Almost everyone at some point in their life will have been to the cinema and along the way took a liking to a certain actor or actress. Since the early days of cinematic viewing, the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Errol Flynn and Clark Gable have enjoyed the adulation of a myriad of fans.
Not forgetting the original action heroes, including John Wayne and the ever suave Roger Moore, as well as today’s icons such as the swashbuckling Johnny Depp, these people’s adult acting will stay in the mind of millions for ever.
Besides this great, adult acting fraternity, however, there are the children who broke onto the acting scene in the hope of making it into the big time themselves. Some succeeded in their quest for fame and fortune, whilst others unfortunately fell by the way side and here we take a look at five of the most notable stars made popular by their early entrance into showbiz.
1. Gary Coleman
Image: Licorice Pizza
In 1978, a television show called ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ was launched, with one of its characters, Arnold Jackson, giving the world a brand new catchphrase – “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” – that was heard in school yards and workplaces everywhere for years.
Gary Coleman played the part of Arnold Jackson, one of two black brothers who were adopted by a rich white widower who lived in Manhattan, New York. Coleman, because of a chronic illness, never grew past 4 ft 8 ins – around 1.4m – and had the appearance of a child until he was well into adulthood.
The show was so successful, it is reputed Coleman earned $100,000 an episode at the height of the show’s popularity.
Unfortunately, the rest isn’t particularly pleasant and although Coleman played the role until the series ended in 1986, from thereon in he seemed to be on a downward spiral.
Suing his foster parents and ex-business manager for misappropriation of his trust fund, which saw him receive approximately $1.3 million, this didn’t help him to keep his life on track, as he later admitted in a television interview that he had twice attempted to take his own life.
Later coming to the attention of the police for all the wrong reasons, his health began to deteriorate rapidly and in January 2010, he suffered a seizure, followed by another in February that year. After falling down the stairs at his home five months later in May 2010, he sadly passed away on May 28th aged only 42.
2. Fred Savage
Image: Alan Light (Flickr)
Only 12 years old when he became the main star in the popular series ‘The Wonder Years’, which ran from 1988 until 1993, the series depicted Kevin’s life as he meandered through the early character forming years between 12 and 17, dealing with everything that any similar aged boy had to contend with.
Fantastically popular, after the series finished, Savage went on to graduate from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in English, which seemed to have stood him in good stead – he has a list of shows and films to his name that many a star would be jealous of and in recent years he has moved to the other side of the camera, earning praise as a successful director.
Married to childhood friend Jennifer Lynn Stone, together they have two children – a son, Oliver and a daughter, Lily.
3. Henry Thomas
Image: Kaktak (Tumblr)
As films go, they don’t come much bigger than Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster offering in 1982, ‘E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial’. Telling the story of friendship between E.T, a life form from another planet and a young boy called Elliott, played by a nine year old Henry Thomas, the story brought a tear to the eyes of many who witnessed this piece of cinematic brilliance.
Although Thomas is likely to be forever remembered as ‘The E.T. Kid’, the film wasn’t his only success and he has gone on to star in over 40 films, including ‘Dear John’ and ‘The Gangs Of New York’, as well as in a number of high profile television programmes, such as ‘C.S.I’ and ‘Without A Trace’.
Also known for his musical talents, Thomas played with The Blue Heelers in San Antonio during the late 1990s and today he’s part of Farspeaker, who play in and around the Los Angeles area where he now resides.
4. Jodie Foster
Image: quichieisinsane (Flickr)
Image: danieldoan (Fotopedia)
If starting young helps your career, Jodie Foster was always going to be bound for greatness, as she first appeared in a commercial at the ripe old age of just three. From then on, there was no looking back and after appearing in The Doris Day Show – her first TV show – she quickly moved into the world of film.
While she was still only 13, Foster made her entrance into the big time as the young prostitute Iris in 1976’s Taxi Driver. This role earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first of several awards and accolades.
Having played a wide variety of characters in many different genres of film, from Tallulah in Bugsy Malone to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, she has won everything from BAFTAs to Oscars during her career to date, all of which have been undoubtedly richly deserved.
5. Lisa Loring
Image: mem45414 (Flickr)
To people of a certain age, Lisa Loring will be known as playing the younger sister that every boy wanted, mainly because of her hobbies. She had pet spiders, including her favourite, Homer; a host of headless dolls and she showed a truly macabre fascination with death, all perfectly acceptable due to her being Wednesday Addams in the 1960’s television series, ‘The Addams Family’.
Strangely, after playing the part from 1964 to 1966, she turned her back on her acting career aged only eight and stated that she would never act again.
Keeping this promise until 1981, Loring returned to the screen when she played a part in the daytime soap ‘As The World Turns’ for three years.
In her personal life, Loring suffered the loss of her mother from chronic alcoholism in 1974, aged just 34 and seemed to be unable to settle down. Although she did have a family, further to her third marriage ending, she fell into the world of drugs.
After getting help with her addiction, she went into rehab and came out the other side a new person. Today, she has a new partner and apparently a new desire – to appear in a Quentin Tarantino film.