While acting is a career that some people fall into accidentally as an adult, others dream of working in the entertainment industry from their childhood. Some achieve this dream and start appearing on the stage or screen as a child and others must wait until they become an adult to achieve their dreams. During the 1980s, there was a surge of movies that featured teens in the leading roles and for many, this decade was the beginning of a successful career in the entertainment industry. As teens, they became instantly well-known due to their roles in some of the most popular films of the era and this led to them getting more roles and starting on the road to long and financially rewarding careers. Here are 20 of the top 80s teen stars in history.
20. Matt Dillon
Matt Dillon is an actor and director who was born in New York on February 18, 1964. He appeared in his first feature film ‘Over the Edge’ in 1975. He rose to prominence throughout the 1980s when he starred in many movies, including ‘My Bodyguard’, ‘Little Darlings’, ‘The Outsiders’, ‘Tex’, ‘Rumble Fish’, ‘Drugstore Cowboy’, and ‘The Flamingo Kid’. Asa director, he has directed films including ‘You, Me, and Dupree’, ‘City of Ghosts’, ‘Nothing but the Truth’ and ‘Factotum’. He has starred in ‘Wayward Pines’, a FOX television series, since 2015. Dillon is unmarried but was in a three-year relationship with Cameron Diaz between 1995 and 1998.
19. Corey Haim
Corey Haim was born in Toronto on December 23, 1971. He became a star during the 1980s and was best-known for his role in ‘The Lost Boys’ alongside Corey Feldman. The two young actors became known as the ‘The Two Coreys’ and appeared in seven movies together and they later had their own reality show. Some of the other movies in which Haim appeared during the 1980s included ‘Firstborn’, ‘Secret Admirer’, ‘Silver Bullet’, ‘Murphy’s Romance’, ‘Lucas’ and ‘License to Drive’. Sadly, Corey Haim died on March 10, 2010. It was initially believed that his cause of death was drug related as he had been illegally obtaining and taking a variety of prescription drugs. However, the cause of death stated was diffuse alveolar damage and community-acquired pneumonia.
18. Charlie Sheen
Although Charlie Sheen is now most commonly associated with his role in ‘Two and a Half Men’, his career in the entertainment industry began much earlier than this and he was a teen idol of the 1980s. As a child in the 1970s, he had a few small uncredited roles in films. His first film of the 1980s was the 1983 film ‘Grizzly II: The Predator Concert’. He went on to appear in a further 20 films throughout this decade. Some of his best-known movies from this era are ‘Wall Street’ ‘’Platoon’ and ‘No Man’s Land’. He has continued to enjoy a successful career in both television and film despite experiencing problems in his personal life, including substance abuse and relationship problems. He has been married three times and has five children.
17. Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields was born in Manhattan on May 31, 1965, and she worked as a child model before becoming an actress as a preteen. Her first significant film role was as a child prostitute in the critically acclaimed 1978 film ‘Pretty Baby’. During the 1980s, she had roles in ‘The Blue Lagoon’, ‘Endless Love’, ‘Sahara’, ‘Brenda Starr’, and ‘Speed Zone’. During this decade, she worked in television. She continues to work as an actress, has been married twice, and has two children.
16. Anthony Michael Hall
Anthony Michael Hall was born in Massachusetts on April 14, 1949. His work in the 1980s shaped his career in the film industry. Between 1980 and 1982, he worked solely in television before making his film debut in the 1982 film ‘Six Pack’. He then played Russell ‘Rusty’ Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983 and then Farmer Ted in ‘Sixteen Candles’ in the following year. Other films in which he appeared during the 1980s included ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Weird Science’, ‘Out of Bounds’, and ‘Johnny Be Good’. Other films in which he has starred in later decades include ‘Edward Scissorhands’, ‘Trojan War’, ‘The Photographer’, and ‘War Machine’.
15. Corey Feldman
Corey Feldman was a child and teen actor in the 1980s. He was born in California on July 16, 1971, and began his acting career in 1974 as a toddler. During the 1980s, he had major roles in famous movies including ‘The Fox and the Hound’, ‘Gremlins’, ‘The Goonies’, ‘Stand by Me’, ‘The Lost Boys’, and ‘The Burbs’. He reprised his role as Edgar Frog in the 2008 film ‘Lost Boys: The Tribe’ and the 2010 film ‘Lost Boys: The Thirst’. He has been married three times and has one child. He continues to work as an actor in both television and film. Feldman has also taken part in many televised reality competitions.
14. John Cusack
John Cusack is an American actor, screenwriter, and producer who was born in Illinois on June 28, 1966. He began his career in the film industry during the 1980s. His first film role was as Roscoe Maibaum in the 1983 movie ‘Class’. He went on to appear in a further 13 films during this decade, including ‘The Sure Thing’, ‘Better Off Dead’, Stand by Me’, and ‘Hot Pursuit’. Some of his best-known films since then have included ‘High Fidelity’, ‘Being John Malkovich’, ‘Hot Tub Machine’, Grosse Pointe Blank’, ‘Con Air’, ‘The Raven’, ‘1408’ and ‘2012’. He has been nominated for multiple awards throughout his career.
13. Ally Sheedy
Ally Sheedy became a star of the 1980s during her late teens and early twenties. She was born in New York on June 13, 1962, and launched her career in 1981 when she was 18. During that year, she had roles in several television series and four television films. Her success on television continued into the following year. She made her debut in film in 1983 when she got a role in ‘Bad Boys’ and then ‘WarGames’ in the same year. Other films in which she appeared in the 1980s included ‘Oxford Blues’, ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’, ‘Twice in a Lifetime’, ‘Blue City’, ‘Maid to Order’, ‘Heart of Dixie’, ‘Short Circuit’, and ‘Short Circuit 2’. She was married to David Lansbury from 1992 to 2008 and has one child.
12. Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland is an actor, director, producer, and singer-songwriter who was born in London, England, on December 21, 1966.M Throughout his successful career, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe, two Satellite Awards, and two Screen Guild Actors Awards. He began his career in 1983 when he played Bill in ‘Max Dugan Returns’. However, it was for his role in the 1987 film ‘The Lost Boys’ for which he is particularly well-known during that decade. Other films in which he appeared during the 1980s include ‘The Bay Boy’, ‘At Close Range’, ‘Stand by Me’, ‘Crazy Moon’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘The Killing Time’, ‘Bright Lights, Big City’, ‘Young Guns’, ‘1969’, and ‘Renegade’. He has been married twice and has one daughter, Sarah Sutherland.
11. River Phoenix
River Phoenix is remembered almost ass much for his tragic early death as he is for his successful acting career during the 1980s. He was born in Oregon on August 23, 1970. He was one of five children who all went on to have careers in the entertainment industry. His sisters are Rain, Summer, and Liberty while his brother is Joaquin Phoenix. River Phoenix began his career as an actor in 1982 when he appeared in 21 episodes of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’. He made his film debut in the 1985 movie ‘Explorers. Other films in which he had roles during the 1980s included ‘Stand By Me’, ‘The Mosquito Coast’, ‘A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon’, ‘Little Nikita’, ‘Running on Empty’, and ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. Sadly, Phoenix’s acting career was short-lived as he died tragically on October 31, 1970. His cause of death is listed as combined drug intoxication.
10. Emilio Estevez
Emilio Estevez is well-known for being a member of the 1980s Brat Pack. He was born in New York on May 12, 1962. He started a film career in the 1970s, but this was unsuccessful. He had an uncredited role in the 1973 film ‘Badlands’ and then a small role in the 1979 movie ‘Apocalypse Now’. Unfortunately, his scenes in the latter film were deleted in post-production. At 19, he finally made it into a film when he played Johnny Collins in ‘Tex’ in 1982. The following year he had a role in ‘The Outsiders’. He starred in a further ten films in this decade, including ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’, ‘The Breakfast club’, and ‘Repo Man’.
9. Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano enjoyed a very successful career during the 1980s. She was born in Brooklyn on December 19, 1972, and began her career as a child actress when she appeared in the 1984 film ‘Old Enough’. Other films she appeared in during the 1980s included ‘Commando’ and ‘Speed Zone’. Milano was also famous for her television roles during this decade. She played Samantha Micelli in 196 episodes of ‘Who’s the Boss?’ between 1984 and 1992. Her major television roles in later decades included playing Jennifer Marcini in 40 episodes of ‘Melrose Place’ and Phoebe Halliwell, the lead character in ‘Charmed’, for 178 episodes.
8. Demi Moore
Demi Moore was born on November 11, 1962, in New Mexico. She began her career in the entertainment in industry in the late 1970s as a model and songwriter. However, her acting career didn’t begin until the early 1980s. She made her film debut in 1981 in the film ‘Choices’. In the following year, she appeared in ‘Parasite’ and ‘Young Doctors in Love’. It was for her role in the 1985 movie ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ that gave Demi Moore a push towards success. She went on to star in films such as ‘Ghost’, ‘Indecent Proposal’, ‘A Few Good Men’, ‘G.I. Jane’, ‘Disclosure’, and ‘Indecent Proposal’. She has three daughters with actor Bruce Willis, to whom she was married from 1987 to 2000.
7. Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe became a teen idol during the 1980s. He was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, on March 17, 1964. He began his career playing the role of Tony Flannagan in ‘A New Kind of Family’ between 1979 and 1980. He made his film debut in the 1893 movie ‘The outsiders’. Other films in which he appeared during his era were ‘Class’, ‘The Hotel New Hampshire’, ‘Oxford Blues’, ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’, ‘Youngblood’, ‘About Last Night’, ‘Square Dance’, ‘Masquerade’, and ‘Illegally Yours. He has continued to enjoy a successful career both in film and television. He currently appears in a medical drama called ‘Code Black’ and a reality series called ‘The Lowe Files, in which he appears with his two sons from his marriage to Sheryl Berkoff.
6. Robert Downey Jr
Robert Downey Jr. was born in Manhattan on April 4, 1965. He began his career as a child actor at the age of five in 1970 when he appeared in his father’s film ‘Pound’. However, it was the work he did in the 1980s that really established his career. It was during this time that he was considered a member of ‘The Brat Pack’ and it his thanks to his success in the 1980s that he went on to become one of the highest paid actors in the world. The films in which he appeared during this decade were ‘Up the Academy’, ‘Baby It’s You’, ‘Firstborn’, ‘Tuff Tuff’, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’, ‘Weird Science’, ‘Deadwait’, ‘Back to School’, ‘The Pick-up Artist’, ‘Less Than Zero’, Johnny Be Good’, ‘Rented Lips’, ‘1969’, ‘That’s Adequate’, ‘true Believer’ and ‘Chances Are’. He is now probably best-known for playing ‘Iron Man’ in the ‘Iron Man ‘ and ‘Avengers’ series of films.
5. Ralph Macchio
Ralph Macchio was born in New York on November 4, 1961. He is most famous for playing Danny LaRusso in the ‘Karate Kid’ series of films which were released in 1984, 1986, and 1989. However, the first film in which he appeared was ‘Up the Academy’ in 1980. Other films from the 1980s in which he appeared include ‘High Powder’, ‘Dangerous Company’, ‘The Outsiders’, ‘Teachers’, ‘The Three Wishes of Billy Grier’, ‘Crossroads’, and ‘Distant Thunder’. He went on to have roles in many other movies right up to the present day. Some of these movies included ‘Hitchcock’, ‘My Cousin Vinny’, and ‘Naked in New York’. He married nurse practitioner Phyllis Fierro in 1987 and they have two children, Julia and Daniel.
4. Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder was a teen star during the 1980s and this led to her becoming one of the most iconic actresses of the 1990s. She was born in Winona, Minnesota, on October 29, 1971. She made her film debut in the 1986 film ‘Lucas’ at the age of just 15 followed by ‘Square Dance’ in 1987. Her next movie was Tim Burton’s ‘Beetlejuice’ in 1988 and it was for this film that she received greater recognition and won critical acclaim. Other films she appeared in during the 1980s included ‘1969’, ‘Heathers’, and ‘Great Balls of Fire!’. Some of her other famous films include ‘Edward Scissorhands’, ‘Dracula’, ‘Mermaids’, ‘The Age of Innocence’, and Pretty Women. Ryder received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000.
3. Johnny Depp
Prior to the 1980s, Johnny Depp was unknown, but it was during this decade that he became one of the most famous actors in the world and established a career with which he is still highly successful to this day. He was born in Kentucky on June 9, 1963. He had initially intended to become a musician and dropped out of high school to pursue this career. However, fate took over when he attended an audition for a horror movie with a friend and the director’s daughter fancied him. She persuaded her mum to cast him in the film, which was the 1984 movie ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. It was this film that launched his acting career. Other films in which he appeared in the 1980s were ‘Thrashin’, ‘Private Resort’, and ‘Platoon’. Depp was also known for his role in the television series ’21 Jump Street’. Since the 1980s, he has continued to enjoy a successful acting career. Some of his top movies include ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series of films, ‘Edward Scissorhands’, ‘Ed Wood’, ‘Sleepy Hollow’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’. He has been nominated for multiple awards and won a Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award.
2. Michael J, Fox
Michael J. Fox was one of the most popular stars of the 80s. He was born in Alberta, Canada, on June 9, 1961. He began his acting career on television during the 1970s as a child. but it was the 80s when he began having the most success. In 1981, he appeared in his first film, ‘Midnight of Madness’, followed two years later by a role in ‘Class of 1984’. However, 1985 was the year when he hit the big time as it was in this year when he first played Marty McFly in ‘Back to the Future’ and then played Scott Howard in ‘Teen Wolf’ in the same year. Other films in which he appeared in this decade were ‘Light of Day’, ‘The Secret of My Success’, ‘Bright Lights, Big City’, ‘Casualties of War’, and ‘Back to the Future Part II’. In 1991, when he was just 29, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which is a degenerative and debilitating neuro-muscular condition. As a result of his deteriorating health, he decided to semi-retire in 2000 although he has taken on a few supporting roles and worked as a voice actor.
1. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise is now one of the top film actors in the world and it was in the 1980s when he launched his career. He was born on July 3, 1962, in Syracuse, New York. Cruise was already showing an interest in acting when he was in Grade 4 and appeared in amateur productions. In 1981, at the age of 18, he finally got his chance to appear in a film as he had a small role in ‘Endless Love’. From then until the end of the 80s, he appeared in a further ten films. Amongst these are some of the movies for which he is still best-known for and ked to him becoming one of the best paid actors of the 1990s and 2000s. They include ‘Top Gun’, ‘Cocktail’, and ‘Rainman’. After the 80s, his success continued, and he appeared in many more high-profile films, such as ‘Days of Thunder’, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘Vanilla Sky’, ‘Minority Report’, ‘Knight and Day’, and the ‘Mission: Impossible’ series of films. Cruise has been married three times and has three children.