Top 5 Child Actors With Careers as Adults

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Growing up has rarely paid off for child actors. Think Todd Bridges from “Diff’rent Strokes” or Corey Feldman from the movie “Stand by Me.” And child stars of a more recent vintage—Haley Joel Osment comes to mind—haven’t been immune: Most young celebrities fade as they reach puberty. But some child stars beat the odds and enjoy successful careers as adults. It’s rare, but it happens.

5 Elizabeth Taylor

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Few stars have ever been as big as Elizabeth Taylor. But it’s easy to forget that Taylor actually started her career as a child actress in films such as “Lassie Come Home” in 1943 and “National Velvet” one year later. As an adult, Taylor nabbed two Oscars for best actress and enjoyed juicy roles in films such as “Giant” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

4 Jodie Foster

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Jodie Foster made a big impression in 1976 when she starred as a young prostitute in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” She was 14 at the time, and earned an Academy Award nomination for her work. Foster has since proved that this early success wasn’t a fluke. She won Oscars for her work as an adult in “The Silence of the Lambs” and “The Accused.” She also graduated from Yale University in the mid-80s.

3 Leonard DiCaprio

It’s difficult to remember, but superstar Leonardo DiCaprio started his career as a teen, making his mark in films such as “This Boy’s Life” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Instead of fading away, he’s become one of Hollywood’s top male stars, earning raves for his performances in such films as “Gangs of New York,” “Titanic,” “Inception” and “Shutter Island.” He’s been nominated for an Academy Awards for best actor and best supporting actor.

2 Anna Paquin

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Anna Paquin at age 11 landed an Oscar for her role in the movie “The Piano.” Then, as a teen, she landed roles in such movies as “X-Men” and “Almost Famous.” Again, this would, judging by the careers of other former child stars, seem like a path to obscurity. But Paquin today is famous as the very adult Sookie Stackhouse in HBO’s popular vampire show “True Blood.”

1 Ron Howard

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Ron Howard shot to fame as a kid actor on the “Andy Griffith Show.” He then landed a starring role as a teen on “Happy Days.” Surely, this would be a recipe for failure as an adult, right? Nope. Howard is perhaps the best example of a former child actor who’s gone on to big things. Today, he is a big-time director, with the films “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “Parenthood” to his credit. He is also the co-chairman of the film and movie production company Imagine Entertainment.

Dan Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.

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