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October 9, 2015

Greatest TV Child Stars (10-1)

by Kim Potts, posted Oct 6th 2009 12:00PM
Danny Bonaduce10. Danny Partridge
Show: 'The Partridge Family' (1970-74)
Played by: Danny Bonaduce
David Cassidy was the resident heartthrob, and Bonaduce was the show's comedy star as brother and bass player Danny, the wise-crackin' redhead who often sparked the ire of band manager Reuben Kincaid. Bonaduce's off-screen life was considerably less sitcom-y, thanks to, he says, his abusive father. Bouts of drug and alcohol abuse have often overshadowed his career as an adult, though he's currently a drive-time radio host in his native Philadelphia.

Keshia Knight Pulliam9. Rudy Huxtable
Show: 'The Cosby Show' (1984-92)
Played by: Keshia Knight Pulliam
As the youngest member of the Huxtable family, Knight Pulliam's Rudy could always be counted on to bring the cute factor, from 'The Cosby Show''s second episode, where dad Cliff planned a funeral for her goldfish, to her habit of referring to her friend Kenny as "Buuuud" and giving Cliff "zerberts." Knight Pulliam, who was just 5 when the show began, even won an Emmy nomination during the show's second season.

Jerry Mathers8. Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver
Show: 'Leave It to Beaver' (1957-63)
Played by: Jerry Mathers
How did he become "Beaver"? It was revealed in the series finale: Young Wally couldn't pronounce his baby bro's name -- it came out sounding like "Beaver" -- and the nickname stuck. It seems like an appropriate moniker for the Beav, whose harmless shenanigans made him viewers' ideal of the all-American boy. As for that persistent rumor that Mathers was killed in Vietnam, not true. The actor has even appeared in a 'Beaver' sequel movie and series.

Melissa Gilbert7. Laura Ingalls
Show: 'Little House on the Prairie' (1974-83)
Played by: Melissa Gilbert
Sure, viewers loved the family drama, but it was Gilbert's Laura, with her braided pigtails, buck teeth and feisty personality, who was the show's breakout star, which was fitting since Laura's writings were the inspiration for the series. Gilbert, who went on to become a staple in made-for-TV movies and president of the Screen Actors Guild, recently released her autobiography, 'Prairie Tale: A Memoir,' which details her drug and alcohol abuse.

Kim Fields6. Dorothy "Tootie" Ramsey
Show: 'The Facts of Life' (1979-88)
Played by: Kim Fields
The only African-American girl amongst the main 'Facts' characters, Tootie could be found roller-skating around campus, hanging out with best bud Natalie and gossiping about her fellow students (hence her catchphrase, "We're in trouuuuuble"). Fields played the character through her teen years and into adulthood, which spring-boarded her into further career success, as an R&B singer, a TV director and co-star of the Fox comedy 'Living Single.'

Annette Funicello5. Annette
Show: 'The Mickey Mouse Club' (1955-59)
Played by: Annette Funicello
One of the original Mouseketeers (and the only one chosen by Walt Disney himself), 12-year-old Funicello became viewers' favorite female on the show, and she reportedly received more than 6,000 letters a month by the end of the first season. Her all-American girl looks -- and her vocal talents -- carried over into her teen year, as she became the bikini-wearing, singing heroine of the 'Beach Party' movies with Frankie Avalon. For the past several years the beloved performer has battled multiple sclerosis.

Susan Olsen4. Cindy Brady
Show: 'The Brady Bunch' (1969-74)
Played by: Susan Olsen
The lisp! The pigtails! The Kitty Carryall! Cindy was "the youngest one in curls," but she was also often a thorn in her siblings' sides, especially when she engaged in her favorite pastime, being a tattletale. We learn from 'Brady' reunion movies that Cindy grew up and became a DJ (she did love to talk), as did Olsen, who also worked as a graphic designer and just released a book, 'Love to Love You Bradys,' about the infamous 'Brady Bunch Variety Hour.'

Gary Coleman3. Arnold Jackson
Show: 'Diff'rent Strokes' (1978-86)
Played by: Gary Coleman
Coleman was not only the owner of the most pinch-worthy cheeks in TV history, but the 10-year-old had comedy chops actors three times his age would envy. His Arnold was the center of the sitcom with his wisecrackin' and "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" catchphrase, but his comedic skills are usually overshadowed by the fact that the show and its young stars became the go-to example of the tragic-former-child-star story.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen2. Michelle Tanner
Show: 'Full House' (1987-95)
Played by: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
They became stars at 9 months of age, playing youngest Tanner kiddie Michelle, a tot so adorable that she continuously upstaged adult hams John Stamos, Dave Coulier and Bob Saget. During 'House,' the Olsens launched a merchandising company, Dualstar, that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars for the stars, who, despite a few tabloid-type troubles along the way, have parlayed their acting and business success into careers as fashion designers.

Ron Howard1. Opie Taylor
Show: 'The Andy Griffith Show' (1960-68)
Played by: Ron Howard
Howard was 6 years old and already a showbiz vet when he began portraying Opie, the sweet, motherless son of Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor. Opie was such a good kid, his biggest offense was accidentally ruining Aunt Bee's prized roses. Howard followed up playing one of America's favorite grade schoolers by playing one of TV land's favorite teens as 'Happy Days' Richie. And then there's that little matter of an Oscar-winning filmmaking career ... His pa sure would be proud of how little Op turned out

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