You know, it seems like the child star curse is a myth. Yeah, the kids from Different Strokes really brought down the curve, but there are just as many kid celebrities who emerged from Hollywood unscathed.
There are a few child stars who deserve to be mentioned for their contributions (or lack of contributions) to the field of science. I haven’t seen some of these shows in years because nobody airs reruns anymore, but looking at the clips brought back a lot of fond memories. It’s nice to know that some child stars went on to be icons of greatness, but it’s sad to see others (Kirk) missed the mark.
Danica McKellar played the girl next door, Winnie Cooper, on the Wonder Years. Every kid my age had a crush on her. Winnie was a weekly reminder that I had no girlfriend, and that I wanted one really bad.
It turns out that Danica is just as crush-worthy today. You probably already know by now that she’s a graduate of UCLA and a mathematician of some note, who has published two books on math for teenage girls, Math Doesn’t Suck and Kiss My Math. I haven’t read either book because I’m not a teenage girl, but I plan on buying both when my daughters go into middle school.
For those who want a trip down memory lane, check out this clip of a fan’s favorite Winnie/Kevin moments from Wonder Years. Awesome! After that, check out Tavis Smiley struggling to stay focused in an interview with adult Danica.
Just double-click to watch the videos that aren’t allowed to be imbedded!
Everyone watched Blossom (don’t try to deny it). It was the guiltiest of pleasures to watch the crazy hats, the airhead brother, the best friend Six, and the cringe worthy “Blossom moments” that we would all prefer to forget. In my opinionation, it wasn’t so bad.
The character of Blossom Russo was played by Bette Midler doppleganger Mayim Bialik. Mayim also pursued an education at UCLA with an undergraduate in Jewish studies and neuroscience, eventually continuing on to get her PhD in neuroscience. You wouldn’t believe what she does now… she’s a neuroscientist, silly! She studies Prader-Willi syndrome.
There’s a rumor that she has joined the Holistic Moms Network, a group of crunchy moms who protested with Jenny McCarthy in the Green Our Vaccines rally. Judging by the picture, I would say the rumors of Mayim’s crunchiness may very well be true. But who knows? Maybe the gossip is not true, or maybe she just likes attachment parenting baby wearing cloth diapering crunchy stuff. Mayim, if you’re out there… let us know. UPDATE: 8/29/09 The rumors are true according to this video blog and interview with Mayim.
Oh, here’s some Mayim videos… before and after.
That brings us to Kirk Cameron. God bless his little soul. He tries so hard. OK, we thirty-somethings all grew up with him as Mike Seaver on Growing Pains, the quintissential formulaic sitcom in a world of one-liner punch lines. Somewhere down the line, Kirk got it in his empty head that he had to dictate to the cast and crew of Growing Pains what Jesus would do, and that meant that an already bland white bread sticom became even more stale and empty.
You can’t see Kirk Cameron these days without his bud “Banana Man” Ray Comfort. Cameron and Comfort have deluded themselves into thinking that they have a formula to convert atheists into believers. It’s sad (for them) really because they’ve probably done more to cement atheism into the minds of freethinkers than they even know. Certainly, Kirk and Ray get an A for effort, but inevitably, they fall hard on their own misinformed asses every single time they try to debate atheists. Kirk’s favorite prop is the “crock0duck”, a lame attempt at poking a hole in the theory of evolution by pointing to the lack of transitional fossils. The crockoduck is a crock of shit, and he surely knows it, since he has done enough debates by now to understand the number of transitional fossils we’ve discovered. Kirk also loves to bait and switch atheists with a series of questions that presuppose the existence of a god, and if you haven’t seen Todd Friel’s sad attempt at ambushing Christopher Hitchens with Kirk’s routine, then you don’t want to miss it.
Check out clips from Kirk’s early days as a teen idol, and then check watch the trainwreck that he has become as a certified converter of atheists. As a bonus, an extra video of unintentionally funny scenes of Kirk letting out some steam in the indie hit Fireproof. Enjoy!
Did I miss any child actors who have made noteworthy contributions to the fields of science (and/or pseudoscience)? Let me know.