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The ‘80s are decades behind us, but some big stars of the era never went away. Actors like Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts. Big bands like U2. They all proved they had enough talent to last well beyond their first big breaks.

Then there are the celebs who seemed to burn brightly for a moment, only to flame out later. Still, it’s fun to remember some of our favs from back in the day. So let’s take a look at some popular stars from the ‘80s who are keeping a much lower profile these days. 

Justine Bateman

Yes, in case you’re out of the know, she IS Jason Bateman’s much less famous sister. Apparently, their parents were super lazy with names.

But her little bro wasn’t always the star of the show. If you’re an ‘80s kid, you remember Justine as Alex Keaton’s ditzy sister Mallory on Family Ties.

She later fell out of love with the spotlight, married and kind of fell off the radar. Though she does pop up in a small role now and again, and she’s also a licensed pilot and scuba diver. Good to know her offscreen adventures continue.  

River Phoenix

And while we’re talking about siblings...Long before Joaquin was a major actor and Academy Award winner, his older brother River had made a name for himself.

He starred in the classic coming of age film Stand By Me in 1986. Later he was praised for his work in films like Running on Empty and My Private Idaho

Just when it looked like he had a long, successful career in front of him, he tragically died of a drug overdose on the sidewalk in front of West Hollywood’s Viper Room. Gone too soon, we’ll always be left to wonder what more he might have done.


With her breakout hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” Tiffany was a pop darling in the ‘80s. But despite a few scattered hits from her second effort, she never repeated the success of her first album. 

It seems that in the blink of an eye, she was posing nude for Playboy and guest-starring on reality shows like Celebrity Fit Club. It’s kind of a sad, familiar tune also known as “I Think I’m All Done Now.”

Related: 10 TV Shows From The '80s You Probably Forgot

Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron was enshrined on the walls of thousands of teenage girls when he starred as Mike Seaver on Growing Pains. But his life took a very different turn when he became a born- again Christian during the show’s last seasons.

Now he’s a minister with his own religious organization, The Way of the Master. Yes, he found god. But his acting career still went down in flames.

Danica McKeller

She was the quintessential girl next door in the hit series The Wonder Years. But who knew Winnie Cooper was also a math whiz? 

Yep, when the series ended she attended UCLA  and became famous in the world of mathematics. She even had a theorem partially named after her! And to increase young people’s interest in her favorite subject, Danica also wrote a series of books.

She has popped up in the occasional acting role. But for our sweet-faced Winnie Cooper, it’s all in the numbers. 

Billy Vera and The Beaters

Remember these one-hit wonders from the ‘80s? Their most famous song “At This Moment” (make that their only famous song) was featured on an episode of Family Ties as the backdrop for the romance between Alex Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and his girlfriend Ellen (Tracy Pollan).

It became a number one hit, and the band was on the charts for 21 weeks. After that, they never broke the Hot 100. Yep, the moment was officially over. 

Jeff Cohen

Remember this guy from The Goonies? Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen was one of the role’s most memorable characters. I mean, who could forget his famous Truffle Shuffle?

But while his co-stars Josh Brolin and Sean Astin went on to major stardom, Jeff’s career seemed to stall at puberty. Though he’s not in front of the camera anymore, he still works in the industry as an entertainment lawyer.

Who knew that clumsy little kid was going to grow up and start his own firm. Which, when you think of it, is still kind of a Hollywood ending.  

Lisa Bonet

Lisa Bonet was the coolest sister on The Cosby Show and later had her own spinoff, A Different World. But her star fell as rapidly as it rose.After a racy role in the movie Angel Heart and some risque magazine spreads in Interview Magazine and Rolling Stone, her career started to falter. She soon left A Different World to have her first daughter Zoe with then-husband Lenny Kravitz. Not long after, she was fired from The Cosby Show over creative differences.

And while her acting roles have been few and far between since then, she now has the very enviable role of being Jason Momoa’s wife. Yeah, she’s his real-life Khaleesi.

Another fun fact: her daughter Zoe Kravitz is also a famous model and actress. You may have caught her most recently in the HBO series Big Little Lies

Rick Moranis

Rick Moranis was one of our favorite comedians in the ‘80s.  He was an absolute scene-stealer in Ghostbusters. And also starred in favorites Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Little Shop of Horrors, among many other films.

Unfortunately, Moranis has been on a long hiatus from Hollywood since his wife passed away in 1997. He left acting to focus on raising his two children—obviously, a much more important role. 

Here’s hoping he makes his way back to the big screen one day. 

Lori Singer

Lori will always be remembered as the rebellious preacher’s daughter Ariel in Footloose and as Julie Miller from the television series Fame.

Her later movies weren’t nearly as memorable. But she has done some guest appearance roles on shows such as Law & Order: SVU. She also executive produced the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa; Silence in the House of God, which won three Emmys. 

But she definitely never achieved the same fame as her co-star from Footloose, which goes to prove that being even one degree from Kevin Bacon is no guarantee of success.

Gedde Watanabe

In Sixteen Candles, he played one of the most memorable and un-PC characters ever, Long Duk Dong. Since then, he’s played a gay nurse on E.R. from 1998 to 2002. 

Gedde has done a lot of voice work on shows like The Simpsons, Rugrats and Batman Beyond. He also showed up on an episode of Modern Family and had a role in 2013’s 47 Ronin.

Though his flame may not be burning as brightly, at least it hasn't flickered out completely. 

You might also be interested in: The 5 Most Influential TV Reboots of the 2000s

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Apr 9, 2020

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