For many who grew up during the decade, the music, TV shows and movies of the 70s remain unparalleled. They are also fondly remembered for delivering a new generation of teen idols to the public. You know the type: the fresh faces that came out of the pages of Teen Beat to decorate the walls of fan rooms. While some of these stars – like John Travolta and Farrah Fawcett – would reach Hollywood legend status, some of their fellow teen idols have long since left the business or disappeared in the past. Read on for a great walk down memory lane and to find out what some of these former stars are up to now.
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Bobby Sherman found his first Hollywood spot as a house singer on the variety show, Shindig!, and from there, his career took off. Though he’s starred in shows like Getting Together, a Partridge Family spin-off, music is where he really hit his groove, releasing hits like “Easy Come, Easy Go.” After his entertainment career, Sherman became a police officer and medical coach. Today, the 78-year-old and his wife Brigitte focus their attention on Brigitte and Bobby Sherman Children’s Foundation, educating children living in poverty.
Robby Benson rose to stardom playing Nick Peterson in Ice Castles and later achieved animated immortality by becoming a Disney prince. He provided the voice of the Beast in 1991’s Beauty and the Beast and has reprized that role over the years for various related projects. In addition, he became a director, staying behind the camera for episodes of big shows like Friends and also taught filmmaking at a few different institutions. Benson, now 66, retired from teaching in 2016 and has become outspoken about heart health after undergoing four open heart surgeries.
Clark Brandon, now 63, became a star thanks to Out of the Blue and Mr. Merlin, but quit acting in 1989 after playing Auggie in the movie Fast Food. In the ’90s he directed instead, working on Dark Secrets, Skeeter and The Last Road. But in the end, he ended up changing careers completely. Brandon helped establish Areté Preparatory Academy (which is now known as Qualia) and, after stepping down as dean of students in 2019, became Executive Director of Pole-to-Pole Ocean Conservation.
You may have first fallen in love with Rick Ely when he played Jeremy Larkin in The Young Rebels, a short-lived TV series about teenage spies taking action against the British in 1777 America. After appearing in One Life to Live and Texas , Ely retired from acting. Not much is known about his life beyond these years, although his wife Kris told a Facebook fan page that Ely died on December 9, 2019, after a “long illness”.
No, the last name is not a coincidence – Jimmy Baio is a second cousin of former teen idol Scott Baio. He rose to fame playing Billy Tate on Soap, and would go on to appear on shows such as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, along with the film Bad News Bears in Training. It’s unclear what Baio, who is now 60, is doing today, but his famous relative, Scott, made it clear that they never met.
In the ’70s, Lance Kerwin was everywhere, from Little House on the Prairie to ABC’s Afterschool Specials and, most notably, playing the title role in James at 15. Although he took a break from acting in the ’90s, he’s returns as Anderson in The Wind and the Reckoning, which will be released in 2022. Today, Kerwin, 61, is living in Hawaii, selling timeshares with Diamond Resorts.
After spending his childhood in film and TV, Leif Garrett really achieved teen idol status when he started releasing music in the 70s. He released his debut album Leif Garrett which included the single “Put Your Head On My Shoulder”. in 1977. But unfortunately, his early success didn’t stop him from struggling later in life. After several drug and alcohol-related arrests (including a 1979 car accident that left his passenger paralyzed), the former teen idol ended up in court-ordered rehab in 2010. Now sober, Garrett, 60, has released a book of memories, Idol Truth, in 2019.
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You may remember Kristy McNichol as Buddy on Family – a role that won her two Emmy Awards. After struggling with her mental health as a young actress, McNichol retired from the business in the late ’90s. Things seem to have gotten a lot better for her since then. In 2012, McNichol came out as gay, sharing that she had been in a relationship with partner Martie Allen for over 20 years. Today, at 59, McNichol still meets fans and talks about her TV and film work at conventions.
In the 70’s and 80’s you could usually find Willie Aames on TV. He starred in two hit series – Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge – but left the entertainment world in the early 2000s to try something new. Speaking to Oprah Winfrey for her series Where Are They Now in 2013, Aames explained that he became Oceania Cruise Director. But after a long hiatus from acting, you can now see Aames, 61, in the occasional Hallmark movie, including Date My Dad and Love on the Menu.
Early in his musical career, including when he was a member of the band Zoot, Rick Springfield was positioned as a teen idol. He achieved huge popularity with his solo music, however, particularly his hit “Jessie’s Girl”. At 72, the Australian-born singer is still making music and touring. He also has his own show Sirius XM and has partnered with fellow rocker Sammy Hagar to create Beach Bar Rum.
Playing cop Jim Reed in Adam-12 in the late ’60s and early ’70s is what put Kent McCord on the map, although he did appear in films like Plane II in the ’90s and early 2000s. The 79-year-old actor keeps his life private these days, but let fans know through his official website that he is still meeting those who love his work through conventions and virtual events.
Pamela Sue Martin, now 69, is best known for playing Nancy Drew in Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and later playing heiress Fallon Carrington Colby in Dynasty for four years. Though she made a cameo in the CW’s Nancy Drew pilot in 2019, Martin hasn’t been acting as much recently, but in 2015, she told ABC’s Morning guest list that now that her son, Nicholas Allen, has grown up, she is working on a book.
The Partridge Family may have been one of the most famous family groups of the 70’s, but don’t forget the DeFranco family! Tony DeFranco (pictured above center) was the lead singer, and the rest of the group consisted of his brothers, Benny, Marisa, Merlina and Nino. His first single, “Heartbeat – It’s a Lovebeat” was recorded when Tony was just 13 years old. Decades later, Tony is 62 years old and has worked as a Sotheby’s realtor for over 20 years.
Andy Gibb’s biggest claim to fame was being the younger brother of the Bee Gees members, but he was a teen idol in his own right. Their hit singles of the 70s include “I Just Want To Be Your Everything”, which reached number one. But Gibb struggled with addiction and died at age 30 in 1988 of heart inflammation after complaining of chest pain.
Cheryl Ladd joined the cast of Charlie’s Angels following the departure of Farrah Fawcett from the series and played Kris Monroe. She acted for years afterwards, including in several Lifetime films. The 70-year-old singer’s latest film, A Cowgirl’s Song, will hit theaters in April 2022. In 2005, she published her book Token Chick: A Woman’s Guide to Golfing With the Boys.
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