Despite the over-the-top hairdo, the excessive amount of eyeshadow, and tacky jean jackets, these ’80s teen stars managed to look great despite the decade’s tragic styling. These girls starred in nostalgic high school films, creepy thrillers, and helplessly romantic flicks, and there’s a high chance you had a poster of them on your wall growing up.
Some had careers spanning into the ’90s and ’00s, while others burned bright and shined for a brief period before deciding to settle down into a quieter life. Prepare yourself for a trip down memory lane, strolling hand in hand with these lovely ’80s women. Let us begin!
Molly Ringwald – Then
A feisty and memorable redhead, Molly Ringwald was considered by some to be the queen of the Brat Pack (a group of young ‘80s stars who frequently appeared together in coming-of-age movies). She starred in many of John Hughes’ films, including The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles.
Like many teen stars, she began her career as a child actor, landing several minor roles including a brief stint in the TV series Diff’rent Strokes. Her charming looks and skillful acting made her one of the decade’s best teen idols.
Molly Ringwald – Now
No longer a teenager, Molly Ringwald is now a grown mother of three who continues to star sporadically in movies and TV shows. She landed a recurring role in the series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a show that ran from 2008 to 2013.
Other than acting, Molly has pursued two of her other passions – singing and writing. She’s the author of two books, Getting the Pretty Back, and When It Happens to You. As for her love of music, Molly has released a jazz compilation called Except Sometimes. In 2013, she set out on a tour to promote the album.
Susan Dey – Then
Susan Dey kicked off her career as a child model. And incredibly, she landed the part of Laurie Partridge in the show The Partridge Family with no acting experience whatsoever. Pretty impressive, considering her great acting on the show. A true natural!
Even though her Partridge co-star, David Cassidy may have gotten a lot more attention during those years, Susan Dey still had her fair share of admirers. After the series wrapped up, she kept working sporadically, landing different gigs in films and various shows.
Susan Dey – Now
After her role as Laurie Partridge, Susan Dey became Grace Van Owen on the popular TV show L.A. Law, which aired from 1986 to 1992. For her spectacular performance, Dey won a Golden Globe and was nominated a whopping three times for an Emmy award.
After starring on L.A. Law for several seasons, Dey worked on the show Love and War, until she was replaced by Annie Potts. Ever since the ’90s, Susan has kept a low profile. And other than acting, she served as a board member at UCLA Medical Center in the Rape Treatment Center.
Kristy McNichol – Then
Kristy McNichol’s role as Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence on the series Family made her an ’80s superstar. Buddy was a bit of a tomboy and a bit of a brat. A truly relatable character. And Kristy McNichol was the perfect pick for the character!
During her time on the show, Kristy won two Emmy Awards for best-supporting actress. She became the undisputed teen star of TV. After Family wrapped up, she moved on to the big screen, co-starring with Tatum O’Neal and Matt Dillon in Little Darlings. She continued to land gigs in films all through the ’80s, although many of them were box office failures.
Kristy McNichol – Now
After a string of movie flops, Kristy moved on to the sitcom Empty Nest which pretty much saved her career. She starred on the show for four years before parting ways after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Today, McNichol is officially retired from acting, but she remains busy with other things, mainly teaching acting and collaborating with various charities. In 2012, she came out of the closet and has been with her current partner for over 20 years.
Debbie Gibson – Then
Debbie Gibson wrote her first song when she was just five years old. She began performing in her teens, touring across the country, while working on what was meant to be her debut album, Out of the Blue. It was released in the late ‘80s and went triple platinum!
Gibson became an instant star and dropped another record a year later, in 1989, tiled Electric Youth which went double platinum. Taking advantage of her star status, Gibson branched out to other endeavors and launched a perfume fragrance for girls.
Debbie Gibson – Now
Gibson kept on releasing music all through the ’90s. Her albums sold decently, but not nearly as well as her first two records. Still, she kept herself busy, even forming her own record label in 2006. She’s also appeared on TV, serving once as a judge for American Idol.
Nowadays, the singer still tours around the world. She’s also made a ton of guest appearances on celebrity reality shows. While she might not be as famous and talked-about as she was in the ’80s, she’s still very much loved and appreciated in the industry.
Janet Jackson – Then
Janet was born into a talented family of performers, and she was no exception. She was put to work at a pretty young age, acting all throughout her childhood. She appeared on TV in successful shows like Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes.
When she reached her teens, at the age of 16, Janet ventured into music. She recorded two bubblegum pop records which, unfortunately, didn’t impress the public very much. She was an established actress, but not quite a singer yet. Finally, she split with her musical family and released her album Control, which sold over 14 million copies and won numerous music awards.
Janet Jackson – Now
Janet’s album Control catapulted her into superstar status. She kept her winning streak in 1989 when she released another album called Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. From that point on, she kept recording platinum albums as well as acting in movies like Poetic Justice and The Nutty Professor II.
In 2004, she received some backlash for her performance at the Superbowl after fellow musician Justin Timberlake removed part of her outfit to reveal her breast. Her music videos were then blacklisted from several media outlets. Today, she still tours and performs all over the world.
Marie Osmond – Then
Marie started her career by touring with her famous brothers. She eventually set out on her own musical journey but failed to produce any notable material. Her big break came when she joined forces with her younger brother Donny after the two of them got their own TV show, Donny & Marie.
The popular show ran from 1967 to 1979. Throughout the ’80s, Osmond kept recording her own music, launching several chart-topping singles and a number of country albums. Her best one was There’s No Stopping Your Heart, which was released in 1985 and peaked at No. 16 on the Country charts.
Marie Osmond – Now
Apart from a couple of brief stints on TV shows like ABC’s Maybe This Time and a reality show called Celebrity Duets, Marie Osmond has landed several guest star gigs on other shows and has also written three books.
All three of Osmond’s books were featured on the Bestsellers List of The New York Times. In addition, Marie has also acted as a spokesperson for a weight loss program called Nutrisystem and has also hosted her own talk show called Marie.
Valerie Bertinelli – Then
Valerie Bertinelli’s character Barbara Cooper on the hit TV show One Day at a Time was supposed to be a tomboy. But after several episodes, the producers realized she was more of a dream girl as opposed to one of the guys.
After nine seasons on the show, Valerie moved on to other TV gigs, but her days as Barbara Cooper were never forgotten. In 1981, Valerie made headlines by marrying rock star Eddie Van Halen.
Valerie Bertinelli – Now
Later in life, Bertinelli landed a part in the show Hot in Cleveland which ran from 2010 to 2015. Other than that, the actress broke her foot and gained a bit of weight, for which she was heavily scrutinized. (What is wrong with society?)
Bertinelli didn’t let people’s criticism get her down! She wrote two books about her struggles, hoping that by sharing her story, she could encourage other women to be brave and not feel ashamed. In 2007, she divorced Eddie Van Halen and remarried again in 2011 to a man named Tom Vitale.
Patty Duke – Then
Patty Duke began her career as a child actor. Her TV sitcom, The Patty Duke Show, was specifically created for her by writer Sidney Sheldon (who is also responsible for producing I Dream of Jeannie and The Brady Bunch).
Playing two roles, one as herself and another as her identical-looking cousin, Patty Duke gained star status during the show’s run between 1959 and 1961. After it wrapped up, she took some time off before beginning her run as an adult actress.
Patty Duke – Now
Today, Duke has been sporadically appearing in movies and TV and was even nominated for an Emmy back in 1999 for her performance in three episodes of the show Touched by an Angel.
After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1981, Patty Duke became an outspoken advocate for issues of mental health and personality struggles. She encouraged many people to power through their internal difficulties. Sadly, in the spring of 106, Duke passed away from sepsis from a ruptured intestine.
Tiffany Darwish – Then
Tiffany Darwish, also known by her stage names as just “Tiffany,” is mainly remembered for her pop hits from the ’80s like “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “All This Time.” Her debut album, Tiffany, turned out to be her most successful one; it sold four million copies.
With success came a ton of money, and Tiffany ended up fighting her mom and stepdad for control of her earnings. She even went to court to declare herself an emancipated minor. While the court rejected her demand, the judge did allow her to move out of her mom’s house and move in with her grandma instead.
Tiffany Darwish – Now
Tiffany is touring and recording music. The former ’80s star says she now prefers “small venues when people just sing and really connect with an audience.” This is in stark contrast to her mall-touring days where she would sing in front of huge crowds.
In 2012, the star opened a clothing boutique in Nashville, a dream she claimed to have had for a long time. But the store closed a while later in 2015. She’s also made a few TV appearances on reality shows like Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Wife Swap.
Maureen McCormick – Then
Oh Marcia! Maureen McCormick catapulted into the limelight for her portrayal of hair-combing, little-miss-perfect Marcia Brady, the eldest daughter of the Brady Brunch. Sadly, Maureen struggled to get out of that persona and was pigeon-holed when trying to land other roles.
She was such a good Marcia that people struggled to see her as anything other than that. After The Brady Bunch wrapped up, Maureen appeared in various spin-offs of the show, including The Brady Brides (1981). She also guest-starred on other TV hits like Happy Days and Love Boat.
Maureen McCormick – Now
Sadly, Maureen McCormick’s life wasn’t as pink as Marcia Brady’s. She shared her struggles in 2008, after releasing her memoir called Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. Her book ranked number four on The New York Times Bestseller List.
The book touches upon some of the dark details of her life including her ongoing battle with cocaine addiction and bulimia. Nowadays, Maureen is clean and sober. She’s appeared on the reality show Celebrity Fit Club (which she won!) and also Dancing With the Stars.
Madonna – Then
The Material Girl first busted onto the music scene in 1981, with her debut album which she released in 1983. Less than a decade later, by 1991, Madonna already had 21 Top Ten hits to her name and had sold over 70 million albums worldwide.
She released smash hits like “Vogue” and “Like a Virgin,” and her overall eccentric style turned her into a timeless ’80s icon. Madonna wasn’t (and still isn’t) afraid to try new things. She has crossed many boundaries over the years, never ceasing to entertain and stun us with new things.
Madonna – Now
Madonna has kept her successful music career going, releasing album after album and proving that she is still more relevant than ever. She has spent the last years touring, creating her own clothing line, and even writing a children’s book.
She’s also starred in various plays and films. As for her personal life, Madonna has a total of six children. All are adopted but one, Rocco Ritchie, whose father is Guy Ritchie, Madonna’s husband from 2000-2008.
Demi Moore – Then
Demi Moore broke into the business with acting gigs in General Hospital, Blame It on Rio, and St. Elmo’s Fire. She became known as part of the Brat Pack and was even briefly engaged to one of them, teen idol Emilio Estevez.
Shortly after their breakup, Demi Moore met Bruce Willis and eventually married him. Their marriage went on to become one of the most talked-about Hollywood marriages at the time. Arguably, Moore’s most iconic acting job to date happened in 1990, when she starred in Ghost alongside Patrick Swayze.
Demi Moore – Now
Since the height of her popularity in the 1990s, Demi Moore has been acting on and off, distancing herself from the spotlight to raise her kids and live a calmer life. She made headlines when she married Ashton Kutcher in 2005. Since he was 15 years younger, the media had a hard time of letting that go.
The couple eventually split in 2011 after rumors that Ashton had cheated on her began to spread. Moore was then hospitalized for exhaustion and an alleged eating disorder. Today, she is strong and more resilient than ever.
Brooke Shields – Then
Brooke Shields got an early start to her successful career, first starring in an Ivory Soap commercial at just 11 months old. From that point on, her career as a child model took off at a (weirdly) fast rate. She even had some controversial Calvin Klein ads.
Her first big acting gig, Pretty Baby, had her starring as a child prostitute in New Orleans. She was only 14 years old at the time. Viewers were, understandably, uncomfortable. Shields followed that role with two other scandalous movies, Blue Lagoon and Endless Love.
Brooke Shields – Now
After the ’80s, Shields moved on to find success in TV shows, including roles in Lipstick Jungle, Nip\Tuck, That ’70s Show, The Middle, and Law and Order: SVU. She’s also been open about her struggle with post-partum depression.
Shields has released a memoir called Down With the Rain, where she shares her struggles with depression. The book became a New York Times bestseller. A while later, in 2014, she published another memoir titled There Was a Little Girl, where she describes the ups and downs of her relationship with her mother.
Jennifer Grey – Then
Jennifer Grey made her acting debut in 1984 when she starred in three separate movies. One of them, Red Dawn, had her co-acting with Patrick Swayze (with whom she would later reunite in Dirty Dancing). Two years later, in 1986, she became famous for playing the older sister in the iconic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
But Jennifer’s biggest break happened when she landed the role of Francis “Baby” Houseman in the movie Dirty Dancing. And, contrary to the on-screen chemistry between her and Swayze, they weren’t involved romantically, for she was dating Matthew Broderick at the time.
Jennifer Grey – Now
Despite the success of the movie Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey had a hard time finding work after. The actress decided that she should do a bit of fixing to her appearance, so she got plastic surgery on her nose.
But the operation didn’t come out well and actually did way more harm than good. She eventually got her comeback though, when she appeared in the 2010 season of the reality show Dancing With the Stars, which she won!
Winona Ryder – Then
Back in the 1980s, Winona Ryder was typecast in many films as the suburban teen girl who was also a bit dangerous and had a darker side to her naïve look. She landed her first role at the age of 15 in the movie Lucas (1986) before going on to star in three more timeless teen flicks.
She played in Beetlejuice, Heathers, and Edward Scissorhands. Winona soon developed a quirky persona as the hot girl who is also kind of creepy. She began dating Johnny Depp, who, like Ryder, was also hot but somewhat scary looking.
Winona Ryder – Now
While Winona’s stardom kept rising all through the ’90s with movies like Reality Bites (1994) and Girl, Interrupted (1999), it all came crashing down after she made headlines for a truly odd shoplifting incident in 2001.
As it turns out, Winona was also illegally holding several prescription medications. Rumors of kleptomania started to fly, and things were looking a bit weird. In 2016, she came back with a bang after landing a role in Stranger Things in 2016.
Diane Lane – Then
Diane Lane had everything she needed to make it as a child star. At just 13-years-old, she landed a role in A Little Romance. Her co-star Laurence Oliver said she was “a young Grace Kelly.” A few years later, in 1983, she was cast in Outsiders and Rumble Fish, and those two films catapulted her into total stardom.
After the success of those two great films, Diane Lane experienced a bit of difficulty getting back into the business. She landed gigs in a few box office flops and didn’t get her career back on track until she landed a part in the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove (1989).
Diane Lane – Now
After the 1980s, Lane kept struggling to get her career going. She couldn’t maintain her once A-list status in the business. However, in 2000, she landed a part in A Perfect Storm, followed by another role in Hardball.
Finally, she starred in Unfaithful, a movie that earned her a nomination for Best Actress. Diane Lane’s recent projects include playing Martha Kent in the Justice League franchise. We’re glad she never gave up on her acting!
Sigourney Weaver – Then
After Sigourney Weaver’s breakthrough role in the sci-fi horror film Alien (1979), she went on to dominate the 1980s. She spent the first half of the decade playing central roles in movies like The Year of Living Dangerously and Ghostbusters.
Sigourney kept on climbing the stardom ladder in the decade’s second half, snatching Academy Award nominations for three of her most successful movies: Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, and Working Girl.
Sigourney Weaver – Now
Sigourney continues to have a spectacular acting career. She proved her worth in the ’90s when she starred in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. Her role as Janey Carver earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She also won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
As for her personal life, Sigourney has been married to theater director Jim Simpson since 1984. They have one daughter named Charlotte Simpson, who is now 31 years old, and all grown up. Looks like the family is doing A-OK.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Then
Jamie Lee Curtis, also known as the official “Scream Queen,” made her acting debut in John Carpenter’s scary movie, Halloween, where she played Laurie Strode. She established herself as a worthy actress whose fear was painfully believable.
She went on to play leading roles in various other scary movies, including Prom Night, Terror Train, and Halloween II. Curtis finally changed things up when she took on the 1983 comedy, Trading Places, which earned her a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Now
Jamie Lee Curtis went on to do a host of other things apart from acting. She has written several bestselling children’s books and has also involved herself in a host of philanthropic work. The actress is truly an inspiration.
Curtis has opened up in recent years about her addiction and mental struggles over the years. She’s managed to overcome them and is feeling a whole lot stronger nowadays. We’re glad to see that this scream queen is feeling better than ever.
Carrie Fisher – Then
Thanks to her role in George Lucas’ 1977 sci-fi film, Star Wars, Carrie Fisher gained immediate star status. As her Princess Leia Organa, Carrie redefined the role of the female protagonist in action-adventure films.
She rose to become an ’80s icon, thanks to her immense influence on other female stars of the decade. She ended the decade with a bang, starring in When Harry Met Sally and appearing alongside Tom Hanks in The Burbs.
Carrie Fisher – Now
Carrie Fisher’s career after the Star Wars franchise slowed down a bit and consisted of supporting roles in various films, like Hannah and her Sisters and When Harry Met Sally.
But Carrie had several other passions apart from acting. She became a bestselling author and a screenwriter. Sadly, our beloved Princess Leia died in January 2017 from a heart attack. It was later revealed that she had struggled with addiction most of her adult life and that the death was likely a result of that.
Whoopi Goldberg – Then
In 1985, Whoopi Goldberg got her breakthrough by performing as Celie in Steven Spielberg’s drama The Color Purple. Her outstanding acting earned her an Academy Award nomination, and while she didn’t win, many fans believe she should’ve.
Between 1985 and 1988, Whoopi starred in seven movies, including Jumpin’ Jack Flash, director Penny Marshall’s debut. A natural comedian, Whoopi also hosted several HBO Comic Relief specials with fellow comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.
Whoopi Goldberg – Now
Since the ’80s, Whoopi Goldberg has established herself as a talented force. Today, she’s been keeping busier than ever. At the start of 2020, Whoopi reprised her role as Guinan in the second season of Star Trek: Picard.
She also appeared in ABC’s miniseries, The Stand, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. In it, Whoopi plays Mother Abigail, a 1,008-year-old woman. In addition, she’s also set to make an appearance in the biographical movie Till.
Jessica Lange – Then
One of the most appreciated actresses of her generation, Jessica Lange broke into the business in 1976 after she appeared in the King Kong remake. But her most successful year was 1983, thanks to the movies Tootsie and Frances.
Lange earned Oscar nominations for both and won Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie. She would go on to be nominated twice more during the ’80s for her roles in Country and Sweet Dreams. She spent the second half of the decade starring in low-budget films, but her performances were always on point.
Jessica Lange – Now
Jessica Lange’s career has been steady over the years. In 2018, she was given the Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theater. She also reprised her character, Constance Langdon, in the series American Horror Story: Apocalypse.
For American Horror Story: Apocalypse, she received her tenth Emmy nomination – Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Apart from acting, this talented star is also very much into photography and has published several books about the field.
Kathleen Turner – Then
Kathleen Turner broke into the business at the start of the decade, thanks to her role in Lawrence Kasdan’s film Body Heat. What followed was a string of other successful movies, including The Accidental Tourist, The War of the Roses, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
For her great acting in the 1986 comedy Peggy Sue Got Married, Kathleen received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Her career slowed down in the ’90s after she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. But despite that, she has maintained a steady presence on TV and in the occasional movie.
Kathleen Turner – Now
Turner’s disease sent her into a spin. But she has managed to stay on top and overcome her difficulties. In 2019, she appeared in an episode of Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, as well as guest-starring on two episodes in CBS’s comedy, Mom (2020).
Turner became a regular on the Netflix drama series The Kominsky Method. She started as a guest in Season 2 and was officially hired as a cast member in the show’s third season (2021). On the show, she reunited with actor Michael Douglas. The last time they acted together was in The War of the Roses (1989).
Michelle Pfeiffer – Then
The beautiful and talented Michelle Pfeiffer is one of the most versatile performers of her generation. She got her breakthrough role in Brian de Palma’s 1983 crime classic Scarface and garnered critical acclaim for her part in the 1988 comedy Married to the Mob.
She would go on to receive two Oscar nominations for her supporting part in 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons and her leading role in 1989’s The Fabulous Baker Boys where she played Susie Diamond. Her performance as Susie drew in critical acclaim from critics and is considered by many to be the best performance of her career.
Michelle Pfeiffer – Now
Michelle Pfeiffer’s career carried on through the 1990s and she began earning millions per film. She also branched out and formed her own film production company called Via Rosa productions which ran for ten years.
Despite taking some time off in the mid-2000s, Michelle came back stronger than ever and has recently received a Golden Globe nomination for her main role part in the 2020 dark comedy movie, French Exit.
Glenn Close – Then
Glenn Close rose to stardom in the ’80s. After teady and successful work on Broadway, Glenn made her cinematic debut in 1982’s The World According to Garp. For her performance, she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
Two of Glenn’s most memorable roles are Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction and the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons. Both earned her Oscar nominations for Lead Actress. She would go on with her successful acting career, although she has yet to win an Oscar (despite being nominated eight times!).
Glenn Close – Now
Glenn Close’s recent projects include co-starring with Mila Kunis in the drama, Four Good Days, a film that was shown at the Sundance Film Festival (2020). This year, she served as an executive producer alongside Emma Stone in the Disney movie Cruella, a spinoff of One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
Her upcoming projects include reprising her role as Norma Desmond in a movie adaptation of the musical Sunset Boulevard. Also, she will be appearing in Season Two of the thriller series Tehran. And lastly, she is set to star in the upcoming movie Brothers.