Childhood Stars We're Crushing On after all these Years
Have you ever wondered what happened to your favorite child stars? Most of their faces are frozen in time for us but seeing what they look like today is astonishing. The unfortunate truth is that the entertainment industry can take a serious toll on these kids, and not all of them can handle growing up in the public eye so well. Here’s what our most beloved child stars look like today and what they’re up to now…
Here’s a star that is aging like a fine wine. Anna Chlumsky broke our hearts and had us falling in love with her all at once when she made her acting debut as the character Vada in the movie My Girl. After a flurry of projects, she decided to take a brief hiatus from acting to study at the University of Chicago. At one point she even considered a new career path, but lucky for us she found everything else to be boring, and in her late 20s she was back in the acting game. In recent years you could find her on HBO’s hit series Veep, as well as starring on Broadway in Living on Love.
Tiffani Amber Thiessen
Oh, Kelly Kapowski … Who wasn’t madly in love with this star at one point in their lives? Kelly Kapowski was probably the most popular crush of the 90s. We were all devastated when Saved by the Bell finally came to an end, but lucky for us, we wouldn’t have to go too long without seeing this star’s beautiful face on our television. Tiffani Amber Thiessen quickly landed the role of Valerie Malone on the teen hit drama Beverly Hills, 90210 – a show with an even bigger cult following than Saved by the Bell. The wholesome girl next door turned into a sultry vixen before our eyes. More recently, you could catch her starring in USA’s hit series White Collar. Now in her 40s, we’re still nowhere near done crushing on her.
We’ve watched her grow up and rise to fame starring as the studious Hermione Granger in all eight Harry Potter movies. Turns out she’s got a lot in common with her on-screen counterpart. Emma Watson is incredibly hardworking, studious, and intelligent. After filming for Harry Potter finally ended, Watson went on to earn degrees at Brown and Oxford, and today she is making headlines for her countless humanitarian efforts. She was appointed the Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. women. She’s also the face of Lancome, confirming yet again what we already knew: She’s one gorgeous gal. Beauty, brains, and a kind heart… Yep, we’re still fully crushing on Emma Watson.
Every guy’s fantasy was for lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn from The Sandlot to give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Well that fantasy is still very much alive, and so is our crush on this childhood star. It’s crazy to think that at 41, she just keeps getting better. The former Miss Peffercorn went on to have prominent roles in movies like Pleasantville, Never Been Kissed, Sugar & Spice, and Uptown Girls – to name a few – and more recently you could find her appearing in episodes of the hit TV series Mad Men.
We were all crushing on Stacey Dash when she landed her breakout role in 1995’s Clueless. But it was really her appearance in the 1988 movie Moving (pictured left), with Richard Pryor, that put Dash in the spotlight. She then showed up in the critically acclaimed St. Elsewhere TV series. Dash has continued to work in both TV and film, but most may recognize her these days as a regular contributor on the Fox News network.
We first got to know her when she starred opposite Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview With the Vampire, and following that, at just 13, this star was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. At the time, Kirsten Dunst told People, “I’d like to grow up and be beautiful. I know it doesn’t matter… but it doesn’t hurt.” Well, mission accomplished, Ms. Dunst. The crazy thing is, this star doesn’t even look like she’s aged a bit, so of course we’re still crushing on he
Soleil Moon Frye
Who would have imagined that Punky Brewster – known for her trademark pigtails, face full of freckles, and bright colored clothing – would grow up to become such a hottie? Soleil Moon Frye continued to act for some years after Punky Brewster, but in recent years she’s stepped behind the camera to direct films such as Wild Horses and Sonny Boy, which won Best Documentary at the San Diego Film Festival. Frye is also an entrepreneur, the co-founder of a party kit company, and a published author.
Alyssa Milano started off her acting career playing Tony Danza’s adorable daughter on the hit show Who’s The Boss?, which was on the air for eight years. In that time we watched her cuteness turn to hotness, and that hotness landed her a role on the steamy primetime soap opera Melrose Place, which she would keep until her next big break, landing a starring role on The WB’s hit series Charmed. Milano is also an outspoken political activist with numerous philanthropic pursuits.
We used to wait all week to see this TGIF girl on ABC’s Step By Step. She played Alicia “Al” Lambert, the family’s tomboy daughter. Well Christine Lakin is definitely not a tomboy anymore, and she is more crush-worthy than ever. Despite not having many smash hits over the years, Lakin stays plenty busy in Hollywood. She has more than 100 film and TV credits on her resume, including as a regular voice cast member on Family Guy and stints on CSI, NCIS, and Hollywood Darlings.
Back in the day, we loved to watch this precocious little actress star in dark and spooky movies, like Casper and The Addams Family movies (where she played Wednesday Addams). But there’s nothing dark or spooky about Christina Ricci these days. Perhaps it was her role in the hugely successful movie Now and Then that solidified our love for Ricci – especially after we felt some serious jealousy watching fellow child star Devon Sawa get to kiss her. But Ricci has become a seriously talented actress as an adult, with critically acclaimed roles in Monster and The Opposite of Sex.
It feels like light years ago since we first laid eyes on little miss Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional. That was just the beginning for Portman, who went on to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading ladies. (Perhaps it’s her degree from Harvard University that gives her that extra advantage?) Her hard work and sense of determination have led to some of her most compelling performances on the big screen, most notably her 2010 portrayal of a young ballerina in Black Swan – a film that landed her the title of Best Actress at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards in 2011. Portman’s the full package, so we’re nowhere near done crushing on her.
Remember when your jaw literally hit the floor the first time you laid eyes on Tyra Banks on the cover of that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue? Ya know, the one where she’s in the skimpy red bikini set against the azure blue Caribbean sky? Yeah, we can’t forget it either. The cover photo launched Banks’ modeling career into the stratosphere and she’s never really come back down to Earth. Thanks to her ultra successful stints as a Victoria’s Secret Angel and the reality TV show America’s Next Top Model, Banks is constantly in the public eye and we couldn’t be happier.
Katie Holmes never stopped being hot. She first achieved fame on The WB’s beyond-popular teen drama Dawson’s Creek, where she had a starring role as Joey Potter. Holmes became the new “It” girl after Saved by the Bell went off the air and we no longer had Kelly Kapowski in our lives. She broke our hearts for about six years when she decided to take herself off the market and marry actor Tom Cruise. Holmes continues to act in both television series and movies, and we don’t see her fading from the spotlight any time soon.
Melissa Joan Hart
Who didn’t have a crush on Melissa Joan Hart when we first met her back in the early 90s, starring on Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All? Clarissa was such a cool chick and every guy wished they could switch places with her best friend, Sam. Her next big role came when she was cast to star as Sabrina in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Oh, and who could forget her racy Maxim magazine cover shoot back in 2000? She must have still had those witch powers, because we fell deep into her spell and loved every minute of it. In 2013, Hart revealed that she was high on ecstasy when she posed for the shoot. Guess it wasn’t a magic spell after all.
Another one of those starlets who just seems to be getting more and more beautiful with time. Remember when you first laid eyes on Mary Camden – a.k.a. Jessica Biel – from WB’s longest-running series ever, 7th Heaven? Or better yet, remember when Biel got in all that trouble with the producers of 7th Heaven for posing topless in Gear magazine when she was just 17? Well, the controversy clearly didn’t harm her career trajectory in any way. Along with her film and TV roles, Biel participates in numerous charitable causes, giving back to those less fortunate than she has been. Yeah, those are some major crushing points right there. Too bad she’s married to Justin Timberlake.
Some may remember Halle Berry from some early appearances in Hollywood films, but it was really a second-place finish in the 1986 Miss USA pageant that put Berry on the map. She turned that near-win into an incredible career in modeling and acting that’s seen numerous accolades fall her way. Her 2002 Academy Award win for Best Actress (Monster’s Ball) is probably the crowning achievement of her highly successful career.
“As if” we could ever stop crushing on this star. Interestingly enough, it was Alicia Silverstone’s role in the move The Crush that introduced us to this blonde beauty. That role caught the attention of a band you may have heard of, Aerosmith, which ended up featuring Silverstone in three of their most popular music videos. Next thing you know, she was nicknamed “the Aerosmith chick,” and that would lead to her landing her most memorable role of all. She starred as the popular and very wealthy high school student Cher Horowitz in the 90s mega hit movie Clueless. Every girl wanted to be her, and every guy wanted to be with her.
Danica McKellar is best known for her role as Winnie Cooper, the on-again, off-again girlfriend of main character Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years. She had a hard time transitioning into an adult acting career, so we pretty much had to wait until 2005 when, after readers voted her the childhood star crush they’d most like to see again, McKellar resurfaced dressed in nothing but lingerie in Stuff magazine. The readers definitely made the right choice, and McKellar agreed to do the racy spread to show us all that she was ready for her comeback.
You might remember Emil Minty as the feral kid in Max Mad 2, despite having had no lines throughout the film, rather grunts instead. Minty retired from acting at an early age, however, he had small parts in movies and TV shows in the ’80s and ’90s. He currently owns and operates a fine jewelry shop in Australia.
She’s been stealing our hearts ever since her 1982 acting debut in the incredibly popular sci-fi classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which led her to become one of Hollywood’s most sough-after child stars. We watched her struggle through her teenage years, but she managed to work it all out and land on her feet, charming us the whole way. She’s starred in some of the most memorable movies of our time, such as The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, Charlie’s Angels, 50 First Dates, and He’s Just Not That Into You – to name a few. She just exudes this authentic, insanely positive energy that makes it impossible not to love her.
From Harriet the Spy to The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Michelle Trachtenberg really made a name for herself in the 1990s. The good thing was that her career was just getting started. It was her role as Dawn on the hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer that really caught our attention. She then went on to be the girl we loved to hate, the manipulative Georgina Sparks on Gossip Girl.
Lacey Chabert first shot to fame in the 1990s, playing the role of Claudia on Party of Five, but that was not all we got from Chabert. Theater lovers would have recognized her before that as young Cosette in the immensely popular Broadway production of Les Miserables. Chabert starred in a few big movies after Party of Five, but nothing that really caught anybody’s attention. Then in 2004, a familiar face popped up in the comedy hit Mean Girls, leaving many saying, “Why does she look so familiar?” That face was Chabert, as Gretchen Wieners, and suddenly everyone was amazed at how the young star had aged so well. She’s been described by Maxim magazine as being “sinfully cute.” She’s also sinfully talented and has a remarkable Hollywood resume to boot.
Is it just us, or does Jennifer Connelly look just as incredible now as she did back in the 1980s, when she earned her first big starring role opposite David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth? In fact, it’s been more than 30 years, and one could argue that Connelly is aging backwards. Oh yeah, there’s also that little thing of becoming one of the most critically acclaimed actresses in Hollywood. We expect to see Connelly on the big and small screen for years to come.
We haven’t stopped crushing on Claire Danes. How could we? Her acting career is on fire. She’s been snatching up awards ever since she first crash landed into the business, and she just keeps getting better. These days, Danes is killing it – sometimes literally – as super paranoid, bipolar CIA officer Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s award-winning series Homeland. But remember how much we loved her on My So-Called Life with Jared Leto? Oh, and then again in Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio? It’s been more than 25 years and Danes shows no signs of slowing down.
Her role as Mia, the 16-year-old (don’t worry, she was 22 when she started filming the series) promiscuous and destructive character on Showtime’s hit series Californication couldn’t be more opposite from where her acting career began. Madeline Zima played Grace Sheffield on the popular CBS sitcom The Nanny. At 29, she definitely doesn’t need a nanny anymore, but maybe her former character, Mia, could use a little extra adult supervision. Well Californication is over, but Zima’s career is far from it. We expect to see her for years and years to come on the big screen.
Who could forget Melody from Hey Dude? We all dreamed of packing up and moving to the Bar None Dude Ranch just for her. Hey Dude was only the beginning for this star, who then landed a major role playing Marcia Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” is the line we couldn’t get out of our head, along with Taylor’s crush-worthy smile. She then went on to star in some highly successful comedies such as The Wedding Singer, Zoolander, Dodgeball, and Tropic Thunder, to name a few. She also met her husband, Ben Stiller, during filming and they married in 2000 (though they separated in 2017). We can’t stop crushing on her!
When you’re crowned Miss Universe, of course people are going to take notice, especially when you’re the first African-America woman to do so. The crown helped launch Williams into a successful music and acting career that continues to this day. Williams has starred in such critically acclaimed hits as Desperate Housewives, and she earned three Emmy nominations for her role on Ugly Betty. We have no complaints about continually seeing her in movies and on TV.
It was easy to fall in love with her on Married… with Children as Kelly Bundy, but Christina Applegate has continued to have success over the years. Applegate starred in the short-lived NBC series Jesse, in which she was nominated for an Emmy for her lead role. And how could we leave out her role as Veronica Corningstone in the Anchorman films opposite Will Ferrell? That role helped to revitalize Applegate’s career, and we’re hoping it just keeps going and going.
This Long Island-born horror film star first found fame in the classic Halloween movies. Harris was just 10 years old at the time. Her next big movie came when she was cast in one of the 90s most memorable movies, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. She later decided to go back to horror films and, 18 years later, she was signing herself up to remake – wait for it – Halloween! You can understand why the New York Daily News and various other publications decided to label her “horror’s reigning scream queen.”
Jennifer Love Hewitt
We want to make this “party of five” a party of two, please. The ever-so-sweet Jennifer Love Hewitt captured our hearts as Sarah Reeves on the hit mid-90s Fox show Party of Five. Since then, she’s gone on to star in numerous films, most notably the I Know What You Did Last Summer horror series and as the broken-hearted Amanda Beckett in Can’t Hardly Wait, in which every guy would have given his right arm to be her high school sweetheart. At 36, Hewitt has continued to age gloriously and nab roles on hit show after hit show.
She dealt with the Problem Child and played Maid Marian in Robin Hood: Men in Tights back in the 90s, but we don’t have any problems with Amy Yasbeck today. The striking redhead isn’t seen much on TV or in films, but back in the 90s it was difficult to look anywhere without seeing Yasbeck. Besides the above, Yasbeck played the leading female role in the TV sitcom Wings, as well as starring in The Mask and Dracula: Dead and Loving It, among a long list of film and TV credits. Though we don’t see much of her anymore, this redhead is still able to make us a little hot under the collar.
Cute little Curly Sue always found herself in trouble, but now Alisan Porter is finding herself in a different spotlight as she pursues a singing career, taking her vocal talents to the hit NBC contest show, The Voice.