History is filled with fairytales about beautiful children — some of whom were even given names based on their appearance, like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. And cinema is filled with icons like National Velvet‘s Elizabeth Taylor and Miracle on 34th Street‘s Natalie Wood. Then there are the adorable little gals of musicals, like Aileen Quinn of 1982’s Annie and Shirley Temple, America’s sweetheart, who inspired a delicious sparkling cherry grenadine drink.
There isn’t a shortage of beautiful children in the recent past, either. But whatever became of some of our favorite child stars? Many of them grew up to continue their careers in acting or modeling. Some took other paths, or at least chose to amble beside (rather than glide down) the red carpet. But the children listed below have gone on to do great things — in or out of the spotlight. Read on to find out what ever happened to some of the prettiest kids in the world.
Tami Stronach turned to dance
Most people will remember Tamara (Tami) Stronach as the mournful, beautiful "childlike empress" in 1984’s The NeverEnding Story — she who sat weeping in her crumbling ivory tower, while encouraging the young Bastian Balthazar Bux (Barret Oliver) to rebuild his own "neverending story" with his own imagination. But what has she been doing since helping to save the kingdom?
According to her official website, Stronach has turned her attention primarily to the art of dance. In addition to being the co-founder of Tami Stronach Dance, she runs a rather fascinating family entertainment company called Paper Canoe. One of her most recent projects, based out of New York as part of an event sponsored by the New York Czech Center, is called Sense, which seeks to cross and connect light, sound, and music. All of which sounds very fantasy-like, and perhaps akin to the moral of The NeverEnding Story in some ways.
In fact, in a 2017 interview with the Huffington Post, Stronach even said that her "Paper Canoe" project was partially inspired by the film. So it’s safe to assume that we can expect some wondrous new projects from her in the future.
Julia Winter left Hollywood to pursue a bigger dream
Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is beloved by many fans of the whimsically macabre director’s work. And one of its most memorable figures is undoubtedly Veruca Salt, who was played by 11-year-old Julia Winter. Winter’s performance garnered positive reviews from many critics. And, as evidenced by interviews she did at the time, she had a great time making the movie. But aside from a handful of promotional documentaries she did to promote the film, Winter did not go on to work in show biz.
Instead, she returned to her native Sweden, and began studying at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm to become a doctor. She can be seen here as an adult. Yes, the video is in Swedish, which makes it difficult to understand without subtitles (or unless you speak the language, of course). Nevertheless, it’s great to see that little Veruca turned out to be a good nut, after all.
Jodelle Ferland never stopped acting
In 2005, Jodelle Ferland broke into cult film stardom as little Jeliza-Rose, heroine of Terry Gilliam’s surreal fantasy-horror film Tideland. As it turned out, having a corpse (Jeff Bridges) for a father, a series of bizarre circus-like neighbors for friends, and her fingers adorned with talking Barbie doll heads paved the way for future endeavors.
Ferland would go on to star in the 2006 horror film Silent Hill; she did a very non-gothic, upbeat and ebullient interview with Ellen DeGeneres about the movie later that same year. She also starred in the 2007 horror film The Messengers (produced by Evil Dead legend Sam Raimi) and 2012’s horror blockbuster The Cabin in the Woods. She was also in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Nowadays, Ferland stars as Olive in the Darken: Before the Dark TV series, which she was recently interviewed about. She’s also been known to make appearances at Comic-Con events.
Emily Browning is a familiar face in entertainment
Emily Browning, who played Violet Baudelaire in 2004’s Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, is a household name. The Australian actress got her start at a very young age, appearing, as a child, in several TV dramas, including the 2000 sci-fi children’s show Thunderstone and the 2001 miniseries Blonde, based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Then came her breakout role in 2002’s Ghost Ship, then Lemony Snicket’s, then the rest was history.
As an adult, Browning has appeared in mainstream movies like 2011’s Sucker Punch and 2014’s 3D action flick Pompeii, as well as Julia Leigh’s poetically surreal arthouse film Sleeping Beauty. The latter, a notable departure for Browning, is about a high-class service that pays beautiful young girls to sleep for hours under rather disturbing circumstances. She was also cast in the show American Gods, which was adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel. Browning is also a singer who has worked with bands like Belle and Sebastian, and she’s contributed to various film soundtracks.
Daveigh Chase has countless iconic roles to her name
It’s hard to tell which role the young Daveigh Chase is most famous for. Horror aficionados know and love her as the spectral demon-child Samara in 2002’s The Ring. Others remember her as little Samantha Darko (it’s impossible to forget her ultra-cool "Sparkle Motion" dance moves) in 2001’s Donnie Darko. She’s also beloved for voicing Lilo in the 2002 Disney film Lilo and Stitch, and for voicing Chihiro in 2001’s anime hit Spirited Away.
Chase’s childhood roles may be iconic, but the Las Vegas-born actress has plenty of adult roles to her credit, too. She appeared in 2009’s S. Darko, the sequel to Donnie Darko, in which she reprised her role as a less sparkly and more intense (but still unforgettable) Samantha. She had a foray in TV with a role in the HBO series Big Love, and she starred in the 2015 Lifetime thriller Killer Crush, playing a psychotic med school student. In 2016, she returned to the horror genre with the film Jack Goes Home.
Rachel Hurd-Wood is more than Peter Pan’s lady love
English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood got her start in 2003’s adaptation of Peter Pan, playing a mesmerizing Wendy Darling. She went on to appear in movies like 2005’s An American Haunting and 2009’s Dorian Gray, but, as of this writing, her most memorable role was in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, based on writer Patrick Süskind’s 1985 historical fantasy novel of the same name. Hurd-Wood plays Laura, the story’s primary muse, whose enticing scent eventually leads to her being made into a species of perfume.
Hurd-Wood has also done a lot of other film and television work, and done her share of interviews for various movies. She became heavily involved in charity events, as well, participating in a variety of fundraising endeavors. She’s also talked about the experience of being in Nepal while filming the 2014 movie Highway to Dhampus. But to many fans, she’ll always be Peter Pan’s innocent companion and true love.
Nicola Peltz checked into the Bates Motel
Child actress Nicola Peltz made her film debut at the age of 11 in the Christmas comedy Deck the Halls. Two years later, she appeared in writer T. Sean Shannon’s Harold, a comedy inspired by Shannon’s work on Saturday Night Live. Her major breakthrough, however, came a few years later, when she starred as Katara in M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of The Last Airbender (based on the anime series of the same name). But what has she been up to since then?
Nowadays, she’s known for playing the pivotal (but ill-fated) Bradley in the A&E series Bates Motel. Others might know her as Tessa Yeager in Transformers: Age of Extinction. She also works as a fashion model, and has been in a number of Hollywood films. Peltz has come a long way from her early beginnings — still as beautiful, and her career shows no signs of slowing down.
Ella Purnell found a home with Miss Peregrine
Young Ella Purnell’s big break came when she appeared in 2010’s Never Let Me Go. She was cast as young Ruth, whose grown-up version was played by Keira Knightley, and indeed, her uncanny resemblance to Knightley is still evident today.
As an adult, Purnell is surely best known for starring as Emma Bloom, the underwater-breathing girl, in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. She also appeared as a teenage Angelina Jolie in 2014’s Maleficent. Purnell later appeared as Winston Churchill’s secretary in the 2017 drama Churchill, and can be seen talking about said role in this video interview. In 2018, Purnell was cast in the Starz series Sweetbitter, about a young girl who comes to the Big Apple to pursue her dreams; in an interview with Collider, she recalled flubbing her audition for the role — but still getting the part!
Kaia Gerber made a big splash on the modeling scene
It was pretty much destined that Kaia Gerber would grow up to be gorgeous, given that her parents are Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber. The model made her professional debut in 2010, when she appeared in an ad campaign for Versace Kids at the tender age of 10, according to an article in The Telegraph. But after causing a bit of a controversy given that she wore an especially short skirt, Crawford decided that her daughter should wait until she was older to model (via The Hollywood Reporter). Honestly, that was probably for the best.
Indeed the break didn’t impact Gerber’s career at all, as she returned to professional modeling in a big way when she was 16. That year, she did her first runway show for Calvin Klein, and hasn’t slowed down ever since, according to an interview with Vogue Italia. Now Gerber can be found everywhere that’s anywhere, like on the cover of Vogue magazine, walking the runway in the finest couture, and being honored by the British Fashion Council. Clearly Gerber is on fire!
Gigi Hadid became a top model and influencer
Gigi Hadid has been a model for her entire life, as she started working for Guess Baby when she was just 2 years old, according to her since-removed Guess profile. Then, after a hiatus, Hadid returned to modeling in 2011 when she was a little bit older and a little bit wiser. By 2012, she was the official face of Guess, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. But for Hadid, that was just the beginning.
After Hadid walked her first runway in 2014, everything changed at a fairly rapid pace. She was rocketed into super-stardom, quickly becoming one of the most famous and in-demand models in the entire world, according to Vogue Arabia. She’s a darling of Donatella Versace and the It girl for multiple brands, including Prada and Victoria’s Secret. Oh, and you can find her on pretty much every magazine cover that’s out there. Additionally, Hadid has nearly 50 million Instagram followers, and is one of the biggest influencers on all of social media. To call her accomplishments impressive is an understatement, as she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Lindsay Lohan’s ups and downs led to her designing her very own island
When Lindsay Lohan‘s career began its ascension, she was one of America’s favorite gingers. After early appearances in commercials like this advertisement for Jell-O (talk about simpler times), Lohan went on to score her breakout movie role in The Parent Trap as Hallie Parker and Annie James in 1998. Following that, she starred in the much-beloved Mean Girls in 2004, alongside comedy greats Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and her star was definitely on the rise.
But Lohan was troubled, which put a dent in what could have been. After being arrested multiple times for possession of narcotics, DUI, and a misdemeanor hit-and-run, Lohan became was seemingly blacklisted by directors and became fodder for tabloids, according to an article in Variety. Clearly she wasn’t doing very well.
But Lohan isn’t done, even though she’s relocated to Dubai and has become quite the hospitality mogul. She has a reality show on MTV called Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, and is designing an island she calls "Lindsay Land," which is a pretty impressive undertaking. Additionally, Lohan hopes to return to acting someday, and she dreams of working with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
Thylane Blondeau keeps her modeling career separate from her personal life
French-born model Thylane Blondeau’s modeling career began quite early — when she was 4 years old, to be exact. Seven years later, her parents and representatives garnered controversy by allowing her to appear in an ambiguously disquieting Vogue shoot; the then 10-year-old Blondeau (widely dubbed "the most beautiful girl in the world" by the press) lounged against satin sheets in stiletto heels and decidedly adult makeup. Blondeau’s mother, fashion designer Véronika Loubry, defended the shoot.
Since then, Blondeau’s appeared to actually be very happy working in the industry. In an interview with Teen Vogue, she reiterated her enthusiasm for modeling, while also pointing out that her career and her personal life were distinctly separate entities. "My friends and I don’t talk about it [my modeling] a lot," she said. "It’s kind of my secret garden. But my family is very happy for me." On her 16th birthday, Blondeau became the Brand ambassador of L’Oréal Paris; she also maintains an active Instagram presence.