Living through the ’80s wasn’t always easy: the Cold War was raging, fashion was – well, problematic to say the least, hair was big and New Wave was bigger. Still, it’s difficult not to look back on this period without feeling a certain pang of nostalgia. Movies were great, and pop culture as we know it today was slowly being established.
The stars of the ’80s redefined what it means to be a star, and without them, we wouldn’t have the celebrity culture we love (and love to hate!) today. But while the stars of the ’80s have made way for younger talent, they’re still around, and still active. Where are they today, and what are they up to? Look no further, we have the deets below.
By the time she started high school, Brooke Shields was already an international supermodel and a highly successful actress. Shields starred in hits like The Blue Lagoon and Endless Love when she was a teen, and went on to star in numerous other successful films, as well as to head international campaigns for major brands and designers.
After graduating from high school, Shields put her career on hold in order to attend Princeton University and get a degree in Romance Languages – after which she returned to acting.
Today, Shields continues to act, as well as to take part in various business ventures.
Jennifer Connelly first started acting as a child. She got her first major break in 1984, when she was 14 years old, with the film Once Upon a Time in America, but she is perhaps still best remembered for her role two years later, in 1986’s Labyrinth, playing opposite David Bowie.
Her career didn’t stop there, though. Connelly continued to work through the 1990s and 2000s, appearing in films like Dark City and Requiem for a Dream.
Today, Connelly continues to act, but also serves as an Ambassador for Human Rights Education on behalf of Amnesty International.
Demi Moore started her career at the age of 16, when she dropped out of high school in order to become an actress. She went on to star alongside Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe in films like St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night.
As she grew up, she took on more mature roles in films like A Few Good Menand Indecent Proposal, and eventually became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood for her roles in Ghost and G.I. Jane.
Today, Moore continues to act, but has shifted her focus from blockbusters to more artsy, independent films.
Linda Hamilton first rose to fame playing the brave and resilient Sarah Connor in 1984’s The Terminator. The science fiction action horror film helped turn Hamilton into a celebrity, and she went on to reprise the role in Terminator 2 – widely considered one of the best action films ever made.
But it wasn’t just fame that the Terminator series helped Hamilton find – she also found love, at least briefly. In 1997, Hamilton married Terminator‘s director (and the future director of Titanic and Avatar), James Cameron.
Following her Terminator roles, Hamilton continued to act and has been consistently appearing in film and television ever since. She’s even won two Golden Globes and an Emmy for her work!
Glenn Close’s talent and screen presence are undeniable. The 3 time Emmy and Tony award winner and 7 time Academy Award nominee had her film debut in 1982’s The World According to Garp, but many might remember her best from her role in Fatal Attraction.
Close has been acting ever since, appearing in countless films and television shows. Recently, she’s even made an appearance in the Marvel cinematic universe as Nova Prime Irani Rael in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Bo Derek, born Mary Cathleen Collins, was huge in the early ’80s. She first made a name for herself as a model, and was later cast as Jane in 1981’s Tarazan, the Ape Man, which was directed by her husband, legendary actor and director John Derek.
Bo continued to act in a variety of films and television shows, but following her husband’s passing in 1998, she herself went into semi-retirement, and only participates in the occasional film or production today.
Thanks to her roles in shows like Melrose Place and Dynasty, Heather Locklear was a household name back in the early 1980s.
Locklear went on to appear in a few more successful production, including 1997’s Money Talks and 2005’s The Perfect Man, as well as in the role of Caitlin Moore on the popular Spin City – a role for which she received two Golden Globe nominations.
Today, Locklear has been focusing on television work, but has also undergone several trials in her personal life: in 2017, following rumors about her admittance to rehab in tabloids, Locklear released a statement in which she said she was working through some personal issues.
Alyssa Milano became famous for her role on ABC’s Who’s the Boss. The popular sitcom started airing when Milano was only 12 years old, in 1984, and continued for eight years, until she was 20.
The show helped turn Milano into one of America’s most beloved teen icons. After the show ended, Milano went on to appear in Melrose Place, Charmed, My Name is Earl and, more recently, on Netflix’s Insatiable.
Milano continues to be active today, and also uses her celebrity status to promote important causes like humanitarian aid and women’s rights.
Erika Eleniak started her career in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic science fiction drama, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, where she appeared as Elliot’s science class crush. A few years down the road, she was cast as Shauni McClain in Baywatch – a role which made her extremely popular. In addition to her TV fame, Eleniak made several movie appearances during the ’90s in films like Under Siege and The Beverly Hillbillies.
In 2006, she gave birth to her daughter, Indyanna, and continues to act today.
For a while in the 1980s, it seemed like Elisabeth Shue was everywhere. She starred in Adventures in Babysitting, The Karate Kid and in Back to the Future II and III. In 1995, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as sera in Leaving Las Vegas.
Since then, her career has been going strong. She is a series regular, opposite Ted Danson, in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, has appeared in 2017’s Battle of the Sexes and, more recently, in Netflix’s wildly successful superhero drama, The Boys.
Audiences first fell in love with Karen Allen after she starred as Marion Ravenwood in 1981’s Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark opposite Harrison Ford. Allen’s charismatic performance helped launch her career and cement her place in film history. She would later revisit the part in 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Over the years, Allen continued to act, appearing in films like The Sandlot and The Perfect Storm, and she continues to act to this day.
Dianne Wiest is a prolific actress who starred in several classic ’80s films, including Footloose, The Lost Boys, Bright Lights, Big City and Edward Scissorhands, just to name a few. She won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for her parts in the Woody Allen films Hannah and Her Sister and Bullets Over Broadway.
She continues to act today, most notably as Joan Short in CBS’s comedy, Life in Pieces.
Prior to her appearance in 1981’s Ragtime, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Elizabeth McGovern only appeared in two short films.
Starting her career off on such a high note put a lot of pressure on the young McGovern – but she completely managed to stand up to it. In 1984 she appeared in Once Upon a Time in America, and went on to appear in countless films and television shows since.
Perhaps her best known role in recent years is that of Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey – a role she will reprise in 2019 a film continuation of the show.
Science fiction fans will instantly recognize Sean Young, even today, thanks to her role as Rachel in Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, as well as for her part as Chanu in David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation of Dune.
Following these two iconic appearances, Young went on to appear in a variety of other films in different genres, including 1994’s Jim Carrey-led Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.She continues to work and act today.
We all remember Lori Singer for her part as Ariel Moore opposite Kevin Bacon in 1984’s Footloose, as well as for her portrayal of Julie Miller on the first two seasons of Fame.
But Singer is actually more than just an actress. A Julliard trained cellist and a film producer, she played a cello solo in Carnegie Hall, and the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, which she produced, won a Peabody award.
Lea Thompson is still known and loved today, thanks to her portrayal of Lorraine McFLy in the Back to the Future film trilogy. Playing Marty McFly’s mother in various stages of her life, Thompson’s performance was an impressive tour de force in acting.
Following her role in Back to the Future, Thompson starred in George Lucas’ contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Howard the Duck in 1986, and later appeared in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Today, Thompson continues to act, and has a recurring role on Switched at Birth among other various television appearances.
Barbara Lynn Klein, better known as Barbi Benton, is probably one of the 1980s’ most recognizable personalities. Starting out as a model at age 16, Benton found herself hosting Playboy After Dark, a television show affiliated with Hugh Hefner’s famous Playboy magazine.
It wasn’t just the show that was affiliated with Hefner, though. Benton moved into Hefner’s Playboy mansion, and was in a relationship with him for over 7 years.
In addition to her life at the Mansion, Benton dabbled in acting and even landed a role in the popular Fantasy Island TV show.
Today, Benton works as an interior designer and is married to the millionaire George Gradow.
Ally Sheedy was an icon of ’80s teen films spearheaded by the likes of The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire – both of which she appeared in, thereby earning herself a place in “The Brat Pack” – a group of young actors who appeared in the teen movies of the times.
Since her time in the Brat Pack, Sheedy has went on to appear in multiple films and TV shows, including Psych, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and X-Men: Apocalypse.
Rebecca De Mornay
Rebecca De Mornay’s film debut was opposite of Tom Cruise in 1983’s Risky Business. Two years later, she appeared in the Sluggers Wife.
Her portrayal of Mrs. Mott / Peyton Flanders in 1992’s The Hand that Rocks the Cradle further helped cement her place as a force to be reckoned with in the film trade.
Today, her career is still going strong. She’s appeared in several episodes of the popular TV show Lucifer, as well as opposite of Jon Travolta in the 2016 thriller, I Am Wrath.
Most of us remember Marla Sokoloff as Gia Mahan from Full House. Sokoloff’s portrayal of the wild, peer pressure inducing Gia is pretty unforgettable – from the time she took Stephanie out to a make out party through the time they took a car for a joyride. But Sokoloff has done more with her career since Full House, and you might be surprised by the productions she’s acted in!
She’s appeared in Grey’s Anatomy, Drop Dead Diva and Desperate Housewives, just to name a few, and has recently starred in the film A Happening of Monumental Proportions opposite Katie Holmes and Allison Janney.
Samantha Fox wasn’t just a popular singer, model and actress back in the ’80s – she also had the dubious honor of gracing the walls of practically every teenaged American boy’s bedroom with her numerous iconic posters. Her hit song, “Touch Me”, helped launch the British pin up girl into international fame, and is still played on radio playlists worldwide today.
Fox was known for her affairs with women as well as men, and was in a 16-year long relationship with her manager, Myra Stratton – with whom she appeared on the reality television show, Celebrity Wife Swap, in 2008.
In 2016, Fox took part in another reality TV show: Celebrity Big Brother. She finished in 7th place.
Daryl Hannah’s career started off with 1978’s horror classic, The Fury. Since then, she’s went on to appear in numerous classic ’80s films, including Blade Runner, Splash (alongside Tom Hanks), Steel Magnolias, High Spirits and Wall Street.
While her career experienced a bit of a slump in the ’90s, in the mid ’00s she returned to box office success with her part in the Kill Bill films, in which she played international assassin and member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Elle Driver.
Since then, she’s continued to appear in various other films and productions, most recently in the Wachoski Sister’s Sci-Fi Netflix thriller, Sense8.
Many may not remember her today, but back in the late ’80s, Debbie Gibson was a fashion icon and trendsetter. Her signature rolled up jeans, vests over t-shirts, black hats and two watches on the same hand influenced an entire generation and set fashion trends for years to come. Her debut album, aptly named Out of the Blue, contained what was arguably her greatest hit, the song “Foolish Beat,* which made her the youngest female artist to write, produce and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single.
Gibson continued to work, write and perform well into the 2000s, and in June 2017, Billboard Magazine reported that Gibson achieved “her highest-charting hit in more than 25 years”: her duet with Sir Ivan on ‘I Am Peaceman’ – which hit #26 on the Billboard Dance Club Chart.
Here’s one artist who needs no introduction. The Queen of Pop, Madonna, started out in the ’80s – and helped shape and define the pop sound of that decade – and of many decades to come.
The recipient of countless awards, honors and titles, Madonna’s influence on music, video, fashion and dance is so staggeringly huge, going into it here would be almost impossible.
Today – over three decades later! – as you probably know, Madonna continues to be active and influential. Her world tours continually sell out and break records, and her place at the top of pop’s music hierarchy is undisputed.