Ah, the ’70s. The hair was long, the carpet was shaggy, and the lingo was “groovy.” Back in the days before DVR and Netflix, watching television was more of a family affair. Every family had their favorite, whether it was “The Brady Bunch,” “Happy Days,” “Good Times,” or “What’s Happening”. Those familiar with these ’70s shows know just about all the episodes by heart, as well as all of the child stars involved.
Nowadays, some of these stars are virtually unrecognizable. Who do you remember? Let’s check out what these actors did back then, and what they are up to now.
Helen Hunt – Then
Acting since the age of eight, Helen has been in the spotlight all of her life, it seems. She enjoyed a fantastic television and film career through her teens in shows like “Amy Prentiss” (1974-75), “Swiss Family Robinson” (1975-76), and “The Fitzpatricks (1977-78),” as well as films like Rollercoaster in 1977.
“The Swiss Family Robinson” followed the survivors of the shipwreck stranded on a volcanic island. It ran for 21 episodes.
Helen Hunt – Now
Still going strong, Helen is always in television or movies. Some of her most popular modern films were her Oscar-winning performance in As Good As It Gets, and her own 2014 hit comedy Ride. She also starred in the television show “Mad About You.”
Fact: Helen witnessed the 911 attacks from the rooftop of her New York apartment. She flew herself and her entire staff out of New York to safety in Connecticut three days later.
Mindy Cohn – Then
Mindy Cohn is best known for her portrayal of Natalie, the irrepressible student from the television series “Facts of Life,” which ran from 1979 to 1988. Always sincere but sarcastic, The Natalie character was an integral part of the show’s success.
In a way it was to be her curse; becoming typecast as the “nice girl,” it became difficult for Cohn to get more substantial roles to play on television.
Mindy Cohn – Now
While still working as an actor, Cohn earned a degree in cultural anthropology. She later help to found the weSPARK cancer support center. Although she makes guest appearances on television, her talents have steered her to do voiceover work.
She has been the voice of “Velma” from the “Scooby-Doo” animated series for several years now, even earning an Emmy nomination for her work. Cohn has also become a major advocate for the LGBTQ community.
Ron Howard – Then
Ron has been acting since he was a child in the sixties, with a prominent role in “The Andy Griffith Show.” Later came “Happy Days,” his most successful acting role. Playing the lead character Richie Cunningham, Howard was the centered, mild-mannered teenager growing up with his group of friends in Milwaukee.
The show ran for years, only coming to an end after one character jumped over a shark on a jet ski.
Ron Howard – Now
Saying Ron Howard is a successful actor, producer, or director is like saying that the sun is yellow. Howard has become one of the most successful people on the planet today involved with television and film in the history of Hollywood.
He’s played in over 27 films, directed around 28 motion picture films, and produced over 20 more films. Ron is the epitome of what a guy given the right chances can do.
Mike Lookinland – Then
Mike played Bobby Brady on the show “The Brady Bunch.” Bobby was the youngest boy in the family and was characteristically energetic and nice. Lookinland also had a surprising range of emotion in portraying Bobby in some episodes of the show. Fact: Mike’s natural hair color is a sandy brown and it’s also curly.
For the part of Bobby Brady Lookinland had to have his hair dyed and straightened to more closely match the other male characters of the show. Sometimes this caused problems if the set lights were too hot; the dye would run down his face!
Mike Lookinland – Now
Mike played parts in several shows such as “Little House on The Prairie,” several Brady Bunch specials and movies like the Towering Inferno before leaving show business entirely.
He’s happily married, has two children, and he owns a decorative concrete business in Utah. Mike is a self-confessed Dead Head. His post-Hollywood life proves that everyone is in control of their own future. Not everyone is cursed to be a child star forever!
Robbie Rist – Then
Robbie joined “The Brady Bunch” as cousin Oliver during the show’s last six episodes. He was brought on as an alternative to the older Brady kids and to help prop up the show’s ratings as they were seeing increased competition from shows such as “Sanford & Son.”
The plan by producers backfired and the show was canceled anyway. Rist spoke the last words ever of the series, “Me! Cousin Olver! Gosh, it was only a suggestion.” Even though Oliver was eight, Rist was actually nine years old.
Robbie Rist – Now
Rist has been providing voiceover work as an adult in such films as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as many animated shows such as “Batman: The Animated Series.”
Recently, the talented Robbie has garnered notice on film soundtracks for movies such as Sharknado and Sharknado 2. Along with the film’s director, the recorded the B-movies theme song under the name Quint. He performs as the lead singer, guitarist, bassist and/or drummer for several Los Angeles rock bands.
Robby Benson – Then
Robby is best known for his film work, although he also was a television star, playing in shows such as the soap opera “Search for Tomorrow.” His films included Jory, Jeremy and the hit Ode to Billy Joe.
During the making of Ice Castles, one of his biggest films, he had to learn how to skate for the part. He screen-tested for the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars but lost to Mark Hammil.
Robby Benson – Now
These days, Benson is best known as the voice of the “Beast” from the Disney film Beauty and The Beast. He’s been married since 1982 and has served as a professor at several universities in New York, Utah, South Carolina, and now Indiana.
Fact: Robby had a lot of heart problems that he never mentioned to producers and directors, thinking he wouldn’t be able to get work as an actor. he’s had at least four heart surgeries.
David Cassidy – Then
David played Keith Partridge on the hit show “The Partridge Family.” His character Keith was the family band’s lead singer. The fact is, David was hired based solely on his good looks. The producers of the show didn’t even care if he could sing or not!
The casting worked out and the show launched Cassidy to teen stardom. The show, sadly, took its toll on Cassidy, who looked to disrupt his good boy image with bad-boy antics, including appearing without many clothes on the cover of Rolling Stone.
David Cassidy – RIP
After convincing the producers that he could really sing, David and The Partridge Family actually produced ten albums, each selling at least one million albums and rocketed David to superstardom. Sadly, David passed away on November 21, 2017, from liver failure.
Before passing away, Cassidy admitted after forgetting lyrics on stage that he was suffering from dementia. The condition forced him to retire, and he said, “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming.”
Scott Baio – Then
Baio, a former teen heart-throb is best known for playing Chachi on the show “Happy Days” as the love interest of Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran). Years before though, he had also played the lead in “Bugsy Malone” a musical gangster film that was based on the lives of 1920’s gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Moran during prohibition.
The twist of the film was that it starred only child actors, one of which was the future Academy Award winner Jodie Foster. Fact: Baio beat out over two-thousand other kids for this part.
Scott Baio – Now
After “Happy Days,” Scott joined the spin-off show “Joanie Loves Chachi”, and then played in several films such as Skatetown USA, Foxes, Zapped and several others. Scott has also more recently starred in his own reality television shows and produces several shows for Nick at Nite.
A registered Republican, Baio is outspoken about politics these days. He met his wife Renée at the Playboy Mansion in the ’90s and they have a daughter together, Bailey.
Johnny Whitaker – Then
John played in numerous television series, from “Family Affair” to “General Hospital.”John was the first to give Jodie Foster an on-screen kiss in the film Tom Sawyer. He was a staple on Saturday morning television on “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.”
Johnny went through some extreme difficulties after the death of his friend Anissa Jones, who was his on-screen sister on “Family Affair,” and he retired from acting for a long period of time.
Johnny Whitaker – Now
Having gone through a long hard period of substance abuse, Johnny’s family held an intervention to force him to get help. He went through a twelve-step program and has been clean for the last 12 years. He has since continued acting sporadically but has never found the same success he knew as a child.
Fact: Johnny speaks several languages fluently such as Spanish, Portuguese, as well as French and American Sign Language.
Kim Richards – Then
Kim was one of the most popular child actors around, starring in numerous television and films throughout the seventies. From shows like “Nanny and the Professor” and “James at Sixteen” to headlining films like Escape to Witch Mountain and its sequel Return from Witch Mountain, Kim seemed to be everywhere in the public eye.
Throughout the decade, Richards found herself constantly working, appearing in everything from comedies, to dramas, to horror films.
Kim Richards – Now
Kim came back into the public eye in 2010 when she joined the cast of the hit reality television series “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” along with her sister, Kyle. Shortly after starting the show, however, rumors of a possible drug and alcohol problem began to spread, due in part to her erratic behavior on camera.
While there have been stints in rehab and claims of sobriety, in 2015 Kim was arrested for trespassing, public intoxication, resisting an officer, and battery on a police officer at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She was immediately let go of the series but returns occasionally as a guest star.
Susan Dey – Then
Susan Dey played Laurie Partridge on the hit show “The Partridge Family.” She was joined by acclaimed star Shirley Jones and mega-talented David Cassidy, along with several other actors making up the show’s cast.
Dey was a fashion model before joining the cast. Fact: the seventeen-year-old had absolutely no acting experience before joining the show. Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for models with no acting experience to be hired to take on high profile roles.
Susan Dey – Now
Susan went on to play in several films like Skyjacked, Little Women and Disappearance, and television shows like the hugely popular “L.A. Law.” Dey refuses to join in Partridge Family Reunion shows. Susan and co-star David Cassidy had a brief romantic encounter after the end of “The Partridge Family” but it didn’t work out.
She and David Cassidy do not speak to this day. We wonder what happened to break them up!
Erin Murphy – Then
Erin Margaret Murphy is best known as the American actress who starred in the massively popular “Bewitched” TV series which ran from 1964 to 1972. During the first season, she shared the spotlight of young Tabitha Stephens with her fraternal twin sister, Diane.
As the children grew older and looked less alike, Erin took on the role by herself. She was one of the most famous young actresses in the world thanks to her role.
Erin Murphy – Now
Murphy bounced around to various auditions after “Bewitched” ended, and she turned down various commercials and modeling gigs. Her family eventually moved to Orange County, where she entered the sixth grade with a chance of being a “normal kid.” When she turned 21-years-old she married and had her first child while living in Arizona.
Her love of acting led her to teach the craft. She also worked in production and makeup when film shoots would come to town. She even worked as a stunt double for Virginia Madsen and Melissa Leo. She returned to Los Angeles 10 years ago and started working on reality TV shows, in commercials, and as a celebrity judge. She is now the mom of six boys aged 13 to 31 and has been married three times. She also owns two companies, one of which sells frozen vodka martini ice pops.
Karen Carpenter – Then
Karen Anne Carpenter rose to fame as an American drummer and singer. She was very skilled on her instrument, earning the admiration of drumming luminaries. However, it was her vocal performances with her contralto vocal range that led to her massive success in the 1970s. She performed as a duo with her brother, Richard.
In 1970 her album “Close to You,” featured two massive hit singles: “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Those songs peaked at #1 and #2 on the Hot 100.
Karen Carpenter Passed Away In 1983
Karen Carpenter passed away in 1983 at the very young age of 32. Karen was at her parent’s house when she suddenly collapsed and was rushed to Downey Community Hospital, 25 minutes away from their home. She was suffering from anorexia nervosa, a disorder caused by compulsive dieting.
She died of cardiac arrest. Karen’s anorexia caused The Carpenters to cancel a 1975 performance for Queens Elizabeth and a concert tour of Europe and the Orient. She continued to perform almost right up until her sudden death.
Ron Paolillo – Then
Anyone who’s ever watched even one episode of “Welcome Back Kotter” should know who Arnold Horshack is. Horshack was, of course, the class clown of a group of high school kids known as the Sweathogs.
That character was expertly played by none other than Ron Paolillo, who even perfected his character’s ability to laugh like a hyena. It’s hard to forget a character trait like that, but would the role pigeonhole him forever?
Ron Paolillo – Now
Ron was in demand all of his adult life as well, playing a large variety of characters in different television shows and films such as “Laverne and Shirley in The Army,” Friday The Thirteenth, and others.
He also directed several Broadway plays and musicals, was a fashion designer and even found time to write a few children’s books. Ron Paolillo died on August 14, 2012, from a heart attack at home.
Barry Williams – Then
Barry Williams was just 14-years-old when he landed the role as the eldest child, Greg Brady, on the hit series “The Brady Bunch.” He quickly transformed into a teen heartthrob with millions of female fans all over the United States.
Along with his acting chops, he also recorded four albums with his famous TV siblings which only helped increase his popularity among the female persuasion. Not a bad way to start a career!
Barry Williams – Now
In 1989, Williams took home the Young Artist Foundation Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award. He followed up that honor in 1992 by releasing his autobiography, Growing Up Brady … I Was A Teenage Greg, which remained on the best-seller list for three months. His book was turned into a made-for-TV movie on NBC and he served as an executive producer for that film in 2001.
In recent years he has held guest roles on a number of “Brady Bunch” specials, “That 70’s Show,” and “Three’s Company,” among others. He has also spent many years in musical theater, including roles in “Grease,” “West Side Story,” and “The Sound Of Music.”
Maureen McCormick – Then
Now that we’ve included one of the guys from “The Brady Bunch,” we couldn’t move on without at least one of the show’s leading ladies. Maureen McCormick is best known for playing Marcia Brady from 1969 to 1974.
She was the oldest of the Brady girls. She was the pretty, smart, and confident girl who was incredibly popular at school and inside her own home. She was also very interested in politics and always worried about her own appearance. Maureen was only 12-years-old when she took on the iconic role.
Maureen McCormick – Now
Maureen McCormick married Michael Cummings in 1985, and their daughter Natalie was born in 1989. McCormick battled through drug addiction after her TV series ended, and she was eventually able to overcome her addiction.
She also appeared as a popular contestant on and won “VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club” in 2007. In 2016 she appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC. She was eliminated in the competition’s seventh week, finishing in eighth place.
Danny Bonaduce – Then
Danny Bonaduce rose to fame as a child actor in the 1970s thanks to his role as Danny Partridge on the popular series “The Partridge Family.” He was well-known for his bright red hair and his wisecracking ways as the middle child of the family band.
Danny was the fictional pop group’s bass guitar player. He co-starred on the show alongside David Cassidy. The men have remained close friends ever since the show first aired.
Danny Bonaduce – Now
Bonaduce decided to wear a lot of hats after his popular TV show ended. He’s a radio/television personality, comedian, and a professional wrestler. After the show drew to a close he starred in several TV series, including the VH1 reality show “Breaking Bonaduce” which aired in 2005.
He has also hosted radio shows in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. He has been a regular host in the mornings on a talk and music show for Seattle radio station KZOK-FM since November 2011.
Tatum O’Neal – Then
Here’s an incredibly impressive stat — Tatum O’Neal won an Academy Award in 1974 — at the age of 10. She took home the golden statue for her turn as Addie Loggins in Paper Moon. She also appeared in The Bad News Bears in 1976 and then Nickelodeon in 1976.
Being raved about at such a young age is still a rare thing to witness in Hollywood. But how would it affect her as she got older?
Tatum O’Neal – Now
In 1986, O’Neal and professional tennis star John McEnroe tied the knot and subsequently had three children together. They decided to separate in 1992 and by 1994 they were divorced. After her run of successful films in the 1970s, she would appear in only five films over the next 15 years.
She returned to acting in the 2000s when she made guest appearances on “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” and “Sex and the City.” In 2005, she began a recurring role on the hit series “Rescue Me.” She has continued to act, focusing most of her work on TV shows.
Linda Blair – Then
Linda Blair is best known for spinning her head around in circles and then vomiting pea soup. She was born in 1959 and just 14 years later she accepted her role as a possessed child in The Exorcist. She revised her role for The Exorcist II: The Heretic which debuted in 1977.
For her first role. she was nominated for an Academy Award and she took home a Golden Globe. She started acting as a child model when she was just 6-years-old. From 1968 to 1969 she held a short-lived role on the daytime soap opera, “Hidden Fences.”
Linda Blair – Now
Blair appeared in a number of low-budget horror and exploitation films through the 1980s. Among those films were Hell Night, Chained Heat, and Savage Streets. In 1990, she appeared in the comedy Repossessed which made fun of her horror movie roots.
She also made a cameo in the popular 1996 film Scream. She has since appeared on the stage (“Grease”) and on the BBC TV show “L.A. 7“. From 2000 to 2006 she hosted Fox Family’s “Scariest Places on Earth.” She also had a guest role on one of our favorite recent TV shows, “Supernatural.”
Melissa Gilbert – Then
Melissa Ellen Gilbert started her career as a child actress in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She appeared in a handful of commercials and then played in guest-starring TV roles. Her big break came from 1974 to 1984 when she played Laura Ingalls Wilder on the hit NBC series “Little House on the Prairie.”
While starring on the TV show she also appeared in some TV movies, including The Miracle Worker and The Diary of Anne Frank.
Melissa Gilbert – Now
Gilbert has continued to act into her adult years, mostly appearing on TV programs. You may recognize her voice from the animated cartoon “Batman: The Animated Series.” She also served as the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 to 2005. She also agreed to play Caroline “Ma” Ingalls in the touring production of “Little House on the Prairie, the Musical.”
Her fans were thrilled to see her appear in 2012 as a contestant on the hit reality TV show, “Dancing with the Stars” on NBC. She ran for US Congress as a Democrat in 2016 but was forced to drop out of the race in Michigan due to some health related issues.
Jodie Foster – Then
Jodie Foster was born in 1962 and by 1965 she was already starting her acting career. Two years later the child model made her way to the TV series “Mayberry R.F.D.” By the late 1960s, the young girl was a regular fixture of primetime TV while starring in various children’s films.
Her breakout roles started in her teens when she appeared in Taxi Driver, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Disney’s Freaky Friday, and Candleshoe.
Jodie Foster – Now
While she continued to enjoy much success in Hollywood, Foster decided to attend Yale, at which time she appeared in the highly controversial film The Accused for which she won an Academy Award and Golden Globe. She took home a second Oscar three years later for her role as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.
After more than 50 years in Hollywood, she continues to take leading roles and turn heads in Hollywood.
Valerie Bertinelli – Then
Valerie Bertinelli was born in 1960 and by 1975 she was already appearing in a new sitcom called “One Day at a Time.” She would appear on 208 of the shows 209 episodes before it ended in 1984. She reunited with the show’s cast in 2005 for the “One Day at a Time Reunion Special.”
She took home a Golden Globe in 1981 — not bad for a 21-year-old TV star. Her career hasn’t shown any signs of slowing in recent years either.
Valerie Bertinelli – Now
Following her early success, Bertinelli continued to act, starring in two 1990s sitcoms “Sydney” and “Café Americain.” In 2001, she joined “Touched by an Angel” — the show lasted only two seasons. After struggling with her weight for a number of years she eventually became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig — appearing in various commercials for the diet company.
In 2010, she joined Betty White, Wendie Malick, and Jane Leeves on the hit TV Land series “Hot in Cleveland.” After six hilarious seasons the final episode of “Hot In Cleveland” aired on June 3, 2015.
Mackenzie Phillips – Then
Phillips was just 12-years-old when she worked on the massive hit American Graffiti. She continued to gain stardom in the 1970s thanks to her role as Julie Cooper on the hit TV series “One Day at a Time.” At the time of her success, she was earning $50,000 a week. However, by the third season, she began drinking and doing drugs, which led to late arrivals on the set of her TV show.
She was forced to take a six-week break and was then fired in 1980. In 1981 the producers at “One Day at a Time” invited her to return to the show. She soon fell back into her bad habits and collapsed on the show’s set. She was soon fired for good.
Mackenzie Phillips – Now
In 1992, Phillips was checked into a long-term drug rehabilitation program where she remained for nine months. In 1999, she co-starred with Cara DeLizia in the Disney Channel series “So Weird,” playing a fictional rock star named Molly Phillips.
She also guest-starred on episodes of “ER,” “Without a Trace,” “7th Heaven,” and “Cold Case.” After turning her life around she decided to help others in need and became a rehab counselor at the Breathe Life Healing Center in West Hollywood, California.
The Jacksons – Then
Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael, and Tito made up the hit group “Jackson Five.” Their first four singles (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There”) went to number one on the Billboard charts, a music-business history record in 1970.
The songs were released over a nine-month period with “I’ll Be There” sitting at the top of the charts for five weeks. That’s a lot of fame for such young people to process!
The Jacksons – Now
In 2011 the Jacksons reunited after a seventeen-year hiatus to celebrate their brother’s (the late Michael Jackson) solo career. They also performed as part of their Unity Tour. Randy was the first to retire, the rest of the brothers– Jermaine, Tito, Jackie, and Marlon– remain active touring and performing at various venues and events throughout the world.
All that touring is not coming with new music, however. The band released their last original collection of songs in 1989 under the moniker The Jacksons. The album was called “23000 Jackson Street.”
Janet – Then
The youngest member of the Jackson family is Janet. Sometimes performing with her older brothers on variety shows, Janet was more interested in acting than a singing career. One of her biggest roles as a child was the character Penny on the show “Good Times,” where she portrayed a frightened and battered child who was a neighbor of the Evans family.
Janet also appeared in hit shows “Fame” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” and still managed to find time to start her singing career.
Janet – Now
Second in popularity only to her brother Michael, Janet is one of the recording industry’s most celebrated musicians have sold millions of records, being awarded multi-platinum albums, starring in hit movies, and selling out at performances.
She’s now married to billionaire Wissam Al Mana, and her most recent tour was canceled due to the fact that she wishes to start a family. Her last album, “Unbreakable,” came out in 2016 and was met with positive reviews.
Kristy McNichol – Then
McNichol started her young career in commercials and followed up those spots with guest appearances on such other series as “Starsky & Hutch,” “The Bionic Woman,” “Love American Style,” and “The Love Boat.” Her first regular series job was as Patricia Apple in the short-lived scripted series “Apple’s Way.”
In 1976, she appeared in the drama series “Family” where she earned two Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series. She soon made her foray into music, recording the album Kristy & Jimmy McNichol for RCA Records. Her biggest hit was “He’s So Fine” which peaked at #70.
Kristy McNichol – Now
Heading out of the 1970s she continued to make a name for herself with a role in the movie Little Darlings which co-starred Tatum O’Neal, Matt Dillon, and Cynthia Dixon. She also appeared alongside Mark Hamill and Dennis Quaid in The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. One year later she would appear in Neil Simon’s Only When I Laugh, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She eventually joined the cast of “Empty Nest” but left after several seasons, only to return for the show’s final episode in 1995. She stopped appearing on screen after that role but continued to voice characters in the animated TV series “Extreme Ghostbusters” and “Invasion America.”
Adam Rich – Then
Adam Rich is best known for his role as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest son on the television series “Eight Is Enough.” The show ran for five seasons from 1977–1981. He was immediately recognizable for his bowl haircut which inspired thousands of parents to do the same for their children.
His role was so iconic at the time that he became known as “America’s little brother.” Sadly, heading into the 1980s he hit a rough spot in his life and disappeared from the spotlight for good.
Adam Rich – Now
Troubles started for Adam Rich when he was just 14 years old. He started smoking marijuana and then at 17 he dropped out of high school. In 1996 he consented to the San Francisco-based magazine Might, publishing a death hoax.
His troubles continued into the 21st century when he was arrested in 2002 for drinking and driving. The incident made him look in the mirror and he entered rehab. He is currently shopping around script ideas for new TV shows and films.
Tanya Tucker – Then
This country crooner flew to the top of the country charts at just 13-years-old thanks to her hit “Delta Dawn.” She was first discovered by Mel Tillis, who invited her on stage to perform because of her amazing vocal skills.
Her family moved to Las Vegas in 1969 and she was soon performing regularly in the city. She eventually gained the attention of songwriter Dolores Fuller. The teenage vocalist soon signed to Colombia Records.
Tanya Tucker – Now
In the decades following her first hit, Tanya Tucker became one of most popular and successful country singers of all time, collecting an impressive streak of Top 10 and Top 40 hits. She released several very popular albums and was nominated for numerous Country Music Association awards. Her hit songs included 1973’s “What’s Your Mama’s Name?” and “Blood Red and Goin’ Down.”
In 1975 her song “Lizzie and the Rainman,” brought her another hit. That song was followed up by 1988’s “Strong Enough to Bend.” She was one of the few artists to take her childhood fans along for the ride into adulthood. She is often listed among the top influences for many female country singers.
Danielle Spencer – Then
The part of Dee Thomas from television’s “What’s Happening” was played by actress Danielle Spencer. She was cast as the “more than annoying little sister,” a part she played with aplomb.
Dee Dee had a favorite saying: “Ooooohh, I’m tellin’ Mama!”. The show ran from August 1976 to April 1979.
Danielle Spencer – Now
All grown up, Spencer is a doctor of veterinary medicine in California. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, but successfully beat it.
Fact: Spencer is the only child actor who has been inducted into the Smithsonian Museum as part of a permanent exhibition on African American Culture.
Erin Moran – Then
Erin played the youngest child in the Cunningham family on the television show “Happy Days.” As Joanie Cunningham, Moran’s sense of timing and comedic skills was considered perfect for the part of a “brat sister” to Ron Howard’s Richie Cunningham.
She played the part from 1974 to 1984 and then from 1982 to 1983 in the spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi.
Erin Moran Passed Away in April 2017
Although she acted sporadically after “Happy Days,” Moran fell into financial hardship. In 2012 Moran’s epic downward spiral was on view for all the world to see as she reportedly got into a drunken brawl in public, and it was further reported that she was broke and that she was forced to move into a trailer with her husband and mother-in-law after being evicted from her house.
Sadly, Moran passed away in April 2017 from complications of throat cancer.
Lance Kerwin – Then
Do “James at Fifteen (and Sixteen),” “The Family Holvak,” and Salem’s Lot sound familiar to anyone? They should, because Lance Kerwin played in all of them, plus at least 20 more roles in film or television just in the seventies.
A highly popular child star, his first television show of that decade was “Emergency” and his last was Salem’s Lot in 1979.
Lance Kerwin – Now
Lance continued his acting career through 1995 when he retired. Afterward, he worked as a minister in Kaua’i, Hawaii, where he still lives. Fact: Lance admitted to smoking pot before the age of 10, and was a crack user in his twenties.
After hitting rock bottom and going through many stints in rehab, he is finally clean and sober thanks to his faith. in 2010 he and his wife pleaded guilty to fraud. Turns out he was trying to get food stamps by falsifying paperwork, but he was found to own at least three homes in the mainland USA.
Leif Garrett – Then
Much like David Cassidy, Leif was a child actor, singer, and television personality. Starting the seventies with the film Walking Tall and ending the decade with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, he appeared in at least ten films and television shows.
Leif impressed everyone he worked with. During the late seventies is when Leif started running into personal difficulties.
Leif Garrett – Now
Partying, drugs and the life of a celebrity were Leif’s downfall. From as early as 1979 at the age of seventeen when he crashed a leased Porsche that left his friend a paraplegic, to current times, Leif has repeatedly run into legal and drug troubles.
From trying to purchase cocaine from undercover cops in the eighties to again getting arrested for heroin possession, Leif hasn’t led a very productive adult life. Hopefully, his court-ordered rehab helps.
Mason Reese – Then
Mason’s huge talents and unique looks made him an instant child star in the seventies. He acted in more than seventy television commercials alone.
He was always on shows like “Howard Cosell” and “Mike Douglas” or just about any other talk show at the time. He was a major pop star back in the day.
Mason Reese – Now
After retiring from television, Reese went on to become a restaurateur. He’s opened several restaurants, such as Paladar and Destination Bar and Grille in the Manhattan area. Recently, he raised money to make a pending television pilot called Life Interrupted.
The show featured television icons such as Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island; Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha on Bewitched; Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie; Michael Learned, who played Olivia Walton on The Waltons; and Robbie Rist, who played Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch.
Mark Lester – Then
English child star Lester, best known by US fans through the character Oliver Twist, made his film debut at the age of six. At eight he took on the role of Oliver in the musical adaptation of the film.
Fact: Because he simply couldn’t sing, all of Lester’s singing was dubbed in Oliver Twist by the daughter of the musical director.
Mark Lester – Now
Lester retired from acting at the age of nineteen and later went to school to become an osteopath. He and Michael Jackson became the best of friends, even Godfather to each others’ children.
Lester claims to have given sperm to Jackson to conceive children and has made claims that Jackson’s children may be his biologically.
Haywood Nelson – Then
Nelson is best known for his role as Dwayne Nelson on the series “What’s Happening!!” which aired from 1976-1979. He also starred in the spin-off series “What’s Happening Now!!” from 1985-1988. He was a child star when she appeared in several national commercials and then in the movie Mixed Company.
Starting in 1974 he appeared on Broadway in Thieves alongside Mario Thomas. When he was just 14-years-old he guest starred on “Sanford and Son” as Grady’s grandson before starring in the spin-off of “Sanford and Son” called “Grady.”
Haywood Nelson – Now
While Nelson never landed another nationally syndicated TV show, he continued to work in TV after his teen idol days ended. He guest starred on an episode of “Kojak” before deciding to work behind the scenes. In recent years his work as been mostly focused on working with the crew of various talk shows, TV shows, and interview programs.
He is largely viewed as one of the very first nationally-recognized African American teen idols.
Gary Coleman – Then
What chu talkin bout Willis? The infamous words from the funny Gary Coleman. Coleman was born in 1968 and ended up being adopted a few days later after birth. If you were ever wondering why Coleman ended up at the height he was it was because of an atrophied kidney and weak second kidney. Two kidney transplants later, dialysis had caused him to have stunted growth.
At ten, he was handed the keys to his own sitcom thanks to his comedy skills on screen. Diff’rent Strokes was his breakout role back in 1978 and it was a show about two African-American boys in Harlem who were adopted by a wealthy caucasian man. Coleman’s jokes were the glue of the show.
Gary Coleman Passed Away in 2010
Unfortunately, as Gary Coleman’s career came to an end his life was crumbling down at the same time. He had numerous run-ins with the court system and that included having to sue his adopted parents because they were taking his money from youthful fortune. They took $3.8 million to be exact and Coleman won the case and gained $1,280,000. In 2007 he got married and ended up getting into domestic violence trouble.
Three years later in 2010, Coleman passed away from a brain hemorrhage. As we said, the last few years of his career and life were not the greatest for someone who once brought so much life to TV.
Chris Knight – Then
Oh, how Christopher Knight has changed over the years. Knight was born in 1957 over in Manhattan, New York. His father was an actor so it was in the stars for him if you want to look at it like that. When Knight was three his father began auditioning him and one of his brothers so they could save for a college tuition.
The biggest role Knight’s life came in 1969 and lasted until 1974 when he was cast as Peter Brady in The Brady Bunch. The show was not that popular while it was on air but once it ended it earned instant syndication and has been a staple on TV for over 30 years.
Chris Knight – Now
Chris Knight was one of those stars who did not appreciate or rather, care for the spotlight all that much. He also had a love for machines and sciences which led him to a career in the computer industry. In his first 18 months, Knight logged the company’s first million-dollar sales order. Talk about impressive.
In 2003, he started to get more involved with a web-based talent exchange called Casting Networks Inc. It revolutionized the casting process by handling clients in a more efficient way with the internet. Today, Knight is ready to dive back into the business that got him his start and he is more aware than ever of the potential in it.
Lisa Whelchel – Then
The adorable Lisa Whelchel was born in 1963 out in Littlefield, Texas. It was at the age of eight when she found acting. She started with musical theater for several years. At 12 years old, she wrote to the Disney and asked for an audition to be on The New Mickey Mouse Club. The following year, she moved to sunny California to appear on the show for from 1977-1978.
A year after that, she had the lead student role on The Facts of Life. That particular show didn’t last too long but it helped Whelchel’s resume plenty.
Lisa Whelchel – Now
Today, Lisa Whelchel still keeps active in the entertainment industry. Back in 2012, she was even on the popular show Survivor: Phillippines. While on the show, she chose to keep her past life a secret because many of the other contestants were too young to have known her from The Facts of Life.
She appeared in 14 episodes and earned the title of Sprint Player of the Season which anointed her $100k. Some controversy stirred when she announced on her twitter she contracted the West Nile virus because she didn’t make clear if she had got while filming the show.
Quinn Cummings – Then
You now would have to consider Quinn Cummings as a retired child actress. She is remembered for her performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination in Goodbye Girl and also her role in the TV show Family. Cummings was born in 1967 in Los Angeles. She got her start only eight years later and did an amazing job.
Not many under the age of ten get nominated for an Academy Award. Maybe that has something to do with why she retired so young. She could have been aware at a young age that she would have to keep up the good work for as long as she acted.
Quinn Cummings – Now
Done with acting, Quinn Cummings invest her time into other ventures. For instance, when she had her first child she was inspired and created the HipHugger. It is essentially a sling-type device with some added style for carrying babies. Another venture of hers is The QC Report. That is her blog that talks about the ironies of modern life from the perspective of a mom in her thirties and also in her career.
Let’s not forget about her career as a writer. Her first book came out in July 2009 and was titled “Notes From the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life”.
Susan Olsen – Then
Susan Olsen shot to fame in the late ’60s and ’70s with her blonde pigtails and puppy dog eyes as the littlest Brady kid, Cindy. In real life, Susan was born in 1961 in Santa Monica, California and was the youngest of four kids, which must have helped prepare her for her future role.
Before landing that role at the tender age of eight though, she had some prior experience with acting, with a small role in the 1968 Elvis Presley film The Trouble With Girls.
Susan Olsen – Now
After the Brady Bunch ended, Olsen largely chose to stay out of the limelight, although she did appear in almost all of the Brady Bunch reunion movies. She’s had a number of different careers from working in graphic design, to marketing a pair of glow-in-the-dark sneakers with Converse, to having her own radio show, called “Two Chicks Talkin’ Politics.”
Recently though, Olsen has made headlines for more controversial reasons. In 2016 she got caught up in a feud with fellow actor Leon Acord-Whiting in which Susan was accused of making homophobic slurs against Acord-Whiting. She was later fired from her radio show as the result of this. Yikes! What would Mrs. Brady say?!