ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

We all know the life of a child star can lead to some rocky results, and the stereotypical narrative often leads to a tragic life of drug abuse, bankruptcy, and irrelevancy. Some kid idols, however, resist the lure of Hollywood and opt out of the competitive industry for a life of more stability.

Here are 13 celebrities who made indelible impressions on us as kids, but then left it all behind at the height of their fame. Based on these success stories, it looks like adolescence in the spotlight can lead to some impressive results in normal life!

1. Josh Saviano - The Wonder Years

Current Age: 39 years old

Current Job: Lawyer

The Wonder Years' Paul Pfeiffer was always the bookish companion to boy next door Kevin Arnold, and it seems that the kid who brought Paul to life has followed in his footsteps. Josh Saviano left acting behind to pursue a career in law, becoming a Partner at Morrison Cohen LLP before heading up two startup endeavors. He's happy with a life away from the spotlight, but he did make a brief return to TV in 2014 on [Law & Order: SVU](tag:755869), playing—you guessed it—a lawyer.

2. Ariana Richards - Jurassic Park

Current Age: 36 years old

Current Job: Artist

We all remember Ariana Richards as the Jello-jiggling, Unix expert Lex Murphy from Jurassic Park, but aside from the Ben Folds video for 'Brick,' we haven't seen much of her since. That's because Ariana has largely given up acting in favor of painting (with the exception of one movie, 2013's Battledogs). After receiving degrees from Skidmore College and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Ariana has established herself as a successful artist, and you can check out her many works here.

3. Charlie Korsmo - Can't Hardly Wait

Current Age: 37 years old

Current Job: Law Professor

In his short acting career, Charlie Korsmo managed to rack up some seriously memorable roles in movies like Dick Tracy, Hook, and Can't Hardly Wait and even got his handprints in front of Disney World's Great Movie Ride. He gave that all up to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in physics. He went on to Yale Law School and currently works as a law professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

4. Mara Wilson - Matilda

Current Age: 28 years old

Current Job: Playwright, Writer

Mara Wilson was an unforgettable face of the '90s, which has led many to wonder where she's been since. In a blog post, she goes into detail about leaving the world of film acting behind and gets pretty real about her experiences that spanned Mrs. Doubtfire to Matilda.

Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun. Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you “get it right,” does not allow for very much creative freedom.

These days, Mara has focused her attention on writing and working for the nonprofit Publicolor. While she's given up acting professionally, you might still find her doing voice work or appearing onscreen in a friend's project.

5. Jonathan Taylor Thomas - Home Improvement

Current Age: 34 years old

Current Job: Writer, Director

If you were alive and awake in the '90s, you just couldn't escape Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The teen idol was the breakout star of Home Improvement, voiced young Simba in The Lion King, and singlehandedly kept magazines like Tiger Beat and J-14 in business. Then, JTT left it all behind to just get some peace and quiet:

I'd been going nonstop since I was eight years old. I wanted to go to school, to travel and have a bit of a break.

Since attending no-name schools like Harvard and Columbia, Jonathan reunited with onscreen dad Tim Allen on Last Man Standing, and he's focusing on writing, directing, and simply enjoying his free time.

6. Lisa Jakub - Mrs. Doubtfire

Current Age: 36 years old

Current Job: Writer

Lisa Jakub will always be remembered for her starring roles in memorable classics Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, but she retired from acting at the age of 22 years old. She moved to Virginia soon after, where she married longtime partner Jeremy Jones. You can catch up on all of her thoughts about being a former child star in her book You Look Like That Girl.

7. Jason Zimbler - Clarissa Explains It All

Current Age: 38 years old

Current Job: Software Designer

As the little brother Ferguson on Clarissa Explains It All, Jason Zimbler was the quintessential redheaded pest that constantly attempted to dash his sister's plans. Since leaving the Darlings behind, Jason has turned his attention to the stage. In 2007, he founded a theater company in Portland, Oregon. Since 2011, he's been working as a software designer for HBO.

8. Phoebe Cates - Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Current Age: 52 years old

Current Job: Entrepreneur

With movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins, Phoebe Cates has solidified herself in pop culture as the most desirable girl next door of all time. After getting married to Kevin Kline in 1989, she retired from acting in 1994 to focus on raising a family. In 2005, Phoebe opened a boutique on Madison Avenue called Blue Tree, and she loves working in the unique store.

9. Omri Katz - Hocus Pocus

Current Age: 39 years old

Current Job: Hairdresser

With Halloween fast approaching, it's that time of the year when everyone should be breaking out their Hocus Pocus DVDs and wondering whatever happened to Max Dennison. It turns out that Omri Katz retired from acting after working in the industry since he was three years old, and he now works in Los Angeles as a hairdresser.

10. Jeff Cohen - The Goonies

Current Age: 41 years old

Current Job: Entertainment Lawyer

As Chunk in The Goonies, Jeff Cohen made sure that the Truffle Shuffle is a move we will never forget no matter how many teen adventure movies come out. Despite his iconic role, Jeff went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA Law School. He now works as an entertainment lawyer in Beverly Hills, and he even started his own firm, Cohen & Gardner.

11. Peter Billingsley - A Christmas Story

Current Age: 44 years old

Current Job: Producer, Director

Though Ralphie saw some success in acting after shooting his eye out in A Christmas Story, most of his current work in the industry has been behind the scenes. He worked as a producer on projects like Elf, Dinner for Five, and Zathura. More recently, he was an executive producer on Iron Man. He still acts in some small and cameo roles, but that usually happens in movies he's working on in a bigger capacity or as a favor to friends.

12. Carrie Henn - Aliens

Current Age: 39 years old

Current Job: Teacher

As the resilient Newt, Carrie Henn will always be remembered for inspiring Ripley to proclaim those immortal words, "GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH!" Though Carrie received a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, she decided not to pursue a career in acting. Instead, she earned a degree in liberal studies and child development and now works as a teacher.

13. Barrett Oliver - The NeverEnding Story

Current Age: 42 years old

Current Job: Printer, Photographer

As Bastian Balthazar Bux in The NeverEnding Story, Barrett Oliver played the lucky boy who became a character in the tale of Fantasia. Though the movie was an unforgettable piece of nostalgia, Barrett left acting when he joined the Church of Scientology. He later became a printer and photographer with a focus on 19th century film processes, which led him to publish a book called A History of the Woodbury Type.


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