Many child stars are doing well even today and boast about how they started off young. However, the following were not too lucky and were phased out pretty quickly.
1. Lindsay Lohan
We first saw Lindsay Lohan in the movie, “Parent Trap”, when she was not even 10 years old. The role proved to be difficult as she played two people at the same time. She played twin sisters, Haillie and Annie, who were separated at birth, and tried to bring their parents back together. Lohan’s movie career went on a sky high throughout the years, when she starred in movies such as “Freaky Friday” and “Mean Girls”. She also tried out a music career, as well as debuted her own fashion line, 6126, which mainly focuses on women’s clothing.
Things went downhill for Lohan once she began filming “Herbie: Fully Loaded” and “Georgia Rule”. She was hospitalized twice during filming of “Herbie” due to stress, and even got a letter from the production team of “Georgia Rule”, stating to her of her unprofessionalism. In 2007, Lohan began her treatment at a rehab after being convicted of DUI twice. She also completed community service for ten days and spent one day in jail. She then spent 90 days in jail in 2010 for violating her probation period in the DUI case from 2007, and then was sentenced to serve 120 days in jail for stealing a necklace worth $250,000 in 2011. After a 5 years hiatus, we saw Lindsay Lohan come back to the top in 2012, when she hosted “Saturday Night Live”, as well as landed a gust starring role in the hit television show, “Glee”.
2. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is the most successful artist of all time. But he proved that success comes at a very high price. Jackson began his career at age 5, when he began performing with his brothers. Their act was known as “Jackson 5”. His career began evolving even more when he began his solo career. His 1984 album, “Thriller”, is considered to be the most successful album of all time to this very day.
Behind closed doors, however, things were not as colorful. In a 1993 interview with Oprah, Jackson admitted that his father beat him as a child, though his father denied the claims. Jackson also talked about his childhood, and said it was far from normal. That same year, Jackson was accused of molesting a young boy. The case was resolved with a money deal. In 2003, after a documentary about Michael Jackson showed him holding the hand of a young boy, he again was accused of having sexual relations with a minor. This time, Jackson was arrested, but was found not guilty to all charges in 2005.
In 2001, Jackson released his last album, “Invincible”. Though not as successful as his previous ones, it still managed to sell 3 million copies worldwide. Jackson saw this as a failure. In 2009, Jackson planned a comeback tour, “This Is It”, which would mark his last hit in the industry. But before he could even begin performing, Jackson died on June 25, 2009, due to the large amount of medications provided by his doctor, Conrad Murray.
3. Britney Spears
Britney Spears began performing when she was part of The Mickey Mouse Club, along with Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling. She then re-emerged when she released her hit single, “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. Spears became very popular with the young tweens and teens age groups. She released her debut album of the same name in 1998, as well as several others throughout the years.
Spears’ troubles began when she started dating backup dancer, Kevin Federline. She started dating him in 2004, married him the same year, had two children with him, Sean Preston and Jayden James, and divorced him in 2006. They also had a reality show, which lasted only 5 episodes. In 2007-2008, the world saw Britney Spears go through a meltdown. We saw her do things such as shave her head and hit the car of a paparazzi with an umbrella.
Things started to look up again once Spears’ father took control of her financials. Her music career went back on track as well Her album “Femme Fatale” is her most successful album as of yet. She is also now engaged to be married to her longtime boyfriend, Jason Trawick.
4. Dana Plato
Dana Plato was a particularly well known actress for her role in the hit series, “Diff’rent Strokes”. Plato played Kimberly, the teenage daughter of Phillip Drummond, a widower who adopts two African American boys after their parents died. The series aired from 1978 to 1986. Plato was cast at the beginning of its run, but her appearances ended in 1984, when she became pregnant. The producers of the show felt that a pregnancy would not fit the concept of the show. She appeared again between 1985 and 1986.
The end of “Diff’rent Strokes” marked the beginning of the end for Plato. She became overshadowed by her long running teenage role. After the birth of her son, Plato decided to get breast implants and appeared in Playboy, as well as movies such as “Bikini Beach Race” and “Lethal Cowboy”, B- movies. But all that did not help boost her career.
Plato was a heavy drug and alcohol user, and admitted that she was using drugs and alcohol while being a part of “Diff’rent Strokes”. After her divorce, she lost custody of her son. She then ended up in Las Vegas with no acting work, rather work in a dry cleaning store.
Dana Plato’s life came to an end on May 8, 1999, on Mother’s Day, due to a drug overdose. Her son shot himself in the head in 2010, at age 25, as he was not able to cope with his mother’s death.
5. Gary Coleman
Another “Diff’rent Strokes” alum bites the dust. Gary Coleman played Allan Jackson on the show, one of the African American boys who were adopted. His trademark quote on the show was, “What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” While being on the show, Coleman earned an estimated amount of $100,000. Coleman sued his parents and advisor for misusing the money. Despite winning the case in 1993, Coleman went bankrupt a decade later. He also faced legal troubles, such as being charged with assault after punching a fan at a mall.
Gary Coleman was short, 4 feet, 8 inches or 1.42 meters. But it was not because he was a midget, but a kidney condition and the treatments he had to go through. Coleman went through several kidney transplants, as well as frequent dialysis. He had stated in interviews that he tried, unsuccessfully, to commit suicide multiple times.
On May 26, 2010, Gary Coleman was hospitalized after falling down the stairs, after a possible seizure attack. He was in critical condition. On May 27, he was conscious, but his condition worsened. Coleman died on May 28, 2010.
6. Todd Bridges
Being a part of “Diff’rent Strokes” must be a curse. Todd Bridges played Gary Coleman’s biological brother, Willis Jackson. Before that, he took parts on “Little House on the Prairie”, as well as “The Waltons”, which marked him the first African American child actor to be cast.
Like Plato and Coleman, Bridges faced an addiction with drugs and alcohol. He was arrested 4 times, but was acquitted each time. One arrest was as a result of being accused of murdering LA based drug dealer, Kenneth “Tex” Clay. In 1993, he stabbed David Joseph Kitchen, after he found Kitchen in his house with a 15 year old girl. Kitchen began attacking Bridges first, and therefore, Bridges’ charges were dropped as he was acting on self defense.
Unlike Plato and Coleman, however, Bridges overcame his shadows. He wrote the book, “Killing Willis”, where he discussed his addictions and charges. He also appeared on Oprah on April 28, 2010 to discuss these matters. He is now happily married, and a father to a son.
7. Brad Renfro
If you love John Grisham books, you have most likely read “The Client”, and if you read it, you most likely watched the movie that is based on the book, with Brad Renfro, costarring Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. This was Renfro’s first major film.
After the success of “The Client”, Renfro continued expand his acting career by appearing in short films and television. But the fame quickly faded, and Renfro found himself experimenting with drugs and having legal troubles. The two combinations of things took a toll on Renfro by 2008. In January of that year, Renfro was found dead in his apartment; at the mere age of 25.The cause of death was drug overdose.
Renfro fathered a child in 2003, but had no contact with the boy as the boy was solely raised in Japan by his mother.
8. Macaulay Culkin
We all fell in love with this sweet charming young boy when he starred in “Home Alone”, a story about a young boy who was left alone to save his house while his family left him while getting ready to go on vacation. He continued his acting career with movie career with movies such as “Home Alone 2”, “My Girl” and “Uncle Buck”. He was considered to be the most successful child stars since Shirley Temple.
Culkin retired from acting at age 14, and we saw him experiment with drugs and alcohol. But he returned to acting when he starred in “Party Monster”, with Seth Green, and “Saved!”, with Many Moore. He appeared to be happy during his comeback, but again appeared to be very thin in February 2012, and questions swirled.
9. Scotty Beckett
Scotty Beckett began performing professionally at age 3. Beckett’s father was ill in the hospital, and the young boy entertained him by singing to him. A studio director was at the same hospital, and heard Becket sing. Right away, he told the boy’s parents that he has a big talent and a movie potential. In 1933, Becket starred in “Gallant Lady”. That same year, his father died. In 1934, Becket starred in “Our Gang”, and continued to land more impressive roles after that.
Despite the fact that he was working steadily at MGM, Beckett found himself having trouble with alcohol and the law in the 1940s and 550s. In 1948, Becket was arrested for drunk driving, and in 1954, was arrested for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon.
Later in his life, Beckett quit his acting career and he was filled with stories regarding his marriage failures, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and arrests. But he seemed to have his life turned around when he began selling real estate and cars. He married Margaret C. Sabo. But on May 8, 1968, Beckett checked himself into a nursing home after a beating. He died 2 days later at age 38.
10. River Phoenix
Who could forget River Phoenix’s breakout role in “Stand By Me”? One fifth of the Phoenix siblings, including Joaquin Phoenix of “Walk the Line”, River was known by all before he even reached his teen years. After “Stand By Me”, Phoenix landed more mature roles in movies such as “Running on Empty” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
It was on those two movies that he costarred with Martha Plimpton. They began a relationship in their mere teen years, which lasted for several years. Phoenix’s’ constant drug use took a toll on Plimpton, and she ended the relationship. His drug use became apparent when he starred in “My Own Private Idaho”, for which he gained an Oscar nomination, with his best friend, Keanu Reeves.
Drugs became deadly for Phoenix on October 31st, 1993, when he attended a party at The Viper Room, a club owned by Johnny Depp at the time, with his siblings. Someone gave him a combination of drugs, which were lethal. River Phoenix died at the age of 23. Aside from being an actor, Phoenix was also a musician and an activist.