4 Young Heartthrobs that Were Way Worse than Bieber



Justin Bieber. So much to say. The Canadian pop-sensations rise from chipmunk-cheeked YouTube phenom to jet-setting world music star has been nothing if not meteoric. But we all know how this story goes. Bieber has faced a string of legal imbroglios lately, from a police raid on his Miami mansion that from his alleged egging of his next-door neighbor’s house, to a supposed addiction to Sizzurp, assault charges in Canada, and now protests in the toney Atlanta neighborhood where he said he wants to move.

Oh, and a Change.org petition has circulated calling for his deportation.

If you remember 2000, and saying something like “Man, Britney Spears is on fire! I don’t see how she’s ever going to fall off!,” then you, like many, were woefully ignorant of how many young stars completely flame out when they experience such intense and early success. It’s okay, though, because while Justin Bieber has hogged the spotlight for some relatively-innocuous misdeeds, his teen star forerunners were about causing straight havoc. Here’s a list of some heartthrobs from yesteryear who really screwed their shit up.


1. Rob Lowe


Man, what a dreamboat! If you were in middle school when the Brat Pack was running shit, then you, or someone you knew, had a Tiger Beat poster of Rob Lowe. With his turn as a greaser Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders, Lowe would be a hunk in movies such as St. Elmo’s Fire, and run around Hollwood with pals Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore and Molly Ringwald.

But man did he ever fuck up when in Atlanta for the 1988 Democratic National Convention (where he was campaigning for Michael Dukakis), he was filmed having sex with two women, one of whom was 22, and the other 16, making him the first star of a celebrity sex tape, as well as a big ol’ creep. Lowe claimed he thought both women were of age, and no files were charged. His career eventually rebounded. Can’t say the same for the following.


2. Danny Bonaduce


A ginger-haired hearthrob from TV’s The Partridge Family and a star by 11, Bonaduce was beloved by young girls, with the attendant squeaky-clean image to make him acceptable to parents. However, behind the scenes, typical young star things happened like early drug use, sex, and, once his star dimmed early in his 20s, drug abuse and homelessness. He was arrested in 1990 in a cocaine sting in Daytona Beach, where he was about to, no lie, give a talk to children in a D.A.R.E. anti-drug program. In 1991, he was arrested for beating up a sex worker.

Bonaduce parlayed the gruesome turn of events into a memorable VH1 Behind the Music special, and a perverse rubbernecking of a trainwreck of a reality show on the same network, Breaking Bonaduce, wherein he attempted suicide in one episode.


3. Leif Garrett


Garrett was a 70’s equivalent to Bieber if there ever was one. If Peter Frampton was baby-faced, Garrett was essentially an adorable fetus with a microphone. Already the star of a CBS sitcom who had appeared in movies, Garrett had a couple successful releases for Atlantic in the late 70’s. His real claim to fame however, was his omnipresence as a prepubescent heartthrob for little girls all over the US.

He couldn’t stay 14 forever, though, and in 1979, while messed up on booze and muscle relaxers, he crashed his car, paralyzing his good friend from the neck down. He was successfully sued by his friend’s family, to the tune of $25 million. He eventually apologized on Behind the Music in 1999, when the two were reunited, which if you had cable in 1999, you doubtlessly remember. The whole show was an excuse to show how haggard he’d become. How haggard, you ask? Wandering-in-a-desert haggard.

What happened next? He joined the Church of Scientology, and has been arrested several times for drug possession since, most recently in 2010, for heroin.


4. Bobby Driscoll

Bobby Driscoll

“Bobby Driscoll?” you ask. “Who the fuck is that?”

Let me tell you. Driscoll is perhaps the first ignominious Disney star to plummet from grace, although the story is far more tragic than anyone who’s come since, and goes way beyond twerking, or whatever passes for disgrace these days.

Bobby Driscoll was a child star from 1934 to 1960, appearing in Disney’s Song of the South and Treasure Island, among numerous other features. He also was the model, and provided the voice, for the animated Peter Pan. In 1950, he won an Academy Juvenile Award (literally a mini-Oscar statuette). A few years later, he hit puberty and his world turned to shit.

Story goes that Driscoll suffered from terrible acne, which made his movie prospects run dry. He was arrested for marijuana in 1955, which, you can imagine, was a much bigger deal then. Turning to harder drugs, Driscoll got by on TV anthology appearances for the rest of his short life. He was arrested for check forgery and robbing an animal clinic of $450 in 1961, and two children discovered his badly-decayed body in an abandoned New York City tenement in 1968. He was initially buried in an unmarked grave, until positive fingerprint ID confirmed he was a former child star.

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