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whatever happened to our childhood stars?

She's growing up in front of our eyes, so it's not surprising that reports about Modern Family actress Ariel Winter having trouble with her mum have made headlines which are being eagerly followed by the TV sitcom's millions of fans. The 14-year-old is said to have moved in with her sister to get away from her controlling mum.

While they may be doing a job they get paid huge money for, the stars of hit sitcoms and family dramas become an even bigger part of viewers' childhoods. It can feel like they're living in our sitting rooms as we share their dramas and dilemmas series after series, sometimes for years.


Ariel's plight and our concern for her highlights our ongoing interest in what becomes of the stars of the most popular family dramas down through the decades.

Judy Norton-Taylor (54) was best known as Mary Ellen Walton for years while she played the eldest girl in The Waltons, a hillbilly family who lived in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II. The Waltons ran from 1972 to 1981.

In an effort to shake her family image, Norton-Taylor posed nude for Playboy in 1985. Today, she is married to Robert Graves and spends her time running a successful dinner theatre chain in Canada.

Like Norton-Taylor, Melissa Gilbert (48) who played Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie, which ran from 1974 to 1984, continues to look fab in front of the cameras. Earlier this year she appeared in the US version of Dancing with the Stars.

She has reportedly battled alcoholism and divorced husband Bruce Boxleitner last year. She is still in demand as a TV actress.

Perhaps film producer Ron Howard (58) is the most successful former star of a family TV series.

He played teenager Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days, which ran from 1974 to 1984.


He was best friend to The Fonz (played by Henry Winkler, who has gone on to become a producer and author). Howard is today one of Hollywood's hottest directors -- he made Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Ransom and Frost/Nixon.

Gorgeous Lisa Bonet (44) is best-known for her role as Denise Kendall on the long-running sitcom The Cosby Show (1984 to 1992).

On her 20th birthday, she eloped to Las Vegas with singer Lenny Kravitz, with whom she later had a daughter, Zoe.

She is now married to actor Jason Momoa, who has appeared in the TV shows Baywatch, Stargate Atlantis, the HBO series Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian.

The mum-of-three's career with The Cosby Show allegedly came to an abrupt end in 1991 when she was fired for unprofessional behaviour. Lisa still acts and her most recent role was in the US remake of Life on Mars.


Beautiful Danica McKellar (37) played actor Fred Savage's cutie-pie girlfriend Winnie in The Wonder Years (1988 to 1995).

A bit of a maths whizz, she went on to become a New York Times bestselling author of academic books including Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.

She recently returned to acting with a role in a TV movie Love At The Christmas Table.

If Susan Dey (59) is still best known as the elder daughter, Laurie Partridge, on the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family, she's had an enduring TV career. She starred in LA Law as Grace Van Owen and earned a Golden Globe Award.