Society is almost more obsessed with child stars than they are with celebrities in general. Child singers and actors are adorable to watch, and their talent for preforming is fascinating, given their young age. However, the pressures of being a child star can be overwhelming for many. Some have managed to brave “the business” without growing up to be complete disheveled versions of their childhood selves. Unfortunately, some child stars haven’t been so lucky.
It’s important to keep in mind that many of these child celebrities are expected to handle a number of adult-sized responsibilities. For instance, many of these children are making more money than anyone else in their family, and are expected to provide for their households. These children also have to deal with the high expectations of network executives, and some of these young celebrities lose their innocent charm once they hit puberty. This could result in less roles, which leads to a spiral of depression. This has a lot to do with the reason why some child stars turn to criminal activity.
Remember some of these cute faces from your favorite childhood shows and movies? They’ve taken a different turn in life, but some of them are on the road to recovery. Here are 10 celebrities who went from childhood stars to convicts.
10 Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan became a well-known star at the age of 11 when she starred in the film The Parent Trap. She then rose to music and movie stardom, and became just as well-known on the party scene. In 2007, Lohan’s years of drugs, drinking and partying finally caught up with her. She was almost fired from the movie Georgia Rule. In a memo, the producers of the movie stated that they were well aware that Lohan’s late night partying was the reason for the actress’s exhaustion. 2007 was also the year Lohan was arrested for cocaine possession and DUI. She was sentenced to three years probation, and has had several stints in rehab since then.
9 Danny Bonaduce
The cute redhead from The Partridge Family fell on hard financial times when the series went off the air. He even had to live in his car for a time. Bonaduce was arrested for cocaine possession twice, once in 1985 and once in 1990. The former child actor admitted that he was so addicted to crack that he often burned his fingers and mouth because he couldn’t wait for the pipe to cool down before smoking. In 1991, he was arrested for assault and battery after he beat up a transvestite hooker. In 2005, Danny Bonaduce and his wife Gretchen chronicled their crazy lives in the reality show Breaking Bonaduce. The episodes featured Bonaduce struggling with drug abuse, and even discussed his attempted suicide.
8 Brad Renfro
Brad Renfro was discovered and hired to star in the film The Client, when he was just 10 years old. The only other acting experience Renfro had was in a school play sponsored by DARE, the anti-drug organization. So, it’s ironic that Renfro would eventually die from a heroin overdose. He was arrested several times for drug possession, and in 2000, Renfro and one of his friends were charged with grand theft for trying to steal a yacht. Five years later, Renfro was one of the 15 people who were arrested for trying to buy heroin during a police raid in the skid row area of Los Angeles. In 2006, he spent 10 days in jail for driving under the influence. Brad Renfro died in 2008, when he was just 25 years old.
7 Bobby Driscoll
Bobby Driscoll was once known as the golden boy of Disney, and is perhaps best remembered as the voice of Peter Pan. He even won a miniature Oscar for Outstanding Juvenile Actor. Driscoll started to get less roles as he reached puberty, since he started to develop severe acne. When he was 18, he was arrested for marijuana possession, which made producers even more skeptical about hiring him for new roles. His drug use escalated from marijuana to heroin, and Driscoll had even more run-ins with the law. He was arrested for forging a check for $45, and again for taking $450 from an animal clinic. Two young boys playing in an abandoned tenement in 1968 discovered Driscoll’s lifeless body. His arteries had hardened from years of drug use. He was buried in an unmarked grave, and his body was identified a year and a half later.
6 Dana Plato
Dana Plato is best known for her role as Kimberly Drummond on the 1980s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. After the show ended, she admitted that she drank and used drugs while she was a cast member. In 1984, Plato was let go from the show when she became pregnant by her then-boyfriend. After this, Dana had a hard time finding work, and appeared in soft-core adult films and B-list movies. In 1991, Plato was arrested when she used a pellet gun to rob a video store in Las Vegas. In 1992, she was arrested again for forging a Valium prescription. She also spent 30 days in jail for violating probation. Dana Plato passed away at the age of 35 from a drug overdose that was ruled a suicide.
5 Todd Bridges
Todd Bridges was Dana Plato’s co-star on Diff’rent Strokes and played Willis Drummond on the show. Todd Bridges was first arrested in 1983 for carrying a concealed weapon. Four years later, he was arrested again for making a bomb threat against a car dealership. In 1989, Bridges faced another arrest when he pulled a gun out on his mechanic because the two men had a dispute over Bridges’ bill. That same year, the actor was arrested on murder charges. He shot a drug dealer eight times while on a cocaine binge. Bridges was acquitted by Johnny Cochran, and in 1997, he was acquitted once again when he damaged a friend’s car during an argument. After his last arrest, Todd Bridges turned his life around and became a Christian. He started traveling and speaking about the perils of drug abuse. The former child star made headlines once again in 2001, when he rescued a woman who fell out of her wheelchair while fishing.
4 Robert Blake
Robert Blake started acting at the age of three. He was part of the Our Gang short film cast. Blake had a troubled childhood with a father who was an abusive alcoholic. This likely had a lot to do with Blake’s own issues with drug addiction later in life. Even though Robert Blake became very hard to work with, he still found success as a young adult when he starred in the series Baretta. He married actress Bonnie Lee Bakley when a DNA test confirmed that he was the father of her child. In 2001, Bakley was killed by a gunshot wound to the head while she was waiting for Blake in the car. This occurred six months after the couple married. Blake was found not guilty of the murder, despite a weak alibi, but was ordered to pay $15 million to the Bakley's three children.
3 Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Culkin is best known as the precocious and hilarious Kevin McAllister in the Home Alone movies. He also starred in the popular movies My Girl and Uncle Buck, and was once known for dating fellow actor Mila Kunis. The two were a couple for eight years. Culkin stated in several interviews that he didn’t like to give details about his personal life, but didn’t mind providing some information about his life as a child actor. This time in his life included being estranged from his father. He was arrested in 2004 for marijuana and prescription drug possession, and his bail was set at $4,000. Culkin was also known for becoming close friends with Michael Jackson. He admitted that he slept in Jackson’s room several times, but was never sexually assaulted by him.
2 Dustin Diamond
Dustin Diamond is an actor, stand-up comedian and musician and perhaps best known for his role as Screech on the hit 1980s and 1990s sitcom Saved By the Bell. He played a nerdy, awkward teen on the sitcom who was constantly surrounded by his cooler, more popular friends. Perhaps this dynamic started to get to him in real life, since he’s had a significant amount of unfavorable press since the show ended. In 2014, he was arrested for possession of a switchblade when he pulled the knife on a man during a bar fight. He was convicted of two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon, and was cleared of recklessly endangering public safety. Dustin also wrote a book detailing the alleged bad behavior of his colleagues behind the scenes of Saved By the Bell, and claims in the book that he had sex with more than 2,000 women, including Lisa Mancuso, the VP of Children’s Programming for NBC. Diamond has also appeared on the reality shows Celebrity Fit Club and Big Brother.
1 Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, who is still known as one of the greatest performers who ever lived, topped the charts with his brothers, the Jackson 5, when he was just 11 years old. In the 1980s, he gained the reputation of “Wacko Jacko” because it had been rumored that he slept in an oxygen chamber and made friends with a chimpanzee. Perhaps the biggest scandal associated with Michael Jackson came in 1993, when a 13-year-old’s father accused Jackson of sexual molestation. Jackson’s sister LaToya, even supported the allegations. Michael Jackson settled the lawsuit and paid the boy’s family more than $20 million. He then admitted that he’d slept in the bed with “many children” in a 2002 interview. He was tried and arrested in child abuse charges, and found not guilty in 2005.
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