Here’s what everyone remembers about the 80’s; it was a time that dance-pop music emerged on the scene, computers were the size of televisions, parachute pants were the norm, fanny packs were popular, and almost everyone owned scrunchies. A lot of these trends were popularized by those running the Hollywood scene, which is why we strung together the biggest stars to emerge in the 80’s and what they’re up to today.SKIP INTRO >>
We can thank the 80’s for bringing us classics like Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, The Goonies, Die Hard, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Raiders of the Lost Arc, The Karate Kid, and man, could the list go on. Of course films like this brought out some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The likes of Harrison Ford, Bo Derek, Brooke Shields, Alyssa Milano, Erika Eleniak, Nancy McKeon, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Madonna, and so on. Many of these stars are still dominating the scene as we know it – they bring out blockbuster hits and are rolling in the Benjamin’s – and it’s all because they starred in some 80’s flick that was beyond its time. But of course, that’s what we love about it.
The 80’s were a pretty special time and for those of you who never experienced it, man did you miss out. But don’t worry; we’re sure your parents wouldn’t mind telling you a story or two from back in the day. Otherwise, you can sit back, relax, watch your favorite oldies flick, and reminisce on the simpler times. Of course we’ve got you covered because we’ve dug up some of the biggest 80’s stars ever to see just what they’ve been up since. Let’s take a walk on the wild side, shall we?
The Harvard graduate starred in many 80’s classics such as The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysitting, Cocktail, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III. Over the years, Shue has won many acting awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.
From 1974 to 1984, Melissa Gilbert was on out television screens as Laura Ingalls Wilder on the series Little House on the Prairie. During this time, she also appeared on The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker. Gilbert has starred in quite a few television films as well. In 2016, Gilbert actually ran for the U.S. Congress as a Democrat in Michigan’s 8th congressional district. She would win the Democratic primary, however she later dropped out due to head and neck injuries she sustained in a 2012 accident.
From the 70’s to 80’s, Pam Dawber was loved for her role as Mindy McConnell in the hit series Mork & Mindy and also as Samantha Russell in My Sister Sam. Currently Dawber is retired and is living a quiet life with fellow actor Mark Harmon.
Edna Garrett from Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life is a fan favorite and always has been. In 2009 Charlotte Rae overcame pancreatic cancer but was diagnosed with bone cancer just in 2017. Even so, this 91 year old is fighting.
Firstly Barbara Eden didn’t just star in the flick The Secret Life of Kathy McCormick, she was also the co-producer. Although she’s best known to us from her work in I Dream of Jeannie. In 1988, Eden got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle, reveals all of what she went through in her career. She’s currently retired.
Everyone remembers Loretta Swit’s performance as nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan from the TV series M.A.S.H. It’s not a show, nor a role, anyone can ever forget. After the show went off air, Swit had a few acting roles. Currently she runs her own jewelry line and fundraisers for animal rights charities.
Basic Instinct is when Jeanne Tripplehorn made her debut and has since starred in some huge movies, like Waterworld. She is still acting today and stars in the long-running series Criminal Minds.
Thanks to her role as Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner saw her fame skyrocket. She even earned an Emmy for the role. She was just cast to play Alex’s mom in Grey’s Anatomy.
He was already a huge star in the 60’s but it was his role as Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man that put him on the map. Most know him also for his role in The Fall Guy. He’s currently married to wife number four.
Best known as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, Catherine Bach caught everyone’s attention. Especially as she popularized the “daisy duke look”. Currently she stars on the soap opera, The Young and the Restless.
Nancy McKeon will always remembered for her role as Jo Polniaczek on the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life, one of the longest-running sitcoms of the 1980’s. Since those days, she has starred in a few film and television roles but is more devoted to her two daughters and husband of almost 14 years and counting.
For nine years, Lauren Tewes starred on The Love Boat. Sadly she was written out of the show due to her struggles with drugs. She is more focused on voicework and appears in regional theater.
From one 80’s pop star to another, Debbie Gibson is an insanely talented singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. Popular for singles like “Foolish Beat”, “Lost In Your Eyes”, and “Say Goodbye”. Aside from pop, Gibson also starred on Broadway in Les Misérables and Grease.
In 1983, the legendary Cyndi Lauper released her first solo album titled “She’s So Unusual” and the rest is history. Teenagers, women, and even critics adored her. Apart from killing the entertainment world, Lauper is also a champion for humanitarian work.
Initially Brooke Shields took the world by storm as a child model and at age 12, she gained critical acclaim for her leading role in Pretty Baby. From there, Shields continued to model and starred in many dramas in the 80’s, including The Blue Lagoon and Endless Love. Currently Shields is making headlines as she’s set to join the cast of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as a major recurring role.
Antonio Salvatore Iadanza, AKA Tony Danza, is best known for his roles on the television series Taxi and Who’s the Boss? – earning him an Emmy Award and four Golden Globe Awards. Danza is still acting to this day but not so much as a lead actor.
Nobody puts “Grey” in the corner – sorry, not a funny joke. However, yes, Jennifer Grey is best known for her roles in the classic 80’s films of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and obviously, Dirty Dancing, earning her a Golden Globe Award nomination. She hasn’t done much acting since then but in 2010, she won season eleven of Dancing with the Stars. Baby also consulted a plastic surgeon, getting a nose job in the process.
Primarily Phoebe Cates is best known for her many roles in 80’s films, such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins. However in 1991, Cates retired from acting. She returned in 2001 as a favor to her best friend – her role was in the film The Anniversary Party.
ALI MACGRAW, 79 YEARS OLD
Ali MacGraw has starred in a lot of projects, but her performance in Love Story, the 1970 classic starring actor Ryan O’Neal, surely tops the list. The film is among the best romance movies ever made, and it seems everyone quite enjoyed it! As a matter of fact, MacGraw was included in People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. We think she is as gorgeous as ever thanks to the amazing genes that she has.
Rob Lowe’s brilliant career came to prominence in the 80’s, as he played teen and young adult roles in films like The Outsiders, Oxford Blues, St. Elmo’s Fire, and About Last Night…. Lowe then landed more high-profile roles in The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters, and Parks and Recreation. Apart from his continuing success in acting, he’s also a philanthropist.
The role of Mike Seaver on sitcom Growing Pains earned Cameron two Golden Globe Awards nominations. While he starred in a few film and television shows after the show, currently he is the leader of an Evangelic church.
At just 16, Kelly LeBrock started modeling, appearing on many magazine covers and fashion spreads. During the 80’s, she was often cast as the “perfect” or “fantasy” woman in films. She made a comeback in 2013.
Ahem, Kelly McGillis is best known for her work in 80’s films such as: her role as Rachel Lapp in Witness alongside Harrison Ford, her role as Charlie in the hit Top Gun, and the role of Kathryn Murphy in The Accused with Jodie Foster. Currently she stars as the lead role in Mother of All Secrets.
It doesn’t even look like Lisa Whelchel has aged a day! Whelchel is best known for her roles in The Mickey Mouse Club and The Facts Of Life, but you knew that already. She works primarily as a motivational speaker.
Claudia Wells found 80’s fame with her role as Jennifer in the Back to the Future films. However after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Wells dropped out of the two sequels and stopped acting until 2011. Since then she’s had a few roles here and there.
In the 80’s, Patric was known in the industry. Especially for his roles in The Lost Boys, Geronimo: An American Legend, Narc, and Speed 2: Cruise Control. Although most of us remember his long, brown hair and rock and roll glory look to this day.
Just in case you didn’t know – Kirstie Alley’s big break was in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Yes, really! Her role was that of Lieutenant JG Saavik. Ahh, good times. No doubt you’re more than familiar with her weight loss and gain over the years. And surely you’re aware that since 2013, she picked acting up again! Catch her on the Fox horror-comedy show, Scream Queens.
50 year old actress and director Julia Roberts started her career in 1987 and just three years later, she graced our screens in Pretty Woman. With three Golden Globe Awards and four
Academy Awards (she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Erin Brockovich).
Rebecca De Mornay
When Rebecca De Mornay landed the role of Lana in Risky Business, it was the big breakthrough she had been waiting for. After this she starred in the 80’s classics of and The Trip to Bountiful. To this day, she is still acting in film and television.
From 1982 to 1989, Justine Bateman played the role of superficial Mallory Keaton in the TV series Family Ties. Aside from acting, Bateman is also a writer, director, and producer. In 2016, she received her Computer Science and Digital Media Management degree from UCLA.
When it comes to charity organizations, Victoria Principal is heavily involved. She is well known for her role in the soap opera Dallas. Most of her time is spent working as an entrepreneur now.
At just the age of eight, Nicole Eggert scored a role in the 1980 film Rich and Famous. From there, she is best known for her roles in Charles in Charge and Baywatch. Eggert has made quite a few Lifetime Christmas movies.
Or as we best know her, Kylie. Kylie is an Australian singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, and philanthropist who first became big news when she starred on Australian soap opera Neighbours. As a recording artist, Kylie is often called the “Princess of Pop” and the “Goddess of Pop”. In fact, she has a new album coming out sometime in 2018.
Undoubtedly you know that Sara Gilbert starred on the TV series Roseanne from 1988 to 1997 (for which she received two Primetime Emmy nominations for). In 2018, Gilbert is reprising her Roseanne character for an eight episode revival. Moreover she is the co-host and creator of the talk show The Talk and also has had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory.
From 1964 to 1997, Lola Falana’s career blessed us with her skills as a singer, dancer, and actress. While Falana had an incredible career ahead of her, her battle with multiple sclerosis caused major setbacks in her life. Falana relied on her religion and faith to overcome her battle and as she no longer performs, Falana travels presenting messages of hope and spirituality.
While Melanie Griffith may have started her career in 1969, it only kicked off in 1984 with her role in the film Body Double. Over the years, Griffith has appeared in many film and television shows – her latest film was the 2017 Dabka .
Actress. Activist. Producer. Former singer. Goddess. Of course Milano is best recognized for her roles in Who’s the Boss?, Melrose Place, Charmed, and My Name is Earl. And how could we forget that she first began her Hollywood career when she was just seven?
What more could we tell you about Demi Moore that you don’t already know? She’s been killing it in Hollywood since 1981 and hasn’t slowed down since!
80’s star Jennifer Beals has appeared in over 50 films ever since she first emerged on the Hollywood scene. Although she’s best known for her role as Ale” Owens in the 1983 romantic drama Flashdance. Her last film role was in Before I Fall (2017).
56 year old Lea Thompson is best known as Lorraine Baines from the Back to the Future trilogy and as the title character from Caroline in the City. Apart from acting, Thompson is also a television director and television producer. From 2011 to 2017, she starred as Kathryn Kennish in the series Switched at Birth.
New York born and raised, Diane Lane started acting in 1971. Lane is best recognized for her roles in Unfaithful, The Outsiders, A Perfect Storm, Under the Tuscan Sun, and as Martha Kent in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League. At 53, Lane is still going strong.
The Queen of Pop got her career breakthrough during 1982–1985 and her style became one of the female fashion trends of the 80’s. Back then lace tops, skirts over capri pants, and fishnet stockings were all the craze thanks to Madonna. Since those days, Madonna has sold over 300 million records worldwide and ranks second in Billboard’s list of Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time (second to the Beatles).
Anthony Michael Hall
Anthony Michael Hall was notably a part of the “Brat Prat” starring in films like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Weird Science. Since then, he has diversified any acting roles that come his way to avoid typecasting as the geek. Apart from acting, he also dabbles as a producer and director.
Thiessen started out doing some modeling jobs and in 1989 she was named Cover Girl magazine’s “Model of the Year”, which helped land her first role as Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell. Since then, she has starred in a few film and television roles and in 2015, Thiessen began hosting her own show on the Cooking Channel called “Dinner at Tiffani’s”.
Another member of the “Brat Pack” ends up on the list (as if they wouldn’t). Sheedy debuted in the 1983 film Bad Boys and then found lasting fame with roles in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. She hasn’t done much acting as of late, focusing more on being a published author. We’re also glad to see she ditched the “goth” girl look.
Until the end of time, Jeff Cohen will always be the former child actor who starred as Chunk in Steven Spielberg’s production of The Goonies. Currently, Cohen is an attorney and founding partner of Cohen & Gardner, LLP.
Why wouldn’t we mention Jessie Spano from Saved By The Bell?! Elizabeth Berkley is still acting with her latest roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Dancing with the Stars, Melissa & Joey, and New Girl.
After a successful modeling career in the 70’s, Basinger moved to LA and kick started her acting career in the 80’s. She rose to prominence portraying Bond girl Domino Petachi in the 1983 film Never Say Never Again, opposite of Sean Connery. Basinger also received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in The Natural. Despite undergoing a few facial plastic surgery procedures, she remains gorgeous and natural. She is still acting today, with recent roles in The Nice Guys and Fifty Shades Darker.
The 80’s were great years for Emilio Estevez, starring in the “Brat Pack” films of The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, along with the epic flick The Outsiders. These days, he’s more focused on being a director, screenwriter, and producer.
Perhaps best remembered for her role as Sloane Peterson in the 1986 comedy flick Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and of course Legend and Timecop. She officially retired in 2013.
The force is strong with Mark Hamill (bad joke, sorry about that.) Hamill is of course most remembered for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars film series. He is also a prolific voice actor in numerous animated television shows, movies, and video games.
Lori Singer is best known for her roles in the 1984 feature film Footloose and the television series Fame. Before she started acting though, she became a Juilliard-trained cellist and still plays to this day. To this day, she still acts and is the executive producer of the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.
Molly Ringwald was pretty much the queen of the 80’s what with her premier acting roles and her flaming red hair. Her first major role was in The Facts of Life and Tempest, earning her a Golden Globe nomination. She then became a teen icon after appearing in the highly successful”Brat Pack” flicks Sixteen Candle, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Currently she has a main role in the CW television series Riverdale.
Kim Wilde basically burst onto the music scene in 1981 when she debuted her single “Kids in America”, reaching number two in the United Kingdom. Since then, she has gone on to sell over 10 million albums and 20 million singles.
The ever incredible Bo Derek got her breakthrough role in the 1979 film 10 which launched a bestselling poster of Derek in a swimsuit, thus subsequently turning her into one of the most popular sex symbols of the 80’s. Occasionally, she makes appearances in film, television, and documentary.
Nicolas Cage got his acting start in 1981 with films like Valley Girl, Birdy, and Moonstruck. Since then, he has gone on to receive many accolades, not just for acting but also as a producer.
Scottish singer, recording artist and stage and screen actress came to prominence in 1981. Since then, she keeps racking up many accolades, even becoming the “first and only artist in history to have a Top 5 hit on five different Billboard charts consecutively.”
Perhaps best remembered for her television roles as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company and as Carol Foster Lambert on Step by Step. Over the years, she has released a series of best-selling self-help books.
Soleil Moon Frye
As a child actor, Soleil Moon Frye got her first big role in the sitcom Punky Brewster. To this day, she still acts but mostly as a voice actor.
Our girl Kathleen Turner is known as the actress with a raspy voice. Turner’s role in Body Heat put her on the map and her career brought her won two Golden Globe Awards. As of late, she’s focused her sights on theater and as a voice actress.
Just about every film or series that Dianne Wiest has starred in has earned her either a nomination or a win for a respectable award. Awards such as the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress twice, two Oscar nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one BAFTA Award nomination, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2012, she starred in the comedy Darling Companion, with Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton.
As far as Tom Hanks is concerned, just about everyone recognizes his face. He has after all been on our screens since 1977! Furthermore the man is dang legend and his films are just as legendary! With the likes of Turner & Hooch, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, You’ve Got Mail, Cast Away, Sully, AND literally SO many more!
All hail the queen that is Geena Davis. I mean with her work in the classics like Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own; it’s no surprise she’s on this list. And yes, she is still acting to this day!
From 1987 to 1997, Christina Applegate starred as the hilarious Kelly Bundy on the sitcom Married… with Children. From there she went on to build an incredible career in film and television, snagging an Emmy and earning Tony and Golden Globe nominations along the way.
Judd Nelson was part of the 80’s “Brat Pack” era of John Hughes’ classic stars, starring in the ever popular flicks like The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. He is also remembered for his “bad boy” image, with his parachute pants, long hair, Ray Bans, and brooding demeanor. Currently, he’s still acting but is also an author, screenwriter, and producer.
Born with the name Marie Louise Hartman, but changed it to Nina Hartley during sophomore year of nursing school as she worked as a stripper. Over the years, Hartley has established herself as a pornographic actress and film director, a sex educator, a sex-positive feminist, and an author.
In 1976, Jaclyn Smith was cast as Kelly Garrett in Charlie’s Angels, alongside Kate Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Smith became the only original female lead to have remained with the series for its entire run. During the 80’s Jaclyn started to develop and market her very own brands of clothing and perfume. While she still makes the occasional appearance on film and television, Smith is more focused on design.
Tom Cruise was a massive icon during the 80’s and still is to this day. With roles in The Outsiders, Risky Business, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Cocktail, and Rain Man – he was well on his way to cementing his legacy. In 1993, he started producing and Forbes even credits him as the “world’s most powerful celebrity”.
Lisa Marie Turtle will always hold a special place in all our hearts! So thanks for that Lark Voorhies, Saved By The Bell is a staple of childhood from the 80’s and 90’s to many millennials today. While Voorhies hasn’t done much acting, she is a published author of three books.
Speaking of Saved By The Bell, Zach Morris is up next. Of course Mark-Paul Gosselaar is also known for his roles in NYPD Blue and Franklin & Bash. Recently he starred in the show Pitch and the movie Precious Cargo.
Ahh! When was the last time you thought about, let alone watched, The Karate Kid?! Maybe it’s been a while or heck, maybe you just watched it the other night. In any case, Ralph Macchio is still around and acting, folks. Oh, before we forget – he came in 4th place on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Or you can just call her Tiffany. As far as the 80’s are concerned, Tiffany was the Queen Bee of the era! From her cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now”, to “Could’ve Been” and “I Saw Him Standing There”, she was a chart topper through and through. Currently Tiffany is still performing.
Well, Barbara Hershey started acting when she was just 17 in 1965, but it wasn’t until the 80’s that she found fame. Hershey starred in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, earning her a Golden Globe. You can catch her on The X-Files in its 11th season premiere in January 2018.
Susan Alexandra Weaver, or as we all know her Sigourney Weaver. The 68 year old first emerged on the scene as a minor character in 1977 in Annie Hall. Shortly after she was cast in Alien and the rest is history. Weaver has plenty of awards to her name and has also appeared on Broadway! She is also a film producer.
Two words that are enough to drive people’s excitement through the roof, Barbra Streisand. For over six decades now, Streisand has built her legacy and has earned a plethora of awards along the way. Which include 10 Grammy Awards, five Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. But trust us, she was way more than what we just listed. As one of the best-selling music artists of all time, Streisand isn’t slowing down any time soon.
Michael J. Fox
Family Ties. Spin City. The Back to the Future trilogy. Those are just but a few of Michael J. Fox’s legendary hits. As most of us know, Fox was diagnosed at age 29 with Parkinson’s disease; and as a result, he created the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Most noteworthy, Fox is still acting despite his condition.
For 40 years, we’ve been graced with the greatness that is Glenn Close. I mean, she is regarded as one of THE finest actresses of her generation, so that just puts it all into perspective.
At just 16, Barbi Benton started modeling and by the time she was 18, she was donning the cover of Playboy magazine. She is also remembered for her role in the country variety series Hee Haw and for releasing a few successful albums.
Up next is the Playboy Playmate, former model and actress that will forever be remember for her role in Baywatch as Shauni McClain. Currently she is still acting in film and television with her last works in Desperate Housewives.
When it comes to the 80’s and 90’s, Winona Ryder is considered one of the most successful actresses of those eras. No one will ever forget her role in Tim Burton’s 1988 film Beetlejuice. Or her role in Heathers, Mermaids, Edward Scissorhands, The Age of Innocence , Little Women, and so much more. Currently Ryder stars on the Netflix series Stranger Things.
Actress, director, and screenwriter Helen Hunt starred on Mad About You for seven years and earned the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in As Good as It Gets. Hunt’s other notable roles include Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want, and Pay It Forward. 2007 is when she made her directorial debut.
1981 is when Jami Gertz got her start in acting, she starred in the likes of Crossroads, The Lost Boys, Less Than Zero, Square Pegs, and Twister. Although most know her from the CBS sitcom Still Standing or the ABC sitcom The Neighbors.
Mary Stuart Masterson
With films like At Close Range, Some Kind of Wonderful, Chances Are, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Benny & Joon, chances are, you’re pretty wonderful. Mary Stuart Masterson is also a director and screenwriter. Her last TV role was in NCIS and Blindspot.
For over 30 years, Janet Jackson has been gracing us with her pop genius. She has come a long way from being the youngest child of the Jackson family – seeing as how she is one of the world’s most awarded artists. In 2017, Jackson paused her ‘Unbreakable’ tour as she gave birth to her son. Once it was back on, she earned a ton of media attention.
Admit it, Candace Cameron-Bure will always be D.J. Tanner from Full House (a role she has reprised on Fuller House). Moreover she has done a lot with the Hallmark channel. In 2014, she came in third place on Dancing with the Stars.
50 year old Lisa Bonet is best recognized as Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show and later she starred in its spinoff, A Different World. Her last film role was in the 2016 film Ray Donovan. Bonet has been with Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa since 2005.