Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #57: Successful Former Child Stars

Thirteen Former Child Stars Who Had Successful Careers As Adults

Last night I was struggling to come up with a topic for this week's Thursday Thirteen. When I sat on my couch, I noticed that my copy of the Leonard Maltin/Richard W. Bann book The Little Rascals was laying on the coffee table. Since we often hear the sad stories of youthful stars who have problems maintaining their success once they are old enough to vote, I thought I'd stay positive and focus on some of the ones who were able to sustain their careers into adulthood.

Below are 13 performers who not only had success as child stars, but were able to make the transition into roles once they reached adulthood. Since this is the Thursday Thirteen, the list below isn't meant to be comprehensive... just a sampling. Having said that, feel free to comment on the 13 performers below or any others who didn't make my list.

1. Robert Blake- As a child star, Blake first gained fame as "Mickey" in the "Our Gang" comedies. Although he's had more than his share of personal troubles throughout his life, Blake maintained a successful film and TV career as an adult. In addition to appearing in such films as In Cold Blood and Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Blake starred in the ABC detective drama Baretta from 1975-1978 (winning an Emmy for his portrayal in the process).

2. Jackie Cooper- Cooper is another "Gang" alum, appearing in the series of comedies from 1929-1931. As an adult, Cooper has had success both in front of and behind the camera. Along with such roles as Perry White in the Superman films, Cooper also won Emmys for directing such series as M*A*S*H and The White Shadow.

3. Patty Duke- Patty first dazzled audiences for her role as Helen Keller in both the stage and big screen versions of The Miracle Worker (winning an Oscar for her performance in the film) and later on as the star of her successful self-titled sitcom. As an adult, Patty has been a mainstay on the TV-movie circuit and even wrote a best-selling autobiography "Call Me Anna".

4. Jodie Foster- Jodie cut her teeth as a child actress by guest starring in such TV series as Kung Fu, The Partridge Family, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Ever since her career-changing role in the 1976 film Taxi Driver, Foster has been a mainstay on the big screen (winning two Best Actress Oscars in the process).

5. Melissa Gilbert- From her days as Laura Ingalls on Little House On the Prairie, Gilbert has gone on to become one of the queens of the TV-movie. In addition to being the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001-2005, Gilbert is currently starring as Ma in a musical adaptation of the series that made her famous.

6. Mark Paul Gosselaar- Mark has been quite a surprise to me. I don't know about any of you, but I never expected the actor who gained fame as Zack on the Saved By the Bell series to go on to such success in series like N.Y.P.D. Blue and the new TNT drama Raising the Bar.

7. Neil Patrick Harris- The actor once known as Doogie Howser, M.D. has carved out quite a career as a comedic actor as an adult. In addition to spoofing his image in the Harold and Kumar films, Neil currently steals every scene he's in as one of the stars of the hilarious sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

8. Ron Howard- As one of the best child actors ever, Ron first gained fame as Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. After leaving the highly successful series Happy Days, Ron has gone on to become one of Hollywood's most acclaimed directors (winning the Academy Award in 2001 for helming A Beautiful Mind).

9. Janet Jackson- After getting her first taste of fame while appearing with her older siblings onstage and on their self-titled variety series, Janet went on to the role of child abuse victim Penny Gordon on Good Times. Janet has been a double threat as an adult, becoming one of the biggest stars in music as well as maintaining her acting career (appearing in such films as Poetic Justice and Why Did I Get Married).

10. Regina King- One thing that pisses me off is that Regina King is usually overlooked when people discuss 80s child stars who went on to have success in the movies. As a teen, she first gained attention as Brenda on the long-running sitcom 227. Since making the transition to adult roles, Regina has been one of the most reliable supporting players on the big screen. Boyz In the Hood, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Jerry Maguire, Ray, and This Christmas are just a handful of the films in which she's appeared.

11. Mickey Rooney- Mickey first made a name for himself in the "Mickey McGuire" films in the 1920s and later became the ultimate teenager in the "Andy Hardy" movie series. As an adult, Mickey has been quite successful on stage, in the movies, and on TV. His one-man performance in the Twilight Zone episode "Last Night of A Jockey", his role in the play Sugar Babies, and his award-winning turn in the TV movie Bill are just a few of his achievements since reaching adulthood.

12. Elizabeth Taylor- As a 12 yr old, young Liz became a star in the family film classic National Velvet. As an adult, Elizabeth remained one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. Along with her Oscar-winning roles in Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Liz has also had success on the small screen (appearing on the soap General Hospital and in such TV-movies as Malice In Wonderland and These Old Broads).

13. Natalie Wood- The late Natalie Wood was one of the most successful child stars of the 1940s and 1950s, appearing in such films as Tomorrow Is Forever, Miracle On 34th Street, and The Star. Along with her performances in movies such as Splendor In the Grass, West Side Story, and This Property Is Condemned, Natalie also had success on the small screen (winning a Golden Globe for her work in the 1979 miniseries From Here To Eternity).

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Open Grove Claudia said...

I'm amazed at the people who have careers and those who don't. You've selected some very talented people, Malcolm

Happy TT

Lori said...

Nice range of folks--some older, some more recent. Surprisingly, I know all excecpt #6. Also, I would have never pegged Regina King as someone who'd have a career as an adult. 227 wasn't one of my favorite shows, but since then, Ms. King has evolved into quite an accomplished actress.

Stagg said...

Oh my god...I;'ve been watching "Raising The Bar" and I had no IDEA! that that guy was from "Saved By The Bell". He's turned intoa very good actor.

I love Natalie Wood and her child role as the little girl in Miracle on 34th.

Great list Malcolm!

Candy Minx said... boyfriend had loggd into his blog and din't log out...and I didn't notice, sorry that was me by mistake "Stagg"...

here is my TT list this week:

p.s. here is my TT list:

Jay said...

I always wondered what happened to Zack.

It's always a surprise when a child actor grows up to be successful as an adult for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Dr Horrible!!!!!

13 pics from the 2008 Canada Outdoor Farm Show

jehara said...

i didn't realize that mark-paul gossaler was still around. surprising but cool. whenever i think of successful child star as an adult i always think of drew barrymore.

pjazzypar said...

Rick Schroder comes to mind, so does Jason Bateman. Great idea for a TT, wish I had thought of it.

Lori said...

Great, Ron Howard sure looks different. Doesnt he? Happy TT.

Lazy Daisy said...

Good idea and very interesting. Nice arrangement of new with old.

bernieg1 said...

What a great list of interesting people. It is sad Natalie is gone, my favorite.

My TT is up here.

SJ Reidhead said...

What a great list.

The Pink Flamingo

Meju said...

Great list as usual, Malcolm. I had no idea Zack Morris had grown into a successful actor as an adult. Happy TT.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Its good to read something positive about child actors, sad that so many ended up messed up or doing really embarrassing TV commercials to make money

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic list. It shows that not every child star falls victim to Hollywood.

Stunning pictures of Liz Taylor and Natalie Wood!

Happy TT!

pussreboots said...

My paternal grandmother grew up with the original "Our Gang" cast and used to share stories of play dates and birthday parties with them when she and I would watch the show in reruns at her house.

Malcolm said...

Claudia: It's funny how things work out for some former child stars. It's just a matter of luck, perseverance or both.

Lori: As you probably know by now, I like to mix the old with the new. :-)

Like you, I wouldn't have predicted big screen success for Regina King either. Because of the way she's handled her career, I think she can continue working as long as she wants. I can see her easily moving into the designated role of "Black matriarch" currently held by Jenifer Lewis.

Stagg (aka Candy): Mark Paul is almost recognizable in his role on Raising the Bar. I caught the first episode and thought he did a good job.

Jay: I think that it's a crap shoot at best as to which child stars make it as adults and which ones don't.

Lost Hemisphere: I have been meaning to watch Dr. Horrible after reading an article about it in Entertainment Weekly a few issues ago.

Jehara: Drew Barrymore is another good example of a child star who made the transition. She's not only a movie star, but a film producer too.

Pjazzy: Rick and Jason were two actors who almost made my list.

Lori: Yes, Ron has changed from his days as Opie and Richie.

Lazy Daisy: Thanks... I'm glad you liked it.

Bernie: Watching Turner Classic Movies has given me a better appreciation of the work of Natalie Wood. One of my favorites by her is Love With the Proper Stranger (which also starred Steve McQueen).

SJ: Thanks

Meju: Thank you. It seems that the adult success of Mark Paul Gosselaar has surprised a few of the people who've commented on this post.

Barbara: Because we normally hear stories such as the fates of the "Diff'rent Strokes" kids, it's easy to forget that many child stars go on to successful careers as adults.

Poppingbubbles: Thanks! Because I found so many beautiful photos of Liz and Natalie, it was hard to settle on which ones to use.

SandyCarlson said...

That's a great list. Lots of fine women on there.

Robin said...

Damn, I don't remember Ma dressing like that! I've been a fan since the Laura Ingalls days though (and what little girl growing up in the 70s wasn't).

Very interesting list.

The Rock Chick said...

Great list, Malcolm! Mark Paul G. was wonderful on NYPD Blue, I thought. I've only seen one episode of Raising The Bar so far and I'm withholding judgment until I see a couple more. I wasn't that crazy about him or the show based on the first episode.

Sassy Mama Bear said...

I love when they do succeed without the trouble spots, I could think of a few more to add, bet you had a hard time limiting the list down.
Hope you'll stop by my T13a @ The Cafe at the END of the Universe & The Library at the END of the Universe.
~Penelope Anne

Lori said...

Great list! I had no idea Zack from Saved By the Bell had gone on to better things. :-) And I adore Neil Patrick Harris. He was in my list of attendees to my fantasy karaoke/dinner party for last weeks TT. His comedic timing is wonderful and he can even sing!

I have a special TT today, in honor of 9/11. It is my then 8 year old daughter's journal from that day, in 13 parts. I rarely mention my own TT in comments, but this one is special to me. Check it out if you have the chance. :-)

Bryan said...

as you probably expected i have no idea who some of those people are.

I'd like to throw 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg and Danny Bonnaduce into the mix too.

And of course, Drew Barrymore.

Malcolm said...

Pussreboots: That's a cool story about your grandmother knowing the orig. Our Gang. I wish that someone would start showing these on TV again... they were a huge part of my TV viewing as a kid.

Sandy Carlson: Thanks! I didn't recognize you with your glasses. I have to keep track because it seems as if you change your photo every few weeks. :-)

Robin: Looking at her cleavage, you certainly can't call Melissa "half pint" anymore. Don't worry, I just slapped my own hand for making such a vulgar reference.

The Rock Chick: I missed the second episode of Raising the Bar. However, I know I will have ample opportunity to catch it. While watching the first episode, I was afraid that they would throw in an unbelievable twist in regards to who his character was sleeping with (pairing him with the judge played by Jane Kaczmerak)... I'm glad they didn't go that way.

Sassy Mama Bear: Yes, it was hard to leave off some of the people who didn't make it. I may end up doing a sequel to this list somewhere down the line.

Lori: I didn't know that Neil Patrick Harris could sing! I agree with you about his comic timing. I just hope that CBS doesn't try to spin-off his Barney character into his own show. Although he could carry his own show, if he left that would leave a void on HIMYM.

Bryan: Out of curiosity, which ones don't you know?

Drew Barrymore definitely belongs in the group of child stars who successfully made the jump to adult roles. However, Mark Wahlberg wouldn't fit on this list because he wasn't a child star (he was already grown when he was "Marky Mark").

As for Danny Bonaduce, that's kind of a stretch in my opinion. For the most part, he was on the fringes of show business as an adult. Although he's had some success in recent years (radio show, TV guest shots, etc.), I think most of that is due to his well-publicized personal problems.

Pop Art Diva! said...

Ron Howard always makes the top of my list for successful child stars. Not only did he transition into decent acting rolls as he matured but he became one of the most successful producer/directors in Hollywood.

I just watched Mickey Rooney on BIO and it was a great interview, going all the way back to questions about him being on a vaudeville stage at 18 months old!

Great post Malcolm - I had a problem with being creative this week too as you'll see on my post, 13 Reasons Why I Don't Want To Work Today!!!


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