Sneak Peek! Child Stars: Then & Now

Find out where Kirk Cameron, Blossom's Mayim Bialik, the Charles in Charge girls and more child stars are in this excerpt from PEOPLE's new book, in stores June 23!

01 of 28

PETER BILLINGSLEY

PETER BILLINGSLEY
Peter Billingsley. Everett

Then: He memorably played Ralphie, the bespectacled kid in the holiday classic A Christmas Story, whose life would be complete if only he had a Red Ryder BB gun.

02 of 28

PETER BILLINGSLEY

PETER BILLINGSLEY
Byron Purvis/Admedia

Now: He's the (mostly) silent member of the Vince Vaughn-Jon Favreau comedy cartel. After meeting Vaughn when the two costarred on an after-school special in 1990, Billingsley, 43, has since directed Couples Retreat (starring Vaughn and Jason Bateman) and executive-produced Iron Man (directed by Favreau).

03 of 28

KIRK CAMERON

KIRK CAMERON
Globe

Then: He played adorable rascal Mike Seaver on Growing Pains and saw his signature smirk splashed across the covers of '80s teen magazines. "I was 15 and getting 10,000 fan letters a week," says Cameron.

04 of 28

KIRK CAMERON

KIRK CAMERON
Courtesy Kirk Cameron

Now: Cameron coproduces and stars in the Christian radio and TV talk show The Way of the Master. "It's a way to say, 'Hey, I understand where you're coming from, but think about this,' " says Cameron, 39, who married actress Chelsea Noble in 1991, and has six children, four of them adopted. He starred in the 2008 Christian-based drama Fireproof.

05 of 28

A.J. LANGER

A.J. LANGER
Everett

Then: She played bad girl Rayanne Graff on My So-Called Life. "Rayanne's like a friend who's always been there," says Langer. "That show had magic from day one."

06 of 28

A.J. LANGER

A.J. LANGER
Quay Studios, UK

Now: She's married to Charlie Courtenay, an L.A. lawyer and the future Earl of Devon. "We met in a bar in Vegas. He didn't know I was an actress. I didn't know he had a castle," says Langer, 40. The two plan to eventually move into the 14th-century Powderham Castle in Devon, England. In the meantime, the mom of two gets back on TV when she can, including on Private Practice in 2011 and 2012.

07 of 28

EVE PLUMB

EVE PLUMB
Everett

Then: She played Jan, the overshadowed, iconic middle child on the famous '70s sitcom The Brady Bunch.

08 of 28

EVE PLUMB

EVE PLUMB
Chris Haston

Now: Married in 1995 to computer analyst Ken Pace, Plumb's oil paintings often fetch thousands at galleries nationwide. "If I hadn't seen all that rejection as an actor, this would be difficult," says Plumb, now 56, who still has a thing for acting. "I would love to do television again. It's where I grew up, where I'm comfortable."

09 of 28

CHAD ALLEN

CHAD ALLEN
Everett

Then: Roles on Our House, St. Elsewhere, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and My Two Dads painted Allen (right, with his Dads castmates) as a clean-cut good guy. "I was the golden boy," he says. "It was this idealized version of me, so far removed from my reality. I had no idea who that kid was."

10 of 28

CHAD ALLEN

CHAD ALLEN
Greg Gorman

Now: After a tabloid published photos of Allen kissing another man in 1996, he eventually came out on his own. "I was tired of lying," he says. Now living in L.A. with his partner of four years, Allen's since starred in the Tony-nominated The Little Dog Laughed, appeared in a series of made-for-TV films and just completed the romantic comedy For Better or for Worse.

11 of 28

KELLIE WILLIAMS

KELLIE WILLIAMS

Then: She played Laura Winslow, the strait-laced, unwilling object of nerdy Steve Urkel's desire. "We were really like family," she says of her nine years on the show. "Everything that people saw was real, at least to me."

12 of 28

KELLIE WILLIAMS

KELLIE WILLIAMS
Courtesy Kellie Williams

Now: Throughout the 2000s, she ran Kellie Williams Programs, a Washington, D.C.-based after-school arts program she founded to help young people get exposure to theater, music, visual arts and dance.

13 of 28

NICOLE EGGERT

NICOLE EGGERT
Everett

Then: Eggert played teenager Jamie Powell in the syndicated version of the sitcom Charles in Charge, which starred Scott Baio.

14 of 28

NICOLE EGGERT

NICOLE EGGERT
Stewart Volland/Retna

Now: After Charles in Charge, she played Baywatch lifeguard Summer Quinn. Now 37, Eggert, who is married and has a daughter, Dilyn, 11, is looking to get bikini-ready again – by appearing on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club.

15 of 28

JOSIE DAVIS

JOSIE DAVIS
Everett

Then: She played the brainy younger sister and loveable goody two-shoes Sarah Powell on Charles in Charge.

16 of 28

JOSIE DAVIS

JOSIE DAVIS
Courtesy Josie Davis

Now: Though she had a tough time shedding her good-girl image after Charles in Charge ended in 1990, Davis, 36, has worked steadily over the years in TV dramas, soap operas and film. Next up are roles in the films Tranced and The Ascent.

17 of 28

TARAN NOAH SMITH

TARAN NOAH SMITH
Everett

Then: He spent eight years as Tim Allen's youngest son, Mark, on Home Improvement. "By 15, I got to travel the world, make a speech on the White House lawn, fly a blimp," says Smith. "But I didn't have some very basic normal kid experiences."

18 of 28

TARAN NOAH SMITH

TARAN NOAH SMITH
Courtesy Taran Noah Smith

Now: At 17, Smith wed 32-year-old Heidi Van Pelt. Since their 2005 split, the couple have battled over the future of their vegan cheese company, Playfood. Still, the business is thriving. "We're at the stage where it's the equivalent of a band signing to a major label," says Smith, now 25. He's also turned activist, joining actress Daryl Hannah to promote her green-living site, DHLoveLife.com.

19 of 28

CHRISTOPHER ATKINS

CHRISTOPHER ATKINS
Everett

Then: He romped with then-15-year-old Brooke Shields in 1980's deserted-island romance, The Blue Lagoon. "There wasn't a corner on this planet that I couldn't go where I wouldn't get mobbed," says Atkins, who appeared nude in the film.

20 of 28

CHRISTOPHER ATKINS

CHRISTOPHER ATKINS
Michael Murphree

Now: He's a dad and a businessman. "I always wanted kids," says Atkins, 48, who was married for 18 years to Playboy centerfold Lynne Barron – they split in 2003 – and has two children, Grant, 23, and Brittney, 22. He also designs luxury backyards and is getting back into acting (he completed Exodus Fall and Forget Me Not. in 2009). Fun fact: A fan of nudism since filming Lagoon, he has since posed for Playgirl.

21 of 28

KESHIA KNIGHT PULLIAM

KESHIA KNIGHT PULLIAM
NBC

Then: She played precocious little Rudy, the youngest of the Huxtable children on The Cosby Show.

22 of 28

KESHIA KNIGHT PULLIAM

KESHIA KNIGHT PULLIAM
Fitzroy Barrett/Landov

Now: A Spelman College grad, Pulliam, 30, has a recurring role on the TBS sitcom Tyler Perry's House of Payne. In an effort to shed her "little girl" image, she posed for a swimsuit spread in Black Men magazine in '04 and vamped in a video for rapper Chingy.

23 of 28

MICHAEL FISHMAN

MICHAEL FISHMAN
Everett

Then: He played D.J., the youngest child on Roseanne.

24 of 28

MICHAEL FISHMAN

MICHAEL FISHMAN
Courtesy Michael Fishman

Now: He left showbiz at age 18 to be a father and a husband. Now that his son, 9, and daughter, 6, are getting older, Fishman, 27, is venturing back into acting. "I want to work, but I make time to do things with the kids, because I only get one shot at that," he says.

25 of 28

ILAN MITCHELL-SMITH

ILAN MITCHELL-SMITH
Everett

Then: He played a computer geek who builds the perfect woman (played by Kelly LeBrock) in the 1985 hit Weird Science. "It was really luck – luck that I was happy people mistook for a skill," Smith says about his acting career.

26 of 28

ILAN MITCHELL-SMITH

ILAN MITCHELL-SMITH
Courtesy Ilan Mitchell Smith

Now: With a Ph.D. in medieval English literature, Dr. Mitchell-Smith is a professor at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. "I grew up the biggest Dungeons amp Dragons nerd," he says. Now 40, he's working on his latest treatise, Between Mars and Venus: Balance and Excess in Chivalry in the Late Medieval English Period, and has two children with his wife, Susannah.

27 of 28

MAYIM BIALIK

MAYIM BIALIK
Everett

Then: She played the hat-loving teen on NBC's hit Blossom.

28 of 28

MAYIM BIALIK

MAYIM BIALIK
Maia Madison

Now: She hit the books – hard – earning her Ph.D in neuroscience at UCLA in 2007. "My thesis has a long, pretentious-looking title," says Bialik, 33. While she still reviews grants, Bialik jumped back into acting with roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Fat Actress. In 2008, she gave birth to her second child with husband Michael Stone. "I'm working overtime being a mom," she says. "But I'd love to do a sitcom again."

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