June 3, 2010

The Kids Are Not Alright

Gary Coleman is dead. Dana Plato is similarly dead. Corey Haim? Dead. Michael Jackson, also dead. River Phoenix? Ditto. Jonathan Brandis has also left us. Willie Ames is a nutcase. Scott Baio enjoys taking shots at the First Lady on Twitter. Danny Bonaduce is one syringe away from a roid rage-out. Todd Bridges self-destructed in particularly stellar fashion. Screech made porn. Natalie Wood (old school) had a nice breakdown. So did Tatum O'Neal (she's still prone to both drama and drugs) and Judy Garland had some issues as well. Leif Garrett is reportedly turning high-priced tricks. Lindsay Lohan, well, duh.

The kids - former child stars, that is - are not alright. Though some have fared better than others.

I guess Doogie Howser did okay for himself, then and now. No one's found him in a cheap motel room with a dead hooker. Kirk Cameron is all right. Granted, he's developed a fairly extreme sort of faith which leads him to college campuses in an effort to refute proven science. Those Saved By The Bell kids - with the exception of the aforementioned Screech and that one chick who did the terrible stripper movie that I watched only to see a Saved By The Bell girl naked (wasn't worth it) - seem to be doing okay. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

It feel like we're constantly watching some has-been's life unravel in front of us. It makes me wonder about the whole fame thing, whether or not its worth it. And it makes me wonder about parents. Specifically, with all the empirical evidence that points to the inevitability that showbiz is going to fuck a kid up, what kind of parent would willingly subject their kids to it?

Which child star have you been most disappointed by? And why do you think they all fall so far so fast?

Posted by Chris at June 3, 2010 6:14 AM

Michelle Trachenberg (spelling horrible, I'm sure...) and Amanda Bynes seems to have turned out OK... but the latter especially was protected by Nick growing up. In fact, it seems like a lot of the Nick stars from when I was a kid turned out OK. (Like Lori Beth Denburg, Kenan, Kel, etc.) I wonder if that's because of the "family" they grew up around.

I think the ones that disappoint me the most, though, are the olsen twins. And Lohan. But the Olsen twins, where as they aren't in the news every other week for whatever, they are obviously not taking care of themselves, and the pressure of hollywood obviously overtook them. It makes me sad, because they're my age, and I loved them growing up.

Posted by: Secha at June 3, 2010 8:14 AM

The girl from Small Wonder.

Kidding of course. Well I don't know I actually have no idea what her name is and I don't have it in me right now to look it up.

I'm not sure what posses a parent to put their child through that. I know that some kids have a natural talent for acting and shwomanship, and that's great. Since my kids don't have that I can't relate.

Posted by: molly at June 3, 2010 8:49 AM

I agree with the Olsen twins. Those poor girls never had a chance!

Posted by: molly at June 3, 2010 8:50 AM

It's too depressing to think about all the child / teen stars whose lives have imploded. So I'm going to point out one that have done well.

Danica McKellar aka Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years. She has a degree in Math and has written a couple of books aimed at keeping teen girls interested in math. Plus there is the whole successful adult actress and she is still smoking hot thing going on too.

Posted by: COD at June 3, 2010 9:10 AM

Bad parenting.

The ones that are turning out right are the ones whose parents hovered over them the entire time, making the right decisions and saying "no" at the right time.

The ones that turned out wrong either had absent parents or ones who did the complete opposite. They were stolen from, allowed booze and drugs at an early age, and basically submitted to an adult world as a kid. That fucks you up.

Oh, and you forgot McCauley Culken who got into drugs, ran away and married someone 20 years older than him. Also, Britney Spears was a Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse girl as a kid and made her first sexy video at 15 or 16.

Posted by: Brad at June 3, 2010 9:29 AM

I was shocked to learn that Lindsey Lohan is only 23. Wow. And I am certain that one of the Olsen twins is going to come to a bad end.

Posted by: Lemon Gloria at June 3, 2010 9:44 AM

On the other hand: Ron Howard, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Shirley Temple, Erin Moran, Jodie Foster, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Anna Paquin, Natalie Portman, Leonardo diCaprio, and perhaps Allysa Milano.

It can be done successfully - with well-grounded and stable parents (admittedly - scarce in the entertainment business), and a supportive community of costars. And, perhaps it is easier in Great Britain where the fans don't seem as rabid and encouraging of the kids to become self-important and indulgent.

Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears, however - TRAIN WRECKS.

Posted by: K at June 3, 2010 9:46 AM

I don't know that I'd agree that the breakdowns are the rule. There are plenty of actors who started working as children that have done okay for themselves. Thing is, we don't hear about them because happy, adjusted (or at least average) lives don't make for good copy. But, oh, we sure hear every tiny detail about the ones that derail, don't we? It's disgusting and I make it a point to not follow that kind of thing.

Posted by: Patricia at June 3, 2010 9:48 AM

I follow Britney Spears' crazy with great interest. And only because it seems like it parallels my own breakdown. And I'm so sad for her that it had to be so public.

Posted by: k8 at June 3, 2010 10:23 AM

Same concept as the beauty pagent kids; some parents live through their children, or see them as a meal ticket. Generally, it seems that in those cases it comes to a bad end.

It seems that the kids who would have done OK without the fame, come out alright. It seems that the ones that implode, pretty much would have imploded anyway; there is just a magnification effect because they are famous, and therefore have access to WMD grade implosion tools, rather than regular folks supermarket vodka.

Posted by: metawizard at June 3, 2010 10:42 AM

Mackenzie Phillips never stood a chance although I understand she's turned her life around. Her story is the stuff nightmares are made of.

And don't forget ancient history and Judy Garland.

The other commenter (Patricia) made a good point though. We don't hear about the kids who stay out of trouble and lead exemplary adult lives.

Posted by: Ann Adams at June 3, 2010 10:50 AM

"Saved by the Bell"--Tiffani Amber-Theisen turned out OK; the girl who did the "Striptease" movie has revitalized herself with guest appearances on "CSI: Miami"

I can't say I followed anyone's career with great interst, but I do feel that the "trainwrecks" have more wrong in their life than just being child stars.

Look at Drew Barrymore, she was a trainwreck but turned her life around.

Posted by: Krush at June 3, 2010 10:50 AM

I'm still asleep. You led off with Judy Garland.

Just thought of another example of a turnaround as an adult. Brooke Shields.

Posted by: Ann Adams at June 3, 2010 10:52 AM

I have to agree with the Olsen Twins. They have loads of cash, gobs of opportunities and are a mess.

I feel it is parenting and your personality. Being a star makes people more insecure and they tend to act out, plus nothing seems private.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at June 3, 2010 1:50 PM

I work in film, so I've worked with both current and former child actors. The kids who grow up okay are the ones whose parents put the child first. They protect them from abuse (outside of California, child labor laws vary wildly,) make sure the kids are progressing academically, keep them from being treated as adults rather than as the children they are, and love their children for who they *are* not for what they do. And the parents make sure they and the kids have a life outside of the business.

And then there are the other parents. Oy.

Posted by: Lise at June 3, 2010 6:06 PM

i actually like the olsen twins and think they turned out pretty damn good for being eccentric billionaire teens. i love that crazy old lady vibe they have going :)

Posted by: kati at June 3, 2010 7:06 PM

There are plenty....but we've got enough going on in our city that it's hard to concentrate on those that "had so much". Some guy got shot 5 kms from our home. A young woman was shot point blank a block away from our home (and we live in a quiet suburbia). Last night some guy went nutsoid and killed his wife and then himself. Another shooting here and another one there.....and I don't even live in Brooklyn?!?!

Posted by: Lujza at June 3, 2010 10:10 PM

We've discussed this plenty in our house. I often have wondered why parents, upon seeing these train wrecks, don't take their kids and run. Really, with the examples that are out there, who would want to risk that?

Obviously some do.

I think that those who hit it big very early, and whose parents become caught up in it all and become more managers than parents, are the ones who fall. Michael Jackson and Britney Spears are perfect examples-they have everything money can buy, and yet MJ often wanted just the normal things in life, like being able to go to the grocery store or order food at McDonalds. If you watch the Britney documentary where she talks about her life, it's very much the same. They can't HAVE a normal life.

I don't think fame and money is worth that. It's too bad that some do.

Posted by: Scatteredmom at June 3, 2010 11:47 PM

Lindsay Lohan for the win.

She had every opportunity shoved at her and she squandered it all away.

But it most likely is due to bad parenting and lack of supervision.

Or she really is just immensely stupid.

Posted by: Aurelia at June 4, 2010 12:50 AM

God Lohan is only 23? Whoa...

Poor little rich kids, I guess. I wonder if it's something they wanted or if it's something their parents wanted.

The Man did a local TV show for a while. He seems ok. Well, except for deciding to live with me, that may have been a sign of mental illness.

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