It’s almost a cliché; all too many child stars end up “flaming out” in one way or another. Drug abuse, prison, bankruptcy and other types of strife and personal loss have befallen many a former child actor. However, there are some child stars who avoid this curse and continue their success well into adulthood. Here are five of the most successful actors of today who were once child stars:
1. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio got his start in entertainment on a short-lived NBC soap opera called “Santa Barbara,” which led to roles in “Parenthood” and “Growing Pains.” As an adult, Leo is now one of the most in-demand A-list actors, working with just about every major director. He has starred in a slew of major blockbusters like “Catch Me if You Can,” Titanic,” “Inception,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and many more.
2. Neil Patrick Harris
While many know him as TV’s kid prodigy Dr. Doogie Howser, Harris actually received a Golden Globe nomination as an even younger child actor in “Clara’s Heart” as co-stars with Whoopi Goldberg. His Doogie Howser role netted him another Golden Globe nomination, and it seems he’s been starring on TV ever since, most recently in the CBS show “How I Met Your Mother.” This versatile, talented actor has also done Broadway plays and hosted the Academy Awards.
3. Claire Danes
Claire Danes delighted audiences in the teen angst-ridden TV show “My So-Called Life”; the show also made her a Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee. The talented Danes has gone on to win numerous more awards for her excellent acting abilities. She has starred in a number of great projects, including the HBO movie “Temple Grandin” and the Showtime hit “Homeland,” and is still going strong.
4. Ron Howard
As much success as Ron Howard has had throughout his life, many of us will always remember him as “Opie” from “The Andy Griffith Show,” which delighted viewers for eight seasons and continues in reruns. However, Ron Howard actually got his start in entertainment much younger – 18 months old, to be exact. As a teenager, Howard played Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days.” Today, he’s a little more behind the scenes, but still highly successful. He was the voice for “Arrested Development” and has produced and directed many movies and TV shows including “Splash,” “Parenthood,” Apollo 13,” “The DaVinci Code,” and many more.
5. Jessica Biel
The lovely Jessica Biel had her breakout role as the eldest daughter in the Camden family on “7th Heaven,” a WB hit that was on TV for 11 seasons. More recently, Jessica marred pop mega-star Justin Timberlake and continues to light up the big screen in movies like “Hitchcock,” “Total Recall,” “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve.”
The “child star curse” is a well-known phenomenon in Hollywood, but it isn’t destined to happen to all young actors. These five famous former child stars are living proof that there is life – and great success – after early fame.