Michael Jackson would have been 53 on Monday. It’s hard to say what his life would have been like had he, say, been a regular kid instead of a pop phenomenon. Makes us think about other child stars and their fates, both good and bad. These are our picks for the top child stars that grew into talented adults, the ones we’d like to see make a comeback, and the cautionary tales.


Michael Jackson would have been 53 on Monday. It’s hard to say what his life would have been like had he, say, been a regular kid instead of a pop phenomenon. Makes us think about other child stars and their fates, both good and bad. These are our picks for the top child stars that grew into talented adults, the ones we’d like to see make a comeback, and the cautionary tales.

Jesse Chadderdon, city editor
Talented: Jessica Biel. Busted for posing topless while playing a preacher’s daughter on TV, she’s now a bona fide Hollywood star.
Comeback: Jody Sweetin. From one of Danny Tanner’s “Full House” angels to meth adict to mother. Maybe now that she’s got her life turned around, there’s another part to play?
Cautionary tale: Dustin Diamond. From the nerd who can’t get the girl to the adult film flame-out trying to turn a quick buck. And to think he was Bayside’s best and brightest.

John Cox, web & visual media editor
Talented: Matthew Broderick. Man was he good in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!” Oh that’s right...he was 23! They shoulda got someone younger, like Ralph Macchio.
Comeback: Freddy Adu. The soccer star who signed a professional contract at 14 and is now trying to recapture the momentum his young career promised with the Philadelphia Union.
Cautionary tale: Britney Spears. She has been consistently prominent in the media enough to warrant her own after-school special series based on her bad life decisions.

Jeff Mitchell, sports reporter
Talented: Leonardo DiCaprio.
Comeback: Jeff Cohen, Chunk of “The Goonies,” although it appears he has
lost a ton of weight and probably couldn’t do the truffle shuffle anymore.
Cautionary tale: River Phoenix.

Sarika Jagtiani, arts and cultural reporter
Talented: Mae Whitman. The cherubic scene-stealer from “One Fine Day” and “Independence Day” has grown into a talented actress. See for yourself on NBC’s “Parenthood.”
Comeback: Apparently, Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold from “The Wonder Years”) has been busy directing tons of TV, from “Modern Family” to “Party Down,” and wingman Josh Saviano (Paul Pfieffer) is a lawyer. I want a “Wonder Years” reunion.
Cautionary tale: Lindsay Lohan. I’ve used the term “hot mess” so much to describe her it’s lost all meaning.

Andre Lamar, arts and cultural reporter
Talented: Leonardo DiCaprio.
Comeback: All of the members from the R&B group New Edition.
Cautionary tale: Jamie Lynn Spears.

Antonio Prado, reporter
Talented: Ralph Macchio.
Comeback: Corey Feldman.
Cautionary tale: Corey Haim or Dana Plato.

Chris Stevens, sports reporter
Talented: LeBron James. High school phenomenon turned NBA prime time player, the man called King James is just 26 years old and has a long future ahead of him.
Comeback: Vicki from “Small Wonder.” What ever happened to the strange li’l robot girl from “Small Wonder”? Would love to know what she’s up to.
Cautionary tale: Michael Jackson. The King of Pop would’ve been 53 Monday, but a childhood full of a trauma and an adulthood that never saw him adjust was his undoing. Proof that stardom ISN’T for everybody.