The 1980s have resurfaced in style, music, and television — more or less all things pop culture. This reemergence of all things ’80s has left some people wondering whatever happened to their favorite ’80s stars. While some celebrities from the era have remained in the limelight, others have taken an intentional step out of it, like Ghostbusters star Rick Moranis or award-winning actress Debra Winger. Some of these celebrities you may not even recognize today, such as the chubster from the Goonies who shaped up, or Jennifer Grey after her plastic surgery. Let’s see what these ambiguous stars have been up to for the past few decades.
Chunk From The Goonies Slimmed Down
The Goonies is a childhood favorite film that never goes out of style thanks to its relatable cast of kids. One of the most lovable of these child stars was Chunk, the adorable chubster who befriends a scary giant.
Actor Jeff Cohen has slimmed down since he played Chunk, but he no longer is all-about acting. He earned a law degree and started his own firm, Cohen & Gardner. He technically never left Hollywood, though. His firm is in Beverly Hills and specializes in entertainment law.
This Lost Boys Dream Girl Is All About The Atlanta Hawks
Jami Gertz was in a handful of productions throughout the ’80s, but one of her most popular roles was as the love interest in the vampire film The Lost Boys. Her fame soon faded after she turned down the role of Monica Geller in the show Friends.
While Jami has been in a handful of roles since, the highest acclaim she received was a nomination for an Emmy for her role in the Fox show Ally McBeal. While she hasn’t managed to achieve the fame she once had, she is a partial owner of the NBA team the Atlanta Hawks.
From Pretty In Pink To Orange Is The New Black
Andrew McCarthy’s role as Blane in Pretty In Pink made him one of the most well-liked stars of the ’80s, as did his roles in St. Elmo’s Fire and Less Than Zero. However, once the decade ended he returned to the stage.
Andrew has dabbled in more film roles, but never to the extent that he did in the ’80s. Instead, he began directing hit shows such as Gossip Girl and Orange Is The New Black. He also is a travel writer and a contributor for National Geographic Traveler.
This ’80s Girl-Next-Door Has Still Got It
Pheobe Cates was the beautiful teen whose fame exploded after her role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. She was also known for her roles in Gremlins and Drop Dead Fred. Before long, she was on the cover of magazines like Seventeen and Teen Beat.
She married actor Kevin Kline in 1989 and retired from acting five years later. Since then she has lived a predominantly quiet life, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy. She started the Blue Tree boutique in 2005 which is located in Upper East Side Manhattan.
Ferris Beuller’s Buddy Went To Television
While Alan Ruck is most recognizable for his role as the best friend in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, he did land a few roles in blockbuster hits throughout the ’90s. These include the movie Speed with Keanu Reeves and Twister alongside fellow ’80s star Jami Gertz.
Since then, Alan has been in a plethora of television series, including Spin City, Scrubs, Justified, CSI, and more. Though he’s managed to stay afloat in his acting career, he’s flown under the radar just enough that many of us forgot all about his celebrity status.
This Back To The Future Star Went To Broadway
Few know that Lea Thompson began as a ballerina and changed her focus to acting only after being told that despite her skill, her body was not built to be a professional ballerina. Her most famous role was in the Back to the Future films.
Thompson landed a few small roles here and there throughout the ’90s, but eventually decided to part with the big screen and go to Broadway. Afterward, she leaped into the world of television but never quite got back the notoriety she had in the ’80s.
The Karate Kid Is Still Fighting
The Karate Kid quickly became one of the most beloved childhood films ’80s when it was released, making its lead star, Ralph Macchio, one of the most admired actors at the time. However, even before that Ralph was on the map for his role in The Outsiders, which had an all-star cast including Patrick Swayze and Emilio Estevez.
Ralph stayed on top into the 1990s, landing a Broadway role alongside Robert DeNiro and a leading spot in My Cousin Vinny with Joe Pesci. However, his career went stale up until 2018, when he reprised his role as the karate kid in the YouTube series Cobra Kai.
This Breakfast Club Star Stepped Behind The Camera
Considering the fact that Emilio Estevez is the older brother of Charlie Sheen and the son of actor Martin Sheen, it’s amazing he ever managed to snag the spotlight. Some of his biggest ’80s films were The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, and St. Elmo’s Fire. However, he gained a whole new level of admiration as Coach Bombay in The Mighty Ducks.
While acting put him in the limelight, his writing and directing have since stolen his attention. In 1986, Emilio became the youngest person to write, direct and star in a film thanks to his movie Wisdom. His latest film, The Public, came out in 2018.
“I Think We’re Alone Now” Singer Still Takes To The Stage
If you’ve ever heard the song before then it’s probably already stuck in your head. Tiffany Darwish, known by her mononym Tiffany, rose to fame in 1987 with her rendition of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” which came out 20 years prior.
Her first and second albums were hits, but like clockwork, her fame came crashing down in the ’90s. After a six-year break, she dropped another album in 2001 but it failed to put her back on top. Despite her dwindling fame, Tiffany still tours today alongside other ’80s favorites like New Kids on the Block and Salt-N-Pepa.
She’s Still Singing About Red Balloons
German singer-songwriter Nena rose to prominence after her song “99 Luftballons,” along with the English version “99 Red Balloons,” exploded. The song was number one in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. In the US the song hit number 2 on the charts.
The song was the only one she recorded in English, so you can blame her disappearance in the states on the language barrier. In European countries, she is still well-known and is one of the most successful musicians of all time in Germany.
From Shrinking The Kids To Raising Them On His Own
Rick Moranis starred in some of the top ’80s films, including Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, and Ghostbusters. He also played the endearing father and struggling inventor in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a movie that grossed $200,000,000.
Shortly thereafter, Moranis’ wife was diagnosed with liver cancer, which took her life in 1991. The tragedy took a toll on Moranis’ acting career, and he officially stepped away from Hollywood in 1997. He then transitioned into being a stay-at-home parent and has since released two comedy albums.
This Terms Of Endearment Star Grew Tired Of The Terms Of Hollywood
Debra Winger hit the ’80s running with her role alongside John Travolta in Urban Cowboy, which earned her a BAFTA nomination and two Golden Globe nominations. In 1982 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her part in An Officer and a Gentleman opposite Richard Gere.
If that wasn’t enough, she was nominated again for an Academy Award the following year for starring in Terms of Endearment. A decade and a Golden Globe win later, Winger turned down a lead role in A League of Their Own and took a break from acting, stating, “I wanted out for years.”
No Longer Saved By The Bell
Lark Voorhies made her rise to fame at just fourteen years old with her role as Lisa Turtle in the NBC series Saved by the Bell. From there she went to the popular soap opera Days of Our Lives and played a temporary love interest in both Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Lark has also appeared in a handful of music videos, including a role as the girlfriend in a Boyz II Men video. She has not earned any acting credits since 2012 but has self-published three books since then.
This Growing Pains Star Changed His Focus
Kirk Cameron gained his celebrity status through his role as the eldest sibling on the show Growing Pains. While on the show he was nominated for two Golden Globe awards, which is the only critical acclaim he has received in the profession.
After Growing Pains, Kirk turned his attention towards his spiritual beliefs. He has since reunited with his co-stars to create two separate Growing Pains movies but primarily works on Christian-themed productions now, such as the 2008 independent film Fireproof.
Dirty Dancing’s Baby Changed Her Look
Jennifer Grey starred in not one but two ’80s films that are still classics today. In Ferris Beuller’s Day Off she played the disgruntled sister, and in Dirty Dancing she played the beloved protagonist. Everything came to a crashing halt in 1989.
For whatever reason, Jennifer decided to have surgery performed on her nose. The procedure changed her appearance so significantly that she was no longer recognizable. Without the face audiences knew and loved, her career took a turn for the worst. She has only landed a few small parts since.
This RoboCop Is Still Making Moves
Peter Weller began his career on the stage in the 1970s but transitioned into film in the ’80s. He’s mostly regarded for his role as the lead in the 1987 sci-fi blockbuster RoboCop. While he has yet to land a role as notable as that one, Peter has had success in the industry.
He’s been in more than 50 films and series throughout his career, you just have to pay attention to notice him. He also has built a name for himself as a director, especially for directing the popular show Sons of Anarchy.
This Tough-As-Nails ’80s Actress Is Still Breaking Barriers For Women
Jenette Goldstein was in some of the most popular action films of the ’80s: Aliens, Near Dark and Lethal Weapon 2, two of which earned her a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. She continued her streak into the ’90s with Terminator 2 and Star Trek Generations.
Despite her talent, Jenette went on to only land small parts, many of which had titles rather than names (such as “Nurse” or “Moderator”). In order to put her skill set to good use, she turned her focus away from acting and became an entrepreneur.
Nothing Else Compared To Her Back To The Future Role
Claudia Wells’ fame happened by fate. She was cast as the role of Jennifer Parker in Back to the Future but was forced to back out of the part due to an ABC pilot that she was contractually obligated to do.
Fortunately for her, filming was delayed because producers wanted to replace Eric Stoltz with Michael J. Fox as the lead. This gave Claudia just enough time to regain the part. Unfortunately, she was unable to continue the series due to her mother’s illness, ultimately leaving acting for good. She now owns the clothing store Armani Wells.
This Man Created One Of The Most Catchy ’80s Tunes
Many were surprised to find that the soulful voice behind the 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” was performed by none other than a 21-year-old Rick Astley. The song was a number one hit in a whopping 25 different countries.
The end of the ’80s were very good to Rick, who peaked on the charts in the UK and the US for several more singles. Thanks to his 40 million records sold, Rick was able to retire in 1993 at the age of 27 and focus on being a father.
This Sixteen Candles Primadonna Switch Careers
Though you might not recognize her at first glance, who could forget the snotty blonde in Sixteen Candles? Haviland Morris’s role as hot-mess Caroline was only her second professional role. Unfortunately, the fame was short-lived.
From there she went on to play mostly unmemorable roles in movies like Gremlins 2 and Home Alone 3. She played temporary roles in several television shows and landed a permanent role on One Life to Live. She left the world of Hollywood and became a real estate broker in New York.