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Where Are They Now? Child Celebrities from the 50s and 60s

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The transition process can be a challenging one for child celebrities as they grow older. This is especially true for those who have been typecast or pigeonholed by Hollywood after playing certain roles over and over again. It can be difficult to break away from these labels and create something fresh and new.

Mary Kate Olsen, a former child star in the 1980s television series “Full House,” was hired for the role when she was only 9 months old. She described the contrast between the good and the ugly of being a child celebrity during an interview with Marie Claire: “I would never wish my upbringing on anyone… but I wouldn’t take it back for the world.”

We researched the whereabouts of some popular child stars from the 50s and 60s to see what they are up to now.

Ron Howard

From “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days” to “American Graffiti,” Ron Howard has always been in show business. His mom was an actor, and his dad was an actor, writer, and director. Ron first appeared on screen when he was 18 months old.

As an adult, Howard has directed films like “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “A Star Wars Story,” “Grand Theft Auto” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Together with Brian Grazerand, Howard co-chairs a production company called Imagine Entertainment where he continues to produce films and TV shows.

Jerry Mathers

Mathers became a child celebrity while playing the role of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver for six seasons on “Leave It to Beaver.” After serving in the United States Air Force, Mathers received a degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley. These days, he enjoys making appearances on television and in films and Broadway productions.

Keith Thibodeaux

Also known as Richard Keith, Thibodeaux became a professional drummer with the Horace Heidt Orchestra, earning $500 per week by the time he was 3 years old. He played Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy” and Johnny Paul Jason on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

After the two shows wrapped, Thibodeaux was treated for depression. He left Hollywood to pursue a career in music and joined a rock band called David and the Giants in 1969. He later became the executive director of his wife’s ballet company in Jackson, Mississippi. The pair launched “Ballet Magnificat! Brasil” in 2017.

Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello was an original Mickey Mouse Mouseketeer and one of the most popular. As a teen, she explored her musical side and became a teen idol after releasing several hit singles including “First Name Initial” and “Pineapple Princess.”

The budding actress appeared in a series of beach party movies with fellow teen idol Frankie Avalon. Annette then withdrew from the limelight to focus on her family. She died peacefully in 2013.

Angela Cartwright

While playing the role of Linda for seven seasons in the 1960s series “The Danny Thomas Show,” Angela Cartwright bubbled over with charm and cuteness as Danny’s stepdaughter.

After the series ended, she appeared in “The Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews and then played Penny Robinson in “Lost in Space.” Next, she decided to make a career change in order to focus on photography. She has worked as a photographer for the past three decades.

Johnny Crawford

Like Annette Funicello, Johnny Crawford was an original Mouseketeer in the Mickey Mouse Club in 1955. He also appeared on “The Rifleman” as the son of Lucas McCain. For his work on “The Rifleman,” he received a nomination for an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor when he was 13. He then enjoyed a brief career as a recording artist.

Crawford continued to appear in television and film projects until he got a gig leading a vintage dance band in California called “The Johnny Crawford Orchestra.” He died in 2021.

Tony Dow

Although he’d never acted in his life, Tony Dow snagged the plum role of Wally Cleaver, the older brother of Beaver Cleaver in the 1957 television series “Leave it to Beaver.” Tony kept that role for six years until the show wrapped in 1963.

After that, Dow acted in other shows and continued to make guest appearances while doing a stint in the United States National Guard. He then worked in the construction industry while simultaneously pursuing a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking and journalism. Today, Tony Dow is an acclaimed sculptor whose artworks are on display around the world.

In the mood for a movie? No luxury senior living community is complete without its own onsite movie theater. Catch all the action without leaving our campus. Grab a drink and some popcorn or your favorite snack, and sit back in our community’s private movie theater.

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