It's been widely reported that Bart Simpson has not aged a jot since 1989. Alas, such time-defying witchcraft isn't possible in the realms of something we call "real life". Everyone ages. Even the delightfully cherubic faces of the childhood actors that starred in the sitcoms of yesteryear. But did their careers mature with their funny faces? We find out...
Cole Sprouse (Ben, Friends)
Friends wasn't the only highlight on Cole's rather snazzy CV. He and his twin brother began "acting" at eight months old, when they both played Patrick Kelly in Grace Under Fire for five years. They bagged their first major film role in the 1999 Adam Sandler vehicle Big Daddy when, always the more talented of the two*, Cole went solo as Ben in Friends in 2001 for seven episodes. The twins reunited for straight-to-DVD car crashes, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Just for Kicks (2003). In 2005, they starred in the Disney Channel sitcom The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and, the following year, they launched a clothing line, book series and a magazine. Only the clothing line remains.
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody was rebooted in 2008 as The Suite Life On Deck, which became the most-watched children's television show that year. Needless to say that spawned The Suite Life Movie and Dylan and Cole became two of the wealthiest children alive in 2007. By 2010, the Sprouse brothers were the highest paid teenage Disney television actors, earning $40,000 per episode combined. MSN reported them to be richest twins since Mary Kate and Ashley Olson. In 2010, the brothers were accepted to New York University, with Cole focussing on archeology. Cash unlikely to be a problem.
'*'This is a joke.
Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy Huxtable, The Cosby Show)
Colour us jealous because Keshia appeared in Sesame Street prior to playing Rudy, which she went on to do for seven years and 122 episodes. During that time she became the youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Emmy for best supporting actress. She was six. Midway through her Cosby Show innings she found time to star in little-known movie Polly. She went somewhat off the radar for six years before appearing on a 1997 episode of Bill Cosby's follow-up sitcom Cosby.
In 2002 Keisha won a celebrity version of Fear Factor, won celebrity The Weakest Link, and participated in Celebrity Mole 2: Yucatan. Having never seen this last show, we've spent over an hour reading up on it and we're no closer to explaining what the hell it was. In 2004, she performed in Chingy's music video for "One Call Away" before, in 2005, playing Darnelle in Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah.
Pulliam performed in Donald Gray's play The Man of Her Dreams in 2006 in St. Louis and in 2008 she joined the cast of Tyler Perry's House of Payne.
A year later she appeared in Tank's 2010 music video for his cover of "I Can't Make You Love Me" playing his love interest (see that here) and in 2013 she was a contestant on the ABC celebrity diving show Splash. She was first to be eliminated.
Michael Fishman (D.J. Conner, Roseanne)
From age 6 to 15 Michael Fishman rocked it on Roseanne. He landed the part after meeting with Roseanne Barr who championed him despite having no acting experience. It worked. When the curtain fell after nine seasons of the show, Michael took it badly: "It was one of the hardest times of my life," he said. "I was devastated. The cast and crew were my family. I'll always love so many of those people. They shaped me as a person and made me who I am."
After Roseanne he appeared in guest roles on Walker, Texas Ranger and Seinfeld, and cruelly landed a recurring role on Hitz just before it was canceled. Michael was in Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: A.I., and was the co-host of The Roseanne Show, which ran for two years before it too was jettisoned in 2000.
After then training to work behind the camera he performed an almost immediate volte-face, deciding acting was indeed for him. He has just wrapped "Undrafted" - an independent baseball drama based on a true story about a player who is not drafted, which causes him to have an epiphany. Chace Crawford also stars.
John Pickard (David Porter, 2point4 Children)
John did the usual Brit acting journey through Grange Hill and The Bill, before landing his role in 2point4 Children, but he did it in the less usual order of The Bill first. 2point4 Children lasted a surprisingly long 8 years and Nick wasn't out of work long, appearing in Eastenders for three years from 1993 to 1996. The role was hardly gold, mind you. He played Kevin, Robbie Jackson's mate.
Soapstar Superchef, a cooking show in which soap stars competed to be crowned champs of the kitchen followed. John and his brother Nick (who plays Tony in Hollyoaks) finished a dismal 18th out of 19. Speaking of Hollyoaks, he's been in and out of that show (and its more adult elder brother Hollyoaks Later) since 2005, but hasn't registed a screen role since Casulaty in 2012. He's been on stage and in panto, mind you.
Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor, Home Improvement)
FACT ATTACK! Zachery is actually one month younger than Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who played his younger brother Randy on Home Improvement. For eight years he played the role of Brad, but slap bang in the middle he appeared in two episodes of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. Bryan made brief appearances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars and Shark. He made a cameo appearance on MTV's "I Bet You Will" in which he portrayed himself and competed in a challenge where he wrestled female convicted felons. Actually though. He also appeared on Smallville in 2003 where he played Eric Marsh, a high school baseball player using steroids made from meteor rock. Again, genuinely. In 2008 he appeared as a young man hiring a hitman to kill his stepmother on the show Burn Notice.
A raft of lesser known movie roles included Eric in 1999's The Rage: Carrie 2 and more recently, he played defender Harry Keough alongside Gerard Butler in The Game of Their Lives about the time, in 1950, when the US football team fluked a 1-0 lead against England at the World Cup, before parking the bus and grinding out a win. They tell the tale somewhat differently. In 2006, he played Clay in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (see him here) and he also played Thor in the made-for-TV Syfy channel film Thor: Hammer of the Gods. That might be one of the most remarkable, if not so noteworthy acting biographies we've ever come across. What. A. Dude.
Kellie Bright (Joanna, The Upper Hand)
Another wonderfully eclectic résumé, here. Kellie appeared in T-Bag, which was not - but should have been - a spin-off show from 2005's Prison Break, but was rather, as most Brits should know, the 1985 to 1992 Children's ITV show about a witch. This should jog fading memories.
She balanced The Upper Hand with Maid Marion And Her Merry Men, which non-UK readers have to see to believe, here. Brits can relive the theme tune here. Bad Girls and The Archers followed before she played "Me Julie" in Da Ali G Show and the 2002 movie Ali G Indahouse. Kellie played Del and Rodney's mother Joan Trotter in the Only Fools And Horses prequel Rock And Chips, in 2010, before being cast as Linda Carter in EastEnders, where she remains.
Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
More Sesame Street-inspired jealousy, here. By the age of six, Tatyana had begun her acting career as a regular child performer on puppet-powered show before landing her role as Ashley in 1990.
After the final episode, she launched her album Kiss The Sky, which was certified gold in 1999. The album's dancefloor filler was the hit song 'Daydreamin'' which hit six on the Billboard Hot 100 and six the UK Singles Chart. Nice work.
The album spawned two further UK hits. 'Boy You Knock Me Out', featuring one Will Smith, peaked at three here in the UK and remains her biggest hit, while 'Everytime' was her third top 20 hit on these shores. She also made an appearance in Smith's album Willennium on the track Who Am I?.
In early 2008, she performed on the song "Yes We Can", a will.i.am project supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign, before traveling the US as a spokesperson for Obama. She is currently playing a recurring character on the CBS soap The Young and the Restless (playing Roxanne) and can be seen in the show, Love That Girl! on TV One.
Ben Smith (Damien Trotter, Only Fools And Horses)
Six different actors played Damien Derek Trotter - the potentially satanic child of Del and Raquel. The most recent, and the face probably best known, was that of Ben Smith, who played Damien in the comeback seasons from 2001 to 2003. If IMDb is to be believed, and let's face it it would be weird if they were lying, Ben made his screen debut in The Upper Hand when he was just 4 or 5. His acting biography then reads like a history of British TV, appearing in Peak Practice, The Bill, Holby City, Only Fools, Teachers, Wire In The Blood, Hustle, Doctor Who, Doctors, Eastenders, Skins, Misfits and Casualty, to name only a few. Fair play to him.
He also appeared in the 2009 film Nowhere Boy as a member of the group by the bus stop. You remember the group by the bus stop, right? Us neither. In 2010 he was the main character in episode 2 of the BBC drama serial Accused - pictured. Here's an interview with him at an Only Fools convention (he seems like a very nice chap), and here's a link to the picture we've used where Ben has wonderfully signed the photo with a '666'. You can buy it for £110. We don't advise it.
TREVOR EINHORN, (FREDERICK, FRASIER)
As a child actor of just 6, Trevor Einhorn appeared in that Demi Moore/Michael Douglas sex-fest Disclosure, before playing Frasier and Lilith's son Frederick Gaylord Crane in eight episodes of the NBC sitcom. Post-Frasier he appeared in three episodes of the awful sounding Joan Of Arcadia, before playing a young patient of Berg's in Two Guys and a Girl. He also played the role of Henry Walker on Sons & Daughters and made an appearance in an episode of The Office as Justin Polznik, a student interested in an internship at Dunder Mifflin until, of course, Michael Scott drives him away.
Einhorn also appeared in a TV ad for Acer laptops alongside Kiefer Sutherland, named "Dynamite Cupcakes". It starts out with disaster written all over it, but massively improves when Einhorn shows up, 35 seconds in. Most recently he has appeared in the sixth season of Mad Men, as copywriter John Mathis, and he also did an episode of Arrested Development.
Danielle Fishel (Topanga, Boy Meets World)
It's been a rollercoaster career for Danielle Fishel since her 7 year stint in Boy Meets World. The dip was long and worrying. She only nabbed minor roles in lesser-known TV shows as well as 2003’s National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze and the 2006 sequel, National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2: College at Sea.
BUT SHE'S BACK!
Danielle has starred in Girl Meets World, a sitcom that will debuted in the US last summer, on Disney Channel. The continuation of Boy Meets World, it followed Cory and Topanga's kids, Riley and Auggie. Ben Savage, who played Cory, also reprised his role - a second series has been commissioned.
(Images: Rex, Getty & YouTube, unless stated)