Mention child stars and most conjure up images of obnoxious little brats who turned into train-wreck teens or a few lucky ones who carried their Hollywood careers into adulthood with a certain level of grace. Some, however, decide that acting is not all that it’s cracked up to be and decided to take a step away from the limelight and so here we look at a few who have done just that.
1. Josh Saviano
Many may remember Josh from The Wonder Years TV show where he played Paul from 1988 to 1993. When the show ended, Josh enrolled in Law school rather than further pursuing his acting career the Senior Counsel in Morrison Cohen in New York. Saying of his decision to step out of the limelight, “I wanted to live a ‘normal’ life for a little bit and see where that led me.”
2. Danica McKellar
Another actor from The Wonder Years, Danica was perhaps better known as Winnie Cooper and went on to study Math at college after the show ended. Releasing the best-selling Math books Kiss my Math, Hot X: Algebra Exposed, and Math Doesn’t Suck, that are aimed at young girls, Danica has also done a few individual acting gigs like appearing in How I Met Your Mother and The West Wing as well as the occasional photo shoot. She also appeared on the reality show, Dancing With The Stars.
3. Mara Wilson
Mara was a big star in the 90s, appearing in Mrs. Doubtfire, Mathilda, and Miracle on 34th Street. When her mother died during the post-production of Matilda, Mara decided to take a step back from Hollywood. Later in life, she became a bit of an internet phenomenon amongst Millenials who felt her pithy remarks on growing up, via Twitter, were an accurate and hilarious observations on modern life. Mara has written several young adult novels as well as an autobiography.
4. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Best known for his role as Randy in Home Improvement, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JJT) also landed some film roles as Simba’s voice in The Lion King and also Tom and Huck and Wild America. However, when the 90s ended JTT decided to go to college and study Philosophy at Colombian and later History at Harvard. He’s had a few guest roles crop up since on shows such as Veronica Mars and Smallville but, for the most part, keeps a low profile.
5. Olivia D’abo
Although never quite reaching the heights of being in The Wonder Years, Olivia D’abo did continue her acting career and has had steady work since. Appearing in Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Wayne’s World 2, Olivia has also had a reasonable voice acting career and continues to work.
6. Michael Schoeffling
A collegiate wrestler and male model who appeared in such films as Sixteen Candles, Let’s Get Harry and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, Michael had a growing family and lack of roles as the 90s rolled around and so quit the profession to find something with a more steady pay. He now owns and works in a woodworking shop in Pennsylvania.
7. Shirley Temple
One of the most popular child actresses of the 1930s, Shirley was unable to transfer her success into older roles despite her face being used to sell various toys and other products across the nation. With roles disappearing, he retired from acting at the young age of 22 but did not let this hold her back as she took another career path and went on to become a US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
8. Alyssa Milano
Starring in Who’s The Boss? Alyssa Milano went on to have an incredibly successful acting career appearing in Melrose Place, Charmed, My Name Is Earl, Romantically Challenged, and Castle and is one of the few child actors who has managed to have a massive career well into adulthood.
9. Ron Lester
Known for playing Ryan Murphy on the incredibly popular Popular, Ron had a few successful roles in films like Varsity Blues, Not Another Teen Movie and Good Burger, when that came to an end in 2001 but could not match the heights he originally reached. Going on to have duodenal switch surgery, Ron lost a lot of weight and had a motivational radio show because of it but passed away in June of 2016.
10. Dylan and Cole Sprouse
The brother’s Dylan and Cole Sprouse were acting from just 8-months-old and appeared in films such as Big Daddy whilst also landing sitcom roles in Grace Under Fire. At 9, Cole appeared as Ross Gellar’s son, Ben, in Friends but the pair became massive stars when they got a sitcom of their own in The Suite Life of Zak and Cody. In 2013 Cole was working as a server in a restaurant in New York, more as a way of getting out of the house rather than actually needing the money. The pair did college degrees and graduated in 2015 with Cole doing archaeology and Dylan Video Game Design.
11. Maia Brewton
An 80s child star who cropped up quite often on television in Parker Lewis Can’t Lose and Adventures in Babysitting. Maia Brewton fully intended to continue in acting and even studied theater at Yale. However, coming out of college and unable to find work, she tended bar for a while before deciding on a different career path and went back to college, this time, law school and eventually becoming an attorney.
12. Nikki Blonsky
Discovered whilst in a New York ice cream parlor, Nikki Blonsky went on to star in the smash hit film adaptation of the music Hairspray after which she appeared in episodes of Ugly Betty and Smash. However, roles fell away after that and in 2011 she became a registered cosmetologist and began working in a salon. She still acts when parts come along but supplements it as a makeup artist.
13. Leanna Creel
The tough girl of Saved by The Bell, Leanna Creel went on to star in The Cell but moved way from being on screen and started a production company called Ignite Entertainment which she later sold to Lionsgate. Now she runs a photography and video production company with high-profile clients such as Disney and The Food Network called Creel studios, so although not on screen anymore she is still firmly a part of the entertainment industry.
14. Jason Zimbler
The antagonistic younger brother to Melissa Joan-Hart’s Clarissa on Clarissa Knows Best, Jason Zimbler went to college after the show ended and graduated in 1998 from the University of Notre Dame. Now a software designer at HBO, he still works around television.
15. Karyn Parsons
Although Will Smith would become a superstar post-his sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Karyn Parsons was less confident of its success and kept her waitressing job until after the pilot was picked up. Playing Will’s young cousin Hilary, Karyn went back to school to take courses in writing and film. Later she would go on to found Sweet Blackberry, a non-profit organization that produces films for children that highlight little-known people in black history.