A status update on child stars of the ‘90s
Lohan. Bynes. Carter. Years ago, these names were associated with Disney, Nickelodeon and happiness. Now, the names are synonymous with DUIs and mental institutions. So where exactly did these celebs go wrong?
Lindsay Lohan — her name can be recognized in every American household at this point. One would pretty much have to be living under a rock to not immediately correlate the name “Lohan” with trouble. Over the last several years, Lohan has found herself caught in a myriad of bad, highly publicized situations. From DUIs to public breakdowns, Lohan is definitely not the squeaky clean red-head everyone once adored in The Parent Trap. For those who don’t keep up with People magazine, Lohan no longer partakes in Disney movies. Whether the last time you saw her was switching places with her twin sister or swapping bodies with Jamie Lee Curtis, nothing about Lohan is PG-rated anymore. Around 2007, she ditched her red hair along with her innocence. According to The Daily Beast in “Lindsay Lohan’s Rap Sheet: Arrests, Car Wrecks, Mounting Debt and More,” since her days of child stardom, Lohan has been to jail six times, rehab five times and spent 35 days on house arrest. As someone who started her tumultuous career at the young age of 3 (when she began modeling) it is no surprise that exploitation got the best of the beloved redheaded talent.
Though it seems as though Lohan will be in the limelight forever, there are some child stars who found themselves walking equally rocky paths but stopped attracting attention once they hit puberty. Jodie Sweetin is one of those stars. Her real name isn’t as recognizable as Lohan’s, but she is the face of Stephanie Tanner, a character everybody knows from Full House. Being a family-friendly sitcom, it may come as a surprise that any of the young actors from Full House came out on the other side with anything but money and smiles. Sweetin, however, did not turn out to be the same dancing, chipper, sometimes even corny girl that her character Stephanie Tanner was. In fact, her adulthood was quite the opposite. According to “Jodie Sweetin: I Snorted Meth at Olsen Twins Film Premier” in Us Weekly, Sweetin began using ecstasy, cocaine and meth after Full House ended. The article stated that she stopped drinking for good in 2008; however, her love life hasn’t been as clean as she has. According to “Jodie Sweetin Files for Legal Separation from Morty Coyle,” in People, she separated from her third husband in 2013. Since the separation, Sweetin has kept a relatively low profile. Here’s to hoping her future is more Full House than Breaking Bad.
Speaking of Full House, whatever happened to that little Michelle? Well, one half of her — the Ashley Olsen half — walked off of the Full House set unscathed. Her twin, on the other hand, ended up battling an eating disorder after her many roles in children’s movies. According to Us Weekly article “Stars Who Battled Eating Disorders,” Mary-Kate Olsen checked herself into Cirque Lodge rehabilitation center in 2004 to seek treatment for anorexia. As of now, she is a successful fashion designer and engaged.
While it’s mostly the young, female stars who earn a rep for “going down a bad path” after childhood stardom ends, there are in fact male stars who haven’t had the best of luck since retiring from Hollywood as 13-year-olds. Aaron Carter is a perfect example. Carter began performing at the age of 7, and by 13, he was a pre-teen heart throb, causing swooning throughout the country with songs from his hit album, Aaron’s Party. The pressures of being a teen idol clearly caught up to Carter as an adult, though. Aaron landed himself in rehab in 2011, and in 2013 he filed for bankruptcy. According to the National Post, Carter found himself in $3.5 million worth of debt. I guess he spent his profits made from Aaron’s Party a little too quickly. As of now, Carter is on tour where he is, yes, still singing songs from that very album and residing with a relative in Florida.
And now for Amanda Bynes. In the past year, she has been charged with driving under the influence, two hit-and-runs, possession of marijuana and was finally held on involuntary psychiatric hold after starting a small fire in a stranger’s driveway. Her struggle with mental illness has unfortunately been thrown into the public eye with the help of social media. Bynes often takes to the Twitter world to discuss the microchips in her brain, the ugliness of pretty much everybody in the world and most recently, her father’s abusive tendencies.
Perhaps it’s the limelight that makes them crazy or maybe it’s the money. Perhaps they never had a choice, but were forced into stardom by their parents. Either way, these child stars ended up being people that their smiling, joke-cracking, pop-song-singing characters would not have dreamed of becoming… but as Jodie Sweetin says in her memoir unSweetined, “Life is not like a Full House episode.”
Katie Orr is a freshman exploratory major who avoided the limelight long enough to stay out of jail. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.