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What do Christian Bale, Haley Joel Osment and Andy Gibb have in common? They were all child stars. And Joal Ryan keeps tabs on each of them. Whether you're interested in what happened to the Brady Bunch or the Brat Pack, her blog, Former Child Star Central has news, information and deep thoughts you'll want to read. Find out, for example, how two magazine cover stories ruined Molly Ringwald's career.
It started as an email newsletter in 1997 and became a stand-alone website in 1999. "People are interested in former child stars in the same way they're interested in their former classmates," says Ryan, "They want to know what happened. How'd they turn out? Who got fat? Who got bald?" When it's time for a reunion, her site is there to help.
If you can't find information about a particular child star, it may be that he or she wasn't one. Ralph Macchio was in his 20's when he became The Karate Kid. (Looking young might make your friends jealous, but it doesn't make you a child star.) As to who is on the site, Ryan says it's often up to readers who write in with requests. Though she adds, "A site-worthy former child star is one with a good story, or one who's been 'lost' for so long that any info I can find makes for a good story."
If a former child star is in trouble she'll write about it but she doesn't buy into what she calls the "child-star-gone-bad mythos" -- the idea that being a child star will ruin you for life. "Danny Bonaduce tells a great story about going to rehab, and learning he was the lone former child star there, among eight dentists," she says. "Should we be asking why do dentists go bad?" The idea is also explored in her post "Homecoming queens and Tatum O'Neal."
Was Ryan, now an entertainment journalist, once a child star? "Outside of the R.D. White Elementary production of 'Oliver!' in the fourth grade," she jokes, "no." She manages to keep the site updated by googling as fast as she can and will gladly respond to emails about child stars sent to email@example.com on her site. But, no, she will not give you Scott Baio's address.