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'80s Child Stars: Where Are They Now?

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore was born into acting royalty and went on to charm audiences with her adorable portrayal of Gertie in the classic Steven Spielberg film, E.T. the Extraterrestrial. (1982). Despite early success, her childhood was littered with drug and alcohol abuse and an almost non-existent relationship with her father.

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Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore

Over the years, Barrymore has released two memoirs, starred in more than 20 movies, established herself as a producer, director, model, and entrepreneur, and won a Golden Globe. Most recently, she starred in the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet. She has been married and divorced three times and is the mother of two children.

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Fred Savage

Fred Savage

Most known for his role as Kevin Arnold in the TV series The Wonder Years (1988 to 1993), Savage also played the Grandson in The Princess Bride (1987). He has earned nominations and awards for acting, including People’s Choice Awards and Young Artist Awards.

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Fred Savage

Fred Savage

Savage branched out into directing and continues to act. He has been married since 2004 and has three children. Most recently, he appeared in the TV series The Grinder.

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Keshia Knight Pulliam

Keshia Knight Pulliam

Pulliam is most known for her role as Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show from the ages of 5 to 13. She was nominated for Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for that role.

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Keshia Knight Pulliam

Keshia Knight Pulliam

From 2007 to 2012 Pulliam starred as Miranda Lucas-Payne on the comedy-drama Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, winning two NAACP Image Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2010 & 2012). She has one child from a brief marriage.

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Soleil Moon Frye

Soleil Moon Frye

Frye began acting at the age of 2 and landed the role of Penelope “Punky” Brewster in the sitcom Punky Brewster when she was 7. Despite low ratings, the show was popular with young children.

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Soleil Moon Frye

Soleil Moon Frye

Following the cancellation of the show, Frye continued acting and soon began directing and screenwriting. She married producer Jason Goldberg in 1998 and the couple are parents of four children. She opened a specialty clothing shop for children, The Little Seed, in Los Angeles. She also hosts a blog focused on raising children and women’s issues. And surprise: She’ll soon be reprising the role of Punky Brewster in a reboot of the show that will premiere on Peacock streaming service.

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Emmanuel Lewis

Emmanuel Lewis

Best known for playing the title role in the sitcom Webster from 1983 to 1989, Lewis was nominated for four Young Artist Awards. He developed a close friendship with Michael Jackson and even attended the 26th Annual Grammy Awards with him in 1984. He was also a spokesperson for Burger King’s Whopper.

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Emmanuel Lewis

Emmanuel Lewis

Lewis has only grown six inches since his Webster days and has a diagnosis of dwarfism. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in 1997. He is still a working actor, making cameo appearances in Kickin’ It Old School in 2007 and an episode of Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis in 2013. He’s also active in taekwondo.

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Henry Thomas

Henry Thomas

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial made Henry Thomas an overnight child star with his lead role as Elliot. He won a Young Artist Award for the performance. The San Antonio, TX native struggled with the sudden fame, but was able to move on to a few other movie roles in the ‘80s.

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Henry Thomas

Henry Thomas

In addition to his acting career, Thomas branched out into music in the ‘90s, writing songs and playing guitar in more than one band. He was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2013. He currently has two recurring TV roles on The Haunting of Hill House, which earned him Best Actor in a Streaming Presentation at the Saturn Awards, and Stargirl. Thomas has been married to his third wife since 2009 and has three children.

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Ricky Schroder

Ricky Schroder

With a debut role in The Champ, Ricky Schroder won a Golden Globe award in 1980 for Best New Male Star of the Year in a Motion Picture. His parents took him out of school in the third grade and he moved to Los Angeles with his mother to focus on his acting career. Schroder landed the lead role in the sitcom Silver Spoons from 1982 to 1987, earning two Young Artist Awards.

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Ricky Schroder

Ricky Schroder

In adulthood, Schroder wanted to be taken seriously and known as more than a child actor, billing himself as Rick instead of Ricky. He graduated from high school and attended Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO, while continuing his acting career. He had a co-starring role in the miniseries Lonesome Dove and Return to Lonesome Dove. He also starred in NYPD Blue for three seasons.

In the early 2000s, Schroder added directing to his resume, working on both music videos and films. He has continued to act and has produced three military documentaries, spending five months with the US Army in Afghanistan to capture the footage. Married to Andrea Bernard from 1992 to 2016, Schroder is the father of four children.

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Tina Yothers

Tina Yothers

Her role as Jennifer Keaton on Family Ties from 1982 to 1989 was Tina Yothers’ most notable acting gig. In addition to her role as Alex Keaton’s sarcastic little sister, Yothers competed on Battle of the Network Stars, starred in a few television movies, and had a guest starring role on Domestic Life.

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Tina Yothers

Tina Yothers

Following the end of Family Ties, Yothers traded in her blonde hair for jet black and formed a band with her brother, Cory. After taking a nine year break from acting, Yothers emerged in the starring role in Lovelace the Musical, a stage show about the life of Linda Lovelace. She also made occasional television appearances throughout the 2000s. She has been married since 2002 and has three children, including a step-daughter. She lives in Ontario, CA.

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Mindy Cohn

Mindy Cohn

Literally and-picked by actress Charlotte Rae for her role as Natalie Green on The Facts of Life, Mindy Cohn had a role created just for her in the series based on Rae’s real-life childhood best friend. Cohn’s funny lines helped drive the success of The Facts of Life for nine seasons from 1979 to 1988.

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Mindy Cohn

Mindy Cohn

In addition to her acting career, Cohn earned a degree in cultural anthropology from Loyola Marymount University. She is a respected voice actor, most known for her contributions to Scooby Doo television series and movies, along with Dexter’s Laboratory and Family Guy. She has remained active as an actress, with numerous guest starring roles in both film and television. Cohn has never married and has no children. She is a founding member of the weSpark cancer support center and  a vocal advocate for LBGTQ rights.

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Jodie Sweetin

Jodie Sweetin

Saying Jodie Sweetin’s life got off to a rocky start would be an understatement. Both of her parents were in prison at the time of her birth. She was adopted by her uncle Sam Sweetin and raised by him and his second wife as an only child. She grew up taking dance and acting lessons which led to a number of commercials and her most famous role as Stephanie Tanner on the sitcom Full House. The show aired from 1987 to 1995.

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Jodie Sweetin

Jodie Sweetin

Sweetin had numerous guest-starring roles and hosting gigs, but battled substance abuse for about 15 years. She wrote a memoir about her addictions in 2009. She would eventually complete a degree as a drug and alcohol counselor following her sobriety. She revised her role as Stephanie Tanner on the reboot called Fuller House in 2016, and still plays the part. Sweetin has not been lucky in love, with three failed marriages. She has two children and started a parenting podcast in 2019 called Never Thought I’d Say This.

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Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence

It all started with a commercial for Cracker Jacks. Then, Joey Lawrence performed a song on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson when he was only five. Guest starring roles on Diff’rent Strokes and Silver Spoons led to a role as Joey Donovan on the hit sitcom Gimme a Break from 1983 to 1987. In 1985, Lawrence had his theatrical debut in Summer Rental.

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Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence

Lawrence would co-star in the hit sitcom Blossom from 1991 to 1995 in his most known role, as Joey Russo. He would go on to star with his real-life brothers, Matthew and Andrew, in the series Brotherly Love. In addition to numerous guest starring roles, Lawrence would appear on Dancing with the Stars in 2006, finishing in third place. He starred opposite Melissa Joan Hart in the television movie, My Fake Fiance’ and the sitcom Melissa & Joey. Lawrence has been married to his second wife since 2005 and has two children.

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Tempestt Bledsoe

Tempestt Bledsoe

Her childhood role as Vanessa Huxtable on The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992 was Tempestt Bledsoe’s most known acting gig. She also made a guest appearance in the same role on A Different World. She was in an ABC Afterschool Special, The Gift of Amazing Grace in 1986.

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Tempestt Bledsoe

Tempestt Bledsoe

Bledsoe hosted a daytime talk show in the mid-1990s, The Tempestt Bledsoe Show, produced by the legendary Dick Clark. She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from New York University and has continued acting in guest roles and a few recurring roles. In 2011 she became the host of Style Network’s Clean House. She also appeared on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. Bledsoe has been in a long-term relationship with actor Darryl M. Bell since 1993. He co-starred in The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World.

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Missy Gold

Missy Gold

Best known for her role as Katie on the sitcom Benson from 1979 to 1986, Missy Gold was one of three other acting siblings. She won an award for Best Young Actress in a Comedy Series in 1984. Gold also appeared on Eight is Enough, Nancy Drew, Trapper John, M.D., and Fantasy Island.

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Missy Gold

Missy Gold

Gold did not stay in the acting business. She enrolled in Georgetown University as a pre-med student, and eventually earned a Ph.D. from California School of Professional Psychology. She lives in Saint Helena, CA and is a licensed psychologist. No longer known as Missy Gold, her name is Dr. Melissa Wiedmann.

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Oliver Robins

Oliver Robins

Starting out in TV movies Million Dollar Infield and Don’t Go to Sleep in 1982, Oliver Robins found success in the same year on the big screen. Starring as Robbie Freeling in Poltergeist, and reprising the role in 1986 for Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Robins will always be known as a key character in this classic horror film franchise. His other feature film role was in Airplane II: The Sequel. He only had one guest appearance in a television series, appearing in a 1986 episode of Twilight Zone. Despite his seemingly promising future in acting, Robins chose to leave the business in 1986.

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Oliver Robins

Oliver Robins

Robins returned to show business as an adult as a writer and director. He wrote and directed his first film, Dumped, in 2000. It was a direct to video release. He also wrote and directed Roomies in 2004. Sadly, Robins is the only surviving child actor from Poltergeist.

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Matthew Labyorteaux

Matthew Labyorteaux

While he is best known for his portrayal of Albert Quinn Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie from 1978 to 1983, Matthew Labyorteaux began working in commercials at the age of seven and had other television roles. He starred in Whiz Kids and had roles in several made for TV movies. He had a 1986 film role in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend. He also made guest appearances on a number of television shows, including The Bob Newhart Show, The Love Boat, Highway to Heaven, and Night Court. A skilled video game player, Labyorteaux finished in 10th place in the 1981 Atari, Inc. world championships for Centipede. The following year, he became the United States Pacman champion with a score of 1,200,000.

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Matthew Labyorteaux

Matthew Labyorteaux

In recent years, Labyorteaux has worked as a voice actor for video games and animated features, along with voice-overs in commercials. He was the voice of Jaden Yuki and The Supreme King in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX from 2005 to 2008. His video game voice credits include Thrillville, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Gangster Vegas.

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Peter Billingsley

Peter Billingsley

Images of a BB gun and a stocking leg lamp immediately bring to mind Peter Billingsley’s most recognized role as Ralphie Parker on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. His acting career began as an infant in commercials. He would appear in about 120 television commercials throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. The most memorable ones featured Billingsley as Messy Marvin, advertising Hershey’s chocolate syrup. He was present for a piece of history when he attended the doomed launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.

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Peter Billingsley

Peter Billingsley

As the years have gone by, Billingsley has added the titles of producer and director to his skill set. He is still a working actor with occasional small roles on television and film, but spends more time behind the camera now. He was the executive producer for all episodes of the series Sullivan & Son, which aired from 2012 to 2014, also writing 33 of the episodes.

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Kim Fields

Kim Fields

Before landing her most known role as Dorothy  “Tootie” Ramsey on The Facts of Life, Kim Fields had appeared in all 13 episodes of the short-lived TV series Baby, I’m Back. She also appeared in two episodes of Good Times and five episodes of Diff’rent Strokes. The Facts of Life aired from 1979 to 1988 and Field’s character, Tootie, quickly became a fan favorite. During the ‘80s, Fields would appear in two made for TV The Facts of Life movies, as well as a handful of other TV movies and guest appearances on television shows.

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Kim Fields

Kim Fields

Fields continued to have guest starring TV roles on movies and a variety of series, and is still an active actor and director. Her directing credits include two episodes of Living Single, 27 episodes of Kenan & Kel, 39 episodes of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and three episodes of Let’s Stay Together. She also had roles in the programs she directed. Fields appeared in one season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (2015-2016) and in the 2016 season of Dancing with the Stars, finishing in 8th place. She has two sons with her second husband and lives in Atlanta, GA.

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Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton

A few guest appearances in the early to mid-’80s on shows including Highway to Heaven, St. Elsewhere, and Family Ties were the starting point for Wil Wheaton’s acting career. He first made his mark on a widespread level as Gordie Lachance in the film Stand By Me in 1986. He then played Wesley Crusher on the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, from 1987 to 1991.

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Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton

After Star Trek, Wheaton explored new career options. Over the years, along with acting, he added writing, blogging, hosting, and being a voice actor to his resume’. He got married in 1999 and raised his wife’s children from a previous marriage as his own. He had a recurring role as a fictionalized version of himself on 17 episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Wheaton has been a voice actor on a long list of animated series, most recently on 23 episodes of Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters from 2017 to 2018. His voice performances also include almost 20 video games.

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Glenn Scarpelli

Glenn Scarpelli

At the age of 10, Glenn Scarpelli began his acting career on Broadway, sharing the stage with Anne Bancroft in the play Golda and Al Pacino in the revival of Richard III.His role as Alex Handris on the sitcom One Day at a Time from 1980 to 1983 is his most prominent. He also made guest appearances on MacGyver, The Love Boat, and 3-2-1 Contact. In 1983, Scarpelli released a self-titled pop album and had a hit single with “Get a Love On”.

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Glenn Scarpelli

Glenn Scarpelli

Most recently, Scarpelli appeared in The One Day at a Time Reunion, in a 2005 TV special. He was also in the 2016 short film Sacred Journeys. He lives in Sedona, AZ, where he and his former husband formed the Sedona Now Network, a community television station in the early 2000s.

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Josh Saviano

Josh Saviano

Starting out in an Aim toothpaste commercial, Josh Saviano also appeared in the film The Wrong Guys in 1988 and the TV movie Camp Cucamonga in 1990. He is most known for his role as Kevin Arnold’s best friend, Paul Pfeiffer, in The Wonder Years, from 1988 to 1993.

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Josh Saviano

Josh Saviano

Saviano left the world of acting and went to college to become a lawyer. He majored in political science at Yale University and graduated in 1998. He earned his J.D. degree from Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo Schools of Law in 2000. He did briefly return to acting from 2014 to 2015, playing a lawyer in three episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He started two law firms in 2015, JDS Legal and Act 3 Advisors, geared toward consulting celebrities.

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Gaby Hoffman

Gaby Hoffman

Starting out in commercials in the mid-80s, Gaby Hoffman was soon acting in feature films. In 1989 she starred in Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner and Uncle Buck with John Candy and Macaulay Culkin. Those two roles would be Hoffman’s introduction to the world and the parts she is most recognized for in her acting career. She won the Young Artist Award in 1990 for Best Young Actress Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for her role in Field of Dreams.

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Gaby Hoffman

Gaby Hoffman

Hoffman has continued acting over the years in both television and film. She has been nominated for numerous acting awards, including both individual and ensemble recognition. She appeared on the big screen in Sleepless in Seattle, 200 Cigarettes, Veronica Mars, and more. Her television credits include 8 episodes of Girls and 39 episodes of Transparent.  Hoffman also completed a degree in literature & writing at New York’s Baird College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her daughter and long-time partner.

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Aileen Quinn

Aileen Quinn

A string of commercials that included Northern Bathroom Tissue were the beginning of Aileen Quinn’s acting career. She won a part in a local community theater production of Annie Get Your Gun. That performance led to Quinn getting an agent and having a small part in the film Paternity. After a grueling year long audition process against 8,000 competitors, she won the role of Annie in the film of the same title in 1982. This is the role Quinn is most remembered for in her career.

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Aileen Quinn

Aileen Quinn

When Quinn was 18, she took a break from acting and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Drew University. Throughout the ‘90s, she returned to the Broadway stage for a variety of different roles including Chave in Fiddler on the Roof and Annette in Saturday Night Fever. She most recently appeared in an episode of Will & Grace this year.

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Danny Pintauro

Danny Pintauro

The soap opera As the World Turns provided the backdrop for Danny Pintauro’s first acting role. Next, he portrayed Tad in the film Cujo. His big break came in 1984 when he was cast as Jonathan Bower on Who’s the Boss?. The series ran until 1992.

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Danny Pintauro

Danny Pintauro

There were a few guest starring roles in the early to mid-90s. Pintauro took time off from acting and attended Middlesex County College inEdison, NJ, then Stanford University where he studied English and theater. He graduated in 1998.He appeared on a special Oprah:Where Are They Now? In 2015. Pintauro and his husband live in Austin, TX where he is a veterinary assistant.

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Jeremy Miller

Jeremy Miller

Most known for his portrayal of Ben Seaver on Growing Pains from 1985 to 1992, Jeremy Miller was nominated for numerous Young Actor Awards. He also provided the voice for Linus Van Pelt in Season 2 of The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show in 1985, and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! In 1986.

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Jeremy Miller

Jeremy Miller

Miller appeared in the TV movie Growing Pains:Return of The Seavers in 2004. His last acting gig was in 2010. He struggled with alcoholism and has stated that he began drinking at age four. In 2011, Miller became a spokesperson for the rehabilitation company that offered him treatment.

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Maia Brewton

Maia Brewton

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Maia Brewton is most recognized for her role in the film Adventures in Babysitting. Her portrayal of Sara Anderson, the little girl obsessed with the Mighty Thor, was an endearing part of the 1987 movie. Other ‘80s TV credits for Brewton include guest starring roles on The Wonder Years, Trapper John, M.D., Highway to Heaven, and 21 Jump Street.

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Maia Brewton

Maia Brewton

From 1990 to 1993 Brewton played the role of Shelly Lewis in the show Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. She graduated from Yale University in 1998 and is an attorney. She married a television producer in 2008. The couple have twin boys.

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Brian Bonsall

Brian Bonsall

The sitcom Family Ties provided Brian Bonsall’s first acting role. He won three Young Artist Awards for his portrayal of Andy Keaton, playing the part from 1986 to 1989. He appeared in three television movies in the eighties, Go Toward the Light, Do You Know the Muffin Man?, and Mother Goose Rock ‘n Rhyme.

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Brian Bonsall

Brian Bonsall

Bonsall continued acting through the mid-90s, appearing in 7 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, 2 episodes of Shades of L.A., and on the big screen in Mikey, Father Hood, and Blank Check. Bonsall retired from acting in 1995, and moved to Boulder, CO. He graduated from high school in 2000. During the period after his after career, Bonsall became a musician and formed a rock band called Late Bloomers in 1998. He would go on to form the punk bands The Light on Adam’s Stereo and Thruster. He toured with the rock band The Ataris in 2016 and got married in 2017.

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Justin Henry

Justin Henry

The 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer put Justin Henry on the acting map. His debut role earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor when he was only eight years old. In 2020, he still holds the record for being the youngest actor nominated in any category, and the only actor who has ever been nominated in the same decade as his or her birth. After Kramer vs. Kramer, Henry appeared in an episode of Fantasy Island and played Mike, Samantha Baker’s younger brother in the Brat Pack film Sixteen Candles in 1984.

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Justin Henry

Justin Henry

After high school graduation, Henry appeared in a two-episode role as a medical student in the fourth season of ER. He co-founded the Slamdunk Film Festival in 1998. He still acts on occasion, with guest starring roles on My Own Worst Enemy and Brothers & Sisters in the 2000s.

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Ellen Latzen

Ellen Latzen

An open casting call in a newspaper prompted Ellen Latzen’s mother to take her to her first audition. Latzen was six at the time and had no acting experience. She auditioned against about 1,000 other girls and won the part with only her natural talent, landing the role of Ellen Gallagher in the blockbuster film Fatal Attraction. I think everyone remembers the cringe-worthy scene with the pet rabbit. Two years later, she would play the role of Ruby Sue in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, another commercial success. She also appeared in guest starring TV roles, other films, and even a stint on Broadway.

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Ellen Latzen

Ellen Latzen

Latzen went to a boarding school in Vermont when she was 15, basically ending her acting career. She would later attend the California College of Arts and Crafts in the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked in a variety of fields over the years, including travel, hospitality, advertising, and publishing. Latzen lives in Los Angeles and produces a podcast about her experiences as a child star, as well as some of her peers. The podcast provides a behind the scenes look at the lives of child actors.

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Dana Barron

Dana Barron

Acting was in Dana Barron’s blood before she ever set foot on a stage. She is a fifth generation entertainer. In 1983, Barron originated the role of Audrey Griswold in the comedy film National Lampoon’s Vacation. She appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live as Michelle Boudin from 1984 to 1985. She won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role in an after-school special, No Means No.

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Dana Barron

Dana Barron

Barron won the Youth in Film Award for her recurring role as Nikki Witt on the series Beverly Hills, 90210. She starred in the television movie Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted in 1992 and made guest appearances on television shows like Murder, She Wrote, In the Heat of the Night, The Equalizer, and Babylon 5. Barron has a son as the result of a long-term relationship with a filmmaker.

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Jasen Fisher

Jasen Fisher

Born in Chicago, Jasen Fisher made his first acting appearance in the film Parenthood in 1989. He was nominated for a Young Artist Award as a supporting actor for his role as Kevin Buckman, working alongside Steve Martin.

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Jasen Fisher

Jasen Fisher

Fisher was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor in 1990 for his portrayal of Luke in The Witches. He played one of the Lost Boys, Ace, in the film Hook in 1991. He had the opportunity to work with Robin Williams in this role. He received a Young Artist Award as part of the ensemble cast of Hook. Despite Fisher’s successful acting career, he has no film credits past the age of 11. He graduated from high school in 1998. He has found success as a professional poker player and now resides in Florida as a professional golf caddy.

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Kami Cotler

Kami Cotler

Best known for her role as Elizabeth Walton in the long-running television series The Waltons, Kami Cotler played the youngest child of a close-knit family living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The show was so successful that there would be seven television movies centering around weddings, holidays, and other gatherings for the Walton family.

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Kami Cotler

Kami Cotler

Cotler graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Social Sciences. She would go on to become a teacher, with her first position in a small Virginia community, much like the one featured in The Waltons. She returned to California in 2001, teaching 9th grade. She held the position of co-director of Ocean Charter School from 2004 to 2007. She started her own educational consulting business in 2007. She is also a past board member of the American Montessori Society. In 2010, she appeared in a reunion documentary about The Waltons. Cotler is married and has two children. She occasionally makes speeches and personal appearances.

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