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Whatever happened to Former Child Star Central?

An early resource on teen idols and child stars, the site was actively curated from 1997-2013. Joal Ryan has moved onto hosting a weekly, pop-culture podcast, The Joal Ryan Thing.

Are you, Joal Ryan, a former child star?

Nope. Never even played one on TV. I am but a humble journalist and author.

Why isn't so-and-so listed?

Not to be argumentative, but maybe so-and-so was listed. Did you check Roll Call? Please note, in its later years the site was focused on commentary; the actor pages were last updated in 2007 -- if not earlier. Consider them artifacts, if you will. Or old pages, if you insist. Other back pages: Sightings and the hopefully self-explanatory Honorary Former Child Stars.

If you still don't find so-and-so, then I agree: I have some explaining to do.

In general, your so-and-so isn't found anywhere because: (a) I never got around to addressing him or her; (b) I'd never heard of so-and-so; and/or, (c) so-and-so isn't really a former child star, i.e., although Fred Berry played a teenager on What's Happening!!, he was not even close to being a teenager in real life, hence: Fred Berry, not a former child star.

How come you've never have heard of so-and-so?

It happens. I'm especially bad with Kids Who Used to Be on Canadian TV Shows of the 1980s.

Why do child stars go bad?

Why does anyone "go bad?" Take your pick: Mean parents, nice parents, too much TV, too little TV, or, perhaps the catch-all, society. Child stars are people, too. And like people they go "good," and they go "bad." The "good" blend in; the "bad" stand out because they are  bad, and that's news.

Whatever happened to Donna Butterworth?

Before I started doing this site, I didn't even know who Donna Butterworth was. Thanks to countless emails inquiring as to her whereabouts, I are now fully aware of her film credits from the 1960s. And while I don't know what she's doing today, I have an idea where she's doing whatever she's doing.

Who's your favorite former child star?

Don't have one. Don't even really follow the careers of kid stars, per se. But I would suggest that Gary Coleman was -- and is -- the quintessential former child star.

What did you think of Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star?

Strange but true, outside of clips, here and there, I've never seen it.

Say, can you give me Scott Baio's address?


What about Debbie Gibson's phone number?

All right, cut it out.

Where can I buy your book?

Why, thank you for the opportunity to plug Former Child Stars: The Story of America's Least Wanted (ECW Press), available at an online retailer near you.

How can I contact you?

I'm a fan of this thing called email.

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