Guest Author - Amy Ralston Young
Here is a look at a few stars who have been able to make the leap from sitcoms to stardom.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
It seemed as if these twins were destined for stardom – or they had an incredibly smart mom. At the tender age of nine months, the Olsen twins were taken to an audition for the part of Michelle Tanner and in 1987, they started as the youngest of three daughters of widower Danny.
The girls split screen time, playing the same character for eight years until the show ended in 1995. Their character Michelle had a special connection with her Uncle Jesse and her portrayers had one with the audience.
After the show ended the two went on to build a mega-empire launching video after video, record after record. In 1995, the two leapt to the big screen with “It Takes Two,” starring Kirstie Alley and Steve Gutenberg. The film seemed a little too similar to “Parent Trap,” but their fans loved it.
In 1998, they launched a new sitcom, “Two of a Kind” where they played daughters to another widowed dad, but the show lasted only 22 episodes. After another attempt at a sitcom, “So Little Time” in 2001, the Olsens hung up their sitcom shoes.
The two now own quite a bit of real estate, a clothing line named after the duo, as well as a cosmetic line, and their own entertainment company, Dualstar Entertainment Group. They continue to pick up acting roles here and there (Mary Kate can be seen on Showtime’s “Weeds”), but devote most of their time to other interests.
The two have seemed to navigate through the rough waters of kiddie stardom and turned out to be millionaires. Granted there were a few slip-ups Mary Kate’s battle with anorexia comes to mind, but for the most part, these two have had some incredible guidance in their lives (divine or not) and are by far the most successful of any sitcom star to date.
Michael J. Fox
This Canadian born teen dream found success with a second-hand role. Fox landed the part of Alex. P. Keaton in 1982 after Matthew Broderick turned down the role on “Family Ties.” Playing the sweater-vest wearing, Nixon-loving, capitalist son of hippies for seven years opened the door for Fox.
He landed the lead in the feature films, “Teen Wolf,” “Poison Ivy,” and most notably the “Back to the Future” trilogy. (Just a side note, I liked Marty McFly, but my heart still belongs to Alex P. Keaton.) Fox starred in numerous other films before returning to the small screen in 1996 as Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty in “Spin City.”
His return to sitcoms was short-lived and Fox left the show in 2000. He has continued to do guest appearances on shows ( remember when he visited “Scrubs?”) and has lent his voice to a few family films, but Fox now spends most of his time lobbying to get stem-cell research approved and raising money for Parkinson’s Disease research. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1991.
Anniston’s first sitcom gig was as the older, disapproving sister Jeannie in “Ferris Bueller.” The sitcom, nowhere near as successful as its theatrical counterpart only made it a few episodes before the plug was pulled.
Her big break, however, came four years later when she was tapped to play Rachel Green on the hugely successful “Friends.” Anniston’s character was so popular – and stylish – that she spawned a new hairdo craze, aptly named “the Rachel.”
Her ten-year stint on the NBC comedy launched her into world-wide fame, and a movie career. Anniston’s dream wedding – and subsequent divorce - from Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt was widely covered by the media. Anniston also starred in “Bruce Almighty,” “Along Came Polly,” and “The Break Up,” and another 13 movies, with six more releasing this year.
Sure, he started as a model, but it wasn’t until Ashton Kutcher landed the role of Michael Kelso on “That ‘70s Show” that things really started to look up for the Iowa boy.
Kutcher stayed with the show for seven seasons and opted out of the eighth to pursue other interests. During his almost eight-year stint (1998-2006) as Kelso, the bumbling playboy, Kutcher landed numerous movie roles and a wife – Demi Moore.
Kutcher started his own television show in 2003 on the MTV network, “Punk’d.” The show was a huge success, as Kutcher and his cronies were able to trap celebrities in outrageous situations and record their reactions for all the world to see.
Kutcher also found time to invest in other fields and put a large chunk of change into Los Angeles eatery Dolce. The restaurant will soon have two counterparts in Reno and Atlanta.
Ten years after his first big break came; Kutcher is not looking to slow down any time soon. He has two more movies slated for release this year.