Growing up in the 90s, we are all familiar with the slew of television sitcoms, dramas and movies that were home to plenty of child stars, jump starting the careers of many. Some of these kids went on to become rather successful adults, taking on more and more lead roles and even winning awards for their efforts, while others became washed up, with their stardom peaking and declining again before they were even out of high school.
Many stars made the big time in some epic series and movies like ET, Baywatch, Power Rangers, Full House, and Saved By The Bell, just to name a few. A pattern began to emerge of child stars going through a rough patch after they were successful. Some (but not all) suffered mental health issues and drug/alcohol addictions before either dropping off the face of the earth for good or bouncing back, and becoming even more successful than they were before. Some stars didn’t have any problems at all, but instead vanished from stardom to either pursue other interests or simply because they weren’t able to get any more work in Hollywood.
When it comes to career resurgence, it is interesting to see who made it big and who came up short. Without futher pause, here are 16 child stars we likely remember from childhood, 8 who are all washed up and 8 who made a comeback and still get regular gigs in Hollywood today!
16Erik Per Sullivan - Malcolm In the Middle
You probably know Erik Per Sullivan as the youngest child on Malcolm in the Middle and much of his success continued during his youth. He has a variety of television and movie credits such as Joe Dirt, Finding Nemo, Unfaithful, and more. But since this star has become an adult, his career in Hollywood has been put on hold in pursuit of other things.
Finally out of his child star phase, Sullivan is now doing something that is pretty adult-like: he is attending the University of Southern California and getting a college degree. Unlike some of the other child stars in the business, Sullivan is doing something productive and hasn’t spiraled out of control or gone off the deep end. But his pursuit of education leaves us wondering if Sullivan will ever return to acting again - only time will tell.
15Christine Abbott - Wishbone
Christine Abbott was a popular child/teen star in the 90s that appeared in 50 episodes of the series Wishbone… which focused on, you guessed it: dogs. (Yes, you may remember this series by it’s typical 90s clothing and hairstyles.) Since her mid-90s doggy fame, Christine has only done a few random roles, like small parts in Walker, Texas Ranger, The Women and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
This once growing star seems to have faded into dust. Christine remains out of the Hollywood spot light and isn’t really doing much now in terms of acting. She is basically unknown; I mean did you recognize her name right off the bat? I sure didn’t! As far as I can tell, this former actress has no future plans to get back into the acting scene.
14Lark Voorhies - Saved By The Bell
Another trendy 90s show for teens was of course the ever popular Saved By The Bell, which featured lovable character with lots of cheesy comedy. Lark Voorhies played Lisa Turtle in the series, before going on to having a respectable 90s Soap Opera Career. Voorhies appeared on daytime series such as Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful and held these steady gigs until her career took a turn for the worst, when she left acting to form her own production company.
Her producing was going according to plan, until she had a PR setback in 2012 where photos of her circulated the media depicting her wearing really strange makeup. This had people wondering if she was mentally unwell and in turn she lost a lot of clients because of it. Since this incident, Voorhies hasn’t done much in Hollywood, making fans believe she is officially off the scene, for now at least.
13Monica Keena - Dawson's Creek
Monica Keena is known for her role on Dawson’s Creek but she started out her career as a child star in movies like While You Were Sleeping. On the Creek, Keena played a resident mean girl, whom many of the characters and much of the audience despised. Since being on the 90s tv drama, Keena has had a few roles in select television series and movies such as Entourage and Undeclared but hasn’t done much in the way of acting since.
Keena actually gained more publicity from dating fellow former child star Edward Furlong, who was arrested for domestic violence against her while they dated. Only time will tell if Keena will get back into the acting game or if she is out of the Hollywood spotlight for good.
12David Lascher - Sabrina The Teenage Witch
This 90s dreamboat was the teen star in many 90s sitcoms and movies including Blossom, Clueless and Sabrina The Teenage Witch but has since left show business entirely. Lascher’s 90’s stardom began as he was discovered after appearing in a Burger King commercial. After being a 90’s sitcom star, Lascher had a pretty elusive career in the made-for-tv-movie scene in the early 2000s, before basically disappearing completely from Hollywood.
Lascher hasn’t really done much since 2002 (except for a brief stint parodying Ryan Seacrest in 2006 on NBC’s Last Call With Carson Daly and a short appearance on Melissa and Joey in 2014) and reportedly has left acting to make more time for his personal life, as he takes on a new role as a devote family man. He is married to a woman named Jill London and they have three children together. It is safe to say this child star is out of the business entirely.
11Austin St. John - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
This teen star entered into the television scene with a big bang! Austen St. John starred as none other than the Red Ranger the hit series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that aired on Fox Kids from 1993-1999. St. John reportedly left the show after only a few seasons because of contract issues but made a comeback in the 1996 series Power Rangers Zero and also stared in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.
St. John had a lot to bring to the show and to Hollywood in general as he was trained in the skill of martial arts. You would think St. John would have gone on to pursue other acting opportunities with a skill like that but it turns out he has left the business for good. St. John is still saving the world though, only this time it’s for real: the former actor is now a real life EMT and a Fire Fighter in Washington DC.
10Hana Hatae - Star Trek
This is one child star that went from ample TV time to a virtually unknown. You may remember Hatae as the cute but feisty Molly O’Brien on the long-running Star Trek series, Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Hatae played this illustrious character from 1993 to 1999, and that is essentially all she has done in her entire acting career (save for one short future TV stint).
Hatae virtually disappeared from TV land until a brief appearance in reality TV. No, she wasn’t on The Bachelor or a similar show often frequented by washed-up celebrities but instead appeared on the television show Kitchen Nightmares as a hostess and waitress for her family’s Japanese Restaurant in 2010. This is likely her current job, as it appears she has vanished from Hollywood with no other credits to date. Hatae has disappeared from TV land altogether.
9Jeremy Jackson - Baywatch
Here is yet another teen idol that has gone from dreamboat to deadbeat. Jackson started his career starring as Hobie in the steamy series Baywatch, which was extremely popular in the 90s. You may remember this series and also be aware of its resurgence with the Baywatch movie that just came out this past summer.
Jackson was cast from the beginning where the franchise all started but eventually had to leave Baywatch because of an ongoing battle with drugs. He was at one point arrested for drug possession, a criminal offence that inspired him to get clean for a brief time. This all changed, however, when he admitted to being addicted to steroids in 2011 on the show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. He was later involved in a sex tape scandal and admitted his involvement on VH1’s Confessions of A Teen Idol. He had one other credit on Celebrity Big Brother 5, where he was immediately kick off the show for an alleged assault against a female cast member. It is safe to say that Jackson’s days of being a celebrity heartthrob with a thriving acting career are definitely over.
You may know this teen star from her days playing Stephanie Tanner’s bad-girl friend on the popular 90’s series Full House. She appeared regularly in the series, always hoping to get the Tanner sister into trouble in situations that would most likely lead to those famous teaching moments by daddy Tanner. Although Sokoloff played this character well, you may have also seen her in several other roles, as she is the first on our list of actors who have remained active in Hollywood.
Sokoloff has been in many movies and series such as Dude, Where’s My Car, Sugar and Spice and was a regular on the drama series The Practice. Sokoloff still gets regular work in Hollywood, but you have also probably seen her in the public eye when James Franco spoke about the sex tape they allegedly made together back in the early 2000s.
Unless you were living under a rock (or potentially didn’t have cable), you have probably heard of the holier-than-thou series 7th Heaven which depicted the trials and tribulations of a protestant minister and his rather large family. Mackenzie Rosman was none other than little Ruthie Camden on the series, the sweet and innocent daughter of the Camden bunch.
Rosman is not so innocent anymore but is still able get work on the TV scene in series like The Secret Life of The American Teenager as a teen who slept with one of the main characters to get back at him. More recently, Rosman appeared in a rather scandalous Maxim photoshoot and has since had a slew of roles in various productions. Rosman’s most recent credit is a short film that is in post-production. It is likely Rosman has shed her good girl type-cast persona once and for all and will probably be a part of more diverse projects in the future.
One of my famous series growing up was the show The Nanny. I just couldn’t get enough of the hilarious banter and infamous sexual tension between Fran and Mr. Sheffield. Madeline Zima played the youngest daughter in this popular 90s series and her career didn’t stop there.
Zima has numerous Hollywood credits including regular roles in Heroes, Californiacation, The Vampire Diaries, just to name a few, along with a slew of movie roles as well. Zima is a star that has embraced her acting profession. She is on the list of celebs that gets acting gigs on the regular. Zima has more recently been seen in the series Twin Peaks, a remake of a 90’s crime drama series that focuses on the FBI investigation of the murder of a young woman in a small town. It is clear that his former child star continues to shine brightly.
5Trevor Einhorn - Cheers
Frasier is by far one of the most well-known and successful television series of the 90s. This show began as a spin off series to the popular show Cheers, when character Frasier Crane moves to Seattle to host a therapy-based radio show. Frasier is divorced and a father to a son named Fredrick, played by none other than Trevor Einhorn.
After his many years on Frasier, Einhorn had several roles on films and series such as Two Guys and a Girl, BASEketball, Sons & Daughters and The Office. Perhaps his most notable credits since Frasier is in fact one of his most recent: Einhorn picked up a lead role on the series Mad Men playing a 1960s copywriter (John Mathis) in the 6th and 7th seasons of this popular series.
Kirsten Dunst is another child star who started her career very early and then continued to stay in the spotlight, making it big in Hollywood as an adult. Dunst has many credits starting from when she was a little girl but is most known for several child roles including her work in Little Women, Jumanji and Interview With A Vampire. She also played peppy Torrance Shipman in the popular teen movie Bring It On, which no doubt influenced the popularity of competitive cheerleading as a sport.
Dunst is now most known for her adult roles circa 2002-2010, and especially in the Spider-Man franchise playing opposite Tobey Maguire, but has acted in several TV and movies since. Dunst is currently working on a made-for-tv-movie and continues to get regular work in the Hollywood scene.
Drew Barrymore has the classic child star story of the troubled girl who got involved with drugs fairly soon after her child-stardom began. Unlike most child stars who become washed up, Barrymore defeated the odds and bounced back and is now a bigger star than ever. She is known for her role in ET , before getting involved with drugs and alcohol as a young teen. After a stint in rehab, Barrymore released her own autobiography called Little Girl Lost (circa 1991), which seemed to be what jumped started her career again.
Since telling her story, Barrymore starred in many successful films such as Poison Ivy, Scream, Ever After and The Wedding Singer. Her fame really took off from there and she went on to win a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe award for her work in the film Grey Gardens. Barrymore is still acting regularly and is currently starring in the dark comedy Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet.
Winona Ryder is another 90s teen star who has made a career comeback – most recently appearing in one of the most popular television series to date. Ryder became famous for films like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands before things took a bit of a downward turn. Ryder was checked into a psychiatric hospital in 1990 for exhaustion, depression and anxiety at the young age of 19 and remained out of the spotlight until 2001, when she was caught shoplifting.
Ryder was thankfully able to bounce back when she took several roles in films such as Black Swan and a modern remake of the film Star Trek. Ryder is now playing overprotective mom Joyce Byers in the popular Netflix series Stranger Things. This show is one of my favorite and is a must see, especially if you are a Winona Ryder fan (or just love 80s paraphernalia or Sci-Fi shows in general).
Demi Lovato is another star who was able to overcome some mental health issues and bounce back into stardom. Lovato started her career as a Disney star before breaking into the music scene. Lovato took a step back, however, after attacking a dancer while touring with the Jonas Brothers in 2010. She later checked into rehab and became an advocate for speaking up about mental health, while sharing her own story about her battle with bipolar disorder.
After Lovato’s treatment, her career took a positive turn when she released an album that made it to the top 5 on the charts. She also landed a gig as a judge on two seasons of the musical show The X Factor, where singers and groups compete for the top performance spot and a recording contract. Lovato continues to be successful with her music career producing multiple albums and receiving several awards including a Grammy nomination.
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