Child Celebrities Who Lost A Lot Of Money
1. Judy Garland, known for her breakout role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the age of 16, faced financial struggles later in her career. In 1966, she discovered that her agents had mismanaged her money and allegedly embezzled a significant portion of her earnings. As a result, she ended up owing approximately $500,000 to the IRS towards the end of her life.
2. Cole Sprouse recently disclosed that he and his brother Dylan Sprouse lost “everything from the youngest parts of [their] careers.” This refers to the money they earned from sharing a role in the film Big Daddy and from Cole’s appearance on the television show Friends. Cole attributed their financial losses to his mother, describing her as “financially the most irresponsible woman ever.”
3. Dustin Diamond, who gained fame for portraying Screech in Saved By the Bell, filed for bankruptcy in 2001. He revealed that his parents had reportedly spent the money he earned from the show and that he had made significant tax miscalculations. In 2006, he resorted to selling $15 T-shirts to delay the foreclosure of his house in Wisconsin.
4. Jena Malone, known for her roles in films like Contact, Hope, and Stepmom during her youth, sued her mother in 1999 for allegedly mismanaging her money and “squandering more than $1 million.” The lawsuit also claimed that Jena owed $20,000 in taxes and her college fund had been depleted. At the age of 15, Jena legally emancipated herself.
5. Jackie Coogan, who starred in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid and became the first child actor in Hollywood, discovered after his father’s death that all the money he earned during his childhood acting career was gone. He sued his mother and former manager to regain his earnings, which ultimately led to the Coogan Law being established.
6. Aaron Carter filed for bankruptcy in 2013, despite reportedly earning “$200 million in [his] career before [he] even turned 18 years old.” Aaron’s parents, who managed his finances, made numerous financial mistakes that resulted in him owing $4 million in taxes when he reached 18.
7. Shirley Temple signed a contract with Fox Film at the age of six in 1934, earning $1,000 per week. However, by the time she turned 17, most of her savings had vanished. Due to her father’s poor financial management, Shirley only had $44,000 left of her approximately $3 million earnings.
8. Devon Werkheiser, known for his role as Ned on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, revealed that by the time he turned 25, his savings had run out. Despite living modestly, Devon had to get a 9-to-5 job for the first time as he struggled to find consistent acting opportunities.
9. LeAnn Rimes, who achieved country music stardom at the age of 13, filed a lawsuit against her father, Wilbur Rimes, and former manager, accusing them of taking over $7 million of her earnings. The lawsuit also alleged that they kept tens of thousands of dollars in cash hidden on her tour bus. Unreasonable fees and other financial misconduct were also claimed.
10. Corey Feldman, who appeared in films like Gremlins, The Goonies, Stand by Me, and The Lost Boys before turning 18, revealed in his autobiography that his parents allegedly stole the $1 million he earned throughout his career. This led him to file for emancipation at the age of 15.
11. Christy Carlson Romano, known for her roles on Even Stevens and as the voice of Kim Possible, lost all the savings she earned as a child actor due to extravagant spending. At the age of 21, she distanced herself from her family for a year, dissatisfied with the way her money was being managed. This marked the first time she had control over her own finances, leading to reckless spending habits.
12. Gary Coleman, famous for portraying Arnold on Diff’rent Strokes, filed for bankruptcy in 1999. Despite earning approximately $64,000 per week at the peak of his Diff’rent Strokes fame, he attributed the financial downfall to a combination of factors, including himself, accountants, adoptive parents, agents, lawyers, and back to himself.
13. Joey Lawrence, who achieved fame through his role in Blossom, as well as his music career and work with Disney, filed for bankruptcy in 2017. At the time, Joey and his wife had only $8,000 in their bank account. With diminishing residuals from Blossom and the conclusion of Melissa and Joey, Joey resorted to selling his clothes in an attempt to make ends meet.