15 '70s Teen Idols You Totally Forgot About
These teen idols burned bright and then faded into the past. Find out why.
For many who grew up during the decade, the music, TV shows, and movies of the '70s remain unmatched. They're also fondly remembered for delivering audiences a new generation of teen idols. You know the type: the fresh faces who went from the pages of Teen Beat to decorating fans' bedroom walls. While some such stars—like John Travolta and Farrah Fawcett—would go on to achieve Hollywood legend status, some of their fellow teen idols have long ago quit the business or have otherwise faded into the past. Read on for a major walk down memory lane and to find out what some of these former stars are up to now.
Bobby Sherman first found his footing in Hollywood as a house singer in the variety show, Shindig!, and from there, his career took off. Though he did star in shows like Getting Together, a Partridge Family spinoff, music is where he really hit his stride, releasing hits including "Easy Come, Easy Go." After his career in entertainment, Sherman became a police officer and medical trainer. Today, the 78-year-old and his wife Brigitte focus their attention on the Brigitte and Bobby Sherman Children's Foundation, educating kids living in poverty.
Robby Benson shot to stardom playing Nick Peterson in Ice Castles and later achieved animated immortality by becoming a Disney prince. He supplied the voice of the Beast in 1991's Beauty and the Beast and has reprised that role over the years for various related projects. Other than that, he went on to become a director, stepping behind the camera for episodes of huge shows like Friends and has also taught film 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 himself.
Clark Brandon, now 63, became a star thanks to the series Out of the Blue and Mr. Merlin, but he walked away from acting in 1989 after playing Auggie in the movie Fast Food. Through the '90s, he directed instead, working on Dark Secrets, Skeeter, and The Last Road. But ultimately, he ended up switching career paths completely. Brandon helped establish the Areté Preparatory Academy (which is now known as Qualia), and after leaving his position as the Dean of Students in 2019, he became the executive director of Pole-to-Pole Ocean Conservation.
You might have first fallen in love with Rick Ely when he played Jeremy Larkin on The Young Rebels, a short-lived TV series about teenage spies acting 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 those years, though his wife Kris told a Facebook fan page that Ely died on Dec. 9, 2019, after a "long illness."
No, the last name isn't a coincidence—Jimmy Baio is fellow former teen idol Scott Baio's second cousin. He came to fame playing Billy Tate in Soap, and would go on to appear in shows including The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, along with the movie Bad News Bears in Training. It's not clear what Baio, who is now 60, is doing today, but his famous relative, Scott, has made it clear that they've never actually 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. Though he took a break from acting in the '90s, he's back as Anderson in The Wind and the Reckoning, which is due out in 2022. Today, Kerwin, 61, is living in Hawaii, selling timeshares with Diamond Resorts.
After spending his childhood in movies and on TV, Leif Garrett truly reached teen idol status when he began releasing music in the '70s. He released his first album, Leif Garrett, which included the hit single "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" in 1977. But sadly, his early success didn't keep him from struggling later in life. After multiple 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, 60-year-old Garrett released a memoir, Idol Truth, in 2019.
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You might remember Kristy McNichol as Buddy on Family—a role that earned her two Emmy awards. After struggling with her mental health as a young actor, McNichol retired from the business in the late '90s. Things seem to have improved for her a lot since then. In 2012, McNichol came out as gay, sharing that she'd been in a relationship with partner Martie Allen for more than 20 years. Today, at 59, McNichol still meets fans and talks about her TV and film work at conventions.
In the '70s and '80s, you could usually find Willie Aames on TV. He starred in two hit sitcoms—Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge—but he dropped out of the entertainment world in the early 2000s to try something new. Speaking to told Oprah Winfrey for her Where Are They Now series in 2013, Aames explained that he became a cruise director for Oceania. But, after a long acting hiatus, you can now catch Aames, 61, in the occasional Hallmark movie, including Date My Dad and Love on the Menu.
Early in his music career, including when he was member of the band Zoot, Rick Springfield was positioned as a teen idol. He achieved huge mainstream popularity with his solo music, however, particularly his hit "Jessie's Girl." At 72 years old, the Australian born singer is still making music and touring. He also has his own Sirius XM show and partnered up with fellow rocker Sammy Hagar to create Beach Bar Rum.
Playing police officer Jim Reed on Adam-12 in the late '60s and early '70s was what put Kent McCord on the map, though he'd go on to appear in movies including Airplane II in the '90s and early 2000s. The 79-year-old actor mostly keeps his life private these days but has let fans know via his official website that he's still meeting those who love his work through conventions and virtual events.
Pamela Sue Martin
Pamela Sue Martin, now 69, is best known for playing Nancy Drew in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and later, playing heiress Fallon Carrington Colby on Dynasty for four years. Though she did have a cameo in the CW's Nancy Drew pilot in 2019, Martin hasn't been acting nearly as much recently, but in 2015, she did tell ABC's Morning Guest List that now that her son, Nicholas Allen, is grown up, she is working on a book.
The Partridge Family might have been one of the most famous family groups of the '70s, but don't forget about The DeFranco family! Tony DeFranco (pictured above center) was the lead singer, and the rest of the group was made up of his siblings, Benny, Marisa, Merlina, and Nino. Their first single, "Heartbeat – It's a Lovebeat" was recorded when Tony was just 13 years old. Decades later, Tony is 62 and has been working as a realtor for Sotheby's for more than 20 years.
Andy Gibb's biggest claim to fame was being the younger brother of the members of the Bee Gees, but he was a teen idol in his own right. His hit '70s singles include "I Just Want To Be Your Everything," which hit No. 1. But Gibb battled with addiction, and he died at 30 years old in 1988 of heart inflammation after complaining of chest pain.
Cheryl Ladd joined the cast of Charlie's Angels after Farrah Fawcett's departure from the series and played Kris Monroe. She acted for years afterward, including in several Lifetime movies. The 70-year-old's latest movie, 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.