Kristy McNichol was a big young star in the 70s and 80s, but she first broke out with the TV drama Family, plays youngest daughter, Letitia Lawrence, nicknamed Buddy. The series premiered in 1976 and starred James Broderick and Now Thompson as a suburban California couple with three children, and ran for five seasons. Family portrayed what American middle-class life was like at the time, including tackling difficult topics such as sexuality and death. McNichol was only 14 when the show began, but won two Emmy Awards for his work on the show.
While her star continued to rise for several years after Family went off the air, McNichol also engaged in some personal struggles and has largely stayed out of the limelight for the past 25 years. Read on to find out why she left her career and what she’s doing today.
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After her role in Family, McNichol’s career exploded. She played her first lead film role in the beloved coming-of-age film Little Darlings in 1980 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Comedy Only when I laugh. She also continued to appear on television and played recurring roles The love boat, Golden girls, and Tom rede.
But her fame also came with a downside. Filming stopped for the 1984 film Just like you are because McNichol, the leading lady, had mental health issues. She told People in 1989 that she rarely slept, had strange dreams and lost a dangerous amount of weight while in France working on the project. Together with a therapist, McNichol identified the pressure of being a child star as one of the causes of her breakdown.
“From a very young age, I was a professional, made money and took responsibility,” she told the magazine. “I did not live as a child. I lived as a 30-year-old.”
While McNichols continued to work as an actress for several years after the much-publicized event, borrowing her voice for the animated series Invasion of America in 1998 would be her last role. That was when she decided to retire from the industry in what she told People in 2014 was a very positive decision for her – although she also said she “would never say never” to act in the future.
“I was on the big stage between the ages of eight and 30,” she told the magazine via ABC News. “I left show business for various reasons, but a big one was my interest in learning what else is in life.”
Thankfully, it sounds like life for McNichol has only gotten better.
“My home life is happy and peaceful. I love to sing. I also enjoy traveling and seeing the world,” she said. “One of my favorite stops is Hawaii. I like everything about it and can eventually move there part-time.”
McNichol came out as gay to her fans in 2012 via a statement that her publicist, Jeff Ballard, shared with People. He explained that he chose to do so, even when he retired, for a very important reason.
“[She] is very sad that children are being bullied. She hopes that getting out can help children who need support. She wants to help others who feel different, “Ballard said of her client, adding,” She is very happy and healthy and she enjoys living a private life. “
At the time, McNichol also said she had lived with her partner, Martie Allen, for 20 years, and enjoyed playing tennis, doing yoga and spending time with his mini dachshunds.
In his 1989 interview, McNichol recounted People that she took her role as Buddy very seriously, even at a young age.
“I was like a miniature adult,” she said. “I went to work every day with a little folder. I really think I grew up backwards. There’s the way most kids do it, and then there’s the way Kris did it.”
But in the end, while her maturity was helping her professionally, she discovered that living in the spotlight was not good for her mental or physical health.
“It all came to mind. All the rejection, all the ups and downs of my career – not having a childhood, coming from a broken home, not going to school, not going to the prom, all these people telling me that do it. this and do it without having anything to say, “she said. “People think I must have been on drugs or something. But when you’re young, all that is enough to make you crack.”
McNichol has always been close to his brother Jimmy McNichol, who was also a child actor. (You may remember from Dazzled by the Light or Night warning.) In 1978, siblings released an album together, and Jimmy even moved in with his sister to provide support as she struggled with her mental health.
Today, the sibling couple maintains a shared Facebook page. Much of it consists of recurring images, but occasionally they share recent images of themselves and what they are up to.
Kristy also engages with fans by attending conventions where she chats about her work and signs autographs.
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