If you’re a fan of celebrity gossip or just interested in entertainment news, you have probably heard of the “Child Star Curse”. Basically, the old theory goes that child stars are doomed to lives of addiction, struggles, arrests and sometimes even death at a young age. Is it true? Well, there seems to be evidence of it everywhere. Th real question should be why is seems to be true. Is it the money? The pressure? The fame? Is it too much for young people to handle when even adults seem to struggle with it so much? It’s hard to say exactly what leads many child stars to go off the rails in such a big way but one thing is certain, it is possible to escape the curse. The child stars on this list escaped the curse and made it through all of the common trappings of fame to grow up to be seemingly well adjusted young men and women. A note about the list before we begin: I only chose to include actors and actresses that are now either over the age of 30 or are about to turn 30. I also chose to exclude anyone that was over the age of 13 when they landed their first major role. In my opinion, that would make them more of a tween star than a child star. This list is also in alphabetical order. Okay, enough chit chat – let’s get to the list.
Born: Alyssa Jayne Milano on December 19, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York
Current Age: 40
First Major Role: Samantha Micelli in Who’s the Boss? at age 10
Notable Accomplishments: Has worked steadily since Who’s the Boss and has also released several albums
Most Recent Work: Savannah Davis on Mistresses (yet to premiere)
Personal Life: married David Bugliari on August 15, 2009 and gave birth to son, Milo Thomas Bugliari in August of 2011.
Born: December 3, 1980 in Chicago, Illinois
Current Age: 32
First Major Role: Vada Sultenfuss in My Girl at age 11
Notable Accomplishments: Received a BA in Industrial Studies from the University of Chicago in 2002
Most Notable Recent Work: Amy Brookheimer in Veep
Personal Life: married Shaun So on March 8, 2008
Born: Anna Helene Paquin on July 24, 1982 in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Current Age: 30
First Role: Flora McGrath in The Piano at age 11
Notable Accomplishments: Won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Piano making her the second youngest actress to ever receive the award (Tatum O’Neil was the youngest). Also studied at Columbia University for a year before returning to acting.
Most Notable Recent Work: Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood
Personal Life: married True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer on August 21, 2010 and gave birth to twins in September of 2012.
Born: November 25, 1971 in Hollywood, California
Current Age: 41
First Role: Her first television appearance was on Days of Our Lives when she was 3 months old.
Notable Accomplishments: Applegate has worked steadily throughout her career, including several staring roles in critically acclaimed moves and television shows. She is also a breast cancer surviver.
Most Recent Work: Reagan Brinkley on Up All Night
Personal Life: married Martyn LeNoble in February of 2013. Their daughter, Sadie Grace, was born on January 27, 2011.
Born: Danica Mae McKeller on January 3, 1975 in La Jolla, California
Current Age: 38
First Major Role: Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years at age 13 (some minor roles before then)
Notable Accomplishments: Has written and directed two short films but in the eyes of many, Danica’s biggest accomplishments are her academic pursuits. Danica graduated summa cum laude from UCLA and coauthored a scientific paper focusing on a mathematical therum she developed with her co-authors. She has also written three mathematics based books that focus on encouraging women to pursue mathematics.
Most Recent Work: guest spots on hit shows like in How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory.
Personal Life: married Mike Verta on March 22, 2009 and had son, Draco, on September 7, 2010. McKeller filed for divorce from Verta in June of 2012.
Born: Elisabeth Singleton Moss on July 24, 1982 in Los Angeles, California
Current Age: 30
First Role: Robin in Bar Girls at age 8
Notable Accomplishments: Nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2009 and 2011. Nominates for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2010. All nominations were for her role in Mad Men.
Most Recent Work: Peggy Olsen on Mad Men
Personal Life: married Fred Armisen on October 25, 2009 but the couple divorced on May 13, 2012.
Born: Frederick Aaron Savage on July 9, 1967 in Chicago, Illinois
Current Age: 36
First Role: Alan Bishop on Morning Star/Evening Star at age 9 (most known as Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years)
Notable Accomplishments: Has branched out into producing and directing, producing several episodes of It’s Always Sunning In Philadelphia, Friends with Benefits and Happy Endings.
Most Recent Work: Guest spots as himself on shows like Mr. Sunshine and Happy Endings.
Personal Life: married to Jennifer Lynn Stone. The couple have three children.
Born: Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt on February 17, 1981 in Los Angeles, California
Current Age: 32
First Role: Rounder in Stranger on my Land at age 7
Notable Accomplishments: Joseph writes, directors and helped found hitRECORD, a network of artists from every medium who work together to create collaborative works of art including films, videos, books and various other creative ventures.
Most Recent Work: Most recent work includes The Dark Knight Rises and Looper
Born: Mayim Hoya Bialik on December 12, 1975 in San Diego, California
Current Age: 37
First Role: Ellie on Beauty and the Beast at age 12
Notable Accomplishments: Holds a BA and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. She chose UCLA because of its location but she was also accepted to Harvard and Yale.
Most Recent Work: Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory
Personal Life: Married Michael Stone on August 31, 2003. They had two children together, Miles Roosevelt (born October 10, 2005) and Frederick Heschel (born August 15, 2008) before announcing they were divorcing on November 21, 2012.
Born: Ronald William Howard on March 1, 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma
Current Age: 58
First Role: Billy Rhinelander in The Journey at age 5
Notable Accomplishments: Ron has become one of the most successful directors of his generation directing and producing films such as A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon and Angels & Demons.
Most Recent Work: Most of Ron’s work these days is voice over or narration work or directing.
Personal Life: Married Cheryl Alley in 1975. They have four children including actress, Bryce Dallas Howard
We’ve only really scratched the surface in terms of successful child stars. Other notable child stars who kept it together include:
- Jennifer Love Hewitt
- Jerry O’Connell
- Jessica Biel
- Johnny Galecki
- Mila Kunis
- Natalie Portman
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Sarah Michelle Gellar
- Wil Wheaton