How child stars grow up


When 12-year-old Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe stepped out of his chauffeur-driven limousine on Sunday, he was greeted with all the adulation of an adult screen icon.

More than 5,000 young fans had turned up to scream his arrival at the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone premiere, where he spent 15 minutes signing autographs and later told reporters he had never heard his name chanted over and over so many times.

It is something that the young star is going to have to get used. He is already signed up to the Harry Potter sequel and there is talk of him appearing in film adaptations of all seven of JK Rowling's books.

But early fame has its drawbacks and Daniel would do well to remember the host of child stars for whom pressure at such a young age proved far too much. has got together some young performers who found out fame was not all it was cracked up to be - click on the link in the blue box opposite. Do you remember these famous faces from yesteryear?

The picture above on the right shows the angelic faced schoolboy who played the morally incorruptible Charlie Bucket in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the face of child actor Peter Ostrum as he is today. Ostrum is now a 44-year-old veterinary surgeon with two children, Helenka and Leif. Rumour has it that Ostrum was offered a five film contract after Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but he turned it down.

Drew Barrymore was an innocent curly-haired seven-year-old when she appeared in Stephen Spielberg's ET: The Extra Terrestrial. Overnight she became one of Hollywood's hottest properties, yet within a few years her life was on the verge of ruin - she started drinking at the age of eight, smoking marijuana at ten, graduating to cocaine at 12 and was in rehab at 13. Luckily, Drew has been able to pick up the pieces. She now commands more than £2.5 million a movie after starring in such films as The Wedding Singer and Charlie's Angels.

He is better known by many as Billy Casper in the 1969 film Kes. Today David Bradley is 47, auditioning for the odd acting part, and living modestly in south London. After starring in several movies after Kes - Zulu Dawn and Absolution - he all but gave up on acting in the mid 1980s and has since often found himself out of work as he struggles to rebuild his career as a scriptwriter and actor.

Mark Lester, star of the 1968 film Oliver! was earning £100,000 a year by the age of 14. Now 42, he is married with two children and works as an osteopath. After Oliver! he went on to star in the film Run Wild, Run Free and then made an average two films a year until he was 14. But then the parts started to dry up. After several years of wild living, he began to look for a new direction in life and took up karate as a means of keeping out of trouble. He began to learn about sports injuries and at the age of 28 he went back to college. He is now an osteopath living in Cheltenham.

Pint-sized child star Gary Coleman is known by a generation of TV viewers as Arnold in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. Now the 4ft 8in former actor is working as a security guard in Los Angeles. In 1998 he was given a suspended jail sentence for hitting a fan in the face. Incidentally, Diff'rent Strokes co-star Dana Plato (Kimberly) died of a drug overdose in 1999 and Todd Bridges (Willis) developed a drug problem and was cleared of the attempted murder of a crack cocaine dealer in 1989.

Heather Ripley was the cherubic girl who, at the tender age of seven, played Jemima in the 1968 movie Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang. Whenever asked, she always says Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang ruined her life. Unable to resume a normal life after the film, Ripley ran away from home at 16, found work as a waitress and later an optician. She eventually left for a life on the road when, inspired by her new passion for ecology, she trawled protest sites from Glasgow to Newbury.

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