The 80’s were the decade of sitcoms and shows that centered on modernizing families. Some of our favorite memories are from shows like Full House – about a single father bringing up his three daughters along with their uncle and friend and Different Strokes – about a typical middle-class white family and their adopted colored boys. Though many have fond memories of the shows and their ability to make us all laugh, many don’t know the dark side of the personal lives of those actors involved. Let’s take a look at the 80s Child Stars: Then And Now.
1. Jodie Sweetin
The sweet girl who played the middle daughter, Stephanie Tanner was both adorable and intelligent. She was best known for depicting a girl-next-door and her innocence was infectious. However, soon after the show ended, she led a life of being addicted to methamphetamine. She spent all her money from the show, including royalties, feeding her habit that led to 3 divorces. She is sober now and participated on the TV show, Dancing With The Stars. She is currently acting in the reboot of her early show – Fuller House.
2. Gary Coleman
The beloved colored child from Different Strokes was actually a full-grown man when he acted in the show. But his lovable way of talking earned him many fans world over. Personally, his life was anything but happy. He suffered major financial losses and took to questionable fundraising activities to help pay the bills. His later job was that of a security guard and he also had problems with the law. He was arrested and produced in court several times – for assaulting a woman to getting into loud public arguments with his wife. Coleman’s life ended at age 42 of a brain injury.
3. Dana Plato
Co-star and child actor along with Gary Coleman on Different Strokes was Dana Plato. She was the adorable two-pigtail girl who played sister and devoted daughter on the show. However, after it ended, she got into trouble with the law when she was arrested for trying to rob a store with a pellet gun. She struggled with poverty and unemployment, including getting breast implants to further her career. She was jailed more than once and died over a multiple drug overdose at the age of 34.
4. Todd Bridges
Another child actor from Different Strokes, Todd Bridges was slowly becoming a handsome young man with a promising future. He as well battled with an addiction to crack cocaine and was tried for the attempted murder of a local drug dealer. He came into the limelight again on the Oprah Winfrey Show for his memoir on severe child sexual abuse in the industry and his difficult life. He appeared on different TV shows and was last heard of saving a wheelchair bound woman from drowning.
5. Neil Patrick Harris
We can end this article on a good note with actor Neil Patrick Harris who’s career took of as a child star for Doogie Howser MD, where he portrayed a genius child doctor. Later in life he was part of a star-studded ensemble for How I Met Your Mother and has worked on several big projects to date, including hosting the Academy Awards. He is openly gay and is an activist for gay rights.