10 Child Actors Who Disappeared From Hollywood

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

Child Actors Who Disappeared From Hollywood

They made their names as child actors in Hollywood but for one reason or another, they either stepped away from acting only to eventually come back or they left Hollywood for good. Some of their tales are cautionary, while others are what they consider to be wise decisions. Whichever the case, we have found 10 child actors who were once big names in Hollywood and now have disappeared from the bright lights.

10. Charlie Korsmo

Fans of the early ’90s movies like Dick Tracy (1990) and Hook (1991) should recognize child actor Charlie Korsmo. He began his career starring opposite screen legends Warren Beatty and Al Pacino in Dick Tracy, following that up with the Bill Murray comedy, What About Bob? After that, he got what turned out to be his biggest role as Robin Williams’s son in Hook. Although a success early on, Korsmo stepped away from Hollywood to become a lawyer and law professor.

9. Lisa Jakub

Between the ages of 7 and 22, Lisa Jakub had a pretty active film and television career. As a child actor, Jakub was seen in feature films like Matinee, Mrs. Doutbfire, Independence Day, and The Beautician and the Beast. She also had numerous roles on television in series such as Friday the 13th: The Series, The Twilight Zone, Night Court, and Due South. But at 22, Jakub had enough of Hollywood and left. Now she is an author and yoga instructor.

8. Anna Chlumsky

As a child actor, Anna Chlumsky is probably most recognized for her role as Vada Sultenfuss in My Girl and My Girl 2. Her role in the 1995 feature, Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain would be her last for a decade as Chlumsky turned to her studies at the University of Chicago where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. She then took a number of unfulfilling jobs that eventually brought her back to Hollywood in 2007 and she’s been a star on Veep.

7. Taylor Momsen

She was the downfall of the Grinch in the Jim Carrey-led 2000 Christmas hit, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. As Cindy Lou Who, Taylor Momsen was a child actor on the rise. Grinch led her to the gritty We Were Soldiers, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, and Hansel & Gretel. Her final feature film came in 2008 with Spy School.

But Momsen also had a successful run on television with her role as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl. Shortly after her time on that series ended, Momsen turned her attention to the music business, where she has since been successfully fronting her band, The Pretty Reckless.

6. Jeff Cohen

As Jeff Cohen explains it, although his role as Chunk in the Steven Spielberg/Richard Donner/Chris Columbus 1985 hit The Goonies, was the launching pad for him, the roles offered at that time were all based on his overly pudgy body.

“There were basically about four fat kids in town, so every time there was a fat kid role you saw the same people at the audition. It was survival of the fattest,” he once told The Daily Mail.

So, when puberty hit, Cohen chose to move on with his life. Cohen is now an attorney who, by the way, negotiated the deal for his Goonies pal, Ke Huy Quan, for his role in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

5. Edward Furlong

Edward Furlong has become one of those sad cautionary Hollywood tales in which too much excess derails a child actor’s life. Furlong is best known for his role as John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It was his first role and one that set him up nicely in Tinsel Town. But it was too much of a good thing as drinking, drugs, and a litany of bad decisions cost Furlong a shot at a great career. True, through it all, he somehow continued to pull in roles, but what could have been?

jonathan lipnicki

4. Jonathan Lipnicki

As a child actor, Jonathan Lipnicki’s claim to fame was his very first starring role as Ray Boyd in Jerry Maguire. He shined every time he was on screen and his back and forth with Tom Cruise’s Jerry was one of the joys of the film. He then went on to star in The Little Vampire and both Stuart Little movies. With a start like that, you would think that Lipnicki would have left a larger Hollywood footprint. Well, he hasn’t truly quit acting, it is just the projects he finds now are on little-known independent films.

3. Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson was another child actor who showed a ton of promise. Known for her roles in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and as the lead in Matilda (1996), Wilson finally decided she had enough. She explained, “Film acting is not very fun. Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you ‘get it right’, does not allow for very much creative freedom. The best times I had on film sets were the times the director let me express myself, but those were rare.” After a dozen years away, Wilson now mainly works in web series. She is also an author.

2. Peter Ostrum

We are going way old school with this one. If you have seen the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, you know exactly who Peter Ostrum is. He played Charlie, the young boy who finds the final Golden Ticket that gets him into Wonka’s factory. It was a great role for Ostrum, but it would be the only one he’d take on as a child actor. The career path he chose instead was that of a veterinarian. Ostrum was 12 years old when he got the role as Charlie, but since that time, he has never looked back on a potential Hollywood career.

1. Macaulay Culkin

Did he ever truly leave Hollywood? Macaulay Culkin became the child actor everyone wanted in their film. He started off by stealing scenes in the John Candy film, Uncle Buck, then turned that into a career-defining role as Kevin McCallister in the Christmas classics, Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. But Culkin’s career has been riddled with personal issues that have taken him away from the limelight for many years. He took a nine-year hiatus during his teens and since returning to both the big and small screen in 2003, his career has been hit and miss, more on the “miss” side.