Another Naughty Hollywood Kid

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"On the same day that the Sopranos kid got arrested, 20 other child stars might have been rescuing cats, graduating high school, or just living normal lives," Ryan says. "It's just that normal behavior isn't reported."

Urban Myths and Kid Actors

Child actors have always been a subject of fascination. And their treatment in the press has never been easy. Certainly there have been widespread rumors that are nothing more than urban legends.

Kirk Cameron, who played Mike on Growing Pains, actually had to respond to rumors that he had died in, adding insult to injury, a bowling accident, after the show was canceled in 1992.

"A friend of mine confronted him on that, and you just have to think how bizarre such a life can be — to need to prove that you are alive," says film critic Richard Roeper, author of Hollywood Urban Legends.

Roeper says such wild stories are rampant. Mikey — that kid from the Life cereal commercials — did not die from eating Pop Rocks candy and washing it down with Coke. And Susan Olsen — Cindy from The Brady Bunch — never starred in a porn movie. She merely resembles the star of the 1986 X-rated skin flick Crocodile Blondee.

"It's just too much fun to believe stuff like that happens," Roeper says. "And we just want people to fit into a particular mold."

That doesn't mean that it's easy to handle fast and fleeting fame. Many young stars have struggled with success. For some it has been fatal. For others, it's served painful lessons. Here, then, are some stories that Robert Iler and other young stars might learn from.

Child Actor Traumas

Anissa Jones Highlight: As the pigtailed darling "Buffy" on Family Affair, she was the cutest thing on TV for about six years, beginning in 1966. Low point: Turned to drugs as a teenager. Shuttled between mother and father. Died of an overdose of Quaaludes and barbiturates in 1976 at 18. Her ashes were cast upon the Pacific Ocean.

Danny Bonaducci Highlight: Played the wisecracking, bass-playing redhead on The Partridge Family, one of the most enduring TV hits of the early 1970s. Low point: Multiple arrests for drug and cocaine possession. Convicted of assaulting and robbing a transvestite prostitute in 1991. Recently: Cohosts a morning drive-time radio show, The Jamie & Danny Show, on Los Angeles' KYSR-FM (Star 98.7).