In the 1970s, child stars shone brightly in Hollywood, grabbing the hearts of audiences worldwide. These young performers were everywhere, from TV shows to blockbuster movies, and their looks were instantly recognizable. However, as years passed, several of these once-famous child stars faded from view, leading us to wonder, “What happened to them?” In this post, we’ll go back in time and look at some of the forgotten kid stars of the 1970s. We’ll learn about their lives, hardships, and where they are now. So sit back, relax, and come along with us as we plunge into the lives of these former child stars to see what they’ve been up to since their golden days.
1. Mason Reese
With his cherubic face and distinctive voice, Mason Reese was probably one of the most identifiable child stars of the 1970s. His unpretentious charm shone through in every commercial he appeared in, making him an instant fan favorite among viewers. In fact, Reese’s ability to sell anything made him a household brand, starring in over 75 ads in just ten years.
Despite his success, Reese’s career as a child star was brief. By 17, he had grown tired of the industry and retired from performing. It’s easy to see why: being in the public glare at such a young age can be daunting and stressful, especially when you’re expected to always be flawless.
After leaving the entertainment industry, Reese struggled to find his place in the world. He spent his time partying and clubbing, attempting to relive the childhood he had lost to stardom. At one point, he even boasted of losing his virginity to a club toilet attendant, demonstrating the excess and irresponsibility that sometimes accompany celebrities.
Reese now runs the Nowbar nightclub in New York City and is fondly remembered by many who grew up watching him on television. On the other hand, his personal life has been the topic of much curiosity, particularly his involvement with a 27-year-old actress who had just ended their relationship. Despite the rumors and scrutiny, Reese has remained stubborn, maintaining that he is not a sugar daddy and is merely living on his own terms.
2. Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster’s career began when she was a child in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until her appearance in “Taxi Driver” that she finally established herself. Foster’s performance as an underage prostitute was both controversial and critically appreciated. She was already a force to be reckoned with at 12.
Foster continued to act in various roles during the late ’70s and early ’80s, garnering teen idol status for her performances in “Freaky Friday” and “Candleshoe.” However, it wasn’t until 1988’s “The Accused” that she received her first Academy Award, cementing her reputation as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors. Three years later, Foster delivered a career-defining performance as FBI agent Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs,” winning her second Academy Award.
Throughout the 2000s, Foster continued to act in films such as “Panic Room,” “Flightplan,” and “Inside Man,” but she began to move her concentration to direct. She has recently directed episodes of critically praised television dramas such as “House of Cards” and “Black Mirror.”
Foster’s personal life has been heavily scrutinized throughout her career. Her sexuality was questioned and speculated about in the media for many years. Foster acknowledged her then-partner in a speech in 2007, but it wasn’t until her 2013 Golden Globes speech that she officially admitted to being a lesbian. Despite the whispers and speculation, Foster has remained a revered figure in Hollywood, known for her brilliance, intelligence, and staunch independence. She is still among the industry’s most regarded and admired actresses at 60.
3. Tatum O’Neal
Tatum O’Neal had a fantastic start to her acting career, becoming the youngest to win an Oscar at ten. Her performance in the 1974 film “Paper Moon,” co-starring her father, Ryan O’Neal, demonstrated her innate talent and charm. She starred in several hit films, including “The Bad News Bears” and “International Velvet,” and appeared on top of the world.
Unfortunately, the young actress drifted into a world of drugs and partying as she grew older, owing to her father’s early drug exposure. She was living independently and suffering from substance misuse by 17. Her marriage to tennis player John McEnroe slowed her wild ways, but after their relationship ended in 1992, she relapsed into drug addiction. It was a trying time for her; even her daughter discovered syringes in her room when she was a youngster.
Despite this, O’Neal sought counseling and eventually became sober. She lost custody of her children and was arrested for crack and heroin possession, but she was determined to change her life. After years of hard effort, she is still sober and has even returned to acting. She first starred in the 2018 TV movie “Runaway Romance,” and she has since appeared in other films, including “The Assent” in 2019 and “Not to Forget” in 2021.
4. Mackenzie Phillips
Mackenzie Phillips is from a musical family, as her father, John Phillips, was a founding member of The Mamas and the Papas. Despite this, her childhood was difficult due to her parent’s divorce and her father’s substance addiction problems. She began using narcotics early, starting with marijuana and progressing to cocaine and heroin.
Phillips’ career took off when she was cast as Julie Cooper on the hit sitcom One Day at a Time at 16. She became one of television’s highest-paid actresses, but the pressures of fame and the influence of the Rock ‘N Roll lifestyle took their toll. She developed a drug problem after being sacked from the show and struck rock bottom.
Phillips revealed in her biography, “High on Arrival,” that she had a sexual encounter with her father when she was 19 and lasted ten years. The news shook the globe and drove Phillips into a tailspin. She struggled with addiction and was arrested for drug possession in 2008.
Phillips entered rehabilitation and began to rebuild her life. She has been sober for a long time and has become an advocate for addiction recovery. She has also restarted her acting career, having appeared in films such as “The Jacket” and “Love Child,” as well as television shows such as “Hawaii Five-O” and “Orange is the New Black.”
5. Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields began her career in the show industry at an early age. She began modeling at 11 months and immediately became a child star. She was 12 years old when she got the role as a child prostitute in New Orleans during the early 1900s in the controversial film “Pretty Baby” in 1978. The quantity of nudity in the movie Shields was featured in drew much criticism. Shields rose to prominence due to the film’s controversy, and she continued to perform in films throughout her adolescence.
Shields made her film debut in 1980 with “The Blue Lagoon,” a coming-of-age drama in which she played a youngster stuck on a barren island with a boy. Shields faced yet another issue with the film, which contained a lot of nudity. Despite the criticism, the picture was a commercial success that helped Shields establish herself as a leading lady.
Shields continued to perform in films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including “Endless Love,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” and “Brenda Starr.” She also made the crossover to television, where she starred in the successful sitcom “Suddenly Susan” for four seasons. Shields received two Golden Globe nominations for her participation in the show.
Shields has been an outspoken champion for mental health awareness, particularly postpartum depression, in addition to her acting job. She has published numerous books about the disease, including “Down Came the Rain,” which details her struggles. Shields has also been active in several philanthropic organizations and a spokesman for companies such as Calvin Klein and Latisse.
6. Kim Richards
Kim Richards rose to prominence in the early 1970s as the youngest daughter in the sitcom “Nanny and the Professor” and as a psychic alien girl in the Disney movie “Escape to Witch Mountain.” She rapidly became a fan favorite as the classic pretty little blonde. Richards continued to work in the entertainment industry after these achievements, appearing in shows such as “Magnum, P.I.” and “The Dukes of Hazard” in the 1980s.
Although Richards did not become addicted to drugs like other child stars, she suffered from alcoholism throughout her life. Her fiancé, John Collett, was assassinated while she was on the phone with him in 1991, which was devastating. He had extorted $150 million from the wrong people, and Richards had to hear the two gunshots that killed him.
Richards then moved from film to reality television and was one of the initial cast members of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” She rose to prominence on the show due to her erratic conduct and clashes with other cast members. Richards was arrested twice in 2015, first for public intoxication and violence and again for shoplifting. Despite these concerns, she continues to participate in reality television shows regularly.
Richards has also been honest about her battles with sobriety, admitting to repeated stints in recovery. While she is no longer the adorable little girl from “Nanny and the Professor,” Richards has had a varied and exciting life on and off the screen.
7. Susan Olsen
Susan Olsen, born August 14, 1961, is an American actress, radio host, and animal welfare advocate. She began acting at age eight when she was cast as Cindy Brady, the youngest daughter in the popular American sitcom “The Brady Bunch.” From 1969 until 1974, the show was a pop culture phenomenon. Cindy Brady was a fan favorite because of Olsen’s portrayal of her as the youngest, sweetest, and most innocent member of the Brady family.
Olsen went on to appear in other Brady Bunch spinoffs after “The Brady Bunch” ended, including “The Brady Bunch Hour,” “The Brady Kids,” and “The Brady Brides.” She also appeared in TV shows such as “Ironside” and “Gunsmoke,” as well as films such as “Julia” and “The Trouble with Girls.”
Olsen has been interested in animal welfare advocacy in addition to her acting profession. She has worked with several organizations and co-founded the rescue and advocacy group “Precious Paws.” Olsen is also a radio host, co-hosting “Two Chicks Talkin’ Politics” since 2016.
Despite her early recognition and success, Olsen has faced the same obstacles that many other child stars have. In a 2015 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Olsen said that she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts as a teenager. She has also previously spoken openly about her struggles with drug addiction.
8. Peter Ostrum
Peter Ostrum’s portrayal of Charlie Bucket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” received critical acclaim, and it could have marked the beginning of a completely different life for him. However, after finishing the film, Ostrum concluded that acting was not the career route for him. Instead, he decided to pursue a career as a veterinarian.
Ostrum attended Cornell University to study veterinary medicine after graduating from high school. He subsequently relocated to Lowville, New York, where he established the New York State Veterinary Specialists. He specialized in horse care and was well-liked in the veterinary world.
Even though he had retired from acting, Ostrum recalled his time on the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory set warmly.” In interviews, he has remarked about the enduring ties he formed with the cast and crew, particularly Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka in the film. Ostrum has also made cameos at film screenings and other events, much to the joy of fans.
Ostrum has stayed humble and down-to-earth despite his success as a veterinarian. “I’m just a small-town veterinarian,” he explained to the Washington Post. That’s just who I am.” Nonetheless, he is a popular figure among “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” enthusiasts and an encouragement to others who have found success in a field that is not their first choice.
Overall, the lives of these forgotten child stars from the 1970s serve as a reminder of the hardships and opportunities that come with stardom at a young age. Despite their share of difficulties and setbacks, several celebrities have carved out successful careers and found pleasure in their personal lives. Some have departed the entertainment industry entirely, while others occasionally appear on our screens. Whatever their current location, their contributions to the entertainment business and the experiences they helped create for their fans will be remembered. Their stories serve as both a cautionary tale and a source of inspiration for prospective child stars and viewers.