He Played Andy Keaton on "Family Ties." See Brian Bonsall Now at 40.
The former child star walked away from Hollywood 25 years ago.
Brian Bonsall began playing Andrew "Andy" Keaton on Family Ties when he was five years old, and he was only eight when the family sitcom ended in 1989. When Meredith Baxter, who played Elyse Keaton, was pregnant in real life, that pregnancy was written into the series, bringing a fourth sibling to the brood that already included Alex (Michael J. Fox), Mallory (Justine Bateman), and Jennifer (Tina Yothers). Garrett and Tyler Merriman played baby Andy, and Bonsall took over when the character magically aged several years between Seasons 4 and 5. Since the end of Family Ties, the former child actor has dealt with some significant ups and downs. Read on to find out what Bonsall is doing now.
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He's part of the Star Trek universe.
After Family Ties went off the air, Bonsall continued acting. He starred in the movies Blank Check, a Disney comedy, and Mikey, a horror film about a little boy who terrorizes his adoptive family. It was so gruesome that it banned in the UK, but that didn't stop Bonsall's career from moving forward. From 1992 until 1994, he had a recurring role in Star Trek: Next Generation as part-human/part-Klingon Alexander Rozhenko. He told StarTrek.com in 2016 of his Next Gen days, "As you can imagine, the makeup could get a bit irritating at times, but they were always there to help me figure out how to scratch an itch or repair a wardrobe malfunction. It was an awesome experience. It definitely helped me stay in character, as much as a kid that age could. I felt like a warrior. The $4,000 wig of real hair was probably the biggest pain in the butt, though, because it was so much money and I enjoyed running around like a madman at times."
He had some trouble with the law.
Roles eventually dried up for the child actor. Bonsall officially "retired" from entertainment in 1995 and lived with his parents in Boulder, Colorado, where he went to high school and lived like a regular teen. Unfortunately, he encountered some trouble beginning in the mid-2000s, including a 2004 arrest for drunk driving and a 2007 arrest for assaulting his girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to two years of probation, per Colorado Daily. Bonsall faced more legal issues in 2009 and 2010, including another assault arrest, as well as some marijuana charges, for which he received another two years of probation, as reported by The New York Daily News.
The good news is that Bonsall seems to have received the help he needed and is now doing well. He spoke about his arrests in the same StarTrek.com interview.
"Unfortunately as far as the media goes, I've never had the opportunity to tell my story. I should probably write a book about it like everyone else with similar issues. My drunken run-ins with the law are about 10 years behind me, so I'm pretty happy about that. I'm not proud of my past mistakes but you live and you learn, I guess… hopefully," he explained. "I've learned a lot about myself, that's for sure. I'm deeply in love with my girlfriend, who is a huge, positive support for me, I dig my job, and I'm excited to release some new music and head out on tour again. So I'd say I'm doing pretty well."
He toured with The Ataris.
Music appears to be where Bonsall's heart lies these days. In 2016, he and his band Lowjob toured with the punk act The Ataris. He's also been a member of a rock band called Sunset Silhouette, and now, per Instagram, it appears that he plays with the bands Lights In The Sky and Bootjack & Bonz. You can also find Bonsall's music on Bandcamp.
He was the target of a death hoax.
Because the internet is what it is, Bonsall once had to refute a report that he had died. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter in 2014, fake Us Weekly and TMZ articles asserted that the Family Ties actor Bonsall as well as Seinfeld star Wayne Knight—also alive and well—had passed over that weekend. Luckily, Bonsall was able to quickly clear it all up on Twitter. He tweeted, "Well apparently i'm dead, lol but I'll have you know I'm doing well and enjoying a cup of coffee at home."
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He has family ties of his own now.
Bonsall married Courtney Tuck in 2017, and they had a son, Oliver, in 2019. Judging from his Instagram posts, the former child star has happily taken to fatherhood and married life. He's also available on Cameo, if you want to ask Bonsall any questions about what else he's been up to since playing Andy Keaton on Family Ties.