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Soleil Moon Frye
After picking up early gigs in TV movies, Soleil Moon Frye became a bona fide star at the age of 7, when she nabbed the lead role in Punky Brewster. Frye played the title character from 1984 to 1988 and continued to spend her childhood acting with cameos in TV shows like The Wonder Years and Saved by the Bell. Decades later, Frye still occasionally acts, lending her voice to animated series like Planet Sheen and Robot Chicken through 2014. Now the mother to three children with a fourth on the way, Frye also co-founded Moonfrye, a kids crafts company.
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In 1985, a young Sean Astin made his big-screen debut as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies. Then an unknown 14-year-old actor with just TV movie credits to his name, Astin led the film that would later become a cult classic. He kept busy with film projects throughout the '80s and '90s and earned acclaim for his turn as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings series. In recent years, Astin has filled his resume with voice work, lending his vocals to TV shows such as Sofia the First, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Bunnicula.
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While she picked up early roles in The Dean Martin Show and Gunsmoke, Melissa Gilbert is best known for her 1978 debut as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She appeared on the original series for nine years, also reprising the role for TV movies. Gilbert is still acting decades later — recently appearing as Lisa Daly on Secrets and Lies — but has shifted her focus as of late. The former child star announced in August 2015 that she was running for U.S. Congress in Michigan's 8th Congressional District in the 2016 election.
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Corey Feldman started acting when he was a child, appearing in commercials and making TV cameos. He got his big break in 1979 however, when, at the age of 8, he debuted as Regi Tower in The Bad News Bears. Feldman filled his resume with TV and film roles throughout the '80s and '90s, and branched out with an attempt at a music career. In recent years, Feldman released a book, Coreyography: A Memoir, which followed his friendship with the late Corey Haim, Feldman's public struggle with substance abuse, and his life growing up in the spotlight. He still acts, lending his voice to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as Slash and appearing in indie movies.
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Following appearances in two episodes of The Twilight Zone, Danica McKellar snagged her second onscreen gig as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years. The child star played Winnie for five years, going on to spend her late childhood and teens in front of the camera. McKellar, whose recent credits include voice work on Transformers: Rescue Bots and Phineas and Ferb, earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from UCLA in the late '90s and authored four books on math in recent years, including 2009's Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, and 2012's Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.
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Tracey Gold started appearing on the small screen when she was just 7 years old. At the age of 16, she became a star with her role of Carol Seaver on Growing Pains. She starred on the sitcom for seven years and continued her TV work throughout the '90s and 2000s. Gold wrote about her experience as a child star, as well as her well-publicized battle with an eating disorder, in the 2003 book, Room to Grow: An Appetite for Life, and has made recent appearances in TV movies.
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Before he was a teenager, Emmanuel Lewis was starring as the title character on Webster. The then-child star appeared as Webster Long from 1983 to 1989, and picked up a few sporadic TV shows gigs in the '90s, before making a cameo as himself in the 2007 movie, Kickin' It Old Skool. He ventured into music in recent years, recording his own songs and working on an entertainment company.
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Joey Lawrence picked up his first starring role as a child, playing Joey Donovan on NBC's Gimme a Break! from 1983 to 1987. He then picked up a gig as another Joey, playing Joey Russo on Blossom — complete with "Whoa!" catchphrase — from 1990 to 1995. The actor continued to appear on TV for the next decade and recently played another character who bears his first name: Lawrence starred with Melissa Joan Hart on the ABC Family series Melissa & Joey from 2010 to 2015.
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Viewers first met Ricky Schroder in 1979, when the then-child star appeared alongside Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway in The Champ. After a handful of other big-screen turns, Schroder hit the small screen as Ricky Stratton on Silver Spoons. He grew up in front of the camera, spending five years on the sitcom from 1982 to 1987. He filled his filmography over the next two decades, playing Dr. Dylan West on Strong Medicine and Mike Doyle on 24. He made a cameo as himself in 2010's Get Him to the Greek and stepped behind the camera with directing and production company work.
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Thanks to early roles in The Princess Bride, Little Monsters, and The Wonder Years, Fred Savage rose to fame at an early age. The older brother to Ben Savage played Kevin Arnold from 1988 to 1993, transitioning soon after to NBC's Working, which filled his time from 1997 to 1999. Following various 2000s projects, Savage returned to TV with a starring role in The Grinder, appearing opposite Rob Lowe in the Fox series.
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Gaining experience through TV movies and small-screen cameo gigs, Kirk Cameron became a household name thanks to his turn as Mike Seaver on Growing Pains from 1985 to 1992. The child star then got his own spin-off with the short-lived Kirk and soon turned his focus to religious work. The star, who is an evangelical born-again Christian, largely restricts his on-screen work to projects that align with his faith, such as 2008's Fireproof and 2014's Saving Christmas.
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When he was 10 years old, Gary Coleman made his debut as Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes. The young star spent eight years on the show, also making cameos on The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, and Silver Spoons. He continued to act throughout the '90s and 2000s, and ran for governor of California in 2003. Coleman died in May 2010 at the age of 42.
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As a teenager, Lisa Bonet starred playing Denise Huxtable, debuting the character on The Cosby Show in 1984 and later bringing Denise to A Different World in 1987. She transitioned to the movies soon after, making sporadic appearances throughout the '90s and early 2000s. She married Lenny Kravitz in 1987, welcoming three children with her now-ex husband, including Zoe Kravitz, who has become a star in her own right.
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Jenny Lewis started acting at a young age, appearing in commercials and TV movies, and making her television debut in a 1985 episode of The Twilight Zone. She acted throughout the late '80s and early '90s, with projects including episodes of The Golden Girls, Growing Pains, and Roseanne, and the 1989 movie Troop Beverly Hills. Lewis successfully pivoted to music in the late '90s as a part of Rilo Kiley and continues to lead a successful solo career, seeing critical acclaim with her 2014 album, The Voyager.
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Lukas Haas spent his childhood in front of the camera, making big-screen turns in 1983's Testament and 1985's Witness, in addition to other TV and film projects. He filled his filmography with dozens of roles in the '90s and 2000s and, in recent years, was featured as a part of critically acclaimed films. Haas appeared alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy in 2010's Inception, and reunited with DiCaprio for the 2015 release of The Revenant.