The seventies was an officially awesome time (according to our sometimes selective memories) to be a child. Those from that decade will tell you what fun it was and exactly the reasons that it was the best decade ever. The television shows, movies, and music were the greatest too. Just ask anyone still holding onto their disco balls. It was also a time that created turmoil for the people we purported to love. They were our heroes, our first crushes, and our escape from reality. They were the child stars.
I have compiled a list of 45 of the most popular child stars of the seventies. I will add links later when I blog about each one separately; however, there are a few statistics about this particular group of child stars. Some stayed true to themselves; others went off the beaten path into very prickly territory. Some of them are gone forever, but will never be forgotten. We thought we knew them because they were on our television screens. That image couldn’t be more wrong in many of these cases. Here is a quick rundown of the names and at the end, a few facts about the group as a whole.
Melissa Sue Anderson
Jay Jay Walker
Sixteen became addicted to drugs at some point. Some of them have died since; however, the rest on the list claim to be drug and alcohol free today.
Ten of them became addicted to alcohol while out on the Hollywood party circuit. They all say they are sober today.
At least six have been arrested at some point in their life. The charges vary starting with theft and leading up to attempted murder. Drug charges were rampant as well. Some of the six were arrested multiple times in their lives.
Seven of the people on the list have died. Two are suspected to be suicides and drug related. Two others died of other medical complications that family members believe could have been related to past drug abuse problems. One died of a head injury, one from a heart attack and one from an accidental overdose.
Twenty-one of these favorite stars have had no serious public display of troubles at all. They stayed clean and healthy throughout their life and were fortunate enough to make good choices along the way. Most of them kept their private lives out of the public eye.
A whopping thirty-one of them said that it was extremely difficult to find viable work in the industry after they grew up. They said that it was nearly impossible for people to see beyond the cute, little child face that the world thought of as sweet and innocent.
Eight stars publicly stated that they hated the jobs they were doing when they were doing it. They also showed little respect for their fan-base, the people who made them rich and famous to begin with.
One person on the list posed for Playboy as an adult. She said she was proud of the magazine spread and she would not change a thing.
A disappointing number is that only two people (taken from interviews of the stars) have publicly stated how much they appreciate and love their fans. It means a great deal to people when a child star grows up and says, “hey, that was fun and I’m so glad that other kids were enjoying what I was doing for a while.”
Forty-five of the stars (100%) have done charity work during their career. Some may have done more than others; however, charity work is one of the most important things that a celebrity can do to help give back to a community that has made them so renowned.
Ten of the above named child stars left the business and never looked back. They have no regrets about it and enjoy working at “regular” jobs and living a normal life.
One of these child stars (a personal favorite of mine and we’ll just name this one because it was such an awesome thing he did) Jimmy McNichol, moved his sister into his home and took care of her after she had a breakdown on the set of a movie. Rumors ran wild about Kristi, some news sources reported that she was on drugs and many people jumped to that conclusion. The truth was, Kristi was suffering from bi-polar disorder. Little was known about the disorder at the time of her breakdown, but her brother took her under his wing and took care of her when she needed him most. I would say that makes him awesome brother of the century.
There may be more, but there certainly isn’t less. At least three of the people on the list have come out as gay/lesbian since their stint as child stars. One other person was revealed to be gay after his death. That would have been a huge no-no in the seventies, but today they are free to be themselves.
All forty-five celebrities claim to treasure their privacy. Not all of them practice what they preach though. At least seven of them have blatantly, at some point, sought out the attention of the media in order to stay in the forefront of the public eye. All of those cases “invaded” their private space.
Fourteen have kept their private lives and public lives expertly separate from one another. They claim they want privacy and they go to great lengths to make certain that it happens.
Ten of them have successfully moved on to very successful professional lives in the entertainment industry. Some of them still work onscreen while others are content behind the scenes.
At least nine others have worked frequently in low-budget films, reality shows or other parts of the business. They remain low-key for the most part, some intentionally, but still crave the lifestyle that they once had the opportunity to enjoy.
Forty-five of them entertained us and made us laugh and cry during one of the most colorful decades on the history books. What other decade, aside from the fifties, can boast that several television series and movies have been made about the era? None.
All forty-five of them are still loved by fans around the world.
Forty-five of them are human beings that take more bullying than most people can take. No wonder so many turn to drugs and alcohol. Americans are sometimes viciously mean to the people they probably never met in real life.
Forty-five of these people made people laugh even during those times that the actors probably felt like crying or, at the very least, screaming at the top of their lungs.
Forty-five of them are thanked from the very bottom of my heart for the entertainment and joy they brought into my life, helping me escape reality and for just plain putting a smile in my heart. (Danny Bonaduce probably just threw up on that one. J )