Some of our favorite actors started as child stars who made the big screen and wowed many of their fans. However, not many of them made it to the spotlight as adults, and as they’re growing up, they’re dealing with lots of issues. However, let’s meet some of the child stars that failed to live up to the expectations of their career.
Amanda Bynes was a very talented sketch comic artist from a young age, and she received lots of acknowledgment from her audiences. She had her TV program, “The Amanda Show,” where she showcased her talent and impressed her audience. Going further in her career, Amanda ventured into rom-com roles, which were prevalent with teenagers in the spotlight at that time. In her early 20s, Amanda got involved in a series of high-profile incidents, including substance abuse. Bynes graduated from college (FIDM) in 2019; even though her acting career has not been active, she still seems to have remained on the right track.
Ben Savage does not fit into the category of a child star flop, as he is a very good example of a child actor who manages to divert all of the negative influences that come with the spotlight. Ben quickly followed in the footsteps of his brother Fred, becoming a fixture on the silver screen at a young age. A popular feature is from Boy Meets World, where he acted as the neurotic yet warm Cory Matthews. After Ben Savage graduated from Stanford, his acting career came to an abrupt end. Ben Savage has only appeared in one film since the end of his acting career: the short-lived reboot Girl Meets World.
Those who watched Family Ties would remember the cute little kid, Brian Bonsall. He was also the lead actor in the Disney film, Blank Check. You can also remember Brian Bonsall as the 12-year-old child who cashed a blank check for $1 million and used the money to live out all the fantasies of every kid of that age in the movie Blank Check. Bonsall retired from acting at the very young age of 14, and his older years have been filled with a series of arrests. Bonsall is now a musician based in Colorado and a member of the punk rock band, Sunset Silhouette. He has surely put his past behind him and tried to focus on his new path.
Orlando Brown started acting at a very young age, and he starred in many movies including Family Matters, Moesha, Major Payne, The Jamie Foxx Show, and other big and popular projects. Brown made a very big hit when he starred as a co-star with Raven-Symone in “That’s So Raven.” Orlando Brown featured in about 100 episodes, and he was a very important member of the cast. Growing older came with a series of bad reports for Brown as he was allegedly involved with some dust-ups with the police. He was also reported to have substance abuse issues. Brown made a bizarre appearance on the Dr. Phil show where he showed some erratic behavior with a strange color of contact lens. In recent times, Brown is said to have cleaned up his act and is now married with a son. He is also focusing majorly on his music career.
Dustin Diamond is mostly famous for his role in “Saved By The Bell,” where he played the character of the nerd Screech Powers. He was the comic relief for the movie, and he usually made use of clever one-liners and physical humor to get over the audience. Sadly, Diamond’s career couldn’t push forward as he was already a stereotype due to his character as Screech, and this made it difficult for him to land other good projects. This eventually brought his career to an abrupt stop. He then went on to appear in a series of reality television shows and also publish a book. After a few unproductive years, Diamond passed away sadly in 2021 at the age of 44.
Tracey Gold was a child actor who participated in several hit commercials. In the family show Growing Pains, she was best known as Kirk Cameron’s wisecracking sister. Tracey Gold mostly featured in TV movies, and she indeed became a well-known star in film and television. As the years have gone by and she has become an adult, Tracey Gold is said to have suffered from an eating disorder as a young girl. She was last featured in a film role in 2016. Tracey is a mother of four, and she recently appeared on the Food Network reality show Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition.
Lindsay Lohan was a very big child star, and she has also managed to stay very relevant in her acting career. She made a major hit in the film, “The Parent Trap,” and this success propelled her into some popular projects. Mean Girls was also widely acclaimed, and Lohan was just a teen at the time. She was well on her path to becoming an A-list actress as an adult, but she got mixed up with substance abuse and her parents going public with their feud. The media made matters worse as they publicized her struggles for everyone to see. Lohan Lindsay, however, made a grand comeback and began to appear in some projects. She is currently engaged and lives in Dubai as of 2022.
Mara Wilson started her career at the very young age of nine years, and she made it quite big. She became a popular face on the silver screen and starred in three different films. She played Miracle on 34th Street, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Matilda. Mara Wilson, at one point in her life, stopped acting and lived as a normal child. She attended college in New York and now lives there to this day. She continues to act and participate in different podcasts. Wilson has also been involved in voice acting, including Bojack Horseman.
Danny Bonaduce landed a platform in the film when he starred in The Partridge Family. The little boy was given a chance to show his talents, and he immediately made it to the spotlight after the project. The Partridge Family project received huge success, and that was how Danny Partridge made it as a child actor. He played his role for about 96 episodes before moving on to work on television in guest spots. When Bonaduce left the film and went to television, his popularity finished, and he was never able to revive it. As an adult, he hosted a few talk shows and appeared in a series of reality television shows before relocating to Seattle, where he is now a radio host.
Willie Aames was a major teen heartthrob during the 1970s and 80s. Aames’ popular movie roles include Eight Is Enough and the 1982 film Paradise. Aames’ career in the film came to a stop after a very long project with Charles in Charge. He, however, starred in many television films before the end of his career. Aames was married twice, and both marriages ended up in divorce. After the second divorce, Aames changed his career path and went on to work on a cruise ship line. He later got married for the third time before returning to acting. He has been back in film for about five to six years, and he has been featured in Hallmark movies.
Jake Lloyd’s tale is a depressing one. After auditioning over 3,000 children, George Lucas chose Lloyd to play the young Anakin Skywalker (also known as Darth Vader). You’d think Lloyd would have enjoyed watching the movie. It was good in some ways, but terrible in others. He experienced persistent bullying at school and was harshly criticized for his on-screen performance. Based on the negative fallout from his Star Wars performance, Lloyd’s career practically came to an end even after a run with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way. Lloyd has been embroiled in some legal matters since quitting performing (which included getting in a high-speed chase). In 2016, he was housed in an institution for correction for ten months. However, reports state that Lloyd has been suffering from schizophrenia, and he has quit acting since 2001.
Taylor Momsen has had a rather interesting journey as a child actor. Thrust into modeling by her parents as a baby, she eventually made big appearances in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Gossip Girl, Spy Kids 2, and We Were Soldiers. However, beneath the surface, all Momsen wanted to do was play music. As a result, she gave up acting and concentrated her efforts on becoming a successful rock star. For over a decade, she’s been the face of The Pretty Reckless. The group has released four albums to date, and Momsen even penned a track that landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s mainstream rock songs chart. Momsen’s group has over 1.8 million monthly visitors on Spotify and a track (“Heaven Knows”) with more than 87 million listens. He did a voice-over job on “Robot Chicken” and continues his musical career in Mexico, where he has a fan base.
Drake Bell used to be a double threat because he was both an actor and a musician. Bell was one of Nickelodeon’s most well-liked stars when Drake and Josh made a big splash on the network. He was also gathering momentum in his budding music career. After the program ended, Bell continued to perform music, mainly as a guest on Nickelodeon programs (both in person and with voiceovers). As his career tapered down, Bell had legal issues later on. He received a DUI in 2015, and in 2021 he was charged with allegedly sending minor indecent text messages. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and two years of probation. He reportedly has a son and is married now.
Haley Joel Osment
The Sixth Sense was a cultural phenomenon. Exactly in the center of it all was Haley Joel Osment. He followed up his role in Forest Gump with this outstanding performance. Together with Bruce Willis, Osment will always be associated with the movie. Everything—innocence, terror, and maturity—was present. After that career-defining role, Osment found it challenging to live up to the hype. Strong performances came from Pay It Forward and A.I. (artificial intelligence). Osment never really made the switch to acting as a grownup after that. Instead, he performed a lot of voice acting for a series of computer games. Osment participated in a variety of sports and went to high school like any other student. He didn’t come back till after college. He continues to feature in different movies, including Goliath, Silicon Valley, and The Kominsky Method.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT) was a legend during his tenure on Home Improvement after providing the voice of Simba in The Lion King. Every young person was in love with him, and the media ate it up. Thomas appeared on the covers of magazines and in movies including I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Tom and Huck, and Man of the House. Despite being a huge star, he decided to give acting a rest and live a quieter life. He went to Columbia and Harvard for college. His public and broadcast appearances have been rare. We can only presume that JTT, who is known for keeping his personal affairs discreet, is happy to be living off the proceeds from The Lion King and Home Improvement.
Home Alone and Mackenzie Culkin are similar to peanut butter and jelly. Those two go well together. In his prime, he was the biggest young star. It wasn’t even close. He’s had his fair share of flops (Uncle Buck, My Girl) and hits (Richie Rich, Getting Even With Dad). Nevertheless, Culkin is a legendary kid actor because of the Home Alone movies. He gave up acting as a young teen to focus on music and other chances. Since then, he has experienced a small Renaissance. Despite not being the well-known adult performer that his brother Kieran is, Mac runs his website and podcast. In American Horror Story: Double Feature, he also appeared (in 2021). Most recently, Culkin gave birth to a child with Brenda Song, a fellow child actress and longtime companion of his.
Leif Garrett began his career as an actor but became best known as a musical performer. He was the “it” child in the late 1970s, a time when he had a lot of rivalry with legendary musical artists. Both locally and in the U.K., Garrett has a few songs that have reached the top-10 charts. However, he decided to return to acting while his music career was at its peak. There wasn’t much success for Garrett. Over the past few decades, he has appeared in several reality television programs. Accordingly, Garrett has battled issues with substance misuse since he was a teenager. Garrett is rumored to be sober and is now 60 years old.
Renfro is a cautionary tale about a young person who grows up quickly. He lacked the polish of most child actors. He was raised by his grandmother in a substandard Southern community, making him nearly like a wild mustang. Renfro, however, has genuine skill. He had a fantastic natural style and appeared much older than his actual age. This contributed to his untimely demise. Renfro soon rose to fame while also becoming heavily involved in drug use. He socialized with older folks, which regrettably caused his acting career to fail. Renfro, who was 25 years old at the time of his death, reportedly overdosed on drugs in 2008. A son he left behind is alleged to have grown up in Japan.
From the time he was a little child to the end of his teenage years, Corey Feldman had a highly successful career. The Fox and the Hound, Gremlins, Cheers, Family Ties, Stand By Me, The Goonies, and The Lost Boys were just a few of his early successes. Later successes included “License to Drive,” Dream a Little Dream,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Roles disappeared as the 1990s arrived. Feldman had a lifelong passion for music (which still exists today in the pseudo-form of Michael Jackson). He has recently been outspoken about claims of child abuse in Hollywood. He is currently in his third marriage, has one son, and still plays music with his band.
Corey Haim, a Canadian actor, was a member of the “Two Corey’s” duet and enjoyed enormous success in the 1980s. Haim was a well-known kid actor like Feldman was. He displayed great versatility, and as a young actor on screen, he stirred up a lot of emotion. One of his most successful roles was Lucas. The Lost Boys, Silver Bullet, Dream A Little Dream, License to Drive, Murphy’s Romance, and Haim also starred in these films. Haim’s struggles with drug misuse and his inability to land major roles went hand in hand. He was followed throughout the majority of his adult life. Haim tried to return to acting as a full-time career after taking part in a reality show that featured Feldman. Haim’s situation appeared to be improving (he was once homeless). But he died at the age of 38 in 2010.
The Biggest Legends Who Died Too Soon
The first member of the “27 Club” to appear on this list is Jim Morrison. Morrison, a Florida native, co-founded one of the greatest bands ever while residing in California. Morrison and pianist Ray Manzarek created The Doors while living in Venice. Morrison, the lead singer, rose to fame as a result of his extraordinary talent, unpredictable demeanor, and distinctive voice. Morrison, one of the greatest singers of all time, struggled with alcoholism throughout his career. At the age of 27, the legend tragically passed away suddenly in Paris. The precise reason for Morrison’s death is still unknown because an autopsy was never carried out.
The shock that their early deaths caused is the one thing that ties all of the people mentioned in this article together, other than their talent. Aaliyah perished in a plane crash on August 25, 2001. Aaliyah, who was only 22 years old when she passed away, was known as the “Princess of R&B” because of her extraordinary skill. Aaliyah, the star’s last studio album, topped the U.S. charts and earned a double Platinum certification. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album after the horrific accident. Aaliyah received a total of five Grammy nominations for her contributions.
Chris Farley’s legacy as a comedian is still going strong as his passing approaches its 25th anniversary. Farley, a performer at Chicago’s Second City Theatre, saw his career soar as a result of his appearances on Saturday Night Live. Farley took part in some of the most well-known SNL sketches ever produced. Farley, a recurring character in the sitcom from 1990 to 1995, went on to have a prosperous career in Hollywood. Farley rose to prominence as a result of his leading parts in movies including Tommy Boy, Beverly Hills Ninja, and Black Sheep. Farley, however, struggled with obesity and drug addiction throughout his career. At the age of 33, Farley passed away from an overdose in 1997.
Otis Redding, known as “The King of Soul,” was a remarkable artist who had a lasting impression on the music business. Redding, who was born in Georgia in 1941, started touring the South when he was 17 years old with a group called the Pinetoppers. Redding had already put out his debut album, Pain in My Heart, and a few songs by the year 1964. Redding tragically perished in a plane crash on December 10, 1967, at the age of 26. Redding had just finished recording “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” his most famous song, just before the disaster. Redding received two Grammy Awards for the popular song after his passing, and he was finally admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The “Queen of Tejano Music,” who was born Selena Quintanilla, became known simply as Selena. Selena is regarded as one of the best Latin performers of all time, but the star was also a talented fashion designer, so her influence on the culture extended beyond music. Three of Selena’s albums peaked at No. 1 over her career on various charts, including the US, US Latin, and US Regional Mexican charts. The manager of Selena’s boutiques and president of Selena’s fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, killed the singer in cold blood in 1995. Selena wasn’t even 24. Thankfully, over 30 years after her passing, the icon’s legacy has lived on.
The death of Heath Ledger in 2008 came as a complete shock. Ledger, who was only 28 years old, had already made a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s top up-and-coming stars. Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain garnered him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor just two years prior. Just a few months before his unintentional death, Ledger wrapped up production for The Dark Knight’s Joker scene. Ledger’s performance received overwhelmingly positive reviews and is regarded as one of the best of the 2000s. Ledger received a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in recognition of his outstanding performance.
Martin Luther King Jr.
He was an individual who required no introduction. It is impossible to exaggerate the influence of Martin Luther King Jr. on the US (and the rest of the globe). MLK Jr., the movement’s leader, dedicated his life to improving the civil rights of Americans of color. MLK Jr. is a well-known speaker who famously gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for battling racial inequality. The historic figure was killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. only 39 years old.
Sid Vicious is frequently one of the first names that spring to mind when people discuss punk rock or punk culture in general. Vicious, a London native, experienced a meteoric rise to fame as well as a tragic downward spiral that ultimately led to his demise. The Sex Pistols, an English punk rock band that was successful between 1975 and 1978, featured Vicious on bass. Four months before his passing, on October 11, 1978, Vicious was detained and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Vicious, a rock star, passed away at the age of 21 from a drug overdose before going to trial.
Janis Joplin was a supernova. Joplin, who was born in 1943, was maybe the biggest female rock star of her day. Joplin won over millions of fans during her career thanks to her seductive vocals and commanding stage presence. Joplin was a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company in the late 1960s. Before starting a solo career, the group’s star remained with them for the publication of two albums. Joplin, a solo artist, has five singles that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, including her interpretation of “Me and Bobby McGee.” Sadly, Joplin passed away in 1971 at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose. The rocker is still regarded as one of history’s finest singers.
The Rolling Stones was started by Brian Jones, who is pictured second from the right. Jones had great musical talent and could play a wide variety of instruments, including “guitar, harmonica, keyboard, dulcimer, trumpet, bass, zither, marimba, banjo, clarinet, xylophone, flute, accordion, cello, and harp.” Jones was expelled from the band in 1969 as a result of several unwise choices and arguments with his bandmates. Nearly a month after the band officially announced Jones’ dismissal, Jones’ body was discovered at the bottom of his swimming pool. The death of the 27-year-old is still a mystery. Jones was thought to have inadvertently drowned, although several ideas suggest otherwise.
When the news of Paul Walker’s passing in 2013 first surfaced, moviegoers all over the world were completely surprised and heartbroken. Walker rose to international fame as Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious trilogy after boosting his reputation in the film business with his roles in Varsity Blues and She’s All That. Walker had previously played the part in six movies and was currently filming the seventh installment of the series when he passed away. Strangely, Walker, a 40-year-old celebrity, was a passenger in a fatal single-vehicle collision.
Marvin Gaye was a true legend. Numerous of the singles produced by the “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul” are regarded as timeless classics. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” “Let’s Get It On,” and “Sexual Healing” are some of Gaye’s best-known songs. Gaye’s music appeals to listeners of all ages. Try reading those song titles without picturing the lyrics to each song in your thoughts. Surprisingly, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot him twice, ending his son’s life at the age of 44.
There were several names that this individual went by, and they were all instantly identifiable. No matter what name was used to refer to him, whether it was Christopher Wallace, The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or Biggie, you knew who the person was. The New York native is one of the best rappers of all time. Classics including “Big Poppa,” “Hypnotize,” “Juicy,” “One More Chance,” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems” was created by Biggie. The relationship that developed into a rivalry between Biggie and Tupac overshadowed his career and is still hotly debated 25 years after it ended. Just a few months after Biggie was shot dead in a drive-by shooting, Tupac was also killed by gunfire. Two months short of 25 years old, the legendary rapper