ByVaria Fedko-Blake, writer at
Staff Writer at Moviepilot! [email protected] Twitter: @vfedkoblake
Varia Fedko-Blake

When any actor dies it's a tragedy, but when it's a child star, it seems harrowing enough to render one speechless.

In their time, the following nine child actors were some of the most recognized names in the entertainment industry, but life is cruel, and they were sadly torn away from us in the prime of life.

It's just so heartbreaking to imagine all those happy smiles and all that future potential, cruelly ripped to smithereens by a freak accident, parental neglect, a terrible incident with illegal substances or suicide. Let's remember their lovely faces and remind ourselves of their stories.

1. Jonathan Brandis

Known for: Full House, Ladybugs, Sidekicks, Murder, She Wrote and seaQuest 2032

What happened? During the height of his career, Brandis was receiving over 4,000 fan letters a week and his every move was documented in all major teen magazines. Yet by 1996, seaQuest had been cancelled and his prospects became limited and he struggled to get work, despite trying everything and even dying his hair jet black.

Sadly, on November 11, 2003, his friends found him hanging from a nylon rope in his L.A. apartment. He did not leave behind a suicide note.

2. Matthew Garber

Known for: Mary Poppins

What happened? Matthew Garber rose to fame as the mischievous Michael Banks in the Disney classic, Mary Poppins. However, as he entered his teenage years, the young actor took a break from the big screen. Little did he know that he would never appear in front of the camera ever again.

In 1976, during a trip to India, Matthew contracted hepatitis, which rapidly spread to his pancreas. Tragically, a year later, the young man died at the age of 21. At the time, his brother denied that Matthew had contracted the disease from using drugs, speculating that the likely cause was probably eating bad meat.

He will be forever remembered as the adorable Michael Banks who was so reluctant to drink that medicine:

3. Anissa Jones

Known for: Family Affair, The Trouble with Girls

What happened? At the young age of 8, little Anissa was cast as Ava Elizabeth "Buddy" Patterson-Davis in CBS sitcom Family Affair, catapulting her to massive fame. When the show ended, Anissa was glad to stop working in television as it had taken up so much of her time until then. She returned to life outside of the entertainment industry, but following her parents' bitter divorce, started skipping school. That's when she also began shoplifting and taking drugs.

On August 28, 1976, she was found dead in a friend's house after partying all night. The coroner's report listed her death as a drug overdose, with cocaine, PCP, Quaaludes and Seconal being found in her system. She was just 18 years old.

4. Bridgette Andersen

Known for: Savannah Smiles

What happened? We all remember the cute little girl from Savannah Smiles, which makes it seem so much more shocking to learn that during her teen years, she struggled with heroin addiction. On May 18, 1997, she tragically died of a accidental overdose from alcohol and drugs. She was 21 years old.

Here's her very last movie appearance before her unexpected death:

5. Rob Knox

Known for: Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

What happened? Out on the town with his younger brother, Rob got into a fight protecting him. Horrifically, he was stabbed that night on May 24, 2008, at the young age of just 18 years old. The Harry Potter movie was released after his death.

6. Judith Barsi

Known for: Ducky in The Land Before Time, also All Dogs Go to Heaven, Jaws: The Revenge

What happened? The more Judith experienced great success in her acting career, the more her father Jozsef became more jealous and paranoid. Her mother promised Child Protection Services that she and her daughter would leave the abusive man, but they didn't make it out in time and on July 25, 1988, he shot and killed them both in their sleep. Little Judith was only 10 years old.

7. J. Madison Wright Morris

Known for: Shiloh, ER, Earth 2

What happened? Despite appearing in numerous projects as a child, Madison abandoned her acting career in 1999. Shortly after, following repeated bouts of pneumonia, the young girl was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, receiving a heart transplant at the age of 15.

Thankfully, she made a quick recovery and went on to live a fulfilling live, marrying the love of her life Brent Joseph Morris in 2006. However, just a day after returning from her honeymoon in Hawaii, Madison suffered a fatal heart attack, eight days before she would have turned 22 years old.

8. Bobby Driscoll

Known for: The voice of Peter Pan

What happened? When he was just 9 years old, Bobby was known as Disney's 'golden boy' and even won a miniature Oscar for his work a few years later. Yet, in his teens he developed severe acne, which sparked a period of heavy drug use, everything from marijuana to heroin.

Over the years he was arrested numerous times and eventually sent to a rehab center for six months, where on March 30, 1968, his dead body was found by two boys. He had died as a result of his arteries hardening after years of severe drug abuse.

9. Corey Haim

Known for: The Lost Boys, License to Drive, Lucas

What happened? Although he had been a drug user since an early age, it was really when his career slowed down that the problem severely escalated beyond control. In his late thirties, on March 23, 2010, he managed to get his hands on more than 550 prescription pills using different aliases. As a consequence, he died and was found by his mother, with whom he lived with at the time.



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