Some actors rise to fame at a young age, but this doesn’t necessarily signify an enduring career in Hollywood. There are so many ‘80s child stars who opted for a different path following their childhood fame, while others used it as a launchpad for the rest of their career. Follow along as we roundup a list of stars who get their start as a child star in the ’80s, and continue to act in the industry today.
12. Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure rose to fame in the ’80s in her role as DJ Tanner in Full House. While the star certainly had a shining moment as a child in Hollywood, her career has endured and she continues to be just as popular as a mature actress. She recently returned to the role of DJ for the Full House reboot, Fuller House, but has also made a name for herself as a Hallmark Channel staple where she’s starred in a long list of holiday films and in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries series.
11. Henry Thomas
Many ’80s children may remember Henry Thomas for his role as Elliot in E.T. His career was far from over following this performance, however, and Thomas has gone on to have an enduring career in the industry. While he did work consistently throughout the ’80s and ’90s, his acting career saw somewhat of a resurgence when he began a long-term collaboration with filmmaker Mike Flanagan. He appeared in popular films including Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep. He’s also recently starred in a variety of Flanagan’s Netflix series such as The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor.
10. Lisa Bonet
Lisa Bonet began her child acting career a little late in the game and began auditioning for commercials when she was 11 years old. It took her five years to land her first big break as Denise Huxtable Kendall on The Cosby Show. She played the role for seven years, but had a lull in her career following this. In recent years, Bonet has made a major comeback and has appeared in notable films including High Fidelity and Enemy of the State.
9. Keshia Knight Pulliam
Keshia Knight Pulliam rose to fame thanks her role as Rudy Huxtable, Cliff and Clair Huxtable’s youngest child on The Cosby Show. Since then, she has continued to find success on television. From 2007 to 2012, she had a starring role on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and returned to the role in 2020 when the show was rebooted. Some of her other recent projects include the TV movies Redeemed, The Christmas Aunt, and Tempted by Danger.
8. Jodie Sweetin
Jodie Sweetin is best known for portraying Stephanie Tanner on Full House, but when the show ended in 1995, so did her career. She had roles here and there, but she was largely unemployed. She finished high school and went to college, but she got involved in a dark path that hindered her chance for a successful career. She has since gotten sober and wrote a book about her experiences. It wasn’t until the Full House was revived on Netflix that she landed another full time acting job.
7. Fairuza Balk
Fairuza Balk made her film debut in Disney’s Return to Oz, the unofficial sequel to The Wizard of Oz. Throughout the ‘90s, she continued to act in movies like The Craft, The Island of Dr Moreau and American History X. In 2015, she appeared in Battle Scars and August Falls, as well as on the television series Ray Donovan. Her acting has somewhat cooled in recent years, however, in 2020 she made a cameo appearance in a belated sequel The Craft: Legacy.
6. Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano began her career as a child star, appearing on Who’s the Boss? as Samantha Micelli. Throughout the ‘90s, she tried to shed her nice girl image, appearing in Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story as Amy Fisher and Poison Ivy II: Lily. Milano went on to appear in the drama Melrose Place in 1996, and the 1998 supernatural series Charmed. She was a host and judge on season three of Project Runway: All-Stars, and a guest host on The Talk. More recently she appeared on Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later and Insatiable.
5. Lukas Haas
Lukas Haas rose to fame during the ‘80s with roles in Testament, Witness, and Solarbabies. He received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Ryan White, an American teenager who contracts AIDS through contaminated blood treatments in The Ryan White Story. He continued to act into adulthood and has starred in Inception, Jobs, Transcendence and The Revenant. Haas went on to have a long career in Hollywood and made at least one film appearance every year. His biggest recent film role was 2018’s First Man, in which he played the astronaut, Michael Collins.
4. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore is easily one of the most recognizable child stars from the ‘80s. She first shot to fame when she landed the role of Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but becoming successful at such a young wasn’t easy for Drew. She struggled down a dark path and it was only after a couple of stints in rehab and a break from acting that she was able to make a comeback with parts in Boys on the Side, The Wedding Singer and Ever After. Her most recent roles were in the movies Blended and Miss You Already, and the show Santa Clarita Diet.
3. Jason Bateman
Jason Bateman became a teen heartthrob when she landed the role of David Hogan on The Hogan Family. The ‘90s were a low point in his career; however, thanks to the show Arrested Development, he experienced a professional renaissance. Jason’s film career has since taken off as well. He’s had roles in Juno, Up in the Air, Horrible Bosses and its sequel, Bad Words, and the popular Netflix series Ozark.
2. Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate became a bona fide star in the ‘80s when she landed the role of Kelly Bundy on the Fox series Married with Children. Throughout the ‘90s, she continued to act, but it was during the early 2000s that she really broke into movies. She had roles in The Sweetest Thing, A View from the Top and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. She recently had a role in the comedy, Bad Moms and its sequel, A Bad Moms Christmas, as well as the popular Netflix series Dead To Me.
1. Fred Savage
Fred Savage will always be best known for playing Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years. Since The Wonder Years went off the air, he has continued to act and has also done some directing. In 2015, he returned to the small screen with a role on the Fox series The Grinder. Much of his career has focussed on behind-the-scenes work and he directed many popular Disney TV shows such as Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place. Recently, he was let go from The Wonder Years reboot after a series of misconduct allegations.