Child stars often leave the entertainment business after spending their childhood in the spotlight, and we forget about them. The public moves on to the next big thing, and former young stars are free to live their life in relative obscurity. Some child stars choose to make a comeback, or do reality shows (The Two Coreys, anyone?), but others never return to the spotlight. There might even be some that you could pass on the street and have no idea that starred in your favorite movie or TV show as a kid.
There are endless lists on child stars who grew up to be another one of the gorgeous celebrity masses (Emma Watson), and child stars who have aged terribly (Lindsay Lohan, Haley Joel Osment). But there are some child stars that look nothing like what you would have expected, either because of plastic surgery, or they just grew up away from the pressure of Hollywood. Here are 15 child stars that you would never recognize today.
15 Jerry O’Connell
The chubby, misfit kid from Stand By Me grew up to be a lot better looking than anyone expected. Jerry O’Connell was already on the way out of his awkward baby fat stage when he landed a role in My Secret Identity, and then he went on to starring roles in Sliders, and Crossing Jordan. O’Connell dated Giuliana Rancid (and supposedly cheated on her with Geri Halliwell) and is now married to model and actress, Rebecca Romijn. He was on the cover of Men’s Fitness in 2006, and he talked about being a “typical American kid” who didn’t know how to eat healthy. But a couple movies roles (Jerry Maguire and Kangaroo Jack) helped him get in shape, and eat right. He no longer identifies with his Stand By Me character, Vern, who said if he had to eat only one food for the rest of his life, it would be “Cherry Pez. No doubt about it.”
14 Larisa Oleynik
You probably remember Larisa Oleynik as the girl who had the unique ability to transform into a puddle of green goo on The Secret World of Alex Mack. She also made appearances on Boy Meets World, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and had a starring role in the film, 10 Things I Hate About You. She was considered a teen idol during that time and even was rumoured to be dating Joseph Gordon-Levitt at one point. Since then she has had a few recurring roles on shows like Pretty Little Liars, Hawaii Five-O, and Mad Men. Not bad for a former teen idol. But thanks to her current pixie cut, you’d probably never recognize her as “girl next door” Alex Mack if you passed her on the street.
13 Jason Zimbler
As Ferguson, in Clarissa Explains It All, Jason Zimbler was the typically annoying kid brother to Melissa Joan Hart’s Clarissa. He was most recognizable for his big mop of red hair, which is now completely gone. Jason is bald now, and he hasn’t really done any acting since the show ended in 1994. Instead he turned to theatre, where he has worked as a director and a producer. He also started his own theatre company in Portland, Oregon called The Re-Theatre Instrument. Currently he works for HBO as a software designer.
12 Alyson Stoner
Alyson Stoner is an actress known for roles in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and Cheaper By the Dozen. You might also remember her as the child dancer in Missy Elliot’s music videos for “Work It” and “Gossip Folks”. She was kind of a tomboy back then, but these days she’s a lot more feminine. In February she released a mash up of her dance routines with Missy Elliot and the video racked up more than 12 million views on Youtube. Now Alyson is working on her own music, and she’s still an amazing dancer.
11 Josh Peck
Josh Peck is known for his role as Josh in the Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh which he portrayed for four seasons until its cancellation in 2007. Josh’s character was the overweight, socially awkward, unpopular one, but by the fourth season of the show, he had lost a lot of weight in real life, which transferred over to his character on the show. He said, “I don't really understand why I should be a role model, but I know that kids do look up to me, so it is my responsibility to motivate people and be inspiring. I hope that I can do that for kids. It doesn't really matter what you look like though,” about his decision to lead a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. Now, he voices the role of Casey Jones on Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
10 Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki was only 6 years old when he appeared with Renee Zellweger and Tom Cruise in the critically-acclaimed film, Jerry Maquire. He also starred in Stuart Little and appeared in episodes of Dawson's Creek and The Jeff Foxworthy Show. He is now 23, and hasn't had any starring roles in awhile. He has been focusing on philanthropy through work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and he also trains in mixed martial arts, and has even indicated that he might be interested in fighting professionally in the future.
9 Miko Hughes
When he was only 3 years old, Miko Hughes starred in the film adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary as Gage Creed. He is also known for films like Kindergarten Cop, Apollo 13, and Mercury Rising. As an adult actor, Hughes guest starred on a few episodes of the WB's Roswell, but didn't do much film work. Now, he is a successful DJ going by the name DJ Cubed, and to look at him, you would never think he was the creepy, homicidal kid that came back from the dead to kill people in Pet Sematary.
8 Kate Maberly
English actress Kate Maberly made her film debut as Mary Lennox in the 1993 film, The Secret Garden. She was 11 years old at the time, and the role jump started her acting career. She went on to roles in Gulliver's Travels and Finding Neverland, among others. She is also a talented musician, and she attended London's Trinity College of Music, graduating in 2004 with a joint honors degree in piano and cello performance.
7 Anna Chlumsky
The girl who stole everyone's heart opposite Macaulay Culkin in the 1991 film My Girl is all grown up. Anna Chlumsky was 11 years old when she got her big break, and she put her acting career on hold to attend school at the University of Chicago, and pursue work outside of Hollywood. But she returned to the entertainment business to work on independent films, and now you may recognize her as one of the stars of the HBO series Veep. She has also been nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, proving that leaving the business for a little while doesn't have to be career suicide.
6 Mackenzie Rosman
The youngest member of the Camden family on 7th Heaven was played by Mackenzie Rosman from the age of 7 to 18. Ruthie Camden was a cute, innocent, curly haired kid even as she grew into a young adult on the show. Rosman hasn't done anything high profile since 7th Heaven ended in 2007, except for a guest appearance on The Secret Life of the American Teenager in 2010. But she did pose for Maxim in 2013, showing off her all-grown-up body in lingerie. Bet you didn't think you would ever see Ruthie Camden in a sexy photo shoot.
5 Lark Voorhies
You probably remember Lark Voorhies as the fresh faced teenager who played Lisa Turtle on the original Saved By the Bell. She also appeared in episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and had her own story arc on Bold and the Beautiful in 1995, and again in 2004. In 2012, Voorhies' mother told People magazine that her daughter was recently diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and Lark when on to do multiple interviews denying being Bipolar, and insisted she was just fine. But her changing appearance begged to differ. It's unclear whether she has had too much plastic surgery, or just doesn't know how to apply makeup, but she definitely doesn't look like stylish, beautiful Lisa Turtle anymore.
4 Danica McKellar
Danica McKellar starred as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years from 1988-1993 opposite Fred Savage. She was the one chosen out of hundreds of kids who auditioned, and even beat out her own sister to win the role. After the show ended, McKellar did a variety of guest starring roles. In 2004, she posed for Stuff magazine after she was voted by readers as the 90s star they would most like to see in lingerie. She participated in the 18th season of Dancing With the Stars, and came in sixth place. McKellar also has a degree in mathematics, and has written four books that aim to encourage young girls to have confidence and succeed in math.
3 Ross Hull
If you are Canadian, you probably remember Ross Hull from shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Ready or Not, and Student Bodies. He played Gary, the leader of The Midnight Society on Are You Afraid of the Dark? from 1991-1996, and continued acting until a 2004 appearance on Stargate: Atlantis. Hull completed Mississippi State University's Meteorology Program, and was hired by Canada's The Weather Network in 2005. He has since been a weather reporter, and anchor at various news stations across Canada. He now works as a meteorologist for Global Toronto.
2 Jenna Von Oy
We all know Mayim Bailik, who played Blossom's title character is now a regular on Big Bang Theory. But what happened to Jenna Von Oy, who played her fast talking best friend, Six? When Blossom ended, Von Oy started film school, but dropped out after two years to return to acting. She played Stevie on The Parkers for 5 seasons, and has made guest appearances on Cold Case, and Family Guy. In 2000, she tried to launch a country music career, but it wasn't until 2007 that her debut album, Breathing Room was released.
1 Brian Bonsall
Brian Bonsall played young Andy Keaton on Family Ties from 1986-1989, and also had a part as Alexander Rozhenko on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the early 90s. You also might recognize him as the kid who makes himself a millionaire and spends all the money in a couple weeks in the Disney film, Blank Check. He quit acting in 1995, and moved to Boulder Colorado where he finished school, and started a band. He has been in a number of different bands, and also works on solo projects, and he has stated that he has no interest in returning to acting. He has also had multiple run-ins with the law since his child star days. Who would have thought innocent little Andy Keaton would have neck tattoos?
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