Which actors had a hard life?

Becoming an actor is hard. As expected, becoming an famous actor is harder. Of course, some have a priviliged life and resources to become one. Despite of thier shiny life, actors had a hard life.

1. Jack Gleeson

Before landing his breakthrough role in Game of Thrones in 2011, Jack had already begun his acting career at the age of 8. Just to name a few, he was in Reign of Fire (2002), Batman Begins (2005), Shrooms (2007) etc.

Jack’s performance in Game of Thrones as the sadistic King Joffrey was so stellar and convincing that he had the audience hating his character, big time. A simple search on Youtube could give you a few compilations of his sassy uncle Tyrion slapping the boy-king, which to be honest, was satisfying to watch because of just how horrible Joffrey was.

Remember that scene in The Purple Wedding? All of us cheered when Joffrey was finally poisoned at his own wedding! After all that he did to the Starks, it was only fitting he got his end. He was the absolute worst of the Lannisters.

According to Jack, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the tyrant king in Gladiator had been his source of inspiration. At this point, many of us thought despite all the hate mail and possibly death threats from die-hard GOT fans, Jack was poised for major success in Hollywood.

As the GOT series continued on and its other actors – Emilia Clarke, Richard Madden, Sophie Turner etc started to reap the fruits of their labour, Jack Gleeson disappeared. He would ignore his agent’s advice to capitalise on the show’s momentum and go around giving interviews. He simply shut himself at home, thinking.

When he finally gave an interview to The Independent in 2013, he said he was done with acting. Not because he didn’t like acting, but he did not like the craziness that comes in the package. He avoided watching his own portrayal of Joffrey, because it would send shivers down his spine.

He later decided to go to Trinity College to read philosophy and theology. Instead of TV and films, Jack is now more involved in theatre.

A good choice for someone who doesn’t enjoy the limelight. Maybe it isn’t so sad for him to have figured this out fairly early in his life.

2. Dana Plato is a strong contender.

She started out in television commercials at age 7, and at 13, landed the role of Kimberly Drummond on the hugely popular sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes”. She started using drugs around the same time, nearly dying from an overdose of Valium at 14.

In 1984, when she was 19, she became pregnant and married her boyfriend, Lanny Lambert. Due to her pregnancy, she was written out of “Diff’rent Strokes” — according to the producers, her pregnancy was considered incompatible with the show’s wholesome image, although she was brought back for a few guest appearances.

Following her departure from “Diff’rent Strokes”, Plato tried to continue as a serious actress, but like many young stars, her past was difficult to escape, and few reputable productions showed interest in hiring her. She turned instead to B-movies, and also posed nude for Playboy.

She and Lambert separated in 1988; her mother died the same week. Reeling, she signed over power of attorney to an accountant … who soon absconded with most of her money. Then, in her divorce, she lost custody of her son Tyler to Lambert.

She moved to Las Vegas, where she struggled with poverty, and in 1991, made headlines when she robbed a liquor store with a pellet gun, for which she received 5 years probation. (The store clerk told the dispatcher in his 911 call, “I’ve just been robbed by the girl who played Kimberly on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’”.)

A year later, she was arrested again, for forging a prescription for Valium. This time she served 30 days for violating her probation, and was ordered to enter rehab.

Over the next few years, Plato’s only acting work was in softcore porn. By 1999, she was engaged to her manager, Robert Menchaca, and living in Florida.

On May 8, 1999, while visiting Menchaca’s mother in Oklahoma, Plato, not feeling well, went to lie down for a nap in her motor home.

She never woke up.

EDITED per comment: The day before, she had appeared via phone on “The Howard Stern Show”, and insisted that she had been clean and sober for years, while callers belittled her.

The postmortem toxicology report confirmed that she had died of an overdose of the drugs Soma and Lortab. She was 34 years old. (Her son Tyler would take his own life at age 24, just two days prior to the 10th anniversary of his mother’s death.)

I don’t want to post her mugshot or some “before and after” thing. She suffered enough in life. So here she is as Kimberly on “Diff’rent Strokes”:

3. Frances Ethel Gumm, better known by the stage name of Judy Garland.

She began her show business career at the age of two and a half years old, performing onstage with her older sisters.

By the time she was 13, she had signed her first movie contract.

By the time she was 20, she was an iconic actress who had starred in several films and received an Academy Award.

Judy Garland is one of the best known film stars of all time due in part to her starring in such films as The Wizard of Oz and A Star is Born.

She was also a Grammy award winning singer.

Yet despite her success, her life was marred by tragedy, abuse, drug addiction, severe depression, and several failed marriages.

It all started with Judy’s mother.

Ethel Gumm was a vaudeville performer who pushed her three daughters into show business and found Frances to be the most talented.

Thus, Garland began to perform across the United States with her mother, who would introduce her to sleeping pills when she was 9.

Garland would eventually call her mother “the real Wicked Witch of the West”, and claim that she was jealous of her talent.

At the age of 13, she was signed to MGM studios after an audition with the film studio’s co-founder, Louis B. Mayer.

He was so impressed that he signed her on the spot.

However, she soon found herself living a nightmare.

In 1936, at the age of 14, she appeared in her first film, Pigskin Parade.

After viewing her on screen, Mayer reportedly became concerned about Garland’s weight, calling her a “fat little pig with pigtails.”

This resulted in the studio restricting her food intake and forcing her to consume only chicken soup, black coffee, and cigarettes, along with pills to reduce her appetite.

She would have body image problems for the rest of her life.

Garland later became an overnight sensation by starring in several movies with fellow child star Mickey Rooney.

They were treated poorly by the studio, and forced to work 18 hour days 6 days a week, and subsist on a restricted diet that was supplemented by sleeping pills and amphetamines.

They had us working days and nights on end. They’d give us pills to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us out with sleeping pills­, said Garland, who would also later go on to state that taking pills was “a way of life” for them.

In 1939, Garland became an icon, starring as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Her cute wholesome appearance, coupled with her sweet rendition of Over the Rainbow, led audiences to be smitten by her from the moment she appeared.

To ensure that Dorothy’s young appearance wouldn’t be questioned by the audience, the studio strapped her breasts down and forced her to wear corsets to ensure a slender appearance.

The fact that Garland pulled off such a wonderful performance despite this, and while on top of a steady diet of drugs and very little food, is a testament to the talent and hard work that she put into the role.

Around the same time she was filming Oz, Garland was not only addicted to barbiturates and amphetamines, but also subjected to constant sexual harassment.

MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer for instance, would often compliment her singing by placing his hand on her left breast under the guise of touching her heart, later engaging her in an affair that would last for several years.

Another executive once summoned Judy into his office, demanding that she too, have sex with him, threatening to ruin her when she refused.

Although she worked steadily into adulthood, Garland would never achieve the heights that she did as a teenager.

Her difficult childhood, along with her dependency on drugs, led her to lead an unstable adult life, marked by mood swings and depression.

She also had such an unhealthy self image that it was not possible for her to work without taking stimulants and diet pills.

Garland married for the first time when she was 19.

The next year she became pregnant, and was forced to have an abortion by her husband, mother, and the studio. This led to their divorce.

Later, Garland married her second husband, director Vincente Minnelli. They also had a short lived marriage that ended partially due to her mood swings, which were not helped by Minelli’s attraction to other men.

However, this marriage produced a daughter named Liza, who would go on to become a famous actress and singer herself.

It was also around this time when Garland began to experience severe bouts of depression. After being fired from MGM for her erratic behavior, she twice attempted to commit suicide.

At around this time, news reporters started to compare her life to a tragedy, which she vehemently denied.

Her next two marriages ended due in part to the physical abuse she received from her husbands.

By the mid 1960’s Garland’s money and fame started dwindling.

According to her daughter, she was forced to sing at bars for $100 per night to support herself, and accepted financial support from her daughter, Liza Minnelli.

Then in 1969, she was found sitting on her toilet, having died from an accidental overdose of barbiturates, at the age of 47.

She had just gotten married to her fifth and final husband just a few months before, having claimed to have been happier than she had been in a long time.

Thus ended, the tragedy of Judy Garland, who until the very end, insisted that her life was not tragic.

4. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore became a star at the age of 7 when she starred in the 1982, Steven Spielberg classic – “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”.

She developed a drinking problem at the age of 11, was a drug addict by the time she was 12, she attempted suicide at 13 by cutting her wrists, and at 14 she legally divorced from her parents — emancipation of a minor (also called “divorce from parents”) refers to a court process through which a minor can become legally recognized as an independent adult, in family law cases.

Owing to her problems with substance abuse, she was unemployable as an actor at 15 and cleaning toilets at 16. She was twice married and twice divorced by her mid-20s.

“It really is a recipe for disaster,” she said of becoming famous so young in an interview with Today show.

“It’s sad that there’s this weird alchemy about kids doing this line of work that f—- all of them up, and I’m no different.”

Thankfully for her, she overcame her childhood addiction and survived.

5. Judith Barisi

After being discovered by a TV commercial crew at an Ice-Skating Rink in San Francisco, California, Judith Barisi got her start acting in over 70 television commercials starting when she was only 5-years old. Judith was also trained by her mother Maria Barisi how to be an actress.

However, When she started acting in TV Shows and Movies, her father Jozsef Barisi became jealous of his daughter and abused her so bad that a Child Psychologist (who was hired to work on film sets) diagnosed a then-10-year old Judith as being a Victim of Severe Child Abuse and reported the case to Child Protective Services.

Intending to divorce Jozsef, Judith’s mother Maria had the CPS case dropped. Unfortunately, both Judith and Maria would be murdered by Jozsef on July 27, 1988.

6. Jonathan Brandis

Jonathan Brandis was a prolific Child Actor who first performed in a TV commercial at just 4 years old and landed a role on the soap opera “One Life to Live” when he was 6. His most famous roles include Bastian in “The Never-Ending Story 2” as well as a young computer genius named Lucas Wolenczak on the TV series “SeaQuest DSV”, when he became a famous Teen Idol.

While Jonathan was able to get a few more acting roles after “SeaQuest DSV”, his Friends noticed that not only was he drinking heavily but that he was also becoming increasingly “lonely and depressed”. Unfortunately, Jonathan eventually committed suicide in 2003 at only 27-years old.

7. Bobby Driscoll

Bobby Driscoll was one of Disney’s most popular Child Stars in the Mid-to-late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, having starred in movies such as “Song of the South”, “So Dear to My Heart” and “Treasure Island” before providing the voice of the title character in the 1953 animated film “Peter Pan”.

While Bobby won a Juvenile Oscar in 1950 for his outstanding performances in movies, he was “typecast” due to his association with Disney and wasn’t seen by other Film Producers as a serious actor.

After Bobby left Disney, he went to Westward University High School where he was a victim of severe bullying and started using drugs. In spite of moving to Television for more acting roles, his increasingly excessive drug use resulted in him being imprisoned at the California Institute for Men’s Rehab Center.

In spite of attempting a comeback with a Stage Career before eventually becoming a part of Andy Warhol’s Art Community in New York’s Greenwich Village, Bobby ended up poor and died in 1968 at just 31-years old.

8. Anissa Jones

Anissa Jones got her start eating cereal in a TV commercial when she was only 6-years old.

A few years later (starting at age 8), she became most famous for her role as an adorable orphan named Buffy Patterson-Davis on the TV series “Family Affair”. While the show itself was a success and hit #1 in TV ratings in 1969, her schedule was so grueling that she was required to film her scenes 7 days a week. Her younger brother Paul had to accompany her to the Studio / TV Set due to “logistical concerns”. When she was 13-years old, Anissa was finally able to have a normal childhood after the TV series ended in 1971 (due to a huge drop in ratings).

However, when she received a $70,000 trust fund and $800,000 in U.S. Savings Bond from her TV income, she started partying and using drugs before dying from an overdose at only 18-years old. Paul, who she moved into an apartment with after she received her money, would also suffer the same fate 8 years later.

Sources: 9 Tragic Lives Of Child Actors – Oddee

‘Three Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide:’ Judith Barsi’s Tragically Short Life

Jonathan Brandis, 27; Teen Fans Loved ‘seaQuest’ Star

Oscars flashback: The tragic life and death of former Disney star Bobby Driscoll

Bobby Driscoll: Disney’s First Fallen Child Star

The Overdose Death of Anissa Jones – Reel Reviews – Official Site

9. Brad Renfro

Brad Renfro had a rather sad life. Loved him in Apt Pupil where he played the stars from heaven opposite the legendary Sir Ian McKellen. Born in 1982, Renfro had an early start in movies. As a teenager he was already playing in movies with some big names. However in Apt Pupil, his director was none other than Bryan Singer, a now disgraced director with an unfortunate preference for young boys…

Ever since he was young, he always wanted to be an actor. His parents divorced when he was very young, and his grandmother Joanne raised him alone. She would always drive him to movie sets, help him get to auditions, help him learn his lines.

He worked hard to get to the silver screen, never expecting that, instead of glory, he would find a world of pain and suffering.

Renfro never mentioned what happened on set. And on scene with McKellen, nothing happened and by all accounts he learned a lot from the wise older co-star. But behind the scenes, alone with director Bryan Singer?

No one was safe. Other boys later came forward and said Bryan Singer raped them on set. They said Renfro was among the victims. But Renfro never said a word — he responded only in his subsequent actions.

He started abusing liquor suddenly after the shooting of Apt Pupil wrapped up. And, not long after, he began using hard drugs heavily as well. The beautiful young boy quickly transformed in a haggard looking man, wise beyond his years, a haunting look in his eyes.

The above mugshot is from when Renfro was only 18 — and he had already been in rehab multiple times by then. In 2003, at the age of 21, Renfro became a father. He had a son with his Japanese girlfriend, but would not let the boy come to Hollywood — the kid was, instead, raised in Japan. Maybe he did not want the boy exposed to the same perversions he himself had been exposed to, and ruined by?

In 2008, Brad Renfro spent several days with his son.[2] He was trying to be a good father, away from the fame, away from the abuse, away from the Sodom and Gomorra that is the movie industry.

But his demons got the best of him. And at the age of just 25, Brad Renfro died in his LA apartment of a drug overdose, shortly after his return from Japan. His grandmother Joanne, who raised him, died 17 days later, aged 76, of a broken heart.[3]

[1] Bryan Singer ‘sexually molested underage boys’, according to new claims

[2] Brad Renfro spent several days with secret son before he died – CelebsNow

[3] Brad Renfro’s grandmother, 76, dies

10. Erin Moran 

Best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on the long running ABC sitcom Happy Days. Moran grew up into a young woman and then tried to spin her Happy Days fame off into a series with co-star Scott Baio. The result was the short-lived (and terrible) Joanie Loves Chachi (see below). It was canceled after one season and both returned to Happy Days. According to Moran, she was unable to obtain acting roles and she ran through her savings and her residuals until her home foreclosed upon in 2010. She was apparently unable to tap into her Happy Days network of co-stars and she was suffering from extreme forms of mental illness. She also claimed that her co-stars molested her, but later retracted her allegations. Finally Moran and her second husband moved in with his mother in a Southern Indiana trailer park. After being evicted from the park and arrested several times, Moran finally succumbed to a combination of narcotics, alcohol and metastasized throat cancer at age 56, having never re-established her career.

11. Jonathan Brandis 

Was a teen-aged “hearthrob” for many years, culminating in his starring role in the NBC science fiction series Seaquest:DSV. Following the cancellation of the series, Brandis was never able to regain his footing. After starring in some television movies and straight to video low budget affairs, Brandis landed a role in the 2002 Bruce Willis war film Hart’s War. Unfortunately for Brandis not only wasn’t the film a hit, his role was excised from the final cut of the film. Depressed about his career and suffering from substance abuse and mental issues, Brandis hanged himself in the garage of his home. He was 27 years old.

12. Carl Switzer 

AKA Alfalfa from the 1930s film series Our Gang aka The Little Rascals in syndicationFollowing the end of the series in 1940, Switzer was typecast and couldn’t find more than bit roles and B-film work. He finally left Hollywood and became a hunting guide and a dog trainer. Switzer also became a bartender, and apparently had some issues with alcohol and drugs. After paying a reward for a client’s lost dog (or attempting to collect a drug debt) Switzer went to the client’s home demanding that he reimburse him for the dog’s reward. There was apparently a struggle and Switzer was shot. He bled to death waiting for the ambulance. He was only 31.

13. Tatum O’Neal 

Youngest performer to ever win an Academy Award (She was 9 when performance in the film Paper Moon was recognized) and the daughter of actor Ryan O’Neal. Looked to be on-track to have a career that paralleled her rival, Jodie Foster. However the cancellation of a major film project and the poor box office performance of her other roles led to her profile dropping. She married tennis champion John McEnroe, had three children, and became hooked on heroin. Divorced her husband, lost custody of her children and ended up being heroin addict for nearly a decade. While she claims to now have her “life together”, her career is essentially finished and has been for nearly 30 years.

Joanie Loves Chachi Intro:

14. Macaulay Culkin

Who we saw was a happy child. What we didn’t see is a child who is suppressing all of his family issues while performing.

We know him best as Kevin McCallister, a cute adorable fearless boy who is also feisty and possesses subtle dark humor for a child his age. We quickly fall in love with his character in the Home Alone series thanks to his cute face, the mélange of innocence and mischieviousness in him and his intellect in being able to outplay two (albeit terrible) burglurs.

Oh! And let’s not forget this iconic facial expression!


Macaulay came from a modest family which hails from New York. His father, Kit Culkin, worked in broadway theater production and his mother, Patricia Culkin, was a phone operator. They weren’t the richest family and Macaulay, along with his six other siblings and parents, all lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment.

When he was four, he started to help and earn money for his family by hitting the stage.

His father was never successful in pursuing his own acting career and so, he decided to become his children’s manager as they started to land roles in movies as professional actors.

However, this will end up becoming the catalyst of his family’s breakup. Seeing his children as becoming more successful than he was, he started to become a little jealous and with his children raking in big sums of paychecks, Kit began to be more cocky about them being paid more, which didn’t sit well with their producers.

In 1989, Macaulay will find himself landing a role in John Hughes’ Uncle Buck where he plays the role of Russel Miles, one of the nephew of Uncle Buck who is played by John Candy.

Macaulay will end up playing a magnificent role in the movie which will subsequently help him land a role in Chris Columbus’ Home Alone (1990) on the referral of John Hughes, the writer of Home Alone. Even in Uncle Buck, Macaulay already possessed the character traits of Kevin McCallister and he fit the role the best.


We all know how Home Alone went. It became a Christmas classic and three decades on, it continues to be one of the most watched Christmas movie during the Christmas season.

Macaulay earned US$100,000 for the first Home Alone and he earned a whopping US$4.5 million in Home Alone 2. Not only that, his fame had exploded by then and he even made a cameo in Michael Jackson’s Black or White music video, which is also the start of the friendship between the two.

However, as their fame increased, so did the abusive nature of his father, Kit. He didn’t want to see his children’s fame die off and so, he adopted a strict approach to his children as their manager.

One such example was Macaulay’s performance in Saturday Night Live (SNL). While other actors often played their skits with the help of cue cards, Macaulay was forbidden to use cue cards by his father and if I’m not mistaken, he was scolded and hit by his father when his performance was not up to standard.

And his father’s abusive nature continued to grow. His father would physically abuse his mother, hitting her and threatening to kill her while she was pregnant. This family fued will culminate in the divorce of both his parents. By now, Macaulay is longing for a “normal life” as his fame brought papparazzi to him.

Years later, Macaulay will find himself being a testifier to Michael Jackson’s child molestation case, testifying that he did get in bed together with Michael but was not molested in any way.

His fame caused him to suffer from agoraphobia, the fear of public spaces and large gatherings. He would often suffer from panic attacks resulting from this phobia. This will ultimately lead to him moving over to Paris where his fame is not as well-known as in the US.

In 1998, his mother accidentally sets their apartment on fire and it claimed the lives of four people. Despite not being near the apartment, people took this opportunity to nip at his wealth and started filing lawsuits against him!

Again, with fame came his enjoyment and he’d party often. This is until in 2004 when police found illegal substances in his car in Oklahoma City. He would be arrested for a short while and released on bail of US$4,000.

Today, Macaulay seems to have made a recovery from his reliance on illegal substances and he has started a new podcast called Bunny Ears. He would joke saying that it was thanks to his stint as a child actor that he can live off what he earned and live the life he wants.

Despite being successful and becoming one of the most well-known child actor out there, what he went through in life led to him living a miserable and sad post-acting career life. He turned to illegal substances to cope with the abusive nature of his father and his parents’ divorce. In fact, Chris Columbus was aware of Macaulay’s family issue and had to even intervene at times.

After casting Culkin, it taught Columbus this lesson; when you agree to work with a kid actor, you’re also agreeing to work with his or her family.

I was much younger and I was really too naive to think about the family environment as well. We didn’t know that much about the family at the beginning; as we were shooting, we learned a little more. The stories are hair-raising. I was casting a kid who truly had a troubled family life.

Chris Columbus to The Guardian

His fame came at the expense of his childhood and he was forced to be the best by his father. What we saw on the screens were just a façade. Behind scenes, he was subject to his strict and harsh father.

Knowing this story, it really forces you to think about Home Alone again. We see it as a fun festive movie but the stress that Macaulay was under is a whole different issue yet, he managed to mask it in the first movie. In the second movie, some hinted that Macaulay’s character changed, some linking it to his family issues.

Either way, Macaulay Culkin was a good example of every thing that can go wrong for a child actor. He lost his childhood, he lost his family, he lost his privacy and he became entangled in scandals as his fame meant he held associations with many people.

15. Jack Wild

He is almost forgotten now, but Jack Wild was a big star in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was nominated for an Oscar for playing the Artful Dodger in the 1968 movie musical Oliver, the last truly large-scale movie musical Hollywood ever made. He was 16.

Jack Wild – Wikipedia

He then got the lead in Sid and Marty Kroft’s children’s TV show, H. R. Puffinstuff. He also did a feature film based on the show, and a few other movies. He was small and looked younger than his age, so he was still being offered kid roles into his 20s. Disillusioned with his career, he started drinking and became a full-blown alcoholic by 21. His alcoholism wrecked his acting career, and led to severe health problems. He finally sobered up in the 1990s, and had a few roles in theater and films before he developed oral cancer, which led to his death in 2006 at age 53.

16. River Phoenix

Words can not describe the infinite heartache behind his death.

For those who may not have heard of River Phoenix, he was a child actor in the 80’s with roles in ExplorersIndiana Jones and his breakthrough, Stand By Me.

He was a rising star, starring in incredible amount of films during his short career including My Own Private Idaho with his best friend, Keanu Reeves. He was highly recognized for his acting, but his passion was in music and humanitarian work.

He used his platform to speak about veganism, animals rights, environmentalism and activism. He truly cared about how we carried our world and ourselves. He used his celebrity status for all the right reasons.

Unfortunately, his life met a tragic end when he died from a drug overdose on Halloween night 1993 outside of the Viper Room in Hollywood, California. His brother Joaquin Phoenix, his sister/bandmate Rain Phoenix, close friend Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers were present.

Interview with a Vampire paid tribute to Phoenix since he was originally cast as the biographer. Christian Slater later filled in River’s place as Malloy. Slater donated his earnings from the film to one of River Phoenix’s charities.

Red Hot Chili Peppers wrote “Give it Away” about River Phoenix, they were close friends with River. “There’s a River, born to be a giver/ Keep you warm, won’t let you shiver/ His heart is never gonna wither.” Many other artists were inspired by Phoenix throughout the years.

A world without River Phoenix is pretty dimmed.

Too Young to Die | Netflix

River Phoenix’s Role in Interview With the Vampire

20 Years After His Death, 10 Songs Inspired By River Phoenix

Remember this movie?

Released back in 2008, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young tea-seller who meets and falls in love with a girl during his childhood only to have fate separate them. He eventually finds her again and reunites with her by winning 20 million Indian rupees on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

The Child Actors

The performances of the child actors in the film, in particular, captured the minds of the audience and catapulted the kids, who until then were living in the slums of Mumbai to international fame.

Owing to the film’s success, director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson set up a charitable trust to provide a better life for the kids. This trust provided the children with apartments to stay in under the trust, to be handed over to them after they turned 18. Twelve years later, though, two of the children are back in the slums.

17. Azharuddin Ismail

Azharuddin Ismail, who played the young version of Salim Malik in the film, lost his father to tuberculosis a few years ago, which sent him on a downward spiral. According to his mother, he stopped studying, fell in with a bad crowd and became addicted to drugs. The resulting financial troubles made him sell the apartment he was given by the trust and he moved back into a small 10×10 foot room in the slums that he had thought he had left behind

18. Rubina Ali

In a strikingly, similar story to Azharuddin’s Rubina’s father too passed away after a long and protracted battle with Tuberculosis. Although, she was able to complete a college education, earlier this year, the resulting financial fallout from her father’s demise, made her and and her mother move back to the slums of Mumbai.

In case, you are wondering, the Bangalore Mirror reported that the trust that was setup to help the kids has now closed.

Edit: A small clarification based on the comments below, Rubina does have a job – she is an aesthetician in Mumbai but that’s hardly enough to support not just herself and her mother but also 8 other members of her family (including cousins and aunts). Also, this report, is from May of this year. You guys may have noticed there has been some virus going around that has been keeping people away from beauty parlors and hair salons, which has negatively affected the income of aestheticians.

19. Bobby Driscoll

One of the original child stars of Hollywood, Bobby Driscoll. He was in several movies before he was signed by Walt Disney to star in Song of the South in 1946. He was Jim Hawkins in Disney’s first full live action movie Treasure Island. Disney wanted to make Tom Sawyer with him and he was supposed to be in Robin Hood (1952) , but Disney had forgotten to get him a work permit when making Treasure Island, so he wasn’t allowed back into Great Britian.

He was in several movies for Disney and lent out for several others. He won an Academy Award Juvenile division, for 1949. He was Peter Pan both voice and body model for Disney’s Peter Pan. He was supposed to be the lead Mouseketer in the Mickey Mouse Club… Then he got acne. Disney let him go. He found it harder and harder to get roles. He was bullied in school for having been a star. He got hooked on drugs.

He got in a series of fights. He spent time in prison. But he started as an artist. He showed remarkable talent in painting and collage works. He moved to New York. Started working with Andy Warhol. Made a Warhol movie. Then disappeared.

His mother tried to find him because his father was dying. She contacted the Disney Corporation. They found he had died on March 30, 1968. Unknown, unrecognized. Buried in an unmarked paupers grave, dead from a heart attack brought on from his previous drug use. His father died. Although his father’s tomb stone lists him as buried next to him (and later his mother) his body still lies in the grave in New York. His first movie -“Lost Angel”. His last movie, the one for Andy Warhol, “Dirt”.

20. Corey Haim

Corey Haim was the child actor of the 80s. His on screen charisma was of the sort that you don’t see often in child actors. I spent a better part of my life thinking Corey was retired and living a life of luxury in Beverly Hills. Not only was that not true, he was in fact heavily addicted to drugs and penniless.

He was so lonely he would wander around his neighborhood looking for someone to socialize with. Before you cast judgement on him you should know that there were strong allegations of him and his friend being molested and passed around by people involved in Hollywood. The following is an account of what he went through.

Actors had a hard life
Actors had a hard life

In the first episode of the second season of The Two Coreys, Haim confronted Feldman, saying he had been sexually abused at the age of 14 by one of Feldman’s acquaintances.

Declining to identify his molester, a 42-year-old man, Haim claimed that a rape situation had continued for two years with Feldman’s knowledge.

Haim later stated: “I was very, very awake and very ashamed of what was going on, how I put it, I was just … coming into Hollywood, man, just a horny little kid, like on drugs, getting fed drugs, man, by vampires.

The unexpected confession led to a further rift between Haim and Feldman, and the now unscripted show continued to expose the darker side of their lives as teen stars.

Corey was so poor in fact that his community in Toronto had to come together to pay for his funeral. Being a child of the and 80s and 90s, his death and what he went through came as a shock to me. Hollywood is snake pit full of predators whose actions society has long excused.

Thanks Sean for the question.

Here is a quote from one of the Child actors Jodie Sweetin which almost sums it up.

“Life isn’t like a Full House episode. There isn’t going to be an easy out to every conflict. There is no milkman, paperboy, or evening TV. There are good moments and bad moments and not everything will tie together nicely in the end. But that’s life, and I think I’m finally starting to get it.”

In my answer here, I have tried to write about some of the classic cases of stardom and then the plummet to Rockbottom. However, some of them have managed to make a comeback which to me is commendable.

21. Gary Coleman

Actors had a hard life

The young and adorable Arnold from “Different Strokes

“I would not give my first 15 years to my worst enemy, and I don’t even have a worst enemy,” Coleman told The Associated Press in a 2001 interview.

Coleman, remained small throughout his life from a kidney disease that stunted his growth and died estranged from his parents. He had several minor run-ins with the law, and his attempts to stay in show business often forced sad roles upon him: a stint in “The Surreal Life” and an appearance on “Divorce Court” with his wife trying to solve some of their marital problems.

In need of money, he once worked as a security guard in a Los Angeles shopping mall.

However, in Gary’s case, he could not really recover from his downfall.

Actors had a hard life

The fact which is worth mentioning is that the entire young Cast from “Different Strokes” has suffered severely. Two of the young stars, Coleman and Dana Plato, are dead. The third, Todd Bridges, went through years of drug abuse and was tried and acquitted of murder in 1988. The actor who played their dad, Conrad Bain, died at the age of 89, after he opted out of show business and lived quietly in the Los Angeles area. This alone says a lot about the type of life Hollywood actors may end up with.

22. Jodie Sweetin

The Adorable Staphanie Tanner of the Tanner family from one of my favourite series Full House.

Sweetin’s Story is a classic case of Hollywood eating you up and then spitting you out, spineless and tasteless, like a chewing gum.

Actors had a hard life

Everything was great until the end of Full House, which almost did Sweetin in. She was 13 when the TGIF staple was canceled in 1995 (despite still being a top-25 show in the ratings), and that’s a tough enough age for anybody, let alone a young actress who had been playing a role since she was 5 and was all of a sudden out of a job.

“I probably had two bottles of wine, and I was only 14,” she wrote in her 2009 memoir unSweetined, recalling the night of Candace Cameron’s wedding, when she married Valeri Bure. “That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for my whole life. But that set the pattern of the kind of drinking that I would do.”

Sweetin said she convinced her worried parents (her mother, also an addict, put her up for adoption when she was 9 months old, and she was raised by an uncle and his wife; her father was killed in a prison riot) to let her live on campus—which ultimately led to a 0.9 GPA her first semester. Having done Ecstasy in high school, cocaine became her drug of choice in college.

“Everything revolved around my addiction,” she told People in 2008 about her time using meth. “On a typical day I’d wake up and feel terrible because I hadn’t done any. You’re either trying to get it, doing it or worrying about when you’re going to get it next. You don’t even realize that it’s taken over so quickly.”

She graduated from Chapman in 2005 while basically leading a double life; also that year, a trip to the hospital after a night of too much partying prompted her to finally tell her family she had a problem and needed help.

Actors had a hard life

She revealed in unSweetined, mid-custody battle with Herpin, Sweetin had started getting high again in 2008 and at one point had two glasses of wine and drove with her baby daughter in the car. That according to her was her rockbottom. And the only way from here was Upwards.

However, the upside to this dark story is that Jodie has cleaned her mess. She went to Rehab for sometimes and came out as a winner. She has been sober since 2010. It took her 3 marriages to help her get back and learn the ways of life. With the series Fuller house back in production and her being a counsellor for addiction and drug abuse. She now has what many may call a stable life.

23. Macaulay Culkin 

The famous Home Alone star. The two Home Alone movies together earned more than 800 million. Macaulay personified a child’s dream of overnight success, glamour and everything that it brings along with it. He was around 10 years old at the time. He became the first child actor to be paid $1m, for his follow-up role in My Girl, as well as the second-youngest celebrity to host Saturday Night Live, aged 11.

However, his downfall started when his father Kit Culkin became too ambitious with him. To give you an idea, At Macaulay’s Peak time in 1993, Premiere magazine rated Kit Culkin the 48th most powerful person in Hollywood, ahead of Michael Douglas and Eddie Murphy. This only made him more greedy, more ambitious and always asking more for his child. Macaulay was everything Kit wanted to be. Kit himself was a struggling broadway actor. He was actually living his dream through his son-Macaulay.

Actors had a hard life

In a podcast, Macaulay told Marc Maron he felt his father was “jealous” of him, because “everything he tried to do in his life, I excelled at before I was 10 years old”. Whenever he and his father left to make a movie, Macaulay found himself “locked in a (hotel) room with a man who didn’t like me”, but at least it spared the rest of his family months of their father’s cruelty.

In the mid-90’s specially after the failure of the movie- Richie Rich. Kit was considered a poison, and was sidelined. That’s where things started falling apart. His mother got his custody and he said goodbye to Hollywood.

Macaulay described how he walked away from acting after a series of box office failures. He told his parents: “I’m done, guys – hope you all made your money, because there is no more coming from me.”

A few years later, already looking gaunt and hollow-eyed, he would plead guilty to misdemeanour drug charges, but he has since angrily dismissed the rumour that he was doing $6,000 worth of heroin a month.

In a letter to his father, published in his memoir, Junior, Macaulay wrote- “Dear Father… It didn’t have to be like this, We could have stayed poor… You showed me what it was like to be afraid… You hurt people a lot, you know. I am not just talking about your family and the other important people around you; you hurt our name. I should know. Did you know I had to apologise on your behalf way too many times? You made a lot of people cry. You made my mother cry.”

It took one failed marriage which he got into at age of 17 and one long relationship with Mila Kunis to bounce back. However, the upside to all of this is that he did bounce back. Not as big as he was, but still.

Reading about these actors and various others like Lindsay Lohan, Shia Labeouf and many others, only makes me thank the life that I have. Not every one is cut-out to handle the pressure of the glittering lights. As they say the brighter the light, the darker the shadow beneath it. When life hits hard at you and you don’t have your friends and family by your side, it makes it very hard for you to win.

Why it was not a wonderful life for Macaulay Culkin after he found fame in the hit Christmas film Home Alone – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

The Complete Dramatic History of Jodie

Troubled lives for ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ stars

24. Edward Furlong

He landed the breakthrough role of John Connor in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day opposite stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamiltonplaying a character whose name had already been made famous 7 years ago in The Terminator. That he managed to nab a role in a James Cameron film was good enough in itself. The movie went on to become an international phenomenon that should have propelled Furlong into super-stardom from an early age.

Actors had a hard life

And yet, that wasn’t meant to be. Despite starring in a few films thereafter, his career went on a decline as he found himself battling substance abuse. He entered into a relationship at the age of 15 with his tutor who was 28 at the time, landing him into trouble. Post this phase of his life, he became a heroin and cocaine addict and checked in for rehab around 2000. And even after getting out of that phase and marrying, he ended up with domestic abuse allegations and was arrested for misdemeanor and assaulting his girlfriend.

Actors had a hard life

He was eventually released in 2013 but not before agreeing to a five-year probation that involved going to rehab once again for drug addiction for three months and attending domestic abuse counselling for a year straight.

So yeah, Furlong could’ve gone on to become a star and a sensation after an early discovery like Natalie Portman but a string of bad choices landed him on a sad path after his acting debut.


There’s still some hope as fans have been campaigning for Edward Furlong to be cast in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate. Whether or not he actually has a role is being kept under wraps but if he does, it could be the start of a new innings for him.

25. Qusai Abtini

Qusai never made it big in Hollywood. He lived in Aleppo, a Syrian city that was under siege by its own government from 2012-2016.

He co-starred in “Umm Abdou the Aleppan,” a television and YouTube series featuring young Syrian children playing to roles of adults.

Qusai played Abu the father opposite his friend Rasha, who played Umm, his wife.

He was quiet and accepting. She never shut her mouth, jumping from crazy ideas to righteous anger against a constant drumbeat of complaints about lack of water, power and mobile telephone coverage.

Actors had a hard life

They brought laughter to audiences with nothing much else to laugh about.

Qusai only played the role for one year, he grew too old and was replaced by another actor.

But he continued to dream of becoming a real actor and a star.

As the siege of Aleppo intensified in July 2016, his father tried to get him out of the city to safety, but only one humanitarian route remained open.

Their car was bombed and that was the end of Qusai’s dreams.

If you want a taste of this life, I found a YouTube link with subtitles where Rasha wishes for a better world.

26. Judith Barsi

I think the child actress who had the saddest post-acting life was Judith Barsi. She was a voice actress. The saddest thing about her post-acting life was that she didn’t have a life for very long. When she was 10 years old she and her mother were both brutally murdered by her father. They were both shot, killed and burned in their family garage before he shot himself dead. That was a horrific murder. She played her voice in “The Land Before Time” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven.”

There are so many child actors whose lives fall of the face of the earth once they grow up. They’re forgotten and some have a hard time recovering from their brief moment of fame and money. Some never really recover from it.

Danny Bonaduce from the Partridge Family: once that show cancelled it was all downhill from there. He ended up becoming poor, got into drugs and for a while he was homeless.

All the kids in the show “Different Strokes” went all downhill after that show was cancelled. They were all involved in drugs. Gary Coleman became a bitter man who never forgave his parents for splurging all the money he made and ended up suing them. He died at 43 from an epidural hematoma. Dana Plato died from an overdose at 34. Todd Bridges got addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine and spent some time in jail for attempted murder and assault with a firearm, but he was acquitted . He is the only surviving member of the cast.

There are very few kids who make it big in movies and shows end up growing up to have a prosperous, successful career in the business, but there are a few who did make it. One of the most successful one is Ron Howard. There are several like: Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore, Mayim Bialik, Ryan Reynolds, Scarlett Johansson and others.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her work she voiced duckie from the land before time one of my favourite childhood films. Judith’s father was an abusive alcoholic who regularly threatend to kill Judith and her mother, the resulting emotional damage to Judith caused her to exhibit worrying behaviours such as pulling her own eyelashes out and abusing the family cat. At the age of ten her father finally carried out his promise and killed her and her mother, before setting them both on fire and then shooting himself in the head. What makes it sadder for Judith was the reason her dad resented her so much, was because he was jealous of her success, the one man in the world who should have been cheering and supporting his daughter on for a promising career couldn’t stand the fact that she was far more successful at the age of ten then he would ever be.

27. Anissa Jones (1958–1976)

Actors had a hard life

She played “Buffy” in the American sitcom Family Affair from 1966–1971.

After production of Family Affair ended, she was unable to find any new acting roles. She dropped out of school, turned to drugs, and eventually overdosed.

Anissa Jones – Wikipedia

Who was Anissa Jones? Everything You Need to Know

28. Macaulay Culkin

Actors had a hard life Macaulay Culkin. He is had a played Kevin Mccallister in the widely acclaimed slapstick comedy Home alone . In 1988, he made his debut in Rockets Gibraltar. But got more noticed for his performance in 1989’s comedy Uncle Buck that got him famous.

Actors had a hard life

He was seen in 1994’s Richie rich and then vanished from Hollywood for a decade .

He was grossly underweight and rumours began that he had spent a lifetime with the wrong crowd. Taking drugs ,alcohol and being homeless , sleeping in abandoned places without proper food and basically a life of junkie.

What disturbed fans was his love for art depicting mentally unstable characters.

Macaulay Culkin

Glad to know he has left that life in his rear view mirror. He seems healthy now.His under eye bags are gone too.

And fun fact – his estimated net worth is approximately 15 million dollars .He has his own podcast. So he’s definitely back on track.