Some child stars turn out great; many of them don’t. It’s a well-known trope in show business. If you become wildly famous and successful at an early age, the chances of failure as an adult increase dramatically, probably due to that whole “formative years” thing being completely screwed up thanks to the consistently outrageous dynamics of Hollywood. Right now, we’re seeing signs of trouble from Justin Bieber, who’s been arrested for DUI, had his house raided, been at war with his neighbors, and developed an affinity for shirtlessness and marijuana.
A little over a year ago VH1 complied an epic and thorough list of the 100 Greatest Kid Stars of all time. It’s chock full of nostalgia-inducing child stars, from Kimmie Gibbler (Andrea Barber) and Rudy Huxtable (Keshia Knight-Pulliam) to young movie stars, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson to names that need no introduction, Drake and Justin Bieber. For the full look at which child stars landed on our list, check out then and now photos of all 100 Kid Stars.
Our gallery is ordered from 100 to 1, so you must click through to see who ranked #1. Hint: he set off pop culture’s biggest hair craze.
We’re used to putting our now-grown child stars in one of three categories: tragic failures, surprising success stories or tragic failures that managed to become surprising success stories. We mourn our Dana Platos and Corey Haims, celebrate the Jason Batemans and Neil Patrick Harrises and Danica McKellars, and are warily rooting for the Lindsay Lohans and Macaulay Culkins. But this week, we were reminded that like, you know, regular kids who grow up, there are many paths for child actors to take.
They can grow up to be Kirk Cameron, who’s long parlayed his Growing Pains fame into a platform for Christian evangelism, making Left Behind movies and all sorts public appearances to denounce the theory of evolution. Still, when he went on Piers Morgan last week and called homosexuality “unnatural, detrimental and ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization,” his co-stars, Tracey Gold and Alan Thicke, along with a whole lot of other celebs, reacted with outrage and disappointment in him. But really, whether we agree or not (not!), Cameron’s been rebelling against the Hollywood stereotype for ages now. Should we really be surprised? Read more…