can understand what it’s like to give up those precious, formative years to provide entertainment unless we’ve walked in those expensive kid-sized shoes ourselves. They give up their privacy to teen magazine interviews, suffer the humility of going through puberty in front of the world and are widely open to criticism. Here are fifteen former child actors who kind of seem to have grown up to be weird. Where oh where have the years gone?
15. Josh Byrne – From Step By Step To Renaissance Fairs
Young Josh came into our family rooms every TGIF night, playing Brendan, the quirky, funny and shy youngest member of the blended family of Frank and Carol. You might remember him from the intro as the kid taking cover when the other kid sneezes into his popcorn bucket. Or the other intro when he steals the ice cream scoop while the sneezer’s head is turned. By the final season of the show, number seven, little Brendan had disappeared — poof! without so much as a half-baked explanation. To quote another former child star, how rude! It turns out that Josh very much enjoys a good Renaissance Fair. He keeps a pretty low key profile so not much is known about Josh’s life today except for his fondness of all things medieval cosplay. I, for one, say, renaissance on and fare thee well, fine sir!
14. Barret Oliver – From Riding The Luckdragon To Specializing In Historic Photography
Barret Oliver is best known for having played Bastian Balthazar Bux (say that fast five times), the bullied bookworm who hid in a bookstore and started to read a forbidden book that drew him into its mysterious world in the children’s cult classic movie, The NeverEnding Story. Barret did other work in movies around this time but when he was a teen, he decided to leave the movie-making business and got interested in Scientology. He is now dedicated to preserving the history of 19th century film development processes. Pretty cool, right? You gotta respect the work put into the picture of him as it definitely does not look like it was taken recently, let alone anywhere near this era! If you’re interested in Barret’s work, he has a book available on Amazon called A History Of The Woodburytype.
13. Steven Anthony Taylor – From Beans To An Elf!
May I be real for a moment? Beans gave Even Stevens its special je ne sais quoi and that can not be denied! If you grew up watching the hit Disney sitcom, you know you waited for Beans to make a hilarious appearance. What a cute and funny kid Beans was! Nowadays, he fancies any role in the elf range… from a T-Mobile Christmas ad (love those pink eyebrows!) and as Santa’s helper at the Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord, California where people in their 20s and 30s practically stalk him to get a selfie with their childhood idol. One fan posted a photo with the caption “highlight of my youth.” Indeed. He’s also recently done various commercial work for The UPS Store and other companies. If ever there was a child actor that is deserving of a comeback, I am #TeamBeans! He just seems like such a good guy!
12. Taran Noah Smith – From The Littlest Taylor To A DUI!
Taran Noah Smith played Mark Taylor, TV son to Tim Allen on the hit 90s sitcom, Home Improvement. Taran effectively gave up his childhood for the show and is quoted as saying, “I started Home Improvement when I was 7 and the show ended when I was 16. I never had the chance to decide what I wanted to do with my life. When I was 16, I knew that I didn’t want to act anymore.” Just one year later, he married a raw foods chef named Heidi Van Pelt who is older than him by almost twenty years. They are now divorced but during their marriage, Taran got busted for driving while under the influence and being in possession of weed… you know, before it was legal. On the show, he was always the good kid while his older TV brothers were constantly getting into trouble or getting away with murder. Maybe now that he’s free from the tight constraints of Hollywood, he’s letting loose and seeing what it feels like to be a little wild.
11. Kellie Shanygne Williams – From Family Matters To Celebrity Wife Swap Flop And Possible Theft Scandal?
“It’s a rare condition this day and age to read any good news on the newspaper page.” Judging by the look on Kellie Shangyne Williams‘ face on her episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, it would seem that she agrees with the sentiment from the intro to her hit 90s sitcom, Family Matters. From 1989 to 1998, she played lovely Laura, the perfect daughter and object of mega nerd Steve Urkel’s affection and at times, obsession. These days, she’s a full-time mom to two cute kids and stay-at-home wife. Years after the show ended, Kellie started a foundation and there was talk about the foundation’s involvement with helping cover up an embezzlement scheme of some sort. There was an arrest made for someone loosely related to the foundation but nothing ties back directly to Kellie.
10. Devin Ratray – From Tarantula-Loving Bully Big Brother Buzz To Bizarre Documentary Star
You’re looking at the man who gave us some of the best 90s movie quotes of all times. He played Macaulay’s big brother on the big screen, one of the meanest McAllisters, who threatened to feed his little brother to his beloved pet tarantula, refused to save him from a bed-wetting cousin and openly wondered if French babes shaved their pits or not. Yep, he was a charmer. Besides Macaulay Culkin, he is one of the most memorable characters from the movie. Post-Home Alone, Devin Ratray has kept busy as a musician in bands he’s helped create, several TV and movie appearances and his pet project, a documentary where he professes his love for former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. His movie is called “Courting Condi.” It came out in 2008 and you can check out the trailer online.
9. Angus T. Jones – Charlie Sheen Isn’t The Only One From Two And A Half Men To Lose It
Angus T. Jones was the funny kid on Two and a Half Men that drove his Uncle Charlie crazy sometimes, eating everything in sight of the bachelor pad’s kitchen. He was a cute insightful little chubby tyke who enjoyed pointing out the obvious, much to Charlie Sheen’s character’s chagrin. But then something a bit strange happened. Fans started to notice that Jake Harper had suddenly changed one day. An older Jake appeared dim-witted and even kind of sleazy, a drastic change from his previous characteristics. Some fans harshly criticized the show’s producers, directors, and writers for the change. Apparently, Jake himself found the change to be in bad taste as well. Angus blasted the show in a video saying, “Jake Harper from Two And A Half Men means nothing. He is a non-existent character. If you watch Two And A Half Men, please don’t…” Angus said that he found his true calling at a Christian church called World Harvest Outreach in Texas. Even though he kind of bit the hand that was feeding him by walking off the show mid-season, it’s good that he seems happy.
8. Jaimee Foxworth – From Cute Little Sister Judy Winslow To The “Other” Industry And Addiction
Jaimee Foxworth is a great example of the damage done when child actors get booted off of shows. She’s not the first former child star to run to drugs and promiscuity after Hollywood broke up with her. But Jaimee is unique in that she has been so vocal about her regrets and past mistakes. She appeared on one season of Celebrity Rehab due to her intense marijuana addiction and talked openly about her pornographic pursuits and sadness over her bad choices with Oprah. It’s so sad because it seems like she truly wants to turn things around but is not sure how to. Little Jaimee was only into season four when her character disappeared from the scripts, with zero explanations offered to the audience and fans and nothing but rejection and a future ahead filled with confusion and angst for the child actress. Smooth move, producers!
7. Frankie Muniz – Made A Fortune On Malcolm In The Middle And Is Living The High Life Now!
Frankie Muniz remains the world’s most famous middle child. His role on Malcolm In The Middle with TV dad, Bryan Cranston, netted him more moola than Bryan’s net worth today — the star of Breaking Bad! How is that? It’s always a little weird when the child star on the show is making a ton more than the adult star. The show was all about him but still, I can’t imagine how Bryan and Malcolm’s TV mom, Jane Kaczmarek, felt about that. You gotta admire Frankie’s hustle… or his parents’ contract negotiating skills. Today, Frankie is keeping things real as a young millionaire, dating beautiful women, entertaining whimsies as he pleases such as joining a rock band and becoming a race car driver! This rich former child star can dabble in whatever strange hobbies and fantasies he likes. Why not? Hey, the world is yours, Frankie! Apparently, he already knows that.
6. Brian Bonsall – Huge Acting Roles For A Child That Led To Huge Issues As An Adult
Brian Bonsall was the ridiculously adorable youngest addition to the Keaton family on Family Ties. Andy Keaton stole America’s heart with his dark blonde bowl-cut hair, shining blue eyes, cute smile and smattering of freckles. Seriously, if you don’t remember, look him up. Brian was one cute kid on Family Ties! As he grew into an older kid, he fulfilled roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation and disturbingly, Disney’s Blank Check, a movie about a computer-savvy kid who gets access to unlimited funds and has a huge crush on a grown woman. The movie is actually pretty good for a kid’s movie until you get to the part where he, the child, smooches the said crush who doesn’t do much to turn him away or tell him that those feelings are not appropriate from what I remember. Oh yeah, and they went on a date. Reference the photo above for an idea as to why Brian has spent his heavily tattooed adult days drinking and drugging, getting dragged into court for various charges. What was Disney thinking with that creepy plot line?
5. Mary-Kate Olsen – The Girl Who “Untwinned” Herself
I’m not sure it’s possible to pinpoint exactly when Mary-Kate Olsen found herself #nottwinning. Maybe it was when she started dressing up in her infamous bag lady costumes with her twin. Maybe it was during that whole messy and tragic Heath Ledger death involvement where she very strangely practically refused to cooperate with law enforcement. But maybe it was when she was used as a child movie-making machine alongside her sister, pumping out one made-for-TV movie after another and was forced to say adios to her own identity. In one interview with Oprah, Mary-Kate remarks that they often get mistakenly called “The Ashley Twins.” That’s got to grind one’s gears just a bit. Today, Mary-Kate works on her successful fashion line, refuses to join former cast members in Fuller House episodes and is expecting her first baby with 47-year-old hubby Olivier Sarkozy who bears a somewhat odd… well, I’m just going to say it. He kind of looks like her TV dad, Bob Saget. If you squint, they’re almost doubles in some photos. Anyone with me on this?
4. Macaulay Culkin – Top Rated Child Star To Top Rated Adult Weirdo
You know there couldn’t be a list of former child actors now weird AF without mentioning the one, the only Macaulay Culkin, right? The guy’s a living legend when it comes to 90s entertainment. He gave us the epic Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 1 and 2, allergy sufferer and bee-sting sensitive Thomas J. in My Girl, Richie in Richie Rich and of course, a mother’s worst nightmare in The Good Son. In return for all that he gave us, he watched his childhood get flushed down the tubes and received a seriously jacked up mental state because of it. On top of this, he dealt with alleged abusive parents. Things got so bad at home, Mac tried to emancipate himself and seek custody of his younger siblings. He released a book in 2006 called Junior (loosely?) based on his life experiences. So if you want to support the kid who gave you so many laughs during your childhood, you now have a way.
3. Michael Ray Bower – From Salute Your Shorts To Rapper Dreams
You are definitely a child of the 90s if the name “Donkeylips” brings back a floodgate of childhood memories. Michael Ray Bower portrayed the funny-named camp kid who opened every show by blowing into a trumpet, starting off the Camp Anawanna theme song as he ran a pair of presumably stolen boxers up the flagpole with the help of his troublemaking pal, Budnick. After his stint on Salute Your Shorts, Michael dabbled in a rapping career, made several appearances on TV shows and now does some voiceover work. If you’d like to take a peek into his work on the rap scene, he was in an Angel Haze music video. Personally when it comes to music, I much prefer Donkeylips with a trumpet and belting out cheesy lines versus rapping lyrics but then again I’m partial to nostalgia.
2. Lark Voorhies – From Lovable Lisa Turtle To Strange Behavior And Concerning Allegations
Lark Voorhies gave kids of the 80s and 90s Lisa, the pretty, spunky and always fashionable girl on Saved By The Bell who would never give poor heartbroken Screech a break and say yes to a date. Her run on SBTB was wonderful and quite prosperous. She was extremely popular and won the hearts of many kids with her sassy comebacks and cute outfits on the show. After the show ended, Lark played it pretty low-key but occasionally made appearances, once in a Boyz II Men video. In recent years however, Lark’s behavior in interviews have been increasingly alarming. She slurs her speech and seems to go on rants. What’s more is photos of Lark at Hollywood events shows a woman who looks clearly in distress with her personal appearance. There is talk of bipolar disorder, lupus, and even possible drug abuse. We hope she gets whatever help may be needed.
1. Jeremy Jackson – From Baywatch’s Little Scamp To Private Tape Scandals
I know all that I said earlier about child actors giving up their childhoods to entertain but for a boy, do you think Jeremy Jackson really had it too rough on the set of Baywatch as Mitch Buchannon’s lovable son, Hobie? For starters, The Hoff was his TV Dad and he got to be around some of the biggest babes of the 90s. Just saying, he probably wasn’t complaining too much. Still, Jeremy struggled with addiction after the show ended and even had an arrest for drug possession. He was kicked off the show Celebrity Big Brother when he was seen grabbing a housemate without her permission. He joined many other B/C/D list celebs on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab to clean up an addiction to steroids. Today, Jeremy has a rockin’ bod and found himself entangled in a sex tape scandal à la his former co-star, fellow Baywatch alum Pamela Anderson. Though the two tapes differ greatly in popularity.