20 Former Child Actors Who Had Sense Enough to Quit the Business
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20 Former Child Actors Who Had Sense Enough to Quit the Business

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | July 5, 2015 | Comments ()


Josh Saviano -- After "Wonder Years," Saviano ended up at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and he's now Senior Counsel with the New York law firm, Morrison Cohen LLP. Also looks like he could use some sleep.


Crystal McKellar -- McKellar, Danica's real-life sister, also ended up going to law school. She went to Harvard, and now she's a lawyer with Morrison & Foerster in San Diego.


Troy W. Slaten -- Here's the first of many deep cuts on this list, but some of you may remember Slaten as Jerry Steiner on "Parker Lewis Can't Lose." He was awesome. He, too, is now a lawyer. He went to Pepperdine law, and he practices at Floyd, Skeren, & Kelly, LLP.


Ariana Richards -- You may remember Richards from Jurassic Park, altough some of you may remember her from Ben Folds Five "Brick" video. Last we heard, she earned fine arts degrees with several colleges, including Skidmore.



Charlie Korsmo -- Familiar to you from What About Bob?, Hook and especially Can't Hardly Wait ("I can't feel my legs!"), Korsmo is another who chose a very popular profession of former actors: Lawyer. He got a physics degree at MIT, then went to Yale Law School, and now he's a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.



Heather Langenkamp -- The Nightmare on Elm Street and "Just the Ten of Us" star now owns a special effects and make-up studio in Los Angeles with her husband, although she does very occasionally make take a tiny acting role.



Michael Fishman -- Known best as D.J. O'Conner from "Roseanne," Fishman hasn't officially quit, but he hasn't had any acting work in over a decade. He's been doing set building, set design, camera operating, assistant directing and props, and attending acting classes with an eye toward writing his own material.



Brandon Call -- Best known as J.T. Lambert on the TGIF sitcom, "Step by Step," for starring opposite Andrew Dice Clay in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and as the actor who got shot in both arms in a traffic disupte, Call hasn't returned to acting since 2001. Word is now he works at his Dad's gas station in San Diego.


Leanna Creel -- The former Tori Scott from "Saved by the Bell," lives with her partner in California and is currently employed as a wedding photographer.


Ilan Mitchell-Smith -- My all-time favorite where are they now, Mitchell-Smith -- who co-starred with Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science -- is now an English professor at Cal State University, Long Beach.

illa mif.jpeg


Andrea Elson -- Best known as Lynn Tanner, the sister in "Alf" and Alice Tyler in "Whiz Kids," Elson is now a full-time mother, and I bet she's fantastic at it.



Mara Wilson -- The Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda star, Wilson is now an aspiring young-adult novelist.



Jonathan Taylor Thomas -- The former "Home Improvement" star no longer acts (although he is reuniting with Tim Allen for a guest stint on "Las Man Standing." He attended Harvard, and St. Andrews in Scotland, and graduated from Columbia in 2010.

Sal Jenco -- Here's another really deep cut: Jenco played "Blowfish" on "21 Jump Street," and co-owned The Viper Room with Johnny Depp. I had to track him down on Twitter, where I learned that he's an event planner and that Peter Deluise thinks he should cameo in a sequel to the 21 Jump Street movie.


Karyn Parsons -- She who played Hilary Banks on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," Parsons is married to director Alexandre Rockwell and appears to hanging out, being a mom.

Karyn Parsons.jpg


Lisa Jakub -- A very active actress for six years, between 1985 and 1991, Jakub is probably best known for her roles in Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, Jakub quit acting, and she's a "writer, a traveler, a devoted yogi, wife and dog-mom." In fact, you can check out her website.



Omri Katz -- If you remember this guy, congratulations! He was the lead in the short-lived Eerie, Indiana and played the son of J.R. Ewing in "Dallas." Now he's a hairdresser, and about seven years ago, he released this weird, psuedo porn short-film on Youtube.


Jason Zimbler -- Zimbler was the bratty little brother in "Clarissa Explains it All," and now he's a software engineer for HBO.



Phoebe Cates -- Cates, who you may known from THE 1980s, retired from acting to devote herself to her husband, Kevin Kline, and their children.



Michael Schoeffling -- Finally, like the Cates entry, everyone knows this but 1) it's always cool to be reminded, and 2) I needed a 19th and 20th to round out the list. Anyway, the former Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles now lives his wife and two children in Pennsylvania, where he produced handcrafted furniture as the owner of a woodworking shop. He's 52. There are no recent pictures of him on the Internet.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • T3o

    Phoebe Cates.. Mmmilf...

  • Robyn

    Danny Lloyd?

  • tom servo

    Dont Forget Mitchell Ray...from the 50`s He was the kid in Lawrence of Arabia and more known "Bud" in The Space Children. He became a business tycoon and is now somewhere around the 12t richest person in the world!

  • BilboBigguns

    How about Danny Lloyd from 'The Shining'?

  • no one in particular

    They need to update Ariana Richards. I just saw her on Battledogs on Syfy

  • Jean Deaux

    how many people IMMEDIATELY googled Jake Ryan?

  • wicked.whisper

    where is that home improvement kid

  • Salieri2

    But where is Damian McLawhorn? He can't have peaked with Superman IV.

  • SImon Adams

    Damn I feel old.

  • BlackRabbit

    I don't know Charlie Korsimo, but dude apparently had some insane insecurity issues. Physics AND law? if we get FTL travel, will he be the defense or prosecutor?

  • Strand

    Stephen Geoffreys from Fright Night went onto being a bottom in hardcore gay porn after his career cratered. Probably should have gone to law school.

  • e jerry powell

    Susan Olesen has a Gay Dad!

    Yeah, like any of those former child stars are ever gonna have regular gigs again...

  • Julia

    Lisa Jakub was also Katrina on The Beautician and the Beast! It was so terrible, but I loved that movie as a kid. Watched it over and over.

  • duckandcover

    Omri Katz was also the lead in Hocus Pocus.

    Where are the pictures for JTT? Is there a gag order on those?

  • pumpkin

    Wow! Heather Langenkamp looks terrific.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Martin Steffans: The Innocents, Village Of The Damned: Architect
    Peter Ostrum: Willy Wonka...: Vet

    I'm not thinking of any more, but there are a couple of non-actors

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Who went non-lawyer.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Shelley of Parker Lewis (I think her name is Maia Brewton (?)) is ALSO a lawyer.

  • Traxler

    And much like Leanna Creel, also gay. Awesome.

  • Pepper Fish

    Leanna Creel! But what about her sisters?

  • luthien26

    It should also be noted that Leanna Creel has two sisters that look exactly like her (they're identical triplets) who were also actresses. Does anyone know if the other two ladies are still in the acting game?

  • cicatricella

    Man, D.J. got fiiiine. Didn't see that one coming.

  • Daysma

    That isn't Devon Sawa. That is actually Omri Katz. They do look similar, but I loved Eerie for the short time it was on, and trust me, that's a picture of Omri.

  • DuBois

    Photos of 1980's Phoebe Cates should be part of all articles on all subjects, always.

  • St

    I just can’t believe at Brandon Call. I remember him very well from Baywatch. So nice and pretty as child and then ended up so awful looking now.

  • Natallica

    From all the pictures, I think that retiring from Hollywood game them a big bright side: age normally, away from unnatural cosmetic procedures

  • I'm glad there aren't any current photos of Jake Ryan on the internet. Let him stay eternally gorgeous.

  • Natallica

    He went Garbo

  • Leigh

    Ariana Richards' art is AMAZING. I read an article about portraiture and how hard it is, and it mentioned her stuff. It's crazy good.

  • kirivinokur

    I thought she became a UNIX administrator.


  • simplysarah

    JAKE RYAN IS 52!?! Wow.

  • Crystal McKellar looks so odd to me! When she played Becky Slater on The Wonder Years I couldn't believe she was Danica's sister because they looked nothing alike. But now as an adult she's a weird mix of her childhood self and grown up Danica with blond hair.

  • If anyone needs me, I'll be aimlessly wandering around the La Jolla area, stopping at every gas station, leering at bald guys, getting to the root of all the Brandon Call internet rumors. If lurking around the ritzier areas of town in my beat up old van should get me arrested, know that I did it for all of you, to sate your collective curiosity, because that’s what I’m telling myself.

  • Jake Ryan is 52. I did not need that.

    Funny, I was just thinking today that in light of the Stuebenville case the whole "Jake sends an unconscious Caroline home with Farmer Ted and tells him to 'have fun'" thing from 16 Candles just seems a lot more wrong. Not that it didn't always seem a little wrong...just that in retrospect it's like, wow, that was a teen movie in the 80's and I don't think we even noticed. Weird.

  • e jerry powell

    With Josh Saviano, alas, that's what happens to kids that have worn glasses for most of their lives and then get contacts as near-adults. It happened to me, and that's why I don't wear contacts anymore.

  • Bedewcrock

    Devon Sawa is a blond everyone. That's Omri Katz.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Phoebe Cates. I'm a straight woman and I always found her gorgeous as hell.

  • kirivinokur

    Her Blue Tree boutique is doing pretty well.

  • That's because you have working eyeballs. She is glorious. I want to have a doe-eyed threesome with her and Mia Sara.

  • Mia Sara FTW! Girl crush central!

  • PDamian

    I know Danica McKellar has taught math and written books on math, and Jason Zimbler, above, is a software engineer, but I'd be so thrilled if there were at least two or three more child actors on this list that went into STEM disciplines -- a bratty kid on some sitcom who became a neurosurgeon, or a teen heartthrob who works at Los Alamos or Lawrence Livermore (and not as a janitor). Do we really need all those lawyers?

  • Captain D

    This comment almost makes me disappointed Neil Patrick Harris didn't go to Med School after Doogie Howser.

  • Zombienurse

    I know she's back to acting now, but didn't Myaim Bialik get a degree in neuroscience? Something brainy, anyhow. Does that count?

  • Bodhi

    Yup. Its the reason her character on Big Bang Theory has a PhD in neuroscience. All the sciencey sounds stuff she spouts is legit

  • PDamian

    You're right! I had forgotten her. I guess all the lawyers got to me (seriously -- there were no other possible careers?).

  • Wembley

    It's simple. They see how much entertainment lawyers charge for the BS stuff most of them do. It looks like easy money, and you don't have to left some fat, greasy producer/director climb on top of you ever couple months to get a job.

  • I have such a girl crush on Danica! I had always liked her but ever since I listened to her hour on the Nerdist podcast I just love her. Such a smart and well-adjusted woman trying to make math more easily understood for the masses.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Judging from those photos... black don't crack baby!!!

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    So; those who can, act and those that can't, lawyer?

  • BWeaves

    A lot of lawyers become actors and visa versa. I think you have to act a lot when you're a lawyer. You have to convince the jury your guy didn't do it.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Acting is not the same as bullshitting.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn


  • Kristen Mc

    Okay, I did some investigative Google research. It would appear that Omri Katz has a mole on his neck, and Devon Sawa does not. The pic is Omri Katz.

  • Monica

    I was wondering if maybe it was switched before I got looked through, based on the comments because that's definitely Katz, not Sawa.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I'd never been simultaneously intrigued and disappointed until I read "psuedo-porn"

  • Guest

    That's not a photo of Omri Katz, that's Devon Sawa.

  • Arran



  • Harvey

    Is not... Marilyn Manson's real name is Brian Warner.

  • Jake Ryan, oops, I mean Michael Schoeffling. Sigh. I STILL <3 him.

  • John W

    Wow what a trip down memory lane.

  • Robert

    Mara Wilson didn't exactly go gracefully. She put up a massive rant about Hollywood a few months ago that read as awkward. It included this gem: "there are many much more talented, much more conventionally attractive actresses out there who are taking the roles I would have been offered" and a whole lot of backhanded compliments toward fans who tell her they loved Matilda.

  • kirbyjay

    Always wondered what happened to Mara Wilson. She was in everything back then.

  • Melanie Elaine

    that picture of omri katz looks an awful lot like someone labeled a picture of devon sawa incorrectly...

  • That's Devon Sawa, not Omri Katz. Though they do look alike. Omri Katz was also in Hocus Pocus, the best thing Sarah Jessica Parker has ever done.

  • kirbyjay

    Devon Sawa was more of a "heart throb" teenager, the one above is one of those goofy kids.

  • Some Guy

    I'm gonna have to go with Flight of the Navigator for Parkers best.

  • I don't know how I didn't remember she was in that.

  • Oooh, good movie. Maybe she had 2 best?

  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure EVERYONE remembers Omri from the greatest Halloween movie EVER.

  • Who downvoted this? Who dares question the glory that is Hocus Pocus? WHO?! Oh BOOOOOOOOOOOK!!

  • Keh_Squared

    I had such a crush on Omri Katz. I was a devoted Eerie Indiana fan and adored Hocus Pocus.

  • Nadine


  • big dipper

    Duncan from Veronica Mars and the Carver from Nip/Tuck are both graduating from law school this year, also. There must be something in the water out there in Hollywood.

  • Good career move for Duncan.

  • Nadine

    The picture under Omri Katz name is Devon Sawa isn't it?

  • Aubs

    NO that's not him, unless I am not seeing the picture. I see the bratty little boy from Clarissa Explains It All.

  • For why is there a random picture of Devon Sawa?

  • PerpetualIntern

    And what happened to Devon Sawa? God I loved him after "Now and Then"...

  • Susie_Thinks

    He was on the WB show Nikita for a few seasons

  • kronos

    He has a recurring role on Nikita

  • Puddin

    Because random pictures of Devon Sawa should be everywhere at all times.

  • I was watching the bonus features on the Cabin in the Woods dvd and I realized halfway through that one of the special effects people who were giving their input was Langenkamp. It's such a fitting career choice.

    That picture of DJ is making me feel OLD.

  • Vince

    I had to look it up because I was shocked how old he looks. According to google though he's only 31.

  • DeltaJuliet

    He LOOKS old. For crying out loud, he's got to be what, in his 30's? Yikes.

  • $27019454

    Smart choices -- especially the ones who went and got a degree.

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