Teen idols: Where are they now?
We’re taking a look at what happened to some of the biggest teen idols of yesteryear, from Matt Dillon to Molly Ringwald, Brandy and more! Let’s start with Leif Garrett, who celebrates his 60th birthday on Nov. 8, 2021. The former child star was a fixture on TV and on the radio throughout the ’70s. He also found success covering oldies like “Surfin’ USA” and “Runaround Sue.” It’s no surprise that during the height of his fame, his face frequently graced the covers of teen magazines like Tiger Beat. Leif also famously dated stars including Tatum O’Neal, Kristy McNichol, Justine Bateman and Nicollette Sheridan.
Keep reading to find out what he and more former teen idols are up to now…
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Leif Garrett’s career took a backseat to his struggles with drugs and alcohol later in life — he’s acted just a few times since his days as a teen idol and hasn’t released music since his 2007 album “Three Sides Of…” In 2019, he published his autobiography, “Idol Truth.” Leif’s had several run-ins with the law over the years and over the last two decades has been busted multiple times for drug-related offenses. His addiction issues landed him on the fourth season of “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” in 2010.
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“Donny & Marie” star Marie Osmond followed her brothers into the spotlight in the ’70s when she scored a No. 1 hit with her debut single, a cover of “Paper Roses,” though she never officially joined their group, The Osmonds.
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Marie Osmond’s career as an actress never quite took off, but she successfully continued to make music and perform. The brunette beauty has enjoyed a lot of success as a duo with brother Donny Osmond: They co-starred on a variety show in the late ’70s, co-hosted a talk show in the late ’90s and co-headlined a stage spectacular in Las Vegas from 2008 to 2019. From 2019 to 2020, Marie was a co-host on “The Talk.” She also competed on the fifth season of “Dancing With the Stars” and served as a spokesperson for Nutrisystem in 2013. In December 2021, she’ll release her 11th solo album, “Unexpected.” She’s been married three times to two different men: She and Stephen Lyle Craig, the father of her son Stephen, wed in 1982, divorced in 1985 and remarried in 2011. Marie was also wed to Brian Blosil, with whom she shares two biological and five adopted children, from 1986 to 2007. Tragically, her son Michael died by suicide in 2010.
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Matt Dillon made his acting debut in “Over the Edge” in 1979 when he was 16. High-profile roles in “Little Darlings,” “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish” followed.
Matt Dillon enjoyed a successful film career after his teenage years were over. He notably starred in “Drugstore Cowboy,” “Wild Things,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Crash” and “You, Me and Dupree.” He also wrote, directed and starred in the 2002 crime-thriller “City of Ghosts.” In 2015, he headlined the FOX event series “Wayward Pines,” and in 2018, he starred in the controversial Lars von Trier horror film “The House That Jack Built,” which made headlines when it premiered during the Cannes Film Festival. Next up, he’ll appear in the Wes Anderson rom-com “Asteroid City.” Matt had a headline-making relationship with Cameron Diaz from 1995 to 1998 and has also reportedly romanced Heather Graham and Eliza Dushku. He’s been in a relationship with Roberta Mastromichele since 2015.
Molly Ringwald got her start in 1979 on “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life” and earned a Golden Globe nomination in 1983 for her work in “Tempest.” But it wasn’t until 1984 that she shot to superstardom after joining the Brat Pack with “Sixteen Candles.” Memorable turns in “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” followed.
Molly Ringwald took a step back from her enormous ’80s fame not long after moving to Paris in the early ’90s, only occasionally taking on acting jobs. She later made a return to mainstream Hollywood, starring on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” from 2008 to 2013 and appearing in the film adaptation of “Jem and the Holograms” in 2015. More recently, she popped up in the Netflix flick “The Kissing Booth” (as well as its two sequels) and on the hit CW series “Riverdale.” She’ll next star in the drama film “Montauk.” Molly reportedly romanced frequent co-star Anthony Michael Hall, Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Dweezil Zappa before she wed novelist Valery Lameignere. They divorced in 2002 and five years later, she married writer Panio Gianopoulos. They share daughter Mathilda and twins Roman and Adele.
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Joey Lawrence scored roles on hits like “Blossom,” “Gimme a Break!” and “Brotherly Love,” which also featured his real-life siblings, Matthew Lawrence and Andrew Lawrence. Like many of his fellow teen idols, Joey used his acting success to launch a music career. At 16, he released a self-titled debut album that featured singles “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix.”
Joey Lawrence met Chandie Yawn-Nelson while vacationing at Walt Disney World as a teenager. Thirteen years later in 2005, they returned to the Disney resort to tie the knot. (He was previously married to Michelle Vella from 2002 to 2004.) The newlywed, who placed third on season 3 of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2006, welcomed two daughters with Chandie — Liberty and Charleston. The couple filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and split in 2020. In 2021, Joey announced his engagement to actress Samantha Cope. Since his days as a teen heartthrob, he’s worked closely with fellow former child star Melissa Joan Hart on multiple projects: They co-starred in ABC Family’s made-for-TV movie “My Fake Fiancé” in 2009 and reunited for the sitcom “Melissa & Joey” the following year; it ran until 2015. Joey — who performed as a Chippendales dancer for a special event in Las Vegas in 2012 — hosted the ABC competition series “Splash” in 2013 and competed on “Celebrity Big Brother” in 2019.
Brooke Shields was 12 when she became a household name thanks to her role in 1978’s “Pretty Baby.” The New York native went on to become one of the teen queens of the ’80s with roles in “The Blue Lagoon” and “Endless Love” and major modeling gigs with brands including Calvin Klein.
Brooke Shields has continued to act in TV and film and on Broadway. In 1996, she landed the lead role on the sitcom “Suddenly Susan,” which ran till 2000. She’s appeared on shows including “The Middle,” “Law & Order: SVU,” the “Murphy Brown” reboot and “Jane the Virgin.” She’s also starred in “Grease,” “Cabaret” and “The Addams Family” on Broadway and took on the role of Roxie Hart in the 2005 West End production of “Chicago” in London. Her latest film is the 2021 Netflix rom-com “A Castle for Christmas” opposite Cary Elwes. Brooke also made headlines for being one of the first stars to speak publicly about her struggles with postpartum depression, and for her very public 2005 spat with Tom Cruise over the use of antidepressants to treat her condition. Brooke was married to tennis star Andre Agassi from 1997 to 1999 and wed TV writer-producer Chris Henchy in 2001. The couple share two daughters.
James Van Der Beek came to fame when he landed the lead role on The WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” in 1998. The heartthrob went on to star in the hit teen movie “Varsity Blues” and the 2002 black comedy “The Rules of Attraction.”
Today, James Van Der Beek is living his best life. He’s starred on TV shows including ABC’s “Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23,” Disney’s “Vampirina” and CBS’s “CSI: Cyber” and in films like “Downsizing” and “Labor Day.” He more recently appeared on the hit FX series “Pose.” James has also found success in his personal life. Following a 2006 divorce from Heather McComb after about six years of marriage, the former teen star wed Kimberly Brook in Israel in 2010. They’ve since welcomed five gorgeous kids and during the coronavirus pandemic, the family relocated from Hollywood to Texas.
Rob Lowe made his acting debut in “A New Kind of Family” in 1979. He scored his first Golden Globe nomination just a few years later for his work in “Thursday’s Child” (pictured) when he was just 19. The “The Outsiders” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” star and Brat Pack member famously romanced Melissa Gilbert, to whom he was briefly engaged, Nastassja Kinski and Princess Stephanie of Monaco during his teen idol days.
Rob Lowe made the transition from film to television in the late ’90s — he even scored an Emmy nod in 2001 for his work on “The West Wing.” He found hits with TV’s “Brothers & Sisters,” “Parks & Recreation” and “Behind the Candelabra” and starred on the 2017 reality series “The Lowe Files” for A&E, in which he went on road trips and explored infamous unsolved mysteries with sons John Owen and Matthew, his kids with wife Sheryl Berkoff. Since 2020, he’s starred on “9-1-1: Lone Star.” But there have been some bumps on his path to success: In 1988, a sex tape featuring Rob and two women — one of whom was 16 — surfaced and hurt his career. He cleaned up his act in 1990 and has been sober ever since. Rob’s also written two memoirs, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” and “Love Life.”
Mandy Moore made quite the entrance back in 1999 when she released debut album “So Real” featuring hit single “Candy.” She smoothly transitioned from music to film in 2001 when she made her feature film debut in “The Princess Diaries.” Roles in “A Walk to Remember,” “Chasing Liberty” and “Saved!” soon followed.
Mandy Moore released six more studio albums following her musical debut, including 2020’s “Silver Landings” — her first since 2009. She’s fared far better as an actress: She portrayed a version of herself in “Entourage” in 2005, voiced Rapunzel in Disney’s animated hit film “Tangled” in 2010 and appeared on a few episodes of the drama “Red Band Society” in 2014 and 2015. These days, she’s the lead actress on the wildly popular NBC show “This Is Us,” for which she’s received Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations. In January 2015, Mandy filed to divorce rocker Ryan Adams — whom she later accused of emotional and mental abuse — after more than five years of marriage. Before Ryan, she famously romanced Wilmer Valderrama, Andy Roddick, Zach Braff and the late Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein. In 2017, she and Dawes rocker Taylor Goldsmith got engaged. The couple tied the knot in 2018 and welcomed their first child together, son August, in 2021.
Malcolm-Jamal Warner is best known as Theo Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” a role that scored him an Emmy nod in 1986. As an added bonus, he enjoyed a lengthy romance with co-star Michelle Thomas — and though they parted ways in 1994 after six years together, he was at her bedside when she died of cancer four years later. He co-headlined four seasons of “Malcolm & Eddie” after “Cosby” came to an end in 1992.
In recent years, Malcolm-Jamal Warner has appeared on everything from “Community” and “Sons of Anarchy” to “American Horror Story” and “Major Crimes.” He also notably played Al “AC” Cowlings on “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” in 2016. He joined the cast of FOX’s “The Resident” in 2017. He also found a second calling as a jazz musician — he plays stand-up bass — and released two albums in 2003 and 2007. He reportedly broke up with Regina King in 2013 after more than two years of togetherness but before that, he was in a seven-year relationship with actress Karen Malina White. In November 2018, Malcolm-Jamal revealed that he had a wife and an 18-month-old daughter, though he’s declined to publicly share their names.
In 1998 at 11, Jesse McCartney made his acting debut when he joined the cast of “All My Children.” The following year, he scored his first big break in the music world when he joined boy band Dream Street. After they split up in 2002, Jesse enjoyed some success as a solo artist with hits like “Beautiful Soul” and “She’s No You.”
After Jesse McCartney’s music made its way onto numerous Disney soundtracks, he returned to his acting roots. In 2012, he took home a blimp at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for his voice work as Theodore in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.” (In fact, the sweet-voiced star has lent his vocals to several animated films and video games.) His other acting roles include Andy on “Greek,” Chris in “Chernobyl Diaries” and Tim Truman on “Army Wives.” He released his fifth studio album, “New Stage,” in 2021. He’s reportedly romanced Hayden Panettiere, Katie Cassidy, Brenda Song, Aubrey O’Day and Danielle Panabaker but in 2021, Jesse married his girlfriend of seven years, actress Katie Peterson.
Tiffany Darwish shot to fame in 1987 when she released her self-titled debut album, which featured the No. 1 single “I Think We’re Alone Now” — a cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells hit. The singer embarked on a successful mall tour but at the height of her popularity, she found herself torn between her manager and her family as they battled for control of her career. Ultimately, Tiffany was not able to legally emancipate herself from her parents and as the ’80s slipped away, so did her fame.
Tiffany released nine more albums — most recently 2021’s “Shadows” — but never recreated her early success. She’s had better luck with reality TV in recent years, appearing on everything from “Celebrity Fit Club” and “Celebrity Wife Swap” to “Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling” and “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.” Tiffany also appeared in the Syfy made-for-TV movies “Mega Piranha” and “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.” More recently, she competed on the Australian series “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” in 2018. She’s also continued to successfully tour. In 1991, she married makeup artist Bulmaro Garcia, with whom she has a son, Elija. She separated from husband No. 2, Benn George, in 2018.
Kirk Cameron scored his big break in 1985 when he won the role of Mike Seaver on “Growing Pains.” The California native headlined the series until 1992 and appeared on the covers of Tiger Beat, Teen Beat and more magazines before leaving mainstream Hollywood behind.
Kirk Cameron headlined two seasons of the family sitcom “Kirk” in 1995 and 1996 before turning his attention to faith-based productions like the film adaptations of the “Left Behind” series. The former teen idol, who became a born-again Christian at 17 during the height of his career, focuses mainly on religious projects these days (he even co-founded evangelical ministry The Way of the Master). In 1991, he wed “Growing Pains” co-star Chelsea Noble, with whom he shares six children.
Scott Baio made his acting debut in 1976 in “Bugsy Malone” opposite a young Jodie Foster. He found fame when he joined the cast of “Happy Days” in 1977, went on to headline the short-lived spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi” and then portrayed the titular character on “Charles in Charge” from 1984 to 1990. During his rise to fame, he was linked to a bevy of beauties: Brooke Shields, Heather Locklear, Pamela Anderson, Denise Richards, Nicollette Sheridan, Melissa Gilbert and Kristy McNichol are all among his rumored romantic conquests.
Though Scott Baio hasn’t enjoyed much success as an actor in recent years — he starred on Nickelodeon’s “See Dad Run” until it was canceled after three seasons in 2015 — his status as a heartbreaker helped him score his own reality TV series, “Scott Baio is 45… and Single,” which concluded in 2007 when he proposed to girlfriend Renee Sloan; Scott supported the new Mrs. Baio, with whom he shares daughter Bailey, after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. In 2018, Scott made headlines when former “Charles in Charge” co-star Nicole Eggert publicly accused him of sexual misconduct and claimed that he had sex with her when she was underage, which he’s denied, insisting she was 18 when they were intimate.
Donny Osmond and four of his older brothers found fame in the early ’60s when their musical group, The Osmonds, was regularly featured on “The Andy Williams Show.” But much like King of Pop Michael Jackson, Donny had that extra something special. He went solo in the early ’70s and his debut single, “Sweet and Innocent,” reached the Top 10 when he was just 14.
Donny Osmond, who struggled to escape his squeaky-clean image in later years, has enjoyed success as a musical and hosting duo with sister Marie Osmond since the late ’70s: They starred in a variety show during that decade, hosted a talk show in the late ’90s and headlined a stage spectacular in Las Vegas from 2008 to 2019. Donny won the ninth season of “Dancing With the Stars” and was the runner-up on the 2019 season of “The Masked Singer.” He’s heavily involved in charitable work and wrote the New York Times bestseller “Life Is What You Make It,” in which he revealed his struggles with a social phobia anxiety disorder. He’s been married to Debra Glenn, with whom he shares five sons, since 1978. In 2021, he released his 65th album, “Start Again,” and launched his own solo residency in Vegas.
David Cassidy, whose parents were singer-actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward, found fame in 1970 when he was cast as Keith Partridge alongside real-life stepmother Shirley Jones in “The Partridge Family.” He scored a hit with his debut single, “Cherish,” in 1972 and went on to enjoy a moderately successful career as a recording artist.
David Cassidy’s career slowed down when he put his teen idol days behind him. He rarely acted on television and released his last studio album in 1998. The former heartthrob was married three times: to actress Kay Lenz, to Meryl Tanz and to Sue Shifrin, with whom he shared son Beau. (They divorced in early 2014 after 23 years of marriage.) He also had a daughter, “Arrow” actress Katie Cassidy, from another relationship. In his later years, David struggled with alcohol issues: He was arrested on DUI charges three times since 2010 and also reportedly filed for bankruptcy in early 2015. In November 2017, the star died at 67 from liver failure.
Brandy Norwood scored her big break when she was cast as Danesha Turrell on the sitcom “Thea” in 1993. The following year, she released her self-titled debut album. But it wasn’t until 1996 when she won the lead role on “Moesha” — and scored a Grammy nod for best new artist — that Brandy became a household name.
Brandy has continued acting, predominantly on television — she starred on BET’s “The Game” and “Zoe Ever After” and in 2017 joined the cast of FOX’s “Star” — and has released seven studio albums including her most recent, “B7,” in 2020. The Grammy winner has also served as a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” competed on “Dancing With the Stars” and co-starred on “Brady & Ray J: A Family Business” with her little brother. She made her Broadway debut in 2015, starring as Roxie Hart in “Chicago,” then reprised the role again in 2017. Unfortunately, her love life has been less successful: In April 2014, Brandy ended her engagement to music executive Ryan Press. She was previously engaged to NBA player Quentin Richardson back in 2004 and over the years has also reportedly romanced Tyrese, Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris, “106 & Park” host Terrence Jenkins, Flo Rida, “Project Runway” alum Mychael Knight and music producer Robert Smith, with whom she shares daughter Sy’rai. In 2021, she made her debut on the ABC musical-drama series “Queens” alongside Naturi Naughton, Nadine Velazquez and Eve J. Cooper as an aging member of a once successful girl group.
Zac Efron became an overnight sensation when he starred as Troy Bolton in the 2006 Disney Channel movie “High School Musical.” The California native reprised his role in two sequels before moving on to other teen roles in projects like “Hairspray” and “17 Again.”
Zac Efron has fully transitioned from Disney star to successful actor. He began appearing in more grown-up roles in the 2010s with films like “The Paperboy,” “Neighbors” and “The Greatest Showman.” In 2019, he starred as Ted Bundy in the controversial Netflix film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” In 2020, he starred in, narrated and executive produced the Netflix docuseries “Down to Earth with Zac Efron.” He’ll next appear in the 2021 thriller “Gold.” Zac has had his share of struggles too: He reportedly went to rehab in 2013 for drug and alcohol dependency. He previously dated Vanessa Hudgens, Sami Miró, Michelle Rodriguez, Danish Olympic swimmer Sarah Bro and Vanessa Valladares, whom he met while working in Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breakout role saw her playing Sarah Reeves Merrin on the FOX teen drama series “Party of Five” from 1995 to 1999. From that point on, it was only up for the young actress: Jennifer went on to star in the 1997 horror flick “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and its 1998 sequel. In 1998, she also starred in the teen romantic comedy “Can’t Hardly Wait” opposite Ethan Embry.
After rising to fame in the mid-’90s, Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared in more films including 2001’s “Heartbreakers” and 2002’s “The Tuxedo.” From 2005 to 2010, she starred on the CBS supernatural drama series “Ghost Whisperer.” In 2012, she landed a starring role on the short-lived Lifetime series “The Client List.” Since 2018, she’s portrayed Maddie Buckley on the FOX procedural drama “9-1-1.” Jennifer, who released her fourth studio album, “BareNaked” in 2002, married her “The Client List” co-star Brian Hallisay in 2013. In 2021, they welcomed their third child together.
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