Child Stars Who Completely Disappeared

Being famous has never been more accessible. In the past, there were just a few vectors to fame — politics, entertainment, or the arts. But social media has opened up all-new ways of becoming famous and all-new levels of fame. We live in a world where someone can be a superstar on Youtube and essentially unknown outside of that platform. But being famous remains a low-key goal for a lot of people, and it's easy to see why. Fame generally translates to money, luxury, and power. Who wouldn't want some of that?

This is why we're fascinated by child stars. The kids who become famous at a very young age skip a lot of the drudgery most people go through to become famous. It's like winning the lottery — where other actors can struggle for years or even decades before landing a big role, these kids seemingly just get plucked out of the crowd. Fame has its dark side, though, and child stars are children who maybe haven't had a chance to figure themselves out before being thrust into the spotlight. Sometimes it's too much for a kid to handle, and sometimes it's just not what they want. Here are the child stars who completely disappeared.

Ariana Richards: a true calling

You'll remember Ariana Richards primarily from "Jurassic Park," where she played Lex, the perpetually terrified girl who gets dinosaur snot sneezed all over her. But as noted by Amblin, Richards was already an experienced actor by the time she took the role at the age of 13. A single modeling job led to her first role in 1987's "The Golden Girls" when she was 8 years old, and by the time she appeared in one of the most successful films of all time, she'd logged 17 other acting credits.

After "Jurassic Park," Richards took only a handful of roles and stopped acting altogether for 12 years after 2001's "Tremors 3: Back to Perfection" (reprising her role in the first "Tremors" film back in 1990). From here, she began to focus more on her passion for art. According to Showbiz CheatSheet, she enrolled in Skidmore College and earned a B.S. in Drama and Art before going to study at the Art Center College of Design. Today, she has her own gallery in Portland and a thriving career as an artist.

Richards says she'd be happy to take on acting roles if the opportunity arises. In 2013, she not only got married, but she also appeared in a SyFy movie, Battledogs, which is about a werewolf virus that threatens the world (yes, Ariana got to transform into a werewolf). And she told People that she would absolutely act again if the right script came along.

Brian Bonsall: dark times and a music career

As reported by Heavy, Brian Bonsall was cast as the youngest member of the Keaton family on the classic sitcom "Family Ties." Bonsall was a star at age 5 and acting in films by the time he was 14. But then he retired. According to Our Biography, Bonsall's parents had concerns about the effect his acting career was having on him. He moved with his family to Colorado, enrolled in high school like any other kid, and started a punk rock band called The Late Bloomers, which released one album in 1999. Bonsall has remained active in the music scene ever since, working with a number of bands, including Thruster, Lowjob, and his current outfit, Sunset Silhouette.

Still, Bonsall had some growing pains. According to The Denver Post, he was arrested multiple times for assault. The New York Daily News reports that he was released on probation in 2007 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service. In 2009, the Colorado Daily reports that Bonsall skipped a court hearing and was briefly a fugitive from the law. And in 2010, he was sentenced to two years probation for violating his parole.

The good news is that Bonsall got sober after his 2010 sentencing, got married in 2018, and had a baby in 2019. You can check him out on Cameo to get a glimpse of what his life is like these days.

Michael Oliver: a mismanaged career

Sometimes the end of a child star's career is a mystery. With Michael Oliver, best known for starring in "Problem Child" and "Problem Child 2" alongside the late, great John Ritter, there's no mystery: his mother ruined things. According to Eighties Kids, Oliver got his start as a child model, which led to his being cast in "Problem Child." The film was a hit, so they naturally made a sequel, which also did pretty well. But after the film was released, Universal Picture sued Oliver's mother Dianne Ponce (who acted as his manager). The studio claimed that Ponce had blackmailed the studio, threatening to pull Michael from the sequel unless they increased his contractually agreed-upon salary from $80,000 to $500,000.

Universal won the suit, and Ponce was forced to repay the extra money. According to TooFab, the ruling ruined the family financially. Tellingly, Oliver's acting career ended right around the same time. He only had a handful of roles after 1991, and the last three films listed on his IMDB page were uncredited. Still, Oliver claims it was a "mutual breakup."

According to, Oliver spent some time working as a roadie for bands like The Samples, and Refinery29 reports that he now works in the "tech industry."

Ross Bagley: Little Nicky all grown up

Some actors work for years to get that first big role, but Ross Bagley landed two incredible parts in the same year when he was just 6 years old. First, Bagley was cast as Buckwheat in the 1994 version of "The Little Rascals." Then, most famously, he was cast as Nicky on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," performing with Will Smith. Not long after that, he teamed up with Smith again, playing Dylan in "Independence Day" — not a bad run for an 8-year-old kid!

After that, Bagley's career slowed way down. After a handful of small TV and film roles, US Weekly reports that he attended college at California State University, Northridge. He later took an internship at Smith's production company, Overlook Entertainment. For a while, he was a professional DJ in Los Angeles, working under the stage name DJ Ro$$y B as part of LA Faders.

Bagley got married and had a son named Reese in 2015, which was also the year of his final film role. According to The Biography, Bagley enjoyed acting but didn't enjoy the consequences of fame. He hated being recognized in public and not being able to live a normal life. Having a family may have changed Bagley's priorities, too — he launched a new career in real estate after he retired from the acting game, per Distractify.

Ross Malinger: walked away from acting

If you're a fan of the 1995 romantic comedy classic "Sleepless In Seattle," you're familiar with Ross Malinger, who played Tom Hanks' adorable if manipulative son, Jonah. Malinger had already been acting for a few years when he landed the role when he was just 8 years old. He'd appeared on TV shows like "Who's the Boss" and "Roseanne" and was even one of the adorable kids who tortured Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Kindergarten Cop," per Life & Style. And according to People, he continued to act steadily for years after "Sleepless," mostly in small TV roles, including a run on "Party of Five" and "Touched by an Angel."

But after 16 years and 35 acting credits, Malinger's last role was a guest appearance on "Without a Trace" in 2006, per IMDb. According to Showbiz CheatSheet, Malinger officially retired from acting and went to college to get a degree in business administration. He eventually got married in 2011 and divorced in 2019, which apparently inspired a bitter custody battle over the couple's dogs. According to, Malinger launched a car company called Automotive Legends in Malibu, but The Hollywood Reporter notes that it closed in 2009. Today, he works in the automotive industry and appears to have given up his former fame completely.

Peter Ostrum: one and done

For most child actors, co-starring in an iconic film like "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" would be a springboard to a solid acting career. For Peter Ostrum, playing Charlie Bucket was all he needed to know that acting was not for him — the role remains his one and only acting credit.

Ostrum didn't have a traumatic experience. According to Rare, he enjoyed his work on the film, kept up with his schoolwork via tutors, and forged a close relationship with the film's star, Gene Wilder. And he could have kept his career going if he'd wanted to — Ostrum was offered a three-film deal after the success of "Wonka," but he turned it down, per

After Ostrum's family bought a horse, he knew what he wanted to do: work with animals. He took some time off after high school to work as a horse groomer, then earned a doctorate veterinary degree from Cornell University in 1984. Ostrum has worked as a vet in upstate New York ever since, and he has no bitterness about his choice. In fact, he doesn't exactly shun the spotlight — he's always happy to talk about his experience with the film, as he did with Collider. But he's never wanted to go back to acting and is very happy and successful doing what he truly loves.

Carrie Henn: one iconic role

You might expect child actors to be a pretty exuberant bunch to audition for roles. And you'd be right. But back in the mid-1980s, 10-year old Carrie Henn was cast in one of 1986's biggest hits — "Aliens" — because she didn't smile. According to producer Gale Anne Hurd on the film's DVD commentary, "Almost all of them had done commercials, and every time they delivered a line, they would smile. And of course, this is a little girl suffering from traumatic stress."

According to Wired, Henn was living in London with her family when she got the role, and Sigourney Weaver flew over to meet with her and confirm their chemistry. Her brother Timothy was also cast in the film but was ultimately cut out (his scenes can be seen in the extended cut). Henn had a fabulous time making the film, but by the time it was released, her family had moved back to the U.S., and she lost interest in acting. Den of Geek notes that she got a degree in liberal studies and child development and has worked as an educator her whole life. Aside from appearing in the occasional "Aliens"-related documentary or special, Henn hasn't been on screen since — and neither has her brother.

Tami Stronach: protective parents pulled her out

Everyone who saw "The NeverEnding Story" remembers the Childlike Empress — the supernaturally beautiful monarch of Fantastica. Although only on screen for a few minutes, the role was made memorable by 11-year-old Tami Stronach.

Vice reports that Stronach was born in Iran in 1972. After the 1979 revolution, her family left the country, eventually making their way to California. Stronach took musical theater classes and showed up to her audition for "The NeverEnding Story" in full Piglet makeup, completely unaware of how things usually worked. The role led to a music deal that saw Stronach recording and releasing an album literally in days.

But after the film came out, Stronach's parents became alarmed at the attention she received, especially from older men. In one instance, a man ran up to her at a convention and gave her a wedding ring — when she was 12 years old. Stronach's parents didn't push her to keep acting, and she chose to pursue dance instead, founding her own dance company, Tami Stronach Dance.

Interestingly, it appears that Stronach's self-exile from acting is over. According to Entertainment Weekly, she's starring in a new film called "Man and Witch" written by her husband and co-starring Sean Astin, Michael Emerson, Christopher Lloyd, and Rhea Perlman.

Jake Lloyd: a troubled young man

In the 1990s, a cute young kid got the role of a lifetime playing young Anakin Skywalker — aka Darth Vader — in "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace." As reported by Giant Freakin Robot, Jake Lloyd already had quite the resume under his belt, having appeared in TV shows like "E/R" and "The Pretender" as well as movies like "Apollo 11" and "Jingle All the Way." But it's impossible to overstate the hype that surrounded the new "Star Wars" when it was released in 1999. And as noted by Showbiz CheatSheet, that huge hype also meant the film's poor reception was hard on the 8-year old. He was bullied relentlessly, and according to Movieweb, he retired from acting just a few years later.

Lloyd fell off everyone's radar until 2015 when he was arrested for reckless driving. According to the New York Daily News, Lloyd was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia shortly afterward. Yahoo reports that his mother released a statement in 2020 noting that he had been in treatment for his condition since 2016 and was back living at home with his family and making "progress." His mother also revealed that his behavior had been troubling as far back as when he was 19.

Danny Lloyd: got bored with acting

If you're going to have basically one acting role in your life, it might as well be iconic. Everyone who's seen Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror classic "The Shining" knows Danny Lloyd and his stellar performance as the psychic kid Danny Torrance. But aside from one other minor role and a cameo in the sequel to "The Shining" — 2019's "Doctor Sleep" — he never acted again.

According to The Guardian, Danny Lloyd was just 4 years old when his father responded to an ad placed by Kubrick looking for a young boy to appear in the film. He got the role on his fifth birthday, and the whole family moved to London for a year to film the movie. And unlike some of the previous stories, Lloyd had a great experience. In fact, his one sour memory is that he was promised the tricycle he famously rode in the film, but it was never given to him.

The Things reports that Lloyd went out on a few more auditions but grew bored with the grind of trying to find acting work. He quietly retired from the industry and grew up to be a biology professor at a Kentucky Community College, married with four kids — and exactly zero regrets about walking away from Hollywood.

Angus T. Jones: found religion

At one point, Angus T. Jones was one of the most famous child actors in the world. After a handful of small roles, he was cast at the age of 9 as Jake Harper on "Two and a Half Men," and by the age of 17, he was making $300,000 an episode, People reports.

As reported by Fox News, Jones repudiated the show in 2012. He found it at odds with his growing religious faith and referred to the series as "filth." But The Hollywood Reporter notes that he quickly issued a statement of apology in which he acknowledged the harm he'd done to hard-working people both in front of and behind the camera. He remained with the show until the end of Season 10 in 2013 and a short appearance in the series finale in 2015. After "Two and a Half Men" went off the air, Jones went to college in Colorado — although he did one last acting job on the web series "Horace and Pete."

Jones worked as president of entertainment at Tonite — an events business created by Justin Combs (Diddy's son) — and continues to explore his faith. He says he's open to acting again but hasn't made any moves in that direction yet.

Josh Saviano: lawyered up

With the classic 1980s dramedy "The Wonder Years" being rebooted, there's been a renewed wave of interest in the original's cast, leading to the question: Whatever happened to the kid with the thick glasses who played Paul Pfeiffer? A glance at Josh Saviano's IMDB page shows that after "The Wonder Years" went off the air in 1993, he didn't do anything else until a seemingly random string of episodes on "Law & Order: SVU" between 2014 and 2016. As noted by Yahoo!, Saviano's absence from the screen led to a crazy rumor that he'd changed his name and returned to the entertainment world as shock-rocker Marilyn Manson.

The truth is much less interesting. Saviano went to college — Yale, to be precise — and then got his J.D. from Yeshiva University. Eventually, he became a partner in a law firm before founding Spotlight Advisory Group, which helps artists and celebrities with their branding initiatives. According to BestLife, Saviano has no bad memories of his acting career and no regrets about leaving it (mostly) behind. He stays in touch with his co-stars from the series, and as his stint on "Law & Order" shows, he's not averse to a little acting if it fits his schedule.