Celebrities & Pop Culture

Child Actors: Then And Now

Which transformation surprises you the most?

We can’t seem to get enough of child stars. They’re cute, they’re precocious and they usually steal the spotlight from even the biggest stars. Some of these pint-size performers continue on in their acting careers, long into their adult years, while others choose to follow a new path.

Where are some of your favorite kid stars from the past six decades? Take a look back into the good old days of TV with this slideshow, and see where some of entertainment’s most famous kids are now!

1. Jonathan Lipnicki

The adorable kid from the Tom Cruise film “Jerry Maguire” has grown up into a martial arts-practicing, fitness-loving man who continues to hit the Hollywood scene.

Getty | TriStar

2. Maureen McCormick

Marcia Marcia Marcia! McCormick played the oldest girl in “The Brady Bunch,” the one who seemed to get all the boys and popularity (at least according to middle sister Jan). The now-61-year-old McCormick was a recent contestant on “Dancing With The Stars,” and still makes occasional appearances on TV.

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3. Peter Billingsley

Billingsley shot to stardom as Ralphie Parker in the 1983 holiday classic “A Christmas Story.” Today, most of his work is behind the camera as a director and producer. He did, however, have an uncredited cameo in another holiday blockbuster, “Elf,” in 2003.

MGM / Getty

4. Dante Basco

Remember Rufio, the self-proclaimed leader of the Lost Boys in the 1991 Robin Williams hit movie “Hook?” The now-42-year-old Basco has kept very busy over the years with roles in various TV shows, and has also done lots of voice-over work for animated series, including “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

TriStar | Wikimedia Commons

5. Jerry Mathers

As one of the original child stars of the 1950s, Mathers’ portrayal of the Beaver in “Leave It To Beaver” made him a TV icon. The 69-year-old former child star still makes media appearances to talk about his time as “The Beav” and the impact the role had on his life.

Wikimedia Commons | Getty

6. Ron Howard

Ron Howard’s acting career took off at the age of 5 when he played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1960. From there, he went on to countless guest star roles, until he landed the part of Richie Cunningham in the 1970s hit “Happy Days.” Today, the 64-year-old director and producer is co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment.

Wikimedia Commons

7. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

The Olsen girls ruled prime-time television in the ’90s in “Full House.” They graduated to countless movies and even launched their own fashion line. The 31-year-old twins continue to design fashions and enjoy their fortunes.

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8. Macaulay Culkin

As the young “Home Alone” hero Kevin McAllister, Macaulay Culkin became a Hollywood darling. Unfortunately, like many child stars, he fell onto some hard times, including an arrest for drug possession. Currently, at age 37, he’s once again working as an actor.

20th Century Fox / Getty

9. Alfonso Ribeiro

Ribeiro may be best known as Carlton from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but Ribeiro was also a Broadway star in “The Tap Dance Kid,” and had a role in the TV series “Silver Spoons” with Ricky Schroder. In recent years, he’s been on “Dancing With The Stars” and currently hosts “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

NBC | Getty

10. Christina Aguilera

Before she became a pop music superstar, 37-year-old Christina Aguilera was a child star featured in Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club.” Do you remember her time in the “House of Mouse” with other alums like Justin Timberlake? Ah, the memories!

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11. Raven-Symoné

The second in our trio of former Disney Divas first started her career on NBC’s “The Cosby Show.” She continued her star turn at Disney with “That’s So Raven” and “The Cheetah Girls” movie series. Today, the 32-year-old is a co-host on ABC’s “The View.”

NBC | Getty

12. Miley Cyrus

Last but not least, Miley Cyrus is probably considered Disney’s brightest star. Her time as the titular character in the blockbuster series “Hannah Montana” impacted an entire generation of tweens and teens. The 25-year-old singer’s career continues to flourish despite a few bumps in the road.

Disney | Getty

13. Dakota Fanning

Twenty-four-year-old Dakota Fanning was the youngest actor ever nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award in 2001 for her role in “I Am Sam.” She was only 8 years old at the time. Fanning’s current projects include “Ocean’s 8” and TV series “The Alienist.”


14. Neil Patrick Harris

It’s hard to believe that Harris first played Doogie Howser, M.D. way back in 1989! Now, at age 44, he’s still a popular actor on both TV and stage. Talk about longevity! He’s probably best known as Barney from “How I Met Your Mother,” but is also featured in the Netflix series “A Series Of Unfortunate Events.”

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15. Fred Savage

Today, 41-year-old Savage does most of his work behind the camera as a director and producer. However, back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he was the star of TV’s “The Wonder Years.”

ABC | Getty

16. Danica McKellar

McKellar played Savage’s on-screen love Winnie Cooper in “The Wonder Years.” Who didn’t love those two together? Today, the 43-year-old former child star is a well-respected author who writes non-fiction books about mathematics, and who encourages girls to pursue careers in the math and science fields.

ABC | Getty

17. Josh Saviano

The third actor in “The Wonder Years” trio of friends was Josh Saviano. He played Paul Pfeiffer, Kevin’s best friend and resident nerd. He didn’t stick with acting long after “The Wonder Years.” In fact, he became a lawyer!

ABC | Getty

18. Danny Bonaduce

Come on get happy! Danny Bonaduce was part of the 1970s iconic series “The Partridge Family.” He played a bit of a mischief-maker on TV and it carried over into his real life for a while, with several arrests related to drugs and assault. The now 54-year-old now has his own radio show in Seattle and seems to be doing well.

Wikimedia Commons | Getty

19. Ricky Schroder

Schroder debuted in the 1979 feature film “The Champ” when he was only 9 years old. He went on to star in the TV series “Silver Spoons” for five years. Over the years, the now-48-year-old actor has been in dozens of TV shows, including “NYPD Blue” and “Strong Medicine.”

Wikimedia Commons | Getty

20. Cole and Dylan Sprouse

These adorable twins landed their first feature film role in “Big Daddy” with Adam Sandler in 1999. They went on to star in their two Disney Channel series: “The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody” and “The Suite Life On Deck” from 2005-2011. Neither brother is into acting much anymore. They graduated from New York University in 2015.


21. Honey Boo Boo

Honey Boo Boo (real name: Alana Thompson) got her TV start TV on TLC’s “Toddlers & Tiaras” before she and her family got their own reality show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” The critically-panned, love-it-or-hate-it show ran for four seasons and made Honey Boo Boo, mom Mama June Shannon and the rest of their family household names. Fans can still catch now-13-year-old Honey Boo Boo and “Mama June” on their spinoff series “Mama June: From Hot To Not.”

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