The entertainment industry is always in need of child actors since the world in which TV and movie characters live would look really weird if none of them contained kids. Some of these children end up becoming household names, making tons of money, and even sustain their careers into adulthood. On the other hand, others move on to other careers. Here’s a look at 9 child stars from the 80s and 90s, and what they’re up to today.
1. Mayim Bialik
For younger folks, Bialik is best known for playing neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory, but she got her start as the titular character in Blossom, which ran from 1990 until 1995. Even before that, her breakthrough came when she played the younger version of Bette Midler’s character in the 1988 movie Beaches. Aside from acting, she also holds a PhD in neuroscience and has co-written two books and written two by herself on topics related to the science of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.
2. Jeff Cohen
If you’re a big fan of 1980s movies, you have undoubtedly seen Goonies, a story about teenagers who hunt for hidden treasure. Cohen steals the movie in his role as Chunk, but it would turn out to be the only Hollywood movie he’d make. He had some roles in a few TV movies and made an occasional appearance in sitcoms such as The Facts of Life and Family Ties, but that’s as far as his acting career would go. But don’t feel too bad for him; today he’s a successful entertainment lawyer and in pretty good shape.
3. Jonathan Lipnicki
Lipnicki is best remembered as the “Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds” kid from the Tom Cruise hit Jerry Maguire. Six years old at the time, he would go on to make a few more movies into his preteens, but these days he focuses exclusively on indie films. He also dabbles in mixed martial arts, although he has stated he has no plans to get into it competitively since he’s too busy acting to devote himself to the amount of cardio training required to be successful in the sport.
4. Gaby Hoffman
Hoffman started acting at the age of 4, appearing in TV commercials to help support her family. Her first major role came as the daughter of Kevin Cosner’s character in 1989’s Field of Dreams. She also co-starred in Uncle Buck alongside fellow child actor Macualay Culkin, whom she said in an interview at the age of 10 that she flatout hated working with. She subsequently graduated from Bard College in 2004 and while she isn’t a huge name these days, she still works regularly in film and on TV. She was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards in 2015 and 2016 for her work in the comedy series Transparent.
5. Ross Bagley
Bagley got his start in acting at 5 years old, portraying Nicky Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He would also appear with Will Smith in the 1996 sci-fi hit Independence Day. He quit acting in 2004, only to briefly return in 2015’s obscure horror flick Gnome Alone starring the late, great Verne Troyer (Mini-Me!) as a hideous creature! His life is pretty low key these days. He graduated from Cal State Northridge and currently works as a real estate agent in Los Angeles.
6. Alisan Porter
At the age of 5, Porter made history by being the youngest singer to win on Star Search, the competition show where Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Usher also got their start. She also appeared in 1989’s Parenthood and the TV show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but it was her role as the titular character in Curly Sue where she gained wide acclaim. However, she paused from TV and movie acting for the rest of her childhood, deciding to live a normal teenage life in Connecticut. Although she no longer acts today, she has a decent singing career. She won The Voice competition in 2016 and has released three albums.
7. Mara Wilson
Wilson played Nattie Hillard in the Rob Williams hit comedy Mrs. Doubtfire and Susan Walker in a remake of Miracle on 34th Street, but the pinnacle of her childhood acting career was as the leading character in 1996’s Matilda. She quit acting following the death of her mother, who had succumbed to breast cancer, but today she does a lot of voice acting on animated shows, including the role of Jill Pill on the Netflix comedy BoJack Horseman.
8. Amanda Bynes
At the age of 10, Bynes made huge waves for her comedic talents in the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That, which ultimately led to her own sketch show The Amanda Show. She was hailed as “her generation’s Lucille Ball,” which probably wasn’t helpful. Sadly, she started making headlines for all the wrong reasons, including a DUI in 2012 and setting a small fire to a random stranger’s driveway a year later. These days she’s sober and hopes to return to acting again.
9. Hallie Eisenberg
Although she might not literally have been a household name, tens of millions of viewers immediately recognized her as the “Pepsi Girl” thanks to the Pepsi commercials that would debut during the Super Bowl in the late 90s/early 2000s. She appeared in several made-for-TV movies as well as major roles in Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams and Beautiful with Minnie Driver. She got out of acting in 2010 and today is content with living a normal life with her boyfriend. Her brother Jesse Eisenberg is the movie star these days.