Natalie Portman, The Professional, Neil Patrick Harris, Doogie Howser, Leonardo DiCaprio, Growing Pains, Kristen Stewart, Panic Room

Columbia Pictures; ABC; ABC; Columbia Pictures

The death of Corey Haim has me and my friends wondering: Is this just what happens to child stars? Does the life of a child actor eliminate any chance of a normal, happy future?
—Gary, Brooklyn, via the Answer B!tch inbox

Between the terrible news about the death of Corey Haim at 38; the suicide of one-time Growing Pains actor Andrew Koenig; and the ongoing, off-and-on dramas involving folks like Lindsay Lohan and Gary Coleman, it's easy to draw negative conclusions about early exposure to show business.

But you'd be wrong.

In fact you may not even be aware that some of your favorite actors have been at it since they were wee:

The list of apparently well-adjusted former child actors is varied and long.

It includes:

Kristen Stewart. Yes, that K.Stew. Her first major break came when she was about 12, in the Panic Room, with another well-known former child star...

Jodie Foster, who really needs no more description than that, thanks.

Natalie Portman made her feature film debut at age 13 in The Professional. She cleaned up OK, I guess.

You can say that several child actors have suffered from stunted growth—in the CG department. Both Elijah "Frodo Baggins" Wood and Sean "Samwise Gamgee" Astin were child actors. Wood's first appearance, circa age 7, was in a Paula Abdul video. Astin, meanwhile, was 13 when the classic The Goonies came out.

Let's not stop there.

Keisha Knight Pulliam and Raven-Symoné (The Cosby Show), Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss), Christina Ricci (The Addams Family), Leonardo DiCaprio (Growing Pains) and Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser) all have graduated from child stardom fairly unscathed.

Lastly, some child actors may disappear from the screen, but they're successes nonetheless; just ask directors Fred Savage and Ron Howard.


Sadly there were no happy endings for the stars in our Hollywood: Dying Young gallery.

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