10 Most Famous Child Actors

Sunday, March 20 by Bobbi Nicolai

Most of the 10 most famous child actors have gone on to other things. Some still remain in the public eye, some have passed on. But they were all much beloved when they were young.

  1. Shirley Temple. She even had a drink named after her! The curly-haired moppet captured hearts during her box office reign from 1932-1939. She was box office gold in 1936 to 1938. The whole country saw her grow up. Born in 1928, by the age of five she was a complete pro. At the age of 6, she became the youngest person ever to win an Oscar.
  2. Drew Barrymore. From the time she played Gertie in "The Extraterrestrial", Drew has never been off the celebrity radar. Her first role was actually uncredited in a TV movie in 1978, predating ET by 4 years when she was only three years old.
  3. Mickey Rooney. He got his start on stage at 15 months, and was a seasoned professional by the time he was six years old. His "Mickey McQuire" shorts came out every month from 1926 to 1932, and he continued acting full time right up to the present day, despite now being well into his 80's.
  4. Elijah Wood. Born in 1981, he started acting in 1989. His 1990 turn as Michael in Barry Levinson's "Avalon" was his first major role. He sent an audition tape to Peter Jackman for "Lord of the Rings", and that landed him the role of a lifetime.
  5. The Olsen Twins. Their role as Michelle on "Full House" made Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen household names. The girls used their early fame and earnings to propel themselves to superstar, multi-millionaire celebrities. These twins are living proof that being a famous child actor can lead to good things, if handled right.
  6. Neil Patrick Harris. "Doogie Howser" was a much-beloved character and show. Neil Patrick Harris went on to star on Broadway, and returned to TV in the smash hit "How I Met Your Mother."
  7. Soleil Moon Frye. An entire generation of women wanted to be "Punky Brewster." She was funny, lovable, outspoken, whimsical, and fun to be around. Her show ran from 1984-1988.
  8. Ron Howard. Ron Howard was in front of the camera for his entire childhood, and behind it ever since. He went from playing Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show"  (1960-1968) to Richie Cunningham on "Happy Days" (1974-1984, by which time he was 30), and worked all manner of jobs in between the two. Now he's one of the best and brightest directors in Hollywood history. Ron said the entire time he was a famous child actor, he knew he wanted to be a director.
  9. Macaulay Culkin. Macaulay had already been acting for five years before he shot to fame in the lead role of Kevin in "Home Alone." "Uncle Buck," "My Girl," and "Only the Lonely" were several other movies that sealed his movie star status at a young age.
  10. River Phoenix. Born in 1970, River died in 1993 outside the Viper Room (owned by Johnny Depp). He was an incredibly talented, critically-acclaimed young actor. His most famous role was in the coming-of-age movie "Stand by Me." His most ironic personal quote had to be "I would rather quit while I was ahead. There's no need in overstaying your welcome."