They were the little performers who brightened up our day with their cherubic smiles. But somewhere along the line they got sucked into the Hollywood machine, chewed up and spat out in spectacular fashion. Here’s our list of former child stars who flamed out and hit rock bottom in a big way.
Back in the 1980s he was one of the biggest teen stars of his generation. But in 2010, Corey Haim died of pneumonia, penniless at the age of 38. Throughout his troubled short life the License To Drive actor had a crippling addiction to prescription painkillers.
He was Haim’s partner in crime on screen and his best friend off it. But while Corey Feldman is still alive to tell the tale, the former child star’s career has never reached the dizzying heights he achieved in the 1980s. In a 2013 memoir the former heroin addict claimed both he and Haim were the victims of child sex abuse that he claims is prevalent in Hollywood.
At the height of his fame Gary Coleman amassed an estimated $18 million fortune. But when he died, aged 42, in 2010, his name was usually the punch line to a joke. After his Diff’rent Strokes years Coleman was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons – being broke, suing his parents, domestic violence charges and an arrest for assaulting a bus driver.
Coleman’s onscreen sister also died young. Even while she was playing clean cut Kimberly Drummond on the Diff’rent Strokes set, behind the scenes Dana Plato was getting high on Valium, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol. In later years she was arrested for robbing a video store and prescription fraud, before overdosing on pills, committing suicide at the age of 34 in 1999.
She may be trying to claw her way back to a legitimate career now but for years Lindsay Lohan has been more famous for her multiple mug shots than her onscreen credits. The freckle-faced former star of Disney’s The Parent Trap has battled substance abuse and been arrested for alleged shoplifting, DUIs, assault charges and probation violations.
Jodie Sweetin – of Full House fame – has never been able to translate her childhood success into adult glory. These days the mom-of-two is better known for her alcohol and substance abuse that included snorting meth at an Olsen twins’ film premiere. Sweetin admitted the latter in her memoir, unSweetined.
The next chapter of Amanda Bynes has yet to be written. But before her life descended into bouts of erratic behavior, online spats with celebrities and DUI and drug arrests, she was best known as the Nickelodeon teen star of series like All That and The Amanda Show.
If you had to pick a former child star who would become a drug addict and porn actress Jaimee Foxworth who played Judy Winslow in Family Matters, probably wouldn’t have been one of them. But she turned to both after being written out of the hit show and also appeared on a season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to tell the tale.
Mackenzie Phillips is another former child star who appeared on a season of Celebrity Rehab. After starring on the ‘70s sitcom One Day at a Time the redhead crashed and burned spiraling into drug abuse. In her 2009 memoir, High On Arrival, she alleged she had a 10-year incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas fame.
Former teen idol Leif Garrett’s life also descended into drug addiction, multiple arrests and rehab. His mug shots and court appearances reveal a middle-aged man who looks nothing like the ‘70s heartthrob he once was.
Fans of Happy Days were heartbroken to discover back in 2012 that actress Erin Moran was reportedly homeless and down on her luck. As RadarOnline reported at the time the former star who played Joanie Cunningham was living in a trailer park after losing her California home to foreclosure.
Maia Campbell is another former child star trying to find her way again after being burned by fame. The former In The House actress appeared painfully disorientated in a 2009 video that went viral. An admitted drug abuser, who has bipolar disorder, she has been arrested at least twice and lost custody of her daughter when she was at her lowest.
Lark Voorhies is another ex-child actress whose life has been marred with reported mental illness. But while the star’s mom told People that her daughter has bipolar disorder the Saved By The Bell actress dismissed the claim, saying her mother is “over-loving.”
Tatum O’Neal’s career has floundered since the high that it achieved when she became the youngest person ever to win an Oscar at the age of 10. Since that time – apart from appearing in the TV series Rescue Me – she is better known for her tumultuous relationship with her father Ryan O’Neal and a 2008 arrest when she was found in possession of crack and powder cocaine.
Brad Renfro’s life and career was like a shooting star that burned brightly before it burnt out. He made a name for himself – at the age of 10 – playing the lead role opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in The Client. Fifteen years later he overdosed on heroin and didn’t even get a mention during the “in memoriam” section of the Oscars.
As Arnold Schwarzenegger’s co-star in The Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a teenage Edward Furlong got a lot of fame and recognition. But, as an adult, the self-confessed heroin and cocaine addict is better known for his stints in rehab and his run-ins with the law, which have seen him arrested several times on domestic violence charges.
That’s So Raven actor Orlando Brown only seems to be headline news these days when he gets arrested. His legal credits include bookings for DUI, failure to complete probation, alleged public intoxication and two counts of disturbing the peace for allegedly threatening a woman in North Hollywood.
Tattooed and unshaven in his 2009 mug shot Brian Bonsall looked nothing like Andy Keaton, the cute kid he played in ‘80s sitcom Family Ties. According to his lawyer the former child star has substance abuse issues. In recent years he has been put on probation for assaulting a girlfriend and for getting into a fight with a friend.
Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly
He was the adorable kid rapper from Kris Kross who wore his clothes back to front during the ‘90s. But in 2013 the hip-hop world was stunned when 34-year-old Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly died of a drug overdose, which – according to his mom – was caused by a mixture of cocaine and heroin.
Anyone who has heard the original version of the song Why Do Fools Fall In Love? will have heard chubby-faced Frankie Lymon sing. But the New Yorker who hit the big time aged 13 in 1956 as the lead singer of The Teenagers didn’t live long. After his solo career floundered, drug addiction took hold of his life and he overdosed on heroin at the age of 25.