10 actors who played the same role as a kid and an adult
Some continued into spinoffs while others came back for reboots decades later.
It can be hard for child actors to move past the characters that made them famous. Oftentimes, they leave Hollywood or transition to a job behind the camera. But some actors come back to the roles they played as youngsters, sometimes even playing them as adults for nearly as long as they did as kids!
Here are ten actors who got famous for a childhood role then either continued the part as an adult or came back decades later to reprise the character. One actor only played his character in two episodes — the episodes were just 42 years apart!
1. Jerry Mathers
Jerry Mathers began playing Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver in 1957 when he was nine years old. After his famous series ended in 1963, he appeared only a few times on TV over the next two decades. In 1983, he brought Theodore back to television in the movie Still the Beaver which turned into the four-season series The New Leave it to Beaver. Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow reprised their roles as June and Wally Cleaver. Even Ken Osmond came back as Eddie Haskell. Mathers also made a cameo with his TV mom and brother in The Love Boat, pictured here.
2. Lisa Loring
Lisa Loring was only six years old when she became Wednesday Addams in 1964. Though the show only lasted two seasons, her mixture of creepy and cute have become iconic. Years later, she and the rest of the Addams Family cast brought their characters back in the 1977 special Halloween with the New Addams Family. Loring played Wednesday Sr. although she was still only 19 at the time.
3. Ron Howard
Though he has acted in many other memorable TV roles, and won two Oscars for his work behind the camera, Ron Howard will forever be linked to the character that first made him a household name, Opie Taylor. Howard played Opie from the age of six to fourteen during the eight-year run of The Andy Griffith Show. Two decades later Howard sported a mustache playing Opie as an adult in the reunion movie Return to Mayberry.
4. Maureen McCormick
We’ve chosen Maureen McCormick as an example but any of the six Brady kids could be on this list. All or most of the cast came back for reunion specials like The Brady Girls Get Married and A Very Brady Christmas. McCormick and Eve Plumb, who played middle sister, Jan, even had their own spinoff sitcom The Brady Brides.
5. Judy Norton
Judy Norton wins the award for playing her childhood character the most as an adult. She began portraying Mary Ellen Walton at the age of 14, and, because of the show’s long run, could technically make this list just from her time on The Waltons alone. She was 23 when the series ended. But Norton came back as Mary Ellen six more times in TV movies, ending with A Walton Easter 25 years after debuting the character onscreen.
6. Erin Moran
Like Judy Norton, Erin Moran played Joanie Cunningham as a young teenager all the way into adulthood just on Happy Days alone. After appearing in shows like My Three Sons and Gunsmoke, Moran started playing Ron Howard’s kid sister at the age of 13 and continued until the show ended when she was 23. She also played Joanie as an adult in the 1982 spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi.
7. Jill Whelan
Jill Whelan first guest starred as Captain Stubing’s daughter in season two of The Love Boat at age 12 before becoming a regular cast member a year later. She was 21 when the show ended but that wasn’t the last time Vicki Stubing graced the small screen. Whelan and the rest of the original cast came back in a 1998 episode of Love Boat: The Next Wave and she also had a cameo in a cruise episode of the Nineties sitcom Martin.
8. Johnny Crawford
After appearing in the original Mickey Mouse Club, America got to know Johnny Crawford as young Mark McCain in The Rifleman. He played the frontier kid from ages 12 to 17 and went on to guest star in other Westerns like Rawhide, The Big Valley and Little House on the Prairie. In 1991, Crawford brought Mark back as an adult for a cameo in Kenny Rogers’ fourth Gambler TV movie. The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw also featured appearances by Crawford’s onscreen dad, Chuck Connors, as well as classic Western stars Gene Barry, Jack Kelly and James Drury.
9. Mario Lopez
Mario Lopez was fifteen when he first started playing A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell in 1989. Lopez played the rebel of Bayside High for four seasons and continued in the spinoff Saved by the Bell: The College Years. He brought Slater back, now in his forties and a coach at Bayside, for the recent reboot alongside original cast members Elizabeth Berkley, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani Thiesson.
10. Bill Mumy
Speaking of reboots, Bill Mumy did have a cameo in Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space but not as an adult Will Robinson. The character he reprised from his days as a child actor was actually only in one episode, though it’s still well-known to sci-fi fans. In the 1961 Twilight Zone installment “It’s a Good Life” Mumy plays Anthony Fremont, a kid with dangerous mental powers who terrorizes a small Ohio town. He returned to the role over 40 years later for the 2002 Twilight Zone reboot in the episode “It’s Still a Good Life”. Cloris Leachman also returned as his mother and Mumy’s real-life daughter played Anthony’s daughter in the episode.
Such a great actor! I think I might have to track down one of his albums and buy it.
Any reboot that I ever saw was cringe worthy. I am a curmudgeon.
Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, Florence Henderson, Robert Reed, Don Knotts, Tina Louise as well as other noteworthy actors/actresses.
In "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw" according to Wikipedia- Crawford and Connors are credited with their Rifleman character names.
But in Gambler 4, Chuck & Johnny were Lucas & Mark, IIRC they don't appear together, but the Protagonists (Kenny and his sidekick) interact with Both and pass a 'Best wishes/ good luck/ 'tell him I said Hi"... from Lucas to mark...
Gene Barry, Jack Kelly, Hugh O'Brien and Clint walker all reprised their roles as Bat, Bart, Wyatt & Cheyenne (as did Multiple other Western Series Stars from assorted 1960s Series)
- some like Paul Brinegar (Wishbone from Rawhide) did have to 'file off the serial numbers' and is called 'Cookie' but he's very much Wishbone... and he even gets a 'monologue incorporating something like a Dozen titles
Saved by the Bell out of convenience, (meaning it's convenient for them). It fits their punch list for E/I programming so why change it (just guessing that might be their viewpoint). Who knows?