'80s Stars: Where Are They Now?
80s stars: where are they now? What could they possibly be doing? It’s a question you may have asked yourself here and there, but never really thought to look up where your favorite actors, actresses, and performers ended up. Honestly, there were a lot of people and it’s a little hard keeping track of them all. Who has time? The '80s produced some of our biggest A-listers today. The sheer number of movies that released (and were great) that decade was just insane. While some of them went on to become even bigger stars, others faded into the background and decided to avoid the spotlight.
Some stars didn’t really want to remain in the limelight while others just couldn’t keep up with all the new people that were flooding the acting scene in the '90s – it was the time for fresh faces and younger actors. It was hard playing a teenager in high school when you were already well into your thirties.
We’re going to go over some of your favorite '80s stars and tell you what they’re doing now and where they went. From Molly Ringwald to Mark Hamill, we’re covering some of the most memorable people that we loved to watch.
For this list, we're going to mainly focus on actors, actresses, and performers that aren't as popular as they used to be. Some of them aren't performing or acting while others are trying, but not really making the news like they used to. Did we miss one of your favorites?
Molly Ringwald Then
Was there an iconic '80s movie that Molly Ringwald wasn't a part of in some form or another? We can't think of one! Ringwald rose to fame in the '80s after starring in several incredibly successful John Hughes' movies like Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club.
Ringwald's fame continued well into the '90s, where she starred in things like the TV miniseries The Stand and the biopic Something to Live For: The Alison Gertz Story. However, she could have been even more famous during this era if she hadn't turned down the leading roles in Ghost and Pretty Woman!
Molly Ringwald Now
These days, you can still find Ringwald starring in numerous projects, although she's definitely slowed down from her heydays in the 1980s. Her most famous current role is in Riverdale, where she has played Mary Andrews since 2017. However, that's not all she's got going on these days!
Ringwald's family has also grown considerably since the 1980s. She married writer Panio Gianopulos in 2007, and the happy couple have three children together—a daughter born in 2003 and a set of twins in 2009.
Danica McKellar Then
The Wonder Years was one of the biggest shows of the late '80s and early '90s thanks to the fantastic performances of its ensemble cast, including Winnie Cooper played by Danica McKellar. It was the first major role of her career, and things only kept going up for the fledgling actress.
After her role on The Wonder Years, McKellar revealed that she found it difficult to transition from the role of a child actor into the world of adult acting. However, she had regular work through the '90s and early 2000s, including a small role on the political drama The West Wing.
Danica McKellar Now
McKellar has continued to have a steady acting career since her younger days, and most people are probably most familiar with her work on numerous Hallmark Christmas and mystery movies. But she's also achieved much more in her life than just a long-lasting acting career! She's a woman of many talents.
In addition to raising a son, Draco, Danica McKellar has also authored several math books—which should be no surprise, considering that she majored in math when she studied at the University of California. Most of her math writing is geared toward getting kids interested in the subject, but she's also co-authored an academic paper published in The Journal of Physics.
Goldie Hawn Then
Goldie Hawn had a successful career in Hollywood long before the '80s. She first hit the spotlight in the late '60s thanks to a role on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and things only got better from there for the actress. However, some of her most memorable work came in the 1980s.
Her lead role in 1983's Private Benjamin garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, and she also bore it all for the cover of Playboy in 1985. Outside of her career, the '80s were also big for Hawn's personal life—in 1983 she began a relationship with actor Kurt Russell, and the two have been together ever since.
Goldie Hawn Now
Hawn continued her rise in the 1990s with some of her most well-known roles appearing in this decade, including The First Wives Club and Death Becomes Her. However, after a 2002 role in the film The Banger Sisters (also starring Susan Sarandon), Hawn stepped away from the silver screen for a while.
It would be a solid 15 years before Hawn made another movie appearance, but it finally came in 2017 when she starred alongside Amy Schumer in the comedy Snatched. But beyond that, her acting credits have been pretty light over the last decade, except for a few movie appearances as Mrs. Claus.
Emilio Estevez Then
Was there a more dreamy jock than Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark in The Breakfast Club? Not likely! The 1980s were very good to this fledgling actor, and some of his other most famous roles were part of other hit '80s movies like The Outsiders and St. Elmo's Fire.
However, not everything from the '80s that he starred in was a hit. It was during this decade that he also starred in the critically panned horror movie Maximum Overdrive, for which he earned a Golden Raspberry nomination for his bad performance. Still, all things considered, Estevez had an amazing time in the '80s.
Emilio Estevez Now
Estevez continued to act through the 1990s (with a majorly successful role in The Mighty Ducks) and the 2000s, but his output really dropped off after 2010, with just a handful of movie and TV credits. However, when you're Charlie Sheen's brother, you can basically do absolutely nothing and still look successful by comparison!
Even though he may not appear on movie and TV screens as often anymore, there's no denying what an in-demand actor Estevez has been over the years. According to a 2017, Estevez has the highest average return on investment of any actor in Hollywood.
Mr. T Then
Mr. T has pitied his fair share of fools over the years, but none of his fame and fortune would have happened if it weren't for Sylvester Stallone. Stallone saw Mr. T on a "World's Toughest Bouncers" TV segment in the early '80s, which eventually led to Mr. T's role as Clubber Lang in Rocky III.
Thanks to his part in the film, Mr. T was cast in his other most famous role as B.A. Baracus in The A-Team. He quickly became a Hollywood sensation, and during the 1980s, he did everything from host Saturday Night Live to star in an animated children's show as himself.
Mr. T Now
While Mr. T has had TV and movie appearances in the past few decades, he also has become quite famous as a commercial spokesman. Sales seem to be in his blood because he once described himself as "not really an actor, I'm a reactor; I'm a pitchman."
His most recent TV appearance came in 2017 when he appeared on season 24 of Dancing with the Stars. Surely he's got more store in the future, but even if he didn't do another thing for the rest of his life, he has still accomplished more than most people ever do!
Tiffany Darwish Then
It's kind of a miracle that Tiffany Darwish (who performs under the mononym Tiffany) managed to escape the '80s unscathed because the early years of her music career were quite turbulent. After signing complete control of her music career to a music producer and a lackluster debut album, it didn't seem like Tiffany was destined for greatness.
However, after a 1987 tour of American malls, things turned around for Tiffany. Her second single from her debut album, "I Think We're Alone Now," managed to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and she finally got herself out from under the thumb of her music producer.
Tiffany Darwish Now
Tiffany may be a one-hit wonder, but she's hands-down the hardest-working and most successful one-hit wonder of all time. Since her rise to fame in the late 1980s, Tiffany has toured consistently and released another nine albums of music. She hasn't managed to nab the number one spot again, but it's clear she's got music in her blood.
In addition to music, Tiffany has also dabbled in the acting world. She made one-time appearances in both The Young and the Restless and How I Met Your Mother in 2008, and most recently, she lent her voice to an episode of the stop-motion comedy show Robot Chicken.
Phoebe Cates Then
In the late 1970s, Phoebe Cates got her start as a model and even appeared on the cover of Seventeen magazine several times. However, it wasn't modeling that was in her future, it was acting. After being cast in the 1982 comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Her career only went up from there.
Cates appeared in numerous other movies in the '80s, including Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Private School, and Paradise. However, one of her most memorable roles of the '80s was Lili in the TV miniseries Lace. Her character became infamous for one ridiculous line in particular—"Which one of you b*tches is my mother?"
Phoebe Cates Now
While Cates had several other movie roles in the early 1990s, her acting credits basically came to a halt by the 2000s. However, it was all going according to plan for Cates who stepped away from the limelight in order to focus on raising her two children born in 1991 and 1994.
While she may not be in the world of acting anymore, Cates has moved on to other ventures—like opening a business. She owns a New York City boutique named Blue Tree that opened in 2005 and is still in operation today.
Soleil Moon Frye Then
Soleil Moon Frye got her start in acting when she was still in diapers at the age of two! However, her most famous role came when she was seven. In 1984, she was cast as the title character of the NBC sitcom Punky Brewster. Despite the fact that the show received low ratings, Frye was a hit with fans as Punky.
After Punky Brewster was canceled in 1988, Frye continued to make some high-profile appearances on other shows of the era, like Diff'rent Strokes, The Wonder Years, and Saved by the Bell. Her next long-term role came in 2000 when she portrayed Roxie King on the TV show Sabrina The Teenage Witch.
Soleil Moon Frye Now
History has a way of repeating itself in this era of remakes and revivals, so it shouldn't be too surprising to learn that NBC created a Punky Brewster reboot in 2021, and Frye reprised her titular role for it. However, this time, Punky was a divorced mom of three instead of a precocious child.
In addition to continuing acting, Frye has also branched out into other areas of show business. In 2021, she also directed and released the documentar Kid 90, which used footage Frye had recorded herself as a child in the '90s. In 2022, Frye divorced her long-time husband Jason Goldberg.
Mark Hamill Then
The movie trilogy may have launched in the 1970s, but Stars Wars mania lasted well into the '80s...and beyond! And at the center of it all was Mark Hamill, who played the lead role of Luke Skywalker in the series. While he had a handful of small TV roles before his big break, it was the sci-fi series that launched him into the stratosphere.
In addition to the Star Wars films, Hamill had several other movie and TV roles, though nothing that big. What's most peculiar about his career in the '80s is how many high-profile theater gigs he had during the decade—he played the leading man in productions of both The Elephant Man and Amadeus.
Mark Hamill Now
These days, Star Wars is more popular than ever, so it's no surprise that Hamill is still associated with the franchise. In the late 2010s, he reprised his iconic role in several movies in the series, including The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (where he also provided the voice of Boolio).
Despite the fact that Star Wars has probably made him rich beyond his wildest dreams, Hamill is still staying busy in show business. His TV and voice credits are too numerous to list here, and he's even tried his hand as an audiobook narrator! He may be in his 70s, but it doesn't look like he's slowing down any time soon.
Pat Benatar Then
Most musicians didn't even have a single number top ten hit in the 1980s, but Pat Benatar bucked that trend and managed to have seven during the decade! Some of her most memorable singles on this era included "Love is a Battlefield", "We Belong", and "Hit Me with Your Best Shot".
In addition to all those singles, she also won four Grammy awards during the '80s and was nominated for three more. She also managed to somehow find time to star in a movie during this time! All in all, the '80s were very kind to Pat Benatar.
Pat Benatar Now
The '80s may have been great for Benatar, but things have just gotten even better for her over the years. She's basically been on tour constantly since 1979 and is currently in the middle of her 2022 De Novo tour. It was also announced in 2022 that she would officially be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Outside of her career, Benatar has been married to fellow musicians Neil Giraldo since the '80s, and the couple has two daughters together. And it seems like Benatar's kids might also be destined for show business, as they have both made TV appearances in the 2000s.
Anthony Michael Hall Then
Anthony Michael Hall got his start as a kid starring in commercials in the 1970s, but his first major movie break came in 1983 when he landed the role of Rusty Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation. His performance in that movie caught the attention of John Hughes who went on to cast Hall in several of his most famous films.
Those films included '80s classics like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. In all of these movies, Hall played sterotypically geeky characters, so, in the late '80s, he tried to move away from that persona by accepting roles on Saturday Night Live, Johnny Be Good, and Out of Bounds.
Anthony Michael Hall Now
Hall may have said goodbye to his geeky persona of the 1980s, but that didn't stop the acting jobs from rolling in. His most popular role as an adult came in the early 2000s when he was cast as the lead for the TV show The Dead Zone, but he's worked steadily up to the present day.
Although he declined to reprise his role as Rusty in the Vacation series of movies, he did give a nod to the role that first made him famous in a 2019 episode of The Goldbergs. The entire episode was a spoof of National Lampoon's Vacation, and Hall played an amusement park security guard named Rusty.
John Cusack Then
The entire Cusack family is famous in Hollywood, but none of them were as popular as John Cusack was in the 1980s. If you can think of a famous movie from this era, Cusack was probably in it! His biggest hits included Sixteen Candles, Better Off Dead, and Say Anything...
However, that just scratches the surface of what Cusack was doing in the '80s. When all was said and done, Cusack had appeared in fourteen movies during the decade! He also found a little time to learn kickboxing in preparation for his role in Say Anything... This dude had a busy '80s to say the least!
John Cusack Now
Since the 1980s, it doesn't seem like Cusack has slowed down his prolific output one bit. From 1990 until 2019, there's not a year where Cusack didn't appear in a movie in some form or another! Most recently, he appeared in the lead role of 2022's action movie Pursuit.
While movies are most definitely his forte, Cusack seems to be open to the idea of branching out into television as well. In 2020, he was cast in the lead role of Utopia, a sci-fi series that premiered on Amazon Prime. Is there more TV work in his future? We'll just have to wait and see!
Diane Lane Then
Diane Lane didn't have the greatest start to her acting career. In 1984, she starred in two films, Streets of Fire and The Cotton Club, both of which were complete flops. For many people, that kind of failure would spell the end of their acting aspirations, but Lane's big break was just around the corner for her.
In 1989, Lane starred in the TV Western miniseries Lonesome Dove, and that's when things really took off for her. She was nominated for an Emmy thanks to her performance, and this opened up a number of new movie and TV roles in the 1990s.
Diane Lane Now
Since her explosion of popularity in the late '80s, Lane has had steady work in Hollywood; although, nothing has really come that close to approximating her success in Lonesome Dove. However, she's had a steady career with more than a handful of awards and nominations over the years.
When it comes to her personal life, Lane currently has one daughter. Most recently, she was married to Josh Brolin from 2004 until their divorce in 2013. There's no telling what Lane will get up to next, but we imagine she's got at least a few more years in the spotlight!
Kathleen Turner Then
No one knows how to steal a scene like Kathleen Turner. She's been an icon of Hollywood for decades, and it all began for her in the 1980s. During the decade, she had roles in a wide number of successful films like Romancing the Stone, Prizzi's Honor, and Body Heat.
Thanks to her flawless performances, Turner managed to nab herself not one but two Golden Globes for Best Actress and an Oscar nomination to boot. Her popularity continued into the '90s with more successful roles in movies like Serial Mom, The War of the Roses, and The Virgin Suicides.
Kathleen Turner Now
As great as her career was in the 1980s, Kathleen Turner is probably more famous than ever these days. Despite being diagnosed with a debilitating case of rheumatoid arthritis, Turner continues to make frequent appearances in both movies and TV. But that's not all she's been up to!
Turner also has a passion for the stage and has had roles in some seriously impressive productions, like The Graduate, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and, most recently in 2017, An Act of God. Turner has one child and has been divorced since 2007.
Michael J. Fox Then
The 1980s just wouldn't be the same without Michael J. Fox. Despite having a decades-long career, he is still most famous for his role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movie series. Fox was also an '80s star thanks to his role as Richard Nixon fanboy Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties.
However, those two roles were by no means all he was doing in the '80s. Fox did more in that decade than some actors do in their entire career! His other highlights of the 1980s included roles in Teen Wolf, The Love Boat, and Night Court. Things were definitely going great for Fox during this time in his life.
Michael J. Fox Now
Unfortunately, by the early '90s, Fox was experiencing some troubling symptoms that would quickly be diagnosed as Parkinson's Disease. However, despite the grim outlook, Fox has pushed on through the years. He focuses much of his time on Parkinson's research and advocacy, but he's also continued to make numerous movie and TV appearances.
Fox married his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, in 1988, and the two remain married to this day. They have four children together and split their time between Manhattan and Canada, where Fox holds dual citizenship. Fox has beaten all the odds over the years and continues to thrive in Hollywood.
Eddie Murphy Then
Eddie Murphy is a king of comedy these days, and it's all thanks to the work he did in the 1980s. He first rose to fame after spending four years on Saturday Night Live in the early '80s, but his career was just getting started, and he still had higher to rise.
Murphy also had three iconic movie roles during the decade in Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Trading Places. And that's in addition to releasing two highly successful stand-up sets during this era too! His success carried on into the '90s, and Murphy has been a household name ever since.
Eddie Murphy Now
While Eddie Murphy is still well-known these days, his reasons for fame have changed. While many parents may know him as the foul-mouthed comic from the '80s, most kids these days are probably more familiar with him as the donkey from Shrek. What can we say? Some acting careers are stranger than others.
More recently, Murphy has returned to more adult-oriented movies with blue humor. He even reprised his role(s) in Coming to America for the 2021 reboot/sequel, Coming 2 America. It's also recently been revealed that he will be portraying George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic in an upcoming biopic.
Rick Moranis Then
Rick Moranis made a career for himself in the 1980s playing a number of iconic nerds and oddballs. He's probably most famous during this era for his role as Louis Tully in the Ghostbusters series of movies. However, that was far from all he did during the decade.
Moranis also garnered attention for his other major movie roles in Spaceballs, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and the movie-musical Little Shop of Horrors. While it seemed like a great career was on the horizon for Moranis, he had to give it all up in the 1990s.
Rick Moranis Now
Moranis got married in 1986, but his wife tragically died of cancer in 1991. After that, he began to pull back from the world of acting to focus on raising his kids as a single dad. Despite the fact that everyone loved him, it looked like we had seen the last of him.
Thankfully, that wasn't the case! While he's nowhere near as busy as he was in the 1980s, Moranis has slowly but surely returned to both movies and TV. Most recently, he appeared on an episode of The Goldbergs in 2018 that was inspired by the 1980s movie Spaceballs, which Moranis starred in.
Rob Lowe Then
There wasn't a group of teens more famous in the '80s than the Brat Pack that starred in some of the decade's best coming-of-age movies. Rob Lowe got his seat with the cool kids thanks to his roles in St. Elmo's Fire and The Outsiders. He was wildly popular during the decade and more than a few teenage girls had his poster on their walls.
Despite being on fire in the '80s, Rob Lowe had a much slower-paced decade in the 1990s. While he did star in Stephen King's critically acclaimed miniseries The Stand, that was one of the few standout roles he had during this time. However, he wouldn't stay down for long!
Rob Lowe Now
Lowe's popularity began to rise again around the 2000s after he took a role on The West Wing, and things only got better from there. His most recent major hit was as the perpetually optimistic Chris Traeger on the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation in the 2010s.
Most recently, Lowe became the lead and an executive producer on the drama 9-1-1: Lone Star. The show just finished up its third season and is scheduled to release a fourth, so it seems like he's got a new notch on his belt of memorable roles.