Age: 36 \\ Best known as: Webster Long on Webster
So heavy-handed was eighties TV that prime time featured two sitcoms about pint-size black boys being raised in white households. But only Lewis’ character lent his name to the series. Now, nearly 20 years since the show’s end, Lewis divides his time between motivational speaking, running his music label, and graciously humoring fans who mistake him for Gary Coleman.
“It was crazy. These fans knocked the window out of a store I was shopping in—their big front window—chanting, ‘Bring us Webster!’”
Age: 32 \\ Best known as: Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years
Those shin-grazing skirts. That porcelain skin. That sticker-covered binder. We knew precisely why Kevin Arnold longed for the shy, studious Winnie, a character based on McKellar’s real-life persona. After taking a break from acting to study math at UCLA (she has a theorem named after her), McKellar landed a recurring role on The West Wing and is now starring in Lifetime’s Inspector Mom. Her inner geek remains intact: She’s publishing a book, Math Doesn’t Suck, aimed at making long division more alluring.
Age: 31 \\ Best known as: Jonathan Bower on Who’s the Boss?
Despite a goody-goody’s best intentions, nothing went right for Jonathan Bower (except, perhaps, that he got to live with Alyssa Milano). This made him irrestistible to everyone, it seems, but Pintauro. “I hated him. I mean, he was a big dork,” he says. “One episode he got to be cool, and then learned his lesson—turns out he was hanging with the ‘wrong crowd.’” Pintauro left Hollywood for Stanford, came out in 1997—long before Doogie Howser did—and is now back in show business, casting TV pilots.
“We’re getting dirtier and dirtier. Old Hollywood was all about the glamour. The eighties was a little bit about trash. Now it’s expected. All the younger kids have to do these days is show their crotches, and they’re set.”
Age: 33 \\ Best known as: Bud Bundy on Married . . . With Children
Admittedly, getting busted for pot possession isn’t the best way to distinguish yourself from Bud Bundy. But despite the passing similarities with his alter ego, Faustino has scored something Bud never had: a career. He co-owns a production company (with Parker Lewis Can’t Lose star Corin Nemec) and is currently pitching his latest show, about Hollywood has-beens and never-weres (think Entourage without Vince). He’ll be playing himself.
“People say, ‘This generation, they’re crazy!’ They always say that. Child stars have always been wild. It’s just chronicled a lot more. I was arrested recently, and it was all over the place. Had that happened 10 years ago, nobody would’ve known for weeks.”
CANDACE CAMERON BURE & JODIE SWEETIN
Ages: 31, 25 \\ Best known as: D.J. and Stephanie Tanner on Full House
The inseparable Olsen twins remain fixed in the pop-culture firmament, but the actresses behind the “other,” older Tanner sisters—the ones with garish fluorescent scrunchies and equally abrasive catchphrases (cue: “How rude!”)—are different stories altogether. Cameron Bure (she was married in 1996) is a soccer mom of three in Florida; Sweetin is getting back into acting after beating a meth addiction. Yet the two share a touchstone: They still get fatherly advice from Bob Saget.
“It’s hard growing up in front of America. You go through so many stages. My daughter said to me, ‘You are not dressing well on that show.’ I said, ‘Honey, I was so cool. Everyone wanted to wear what D.J. was wearing.’” -Candace Cameron Bure
Age: 28 \\ Best known as Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Carlton was a polo-clad buzzkill. Hilary was a spoiled princess. Then there was down-to-earth little Ashley, Will Smith’s only likable surrogate sibling. Now, after graduating from Harvard and receiving some counsel from her multiplatinum onetime costar, Ali is focusing on a singing career. She’s currently recording her second album (the first went gold in 1999). And no, DJ Jazzy Jeff is not involved.
Age: 30 \\ Best known as: Ben Seaver on Growing Pains
Does a too-cute blond youngest child with a trademark scream sound familiar? Remember that Ben Seaver’s signature howl came first. He screamed when he was happy, when he was sad, and when he was confused (like the time he glued himself to the coffee table). Nowadays Miller is engaged in quieter pastimes, having given up performing in favor of the culinary arts. He is, however, considering doing a cooking show in China, where Growing Pains—and Ben Seaver’s scream—have a huge cult following.
“I followed Tracey Gold around like a lost puppy dog. She went to prom with Kirk Cameron, and I was crushed, man. It was a little incestuous.”
Age: 32 \\ Best known as: Vicki the Robot on Small Wonder
The plot—an engineer builds a robot that looks just like a 10-year-old girl and “raises” her in his home—was absurd, and the production quality laughable. What made Brissette’s Vicki so memorable were the machine’s awkward attempts to fit in. “There were times when I’d try to sneak human emotion into the scene,” explains Brissette, “and my producers would always say ‘No, no! You’re a robot!’” She still finds herself drawn to human feelings, working as a nurse in Boulder, Colorado.