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Child Stars Of The ’70s: What Happened To Them After Fame?

Sara Norris
(Photo Credit: Bobby Bank/WireImage)

To anyone who grew up in the ’70s, there is still something magical about revisiting all of the amazing television shows, movies, and songs of the era.

Here are some of our favorite child stars of the 1970s, pictured back then and in more recent years.

Helen Hunt

(Photo Credit: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images & Rich Fury/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images & Rich Fury/Getty Images)

You could say that Helen Hunt was born to act, since her father was the esteemed acting coach and director Gordon Hunt. Helen got her start at the age of eight, appearing in some big-name 1970s shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bionic Woman, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Facts of Life.

She found new fame in the 1990s sitcom Mad About You, and from there, her acting career really took off. Her work in films such Twister, As Good as It Gets, Cast Away, What Women Want, and Pay It Forward, and TV shows including House of Lies, This Is Us, Feud: Bette and Joan, earned her an Academy Award and four Emmys. She’s just the second actress to win a Golden Globe, Emmy, and Oscar in the same calendar year.

Today, Hunt continues to act and direct. She has a daughter, Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan, with her former partner writer-producer Matthew Carnahan.

Mason Reese

(Photo Credit: Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images & Adam Gray / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images & Adam Gray / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Former child actor Mason Reese is best known for his prolific work in television commercials. His adorably unique face made him a sought-after spokesmodel for brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, Post Raisin Bran, and Underwood Deviled Ham. In fact, he appeared in more than 75 TV commercials including several Clio award winners.

His fame led to many appearances on popular talk and variety shows such as The Mike Douglas Show, which he even hosted a few times. After retiring from acting he continued to appear as a guest on talk and radio shows. He also tried his hand at the restaurant business, purchasing a number of eateries in Manhattan that are, unfortunately, no longer open.

Most recently, Reese was featured on a few different reality television shows. He lives in New York with his girlfriend, the model and adult actress Sarah Russi. They’re quite public with personal details about their relationship and went on a 2019 episode of the reality series Love Don’t Judge to defend their age difference (Reese is 28 years older than Russi).

Maureen McCormick

(Photo Credit: ABC & MovieStillsDB & Jerod Harris/FilmMagic)

(Photo Credit: ABC & MovieStillsDB & Jerod Harris/FilmMagic)

She’ll always be “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” to many fans, but Maureen McCormick has had a long career after The Brady Bunch (1969 to 1974). Prior to landing the role as the oldest Brady sister, she’d appeared in commercials and show such as My Three Sons, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie.

Despite experiencing personal problems following the end of The Brady Bunch, McCormick continued to make guest appearances in a wide variety of shows. Most recently, she’s been on reality programs including winning the fifth season of Celebrity Fit Club.

McCormick has been open about her struggles and wrote a tell-all book about her time as a teen idol, titled Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. It stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for several weeks after debuting at number four. In 2021, she signed on to an HGTV home remodeling show called Frozen in Time.

David Cassidy

(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images & Bobby Bank/WireImage)

(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images & Bobby Bank/WireImage)

David Cassidy was one of the biggest teen idols of the 1970s after shooting to stardom as Keith Partridge in the musical sitcom The Partridge Family. He found this level of fame to be suffocating, however, and posed nude on a Rolling Stone cover in an effort to shake his clean-cut image.

His singing talents allowed Cassidy to pursue a career as a solo pop musician, with his first single “Cherish” hitting #9 on U.S. charts and #2 in the United Kingdom. From there, he began touring the world and had a successful solo career.

Over his five-decade career, Cassidy’s record sales topped 30 million worldwide. At one point, his fan club membership was bigger than that of Elvis and the Beatles — combined!

Sadly, his later years were marked by a series of alcohol-related incidents including several DUI charges. He passed away on November 21, 2017, from liver failure. His daughter Katie later revealed his heartbreaking final sentiments. “My father’s last words were ‘so much wasted time,'” she shared to Twitter. “This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love as to never waste another minute….thank you.”

Erin Murphy

(Photo Credit: ABC & MovieStillsDB & Jason LaVeris / Contributor)

(Photo Credit: ABC & MovieStillsDB & Jason LaVeris / Contributor)

Former child star Erin Murphy starred as Tabitha Stephens in the ever-popular series Bewitched, which ran from 1964-1972. For 18 early episodes, Erin and her fraternal twin sister, Diana, shared the role (similar to the Olsen twins in Full House). However, the girls didn’t resemble each other as much as they aged, so Erin took over as the actress in the family.

After Bewitched, Murphy made appearances in television shows and commercials. She had a “normal” high school experience, even becoming a cheerleader and homecoming queen. But in more recent years she returned to showbiz, hosting TV shows and making appearances on various reality series.

In her spare time, Erin Murphy is a writer, a motivational speaker, and a volunteer and fundraiser for charities that are near and dear to her heart. In an interview with Closer Weekly, she explained, “I’ve always volunteered. I have a strong belief that you need to give back.”

Scott Baio

(Photo Credit: Robin Platzer/Images/Getty Images & David Livingston/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Robin Platzer/Images/Getty Images & David Livingston/Getty Images)

Older fans might best remember Scott Baio from his early role as Chachi Arcola from Happy Days as well as the show’s spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi. He further cemented his status as a teen idol in the 1980s sitcom Charles in Charge.

Baio’s big-screen debut was in the 1976 film Bugsy Malone, and he returned to movies in later years with roles in Very Mean Men, Italian Ties, Dumb Luck, and Cursed. He continues to appear in television shows, in recurring roles as well as guest appearances in reality programming. You can also find him behind the camera directing movies and TV shows.

He met his wife Renée Sloan at the Playboy Mansion in the ’90s and the two later founded the Bailey Baio Angel Foundation in honor of their daughter who has a metabolic disorder and a meningioma brain tumor.

Gary Coleman

(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images & Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

(Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images & Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

The adorable former child actor Gary Coleman became a household name for his role as Arnold Jackson in the television show Diff’rent Strokes. He received a variety of awards for playing Arnold and was also included on VH1’s “100 Greatest Kid Stars” list.

After Diff’rent Strokes, he went on to voice acting for two animated series, The Gary Coleman Show and Waynehead. He appeared in films and even video games as well.

Sadly, although he made a ton of money for his work on Diff’rent Strokes, his parents had mishandled the funds. Later, Gary sued them and won more than a million dollars. A decade later, he declared bankruptcy, and then, tragically, he passed away from an epidural hematoma on May 28, 2010. He was just 42 years old.

Kim Richards

(Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images & Bruce Gifford/FilmMagic)

(Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images & Bruce Gifford/FilmMagic)

Kim Richards was just a baby when she started her showbiz career, appearing in a diaper ad when she was four months old. She made her television series debut in the show Nanny and the Professor but it was her role in Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and its sequel Return from Witch Mountain (1978) that brought her real fame.

In addition to the Witch Mountain films, Richards was in a variety of different television shows throughout the 1970s. She had parts in Little House on the Prairie, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Diff’rent Strokes, Magnum, P.I., and many others.

These days you can find Kim Richards in the reality TV series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She’s had some struggles with alcohol abuse in recent years but has been to rehab four times as of 2019.

Mindy Cohn

(Photo Credit: NBC & MovieStillsDB & Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: NBC & MovieStillsDB & Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

The former child actress Mindy Cohn is best known for playing Natalie Green on the 1970s sitcom The Facts of Life. In fact, Cohn was discovered by the show’s producers and actress Charlotte Rae while she was at her high school one day! She played Green from 1979 to 1988 and in some later made-for-television comedy films based on the show.

Post-Facts, Cohn found that she had a hard time finding substantial roles at first. She later turned to voice acting, with parts in shows such as The Kids from Room 402, What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, and Dexter’s Laboratory.

More from us: Saturday Night Live in the 70s – Classic Sketch Photos of the Early Years

Cohn is just as smart and civic-minded as she is talented. She has a degree in cultural anthropology from Loyola Marymount University. She’s also a prominent supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and is a founding member of the cancer survivor support group weSpark.