Child Stars Who Haven't Figured Out They Aren't Famous Anymore

Neil Patrick Harris transitioned from being child prodigy Doogie Houser, M.D. into a Tony-winning, triple threat star of both stage and screen. Mayim Bialik parlayed her lovable starring role as the precocious Blossom Russo into a starring role as an adult on The Big Bang Theory, one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. Oh, and did we mention she also earned a real-life PhD in neuro-biology? Sadly, these kind of success stories are exceptions to the rule.

The curse of being a child celebrity is well known. The too-much-too-fast lifestyle of partying and drugs combined with parents who are just as hypnotized by the fame has snuffed out the flame of more than a few of Hollywood's bright young stars. But that's not to say that they disappear into obscurity. Unfortunately, some of these fallen stars have hung around long past the expiration of their 15 minutes, turning them into the human version of a car wreck it's impossible to look away from.

These are the child stars who haven't figured out they aren't famous anymore. 

​Corey Feldman has had a rough run

Corey Feldman's unwillingness to leave the spotlight has been apparent for years. From the bizarre manner in which he's half-transformed himself into Michael Jackson, to his cringeworthy performance on Howard Stern, the star of The Goonies has become a recurring pop culture joke. He became one of the first washed-up celebrities to reinvent himself with reality TV, only to become a pariah after his alienating behavior on The Surreal Life in 2003 and The Two Coreys in 2007.

But that didn't deter Feldman in the slightest, because he's also an author and musician, leaving him endless opportunity to pivot to his next public embarrassment, like his back-to back Today show performances of his songs, "Go 4 It" and "Take A Stand." After the first performance was universally mocked, Feldman released a tearful video on Facebook, claiming he was "petrified" to leave his house. So, naturally it only took a month for him to return to the show with a second, even more baffling performance, complete with a controversy over him throwing an American flag on the floor.

In March 2020, Feldman's documentary (My) Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys was released. In it, Feldman digs into the allegations he has made regarding pedophilia and sexual abuse in Hollywood, opening up about his own experiences. Following the premiere, he shared that he went "UNDERGROUND, AFTER THE RELEASE OF THE FILM," adding that there were "MULTIPLE ATTACKS FROM THE PPL WHO HAV BEEN TRYING 2 SILENCE ME."

Tara Reid's reinvention hasn't erased her past

Although people think Tara Reid got her start in American Pie, she'd actually been acting for years before that. In fact, her first TV appearance was on a 1982 game show called Child's Play, where she actually predicted her famous future. But somewhere between her accidental boob flash at Diddy's birthday party, and her string of questionable projects in between the second and third "American" installment, her career stalled. Then it lurched into the strange realm of campy Sci-fi with the seemingly endless Sharknado franchise.

Reid actually showed a brief lucidity about the strange direction her career has taken in an interview with Today Extra (via The Daily Mail). "I was doing that movie (Tie The Knot) and Sharknado at the same time and I was like, "What am I doing anymore? What's happening? Where did my career go?" she said.

And yet, she's also flexed the diva muscle usually reserved for stars who haven't been photographed drunkenly stumbling in and out of clubs for years. Reid walked out of an interview on Jenny McCarthy's Sirius XM radio show after being asked apparently pre-banned questions about her plastic surgeries and her disastrous appearance on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars. "We're all here about Sharknado," Reid said, getting the awkwardness started. The tense exchange ended with Reid and McCarthy taking digs at each others marriages and bodies, with McCarthy getting the last zinger, saying, "Love you, Tara. Good luck with Sharknado 18." Sure, maybe it wasn't exactly fair of McCarthy to bring some of that stuff up, but does Reid seriously think the media is going to ignore her years of train wreck behavior and just talk to her about her dumb flying shark movie? 

Danny Bonaduce is still milking his Partridge Family fame

By his own admission, Danny Bonaduce's career went basically nowhere after The Partridge Family. In his autobiography, Random Acts of Badness: My Story, he calculates that between the years of 1974 and 1988, he only worked for a total of 20 weeks. Then he got into radio, and eventually became a reality TV mainstay after Breaking Bonaduce, the show that actually followed the collapse of his marriage, his drug relapse, and even a suicide attempt. This guy literally had to almost die on TV for people to care about what he's doing, and even then he only remained marginally famous afterwards.

He's a wacky AM drive time DJ for a radio station in Seattle, and he's been popping up all over the media to first stick his nose into former co-star David Cassidy's struggle with dementia, and then to make some seemingly unnecessary claims about him after he died in November 2017. Bonaduce alleges he and Cassidy were great friends ever since The Partridge Family ended, and yet, on a particularly questionable Access Hollywood (via Inquistr) appearance, Bonaduce says, "I didn't know he was suffering from any kind of dementia." Then, after Cassidy's death, Bonaduce penned a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter in which he basically says Cassidy died disappointed with his life. Kind of an, uh, intense thing to write about a deceased friend, no? Then again we're talking about a guy who calls himself @TheDoochMan on Twitter, and whose official website makes sure to let everyone know when his name is mentioned on real TV shows. The thirst is real.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

​Dustin Diamond's creepy actions will make you screech

Dustin Diamond's biggest accomplishments since his days as Screech on Saved by the Bell have been a sex tape and going to jail for stabbing a guy in a bar fight. And in reality, both of those low points were mostly BS. Diamond later admitted to Oprah that it wasn't even him in the sex tape. In another interview with Extra, he said that entire bar fight story was blown out of proportion. But even grimier than his attempt to cash in on a fake sex tape — "I had to take a chance. What if that thing had made $3 or 4 million?" — was his "tell-all" book, Behind The Bell, in which he painted the worst possible descriptions of his former cast mates in between gross anecdotes about how much sex he had as a result of his teenage stardom. And he wouldn't even own up to that, either. In that same Extra interview, he told Mario Lopez that his ghostwriter had "gone rogue" and made pretty much the whole thing up.

Diamond also took his quasi-apology tour on The Dr. Oz Show where he addressed his cast mates and said, "I'm sorry that this has taken advantage of me, the book and other situations I'm sure we'll talk about here, but I'm sure that you've experienced downfalls as well in your time, and I'm still lovin' you guys." So, once again, he took the bare minimum of responsibility possible.

With his bad boy image an admitted ruse, Diamond would now like to reinvent himself again, telling Extra that he wants to continue acting although he's still struggling to "break out of that mold" of the "phenom role of the Screech character." Yep, that's the whole problem right there. It couldn't possibly be all that other stuff that made him seem like a terrible human being in real life.

​Aaron Carter's antics are no longer cute

Aaron Carter got famous when was 9 years old, and started opening for his big brother Nick Carter's group, The Backstreet Boys. His big hit was a song called "I Want Candy," and it was cute, because it was a little kid singing about candy. A bunch of other little kids really loved it, but then everyone involved grew up. Aaron didn't release any music for 14 years, meaning he clearly moved on with his life and changed career paths a long time ago, right? No, he didn't do that at all. He took all that time to figure out he wanted to do electronic dance music, including a remix of 'I Want Candy' and a five-song EP, called LØVË, because he's a viking now? We have no clue. 

Aaron's personal life has been nothing short of tumultuous, as well. He's fought to stay sober, opened up about his mental health struggles, and publicly feuded with members of his own family. In 2019, Nick accused Aaron of threatening his family and later filed "a temporary order for protection" against Aaron, per ET. Days later, Aaron denied his brother's accusations, then made his own startling accusations against Nick and their late sister, Leslie Carter. In a statement regarding this matter (via iHeartRadio), the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said they were "investigating the concerns of all parties involved, and utilizing all available resources to assist family members in addressing their concerns."

On a significantly lighter note, Aaron's first CamSoda event was reportedly the "most popular private event" in the company's history.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

Kirk Cameron swears he doesn't need Hollywood

There was almost no one cooler than Mike Seaver in the '80s, but by the time Growing Pains came to an end in 1992, Kirk Cameron was more than done playing him. At some point, Cameron had a religious awakening that caused him to object to racy content being written for his character, which by his own admission caused serious problems for the production. For example, in an interview with NightlineCameron remembered demanding that a scene be rewritten because it required him to be shirtless in bed next to a woman. The show ended shortly after this period and Cameron embarked on nothing but faith-based projects ever since.

And while there's nothing wrong with openly practicing one's faith, Cameron has found himself in trouble a few times, particularly after his remarks about gay marriage during an interview with Piers Morgan. He called homosexuality "unnatural," "detrimental," and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." Obviously, that wasn't going to sit well with mainstream Hollywood, who had already all but written him off after his unsuccessful solo comedy sitcom, Kirk.

But Cameron seemingly couldn't care less. Asked by The Hollywood Reporter about being at odds with the generally secular Hollywood, he said, "I can't find a downside ... I have my own company (CamFam Studios) where I'm making projects I'm passionate about." Well, we may have found a downside: In the past ten years, he's done only a handful of feature length and short films, as well as a show called The National Bible Bee Game Show that airs on Facebook Live. He's even resorted to selling online marriage counseling courses that he teaches with his wife. Even his Fuller House cameo didn't make any mainstream waves. Call us crazy, but Kirk's not exactly on Leo's level in terms of calling his own shots like he seems to think he is.

Angus T. Jones had a change of heart. Twice.

We could have basically just stuck this one under Kirk Cameron up there and wrote "Ditto," except the kid who played Charlie Sheen's nephew on Two and a Half Men took his morality crisis even further when he publicly urged people not to watch the show. According to HuffPost, Jones appeared in a video for a religious organization called Forerunner Chronicles, in which he implored fans to stop watching the show, calling it "filth" and "bad news," and going so far as to imply that watching any TV at all negatively effects the brain. Jones even quit the show in 2013 to attend college in Colorado and work in ministry.

But lo and behold, Jones wants back in! At least, according to People, who reported he re-caught the acting bug when he showed up for a cameo in the Two and a Half Men finale. "Getting to be back on the set with everyone again kind of showed me how much I did like it and how much a part of me acting [is]," Jones said. He also took a break from college to "[serve] as president of entertainment at Tonite, an events company co-founded by Sean "Diddy" Combs's son Justin." Unfortunately, Jones's only acting credit since Two and a Half Men is a one-off role in Louis C.K.'s 2016 web series, Horace and Pete, and...something tells us that isn't exactly going to be the gig that reopens doors all over Hollywood for him.

Jeremy Jackson's career wiped out long ago

Though he'd already been acting for seven years, Jeremy Jackson hit the big time with the role of Hobie Buchannon on Baywatch in 1991. For the next eight years, he starred on the show that helped define 90s TV, but he just couldn't translate the success of everyone's favorite lifeguard soap opera to anything else. It didn't help matters that he quit the show in an egotistical huff and battled drug addiction, abusing everything from ecstasy to cocaine to methamphetamine.

Between the drugs and his attitude towards his star-making role, Jackson became a pariah in the industry until the world of reality TV scooped him up in the late 2000s. He starred on Confessions of a Teenage Idol in 2009, which tracked his comeback attempt and ultimately captured his other addiction: bodybuilding. "I've spent at least $200,000 in the last three years strictly on steroids and pills and injections," Jackson told Dr. Drew while starring on Celebrity Rehab (via People), which was yet another of his reality TV stints.

But even reality TV couldn't drag Jackson out of the gutter. In 2015, he was arrested in not just one, but two different stabbing cases, as well as got booted from Celebrity Big Brother (yep, more reality TV) for sexually assaulting housemate, Chloe Goodman, on the show. In 2017, TMZ reported Jackson was sentenced to 270 days in jail for one of the stabbing incidents. Unsurprisingly, the actor doesn't really have much in the way of new projects coming down the pike.

​Zachery Ty Bryan's exit from the spotlight was intentional

Zachery Ty Bryan found success early in his career, landing the role of Brad Taylor on Home Improvement almost right out of the gate. But like a lot of child stars who spent the better part of a decade on a hugely popular sitcom, that success did not lead to other juicy parts.

In fact, Bryan retired from acting altogether in 2009 — just ten years after his Home Improvement run ended — after he played Thor in SyFy's TV movie, Thor: Hammer of the Gods. Bryan told Fox News in 2012 that he ditched the makeup chair for the production trailer as part of his longheld plan to move behind-the-scenes. "I love getting to be part of the entire process, from raising the finances to the actual filming to post-production, it is like getting to be the painter, not the paintbrush," Bryan said.

But the last time he was the so-called "paintbrush," his performance was deemed "terrible" by Flickering Myth, who even went so far as to say, "Bryan probably ranks as one of the most unimpressive movie heroes ever put on screen." Ouch. On a brighter note, Bryan has gotten into the production side of things with his company, Lost Lane

Haley Joel Osment is in on the joke

Speaking of being in on the joke, The Sixth Sense star, Haley Joel Osment has been trading almost exclusively on the whole, "Wait, isn't that Haley Joel Osment?" factor to land roles ever since his return to the biz a few years ago. In a sit-down with Vulture, the interviewer even recognizes this unfortunate phenomenon when he said that's exactly the reaction he had when Osment popped up in Kevin Smith's bizarro horror-comedy, Tusk, in 2014.

But that's kind of how it's gone for Osment since he resurfaced around 2013 after a self-imposed hiatus to complete college and study "experimental theatre," according to The Telegraph. And even though he said he like to "keep diversifying and hope that people will see [his] span of work rather than just that moment in time," the roles he's landed in recent years have almost seemed like parodies of himself.

It's a bit jarring, and reeks of stunt casting to see Osment in things like Will Ferrell's IFC melodrama spoof, The Spoils Before Dying, the Seth Rogen Hulu series, Future Man, and HBO's Silicon Valley, particularly the latter, which Osment even explained didn't require him to change his looks at all or even flex his acting muscles all that much. For now, Osment says he'd like to land a recurring role on a show so he can really "dig into a character," but unless someone's out there writing the series, "Hey, It's That Kid From That Movie!," we're not so sure he should hold his breath.

Does Brenda Song's career deserve a re-play?

For readers of a certain age, Brenda Song will always be London Tipton, the vapid rich girl from Disney's The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Outside of that very specific role, probably the most notable thing she's done is a small part in the Facebook movie, The Social Network, in which she plays a "groupie" who does some decidedly non-Disney things in a bathroom stall.

Song also has an identity off-screen and in the tabloids, having dated Miley Cyrus' lesser known brother, Trace before moving onto none other than Macaulay Culkin. That's like a dual nostalgia power couple for the ages, but we're not sure if it will raise Song's profile in a way that will get her favorably back into the spotlight.

First of all, Culkin is a known recluse, but when he does step out, he still gets mauled by fans as if Home Alone was just released yesterday. And according to his former longtime flame, Mila Kunis, it can be kind of difficult to be around. "You couldn't walk down the street with him," Kunis told Howard Stern (via ET). "He always had this weird attraction, like fans just screamed when they saw him! They didn't know how to react. It wasn't like a normal response to a celebrity," she said. So, in a weird way, the intense fandom of diehard Suite Life fans combined with Culkin's lingering child star status could keep them both pigeonholed out of ever achieving other kinds of fame.

Drake Bell still makes headlines for all the wrong reasons

Drake Bell blew up thanks to his starring role in the Nickelodeon series, Drake & Josh. And it even looked like he was going to parlay that fame into the mainstream when he landed the lead role in Superhero Movie, one of those parody flicks from the 2000s that were okay until the Wayans brothers destroyed them forever. 

Bell went on to a litany of bit parts and voicework. In recent years, he started gaining notoriety on social media again. And even that has all basically been bad news. First, Bell came under fire for making seemingly transphobic remarks about Caitlyn Jenner. Then, there was the whole Josh Peck wedding debacle, where Bell acted hurt for not being invited to his former co-star's nuptials, then reversed his entire position and apologized. Aside from being a social media menace, Bell has also continued to pursue a music career... and playing gigs like one at The Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, NC, where he had a bit of a viral moment when he stopped the show to scold a kid in the crowd who repeatedly threw balls onstage. Yeesh. 

More online notoriety came Bell's way in 2020 when his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Lingafelt, accused him of physical and verbal abuse. Bell denied her claims to Variety through his rep, stating, "But I cannot and will not allow these offensive and defamatory allegations to go unchallenged and I am reviewing my legal options."

​Orlando Brown has permanently confused fame and infamy

Orlando Brown starred in 100 episodes of Disney's That's So Raven. After that, it got dark. Really dark. Four relatively non-working years after the show ended, Brown got busted for a DUI, which he managed to draw out into a two-year legal battle by repeatedly failing to show up for court appearances, resulting in him getting slapped with a 180 jail sentence.

After the DUI debacle ended, Brown then allegedly threatened to kill a woman, and got into a fight with his girlfriend in a police station parking lot while he had meth in his pocket. Four months later, Brown released his rap single, "F**k My Fame," in which he skewers his unfortunate status as a tabloid mainstay.

So it was no surprise that when it came time for Raven-Symoné to cast the That's So Raven sequel series, Raven's Home, Brown did not get the call to reprise his role. A few days after wishing Raven-Symoné the best with the reboot, Brown made a bizarre appearance on VladTV (via The Wrap) in which he explicitly described supposed sexual encounters with his former co-star. Since then, he's given multiple rambling, profanity-laced, quasi-incoherent interviews that spanned topics like his drug use, his sex tape, rappers he hates, and of course, Raven-Symoné.

In 2018, Brown was arrested multiple times for various offenses, and by the end of that year, he went on Dr. Phil to talk about his battle with addiction and mental health issues. Fast-forward to 2020, where, according to The Christian Post, he is "looking forward to graduating from Rise Discipleship, a free 6-month in-patient recovery program." Brown told the outlet that "it's definitely been a great process."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

Christy Carlson Romano went from mainstream to streaming

Ah, one of the teen queens of the Disney Channel. Christy Carlson Romano was a star of the channel in the '00s, best known for playing Shia LeBeouf's sister on Even Stevens, voicing the titular character on animated series Kim Possible, and starring opposite Hilary Duff in Disney Channel Original Movie Cadet Kelly. However, like so many other Disney kids, she didn't have an easy go of it. In a 2019 essay for Teen Vogue, she wrote, "I struggled with all of my relationships, alcohol usage, and career path for ten years before going back to school and re-centering myself."

In the aforementioned piece, Romano shared, "I was told that leaving Hollywood right after Even Stevens would ruin my career. In retrospect, it probably did. But in my heart, I was running away from the responsibility of fame and toward a glamorized fantasy of adolescence. "

So, what's Romano up to now? Why, she has parlayed her teenhood stardom into internet person-dom. Over on TikTok, she's making videos, many of which lean on nostalgia. Romano also launched a YouTube channel where viewers can see her "cook, sing, reenact scenes, do challenges, and have so much fun with my favorite throwback stars, YouTubers, friends, and family!" In one of her recurring bits, she reacts to Kim Possible episodes as Kim Possible. Her list of guests includes fellow Disney Channel alums, Power Rangers stars, and Mean Girls' Jonathan Bennett. 

Romano may not be as famous as she once was, but she has clearly found her niche: throwback content for millennials.

Josh Peck has almost broken through so many times

Some may say Josh Peck's career has gone ice cold... because he voiced the character of Eddie in the Ice Age movies, that is! (See what we did there?) The Drake & Josh star is not all over Nickelodeon anymore, but he is all over YouTube and social media. Peck joined David Dobrik's Vlog Squad, a cadre of YouTubers that won the Shorty Award for YouTube Ensemble in 2018. When talking about this new chapter in his career at an event held at George Washington University, he said, "It was empowering to finally be in charge and go straight to my audience."

Peck's friendship with his former Drake & Josh co-star has been up and down, to say the least. The drama surrounding Peck and Drake Bell's post-show dynamic hit its zenith in 2017 when the former didn't invite the latter to his wedding. The two ultimately reconciled on — where else?—YouTube.

As you might've deduced, Peck's TV career has changed quite a bit since his days on Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show. In 2015, he starred opposite John Stamos on the sitcom Grandfathered, but it got the axe after one season. After that, he had small recurring roles on Pitch and Fuller House. He's also the star of a to-be-released Disney+ show based on Turner & Hooch, so uh, keep your eyes peeled for that? And hey, maybe unlike Grandfathered, this small screen effort will stick.

Jamie Lynn Spears will always be Britney's little sis

Nickelodeon series Zoey 101 made Britney Spears' little sister a television star, but her time on the small screen was short. In 2008, after just four seasons, the show was over, and many assumed its ending had something to do with Jamie Lynn Spears' personal life. Jamie Lynn announced in 2007 that she was pregnant, so when Zoey 101 ended the following year, the masses jumped to conclusions regarding why the hit series was done. However, as Jamie Lynn said in a since-deleted Instagram post (via Teen Vogue), "#itdidNOTendbecauseofpregnancy #contractwasfinished." In the comment section, she explained that she "went home to finish high school and was going to pursue movies" and confirmed that if she hadn't gotten pregnant, the contract still wouldn't have been renewed.

Jamie Lynn made her return to the small screen in 2020 in Netflix series Sweet Magnolias, which was picked up for a second season only months after the series premiered. In 2013, she released her first (and only) EP, The Journey. Oh, and there was that time she broke up a fight at a Pita Pit with a knife.

Outside of her own career, she's still related to one of the most famous people on the planet; it's not like she even could fade into total obscurity. For starters, Jamie Lynn's name ended up in the press in 2020 in the wake of the news surrounding Britney's conservatorship. According to documents provided to The Blast, Jamie Lynn has been the trustee on Britney's trust since 2018. In 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported Jamie Lynn requested to move the assets with Fidelity Brokerage Services, with her acting as custodian.