Your Favorite Child Stars From the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s Then and Now

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By: Arthur Gold | Published: Nov 29, 2022

The ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s were the golden age of television and it was a wild and imaginative time where young stars rose to fame. But where are the cast of The Brady Bunch and the rest of our favorite child stars today?

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Those stars are all grown up now and they look awfully different. Check out how they’ve grown up and what they’re up to now, decades later.

Lauren Chapin

Lauren Chapin played little Kathy Anderson in the sitcom Father Knows Best in 1954. While the series showed a beautiful family life, his life at home was not as stable. She wrote a biography outlining her difficult childhood.

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When the show was canceled she went into dog grooming and became a flight attendant in the ‘80s. More recently, she has done some paid performances for different events.

Hayley Mills

At age 13, Hayley Mills hit the acting scene as Pollyanna in the Disney adaptation of the book. Her cheery demeanor landed her many more roles as a leading lady. She became a real child icon in film.

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She’s appeared in many roles since and while she might not be a household name anymore, she was certainly an “it girl” of her era.

Kym Karath

Kym Karath was unforgettable as little Gretl von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Her classic role won the hearts of many and set her up for a promising career in the film industry. 

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However, Kym left the industry in 1981 to study Art History and model in Paris. Now, she’s married and does some acting on the side, although we haven’t seen anything from her since the ‘80s.

Johnny Crawford

Johnny is known for two major roles he played in the 1950s. Namely, he might be recognized for his role as Lucas McCain’s son in The Rifleman. But he also gained popularity for being part of the original Mouseketeers in 1955. 

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The Rifleman earned him an Emmy nomination. After that show he continued to act and guest star in different roles but found his true passion was dancing. He began his dancing career in the 1990s and now leads a band called the Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra.

Jerry Mathers

Unfortunately, not every child star wants to be a star as much as their parents want them to be. Jerry Mathers was none too happy about starting his acting career early. To be fair, who wants to work at the age of 2?! 

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Apparently, when he auditioned for his role on Beaver Cleaver when he was young, he even told the producers he didn’t want to be there. He later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a teenager.

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Kristy McNichol

Kristy McNichol led a very successful acting career in the mid ‘70s in her role as Buddy Lawrence in Family. Within only a few years of acting she had been nominated for 4 Emmys and even won 2 of them!

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However, her budding career hit a bit of a roadblock when rumors started to circulate about substance abuse in the ‘90s. Nowadays, she teaches acting, rather than appearing on-screen herself.

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Tommy Norden

In the ‘60s, shows with animals were becoming increasingly popular. Film was improving and you were seeing more hits with animal costars. One such hit was NBC’s Flipper, starring Tommy Norden and a friendly dolphin.

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His role as Bud Rocks was his most infamous role as he turned to family life soon after the show ended. Now, he owns an executive recruiting company in New York

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Ron Howard

Ron Howard remains one of the most prolific child stars in the world. His first major role as Opie Taylor onThe Andy Griffith’s Show really put him on the map.

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Following that, he starred in Happy Days, which solidified his place in the acting world. Since then, he has participated in more behind the camera success, directing huge hits such as A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and The Da Vinci Code.

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Tony Dow

Tony Dow played the infamous counterpart to Jerry Mathers on Leave it to Beaver. The olde brother, Wally Cleaver was a quintessential role in the famous show. He was offered other roles but opted for a different career.

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He was briefly in the National Guard before he turned to filmmaking, construction, and journalism. Now, he promotes Leave it to Beaver with Mathers.

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Mary Badham

Mary Badham had the privilege of starring in one of the most famous book-to-film adaptations of all time with her role in To Kill a Mockingbird. Her performance even earned her an Oscar nomination.

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However, soon after this film she turned her back on fame and film to focus on other interests. She now restores art and is married with 2 children.

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Quinn Cummings

The young Quinn came into stardom when she was only 10 years old. Her first big role was as Lucy in the 1977 hit The Goodbye Girl. She was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

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By the time the 90s rolled around, Quinn Cummings was tired of the acting game. She started a blog in the early 2000s called “The QC Report” and has since written memoirs. She also started her own company when she became a mom in 2006!

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Danielle Spencer

Danielle is well-known for her role as Dee Thomas in the sitcom What’s Happening!. Beginning at only 13-years-old she starred in the show but it was inevitably canceled in 1979.

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From there, she studied to become a vet because it was the wish of her grandfather who had passed away. She has mostly retired from being on-screen. 

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Jimmie Walker

Jimmie Walker received 2 Golden Globes for his role on the sitcom Good Times. He played J.J. Evans, one of the sons in the Evan Family, coined the infamous phrase “Dy-no-mite!”.

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Jimmie turned to the radio world after his starring role. He hoster WOAI, KKAP, WHIO, and WLS. He also released an autobiography in 2012 describing the time he spent in his hometown of Brooklyn. He continues to make content through stand-up comedy

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Danny Bonaduce

The Partridge Family was a classic ‘70s television series which starred David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce, and more. Danny played Danny Partridge and got lots of appreciation for the funny character.

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He delved into many areas of the entertainment industry. He has released music albums, wrestled professionally, hosted a radio talk show, and had a VH1 reality show. 

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Eve Plumb

Eve starred on one of the most iconic television shows of all time: The Brady Bunch. Her role as Jan Brady sky-rocketed her to fandom. She’s also responsible for the classic line, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” 

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Later, in 1979 she starred in another role in the movie Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway. She then went on to star in many guest roles on shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including some Brady Bunch spin offs.

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Marc Copage

At only 5 years old, Marc played Corey, the son of Diahann Carroll’s son in the sitcom Julia. After his time in the spotlight, the young Marc returned to school and focused on jazz in 2014.

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Now, he is a singer and dancer in Los Angeles. He instructs in the arts as well. He might not be seen on-screen anymore but he is still participating in the creative fields.

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Jon Provost

Of course the wonderful Lassie was the star of the show about a boy and his border collie that ran for years, but Jon Provost played beloved Timmy Martine who was right by her side for almost 2 decades. 

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After this iconic role; however, Jon took a step back from the spotlight and has lived a rather quiet life in real estate. He did release an autobiography in 2007.

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Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy is unmistakable in the ‘60s sitcom Bewitched. During the show and since then, she has appeared in more than 100 commercials, but she retired from acting in 1972.

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She graduated from San Diego State University and has worked as an acting teacher, casting director, stylist, and stunt double. She’s a jack of all trades!

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Angela Cartwright

Like Kym Karath, Angela Cartwright hit the scene in The Sounds of Music. She played Brigitta von Trapp and later starred in Lost in Space as Penny. She then turned to a life behind the camera.

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She became a photographer and opened her own business in the late ‘70s. Now, she returned to film in a different role on Netflix’s adaptation of Lost in Space.

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Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields began a long and successful career in modeling and acting when she was only 11 months old. She played a very controversial role in the film Pretty Baby in 1978 when she was 12 years old.

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Her career was furthered even more when she became the youngest person to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine when she was 14 years old. She’s done more modeling and played in more roles since.

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Keith Thilbodeaux

Keith’s character was incredibly heartwarming in the beloved show I Love Lucy. His role as Little Ricky shot him into stardom. He was only 5 years old when he began in the show.

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After the show he pursued more musical endeavors. He unfortunately battled substance addiction in the early ‘70s but later became sober. He is now the director of the Ballet Magnificat which he founded with his wife. 

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Peter Ostrum

Most of us can’t mistake the famous Charlie Bucket form the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Unforitnealty, despite his early success, his acting career was cut short.

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He was offered a 3 movie contract after the film came out, but he denied the contract to live out a more quiet life. He wound up getting a degree in veterinary medicine and now lives with his family in New York with a vet practice of his own.

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Susan Olsen

Cindy Brady was one of many child stars in The Brady Bunch. The blonde pig tailed-ed girl captured hearts. The 7-year-old Susan quickly rose to fame through the famous show.

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She has since starred in some Brady Bunch  spin-offs but didn’t stick to acting her entire life. She also spent some time in the graphic design space and hosted a radio show for a stint.

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Valerie Bertinelli

Valerie got her big break on the show One Day at a Time in 1975. Her character Barbara Cooper Royer was beloved and it helped her skyrocket to fame along with her other child co-star Mackenzie Phillips.

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She went on to act in the ‘80s in series such as Touched by an Angel and Hot in Cleveland. She also wrote 2 books on her struggles with body image and diet being in the spotlight. Even more recently, she’s hosted a cooking show on the Food Network.

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Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert played perhaps the most popular character on Little House on the Prairie. Little Laura Ingalls was present in 190 episodes out of a total of 204! She wasn’t seen in much of anything after that but she remained present in Hollywood.

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As recent as 2012 she appeared on Dancing With the Stars. In 2016 she turned to the world of politics and ran for U.S. Congress. She did win but had to pull from the race due to an injury.

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Maureen McCormick

The woman behind the unforgettable Marcia Brady was Maureen McCormick. She was one of the biggest television stars of the ‘70s and her character in The Brady Bunch is still talked about to this day.

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When the show ended she found success in the music industry, releasing a solo music record in 1995. She also made some other T.V. appearances throughout the years, including season 23 of Dancing With the Stars.

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Barry Williams

Barry was another member of the cast of The Brady Bunch as the infamous Greg Brady. At age 15 he had already become one of the biggest television heartthrobs of the ‘70s. 

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He also starred in Here Comes the Bride, The Mob Squad, and Bartleby. He turned to the theater when the show was canceled. He’s also written a book and become a spokesperson on the MeTV network.

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Linda Blair

You might not recognize her today, but Linda Blair starred in perhaps the most iconic horror movie role of all time: The Exorcist. She played the horrifying possessed child, Regan MacNeil. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as fame.

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However, towards the end of the ‘70s, Linda ran into some legal trouble by getting involved with substance abuse. She didn’t manage to return to film after that, but she does own an animal-rights foundation called Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation.

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Jackie Earle Haley

Jackie Earle Haley began his work on-screen at the ripe age of 6! He starred in commercials until he guest-starred in the popular Bad News Bears series. He took a break from the big screen but came back in a role that would earn him an Oscar nomination.

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He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in his role in Little Children which was released in 1993. He now lives a more quiet life with his wife and 2 children in Texas.

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