Do you remember the kid stars that used to grace our television screens in the 1990s? These youthful talents grabbed our hearts and minds, from tiny moppets to pint-sized heartthrobs. However, as time went on, many of them vanished from view and sank into oblivion. Have you ever wondered what happened to these lost kid stars? Join us on an adventure to discover what happened to these former child stars and learn about their present places and aspirations. We’ll look into their history, present, and future and find out what they’ve been up to since their childhood popularity, from Hollywood to Broadway. Prepare to recall and learn about these once-famous kid stars’ interesting tales.
1. Thora Birch
Thora Birch’s stratospheric ascent to prominence in the 1990s was swift, and she immediately established herself as a great young actor. Her innate skill and charisma won her fans and critics alike, and she swiftly had a streak of successful films under her credit. Her parts in films such as Hocus Pocus and Monkey Trouble made her popular with young audiences, while her more serious performances in American Beauty and Ghost World demonstrated her versatility and depth as an actress.
Despite her early success, Birch’s career suffered a knock in 2010 when she was fired from a Dracula stage play. According to reports, the incident occurred when her father, who also served as her manager, allegedly threatened another actor. Birch took a hiatus from acting in 2012 and did not return until 2016. During this period, she worked on personal projects and reflected on her career.
Birch made a victorious comeback to acting in 2016 with a role on The Walking Dead. Her performance was well-received, and her career appeared to be back on track. However, Birch left production on Netflix’s Wednesday, a TV series based on the Addams Family, in 2021. Birch was supposed to play Morticia Addams, but she dropped out of the production abruptly and without explanation. Christina Ricci was called in to take her position.
2. Mara Wilson
Mara Wilson was a well-known child star of the 1990s, appearing in several beloved family films throughout the decade. Her portrayal of Matilda, the eponymous heroine, solidified her fame as a child star and swiftly became a household name. In addition to her cinematic work, Wilson performed on stage in performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cinderella.
Wilson never felt entirely at ease despite her accomplishments in the film industry. She believed that the method of acting on set, which required repeating the same scenario repeatedly, did not allow for much originality. As she grew older, she became increasingly disillusioned with the industry and finally chose to leave it.
Wilson has shifted his concentration in recent years to other artistic endeavors. She has been featured in various productions and provided her voice for several projects, including the popular horror podcast Welcome to Nightvale. She published her book, Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, in 2016, in which she reflects on her experiences as a child star and her subsequent journey.
3. Bradley Pierce
Bradley Pierce’s name may not be instantly known to some, but he is a familiar sight to those who grew up watching classic family classics. Pierce has been a part of many childhood memories for generations of viewers because of his performance as Peter Shepherd in Jumanji. Pierce’s on-screen performance was supplemented by his voice works in several renowned animated pictures, including Beauty and the Beast.
Pierce has recently remained out of the spotlight despite his prominence as a child actor. Instead, he has concentrated on voice acting, contributing to various cartoons and computer games. On the other hand, Pierce has been candid about his depressive difficulties, which began when he was a teenager. Pierce has spoken openly about the influence Robin Williams had on his life and profession and how his passing has affected him emotionally in the aftermath of his co-star’s terrible death.
Pierce is a dedicated father of three in addition to his career as an actor. He has spoken freely about the difficulties of juggling his business and family life, as well as the significance of being there for his children.
4. Melissa Joan Hart
Melissa Joan Hart rose to prominence in the 1990s as Sabrina Spellman in the popular comedy Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The sitcom, based on the popular Archie Comics character, was a huge hit for ABC, lasting four seasons from 1996 to 2000. Hart had already earned popularity among young audiences prior to her debut as Sabrina for her main role in the Nickelodeon sitcom Clarissa Explains It All.
Hart’s career took a blow once Sabrina ended, as she struggled to find parts that matched the success of her earlier work. In recent years, however, she has carved out a new niche for herself as the queen of Hallmark Christmas movies. Hart has appeared in several of these Christmas films and has become a fixture on the network’s holiday programming.
Hart’s choice to switch to Christmas movies brought her full circle, as her first acting role was as Amy in the 1987 TV movie Christmas Snow. Hart has since established a successful career in the entertainment sector, both in front of and behind the camera.
5. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a prominent face in the 1990s, swiftly becoming a heartthrob thanks to his performances in major TV series and films. Thomas proceeded to build a reputation for himself in Hollywood after his tenure on Home Improvement and his renowned voice acting in The Lion King, appearing in a succession of great films. But, in 2005, he seemed to vanish from public view, prompting admirers to worry about what had happened to the young actor.
As it turns out, Thomas had decided to leave Hollywood to further his studies. He enrolled at Harvard University to study Philosophy and History, demonstrating his commitment to learning and self-improvement. Following graduation, Thomas spent a year studying abroad in St. Andrews, Scotland, expanding his horizons even more.
After nearly a decade away from the entertainment industry, Thomas returned in 2013 with a recurring role on the sitcom Last Man Standing. Fans were overjoyed to see him reunited with his Home Improvement co-star, Tim Allen. However, Thomas has kept a low profile since then, not starring in any major projects in recent years. Regardless, his reputation as a beloved child star lives on, and admirers remember him warmly for his numerous contributions to the entertainment business.
6. Alisan Porter
Alisan Porter’s career took off in the late 1980s when she began appearing in modest roles on TV programs such as The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote. After a few more little parts, Porter landed a recurring position on the hit comedy Family Ties, which gave her some notoriety. However, her breakthrough portrayal as the precocious Curly Sue garnered national attention.
Despite the film’s mixed reviews, Porter’s performance was lauded, and she appeared to have a promising career ahead of her. However, following Curly Sue, the child star failed to find work and went into substance abuse throughout her adolescence. She battled addiction for years before finally becoming sober and focusing on her music and theatrical professions.
Porter rose to prominence on Broadway, playing in productions such as Footloose, A Chorus Line, and The Ten Commandments: The Musical. She also had a few solo albums published, including the well-received Alisan Porter in 2009.
Porter, however, did not re-enter the public eye until her performance on The Voice in 2016. She captivated both the judges and the audience with her powerful voice and emotive performances, finally winning the top award.
7. Michael Oliver
Michael Oliver got his breakthrough as Junior Healy in the 1990 comedy flick Problem Child. Oliver was cast as an adopted child from hell when he was just eight years old. Despite negative reviews, the picture was a box office success, prompting Oliver’s return in the 1991 sequel, Problem Child 2.
Oliver’s acting career, however, was cut short due to a legal disagreement with his mother, who also functioned as his manager. In 1993, Universal Studios filed extortion charges against Oliver’s mother after she demanded $500,000 for her son’s appearance in the film. She threatened to withdraw her child from the film if her requests were not met. As a result of the litigation, Oliver’s acting career was destroyed. He stopped performing when he was young and has been out of the public eye ever since.
In 2015, Oliver commented about his experiences as a child actor, saying he had no regrets and was grateful for the opportunity he had. He also stated that, despite being thrust into the spotlight as a child, he enjoys some peace and quiet in his life.
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8. Dante Basco
Dante Basco began his acting career in the late 1980s, with minor appearances in series like The Wonder Years and films like Moonwalker. But it was his performance as Rufio, the flamboyant leader of the Lost Boys, in Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy adventure Hook that catapulted him to international fame.
Basco’s portrayal of Rufio was so unforgettable that it became a fan favorite. Following the popularity of Hook, Basco starred in various films and television shows in the 1990s and 2000s, including Moesha, Nash Bridges, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Take the Lead, and Naked Brown Men.
Despite his success, Basco’s recent work has primarily been in voice acting for animation. He has provided the voice of numerous successful animated shows, notably Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which he played Prince Zuko and its sequel, The Legend of Korra. He’s also done voice work for programs including Ultimate Spider-Man, Star Wars Rebels, and Robot Chicken.
The 1990s were a decade that gave us many outstanding child stars who won us over with their charisma and skill as performers. Some of them kept going strong and became legendary figures, while others vanished almost as swiftly as they had come to prominence. One thing is certain: no matter what their lives have brought them, the legacy of these former child stars will always be remembered and appreciated by the generations of people who watched them as kids.