Do you remember all the '90s teen heartthrobs who graced the covers of Tiger Beat? Or the bad boys who kept making news in J-14? Whatever happened to those handsome dreamboats who made adolescent teenagers swoon and moon over them?
Most are still around, although they've grown up from the "Macarena" days. Some of these former teen heartthrobs are now dads to teens themselves and have carved out a living from whatever life threw at them. Facts about these former film and TV teen favorites will send you on a dreamy walk down adolescent memory lane.
- Photo: Full House / ABC
Scott Weinger captured hearts while playing D.J.'s boyfriend, Steve Hale, on Full House. Hale is a dreamy teen boyfriend: caring and so in love with D.J. he even chooses not to go to college to be with her longer. When viewers heard him tell D.J., "I didn't know what love was until I met you," D.J. wasn't the only adolescent who swooned.
Weinger also voiced the title character in Disney's 1992 animated film Aladdin, and during production for that movie he met Robin Williams, who voiced the genie. Weinger said he was in awe of Williams, but the comedian was kind and calmed him down to make him feel comfortable.
Williams had an even longer-lasting influence on the young actor. According to Weinger, Williams's Oscar-winning role as a teacher at a private boys' high school in the 1989 film Dead Poet's Society was the main reason he went to Harvard:
It was far and away, the ultimate reason why I wanted to go to Harvard and be an English major. I wanted to wear a peacoat and be a New England guy, just like in the movie.
Weinger graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in English literature, which helped him transition from on-screen heartthrob to successful TV writer. He has written and produced episodes for 90210, and serves as the executive producer of DC Super Hero High.
- Photo: NBC2361 VOTES
Scott Valentine charmed teen viewers as Mallory Keaton's boyfriend Nick Moore on NBC's Family Ties.
Several years before starring on the popular sitcom, however, his big break was supposed to be a feature film. At age 22, while on his way to his agent to sign a contract for the movie and a soap opera, he was hit, run over, and dragged by a truck. He struggled to recover physically for more than three years after the incident.
Doctors told him he probably would not walk again, but Valentine said he was determined to get better:
I was young enough... when I was run over... there was still quite a bit of naivete and not a real sense of one's own mortality. So it was just a constant thought of, "Gee I gotta get healthy, so I could work."
Valentine pushed himself to recover, then moved to LA and landed the Family Ties role. Additional roles dried up and Valentine took on a different career. As of 2022, he is the managing director of Excelsior Capital.
- Photo: Scream / Dimension Films
Skeet Ulrich made hearts miss a beat when he played deranged killer Billy Loomis in the 1996 thriller Scream. It was his first major role, which he reprised in the 2022 movie of the same name.
Ulrich, born Bryan Ray Trout, said he had a troubled childhood. When he was 6, the actor said in an interview, his father, a chef, "kidnapped" him and his brother, Geoff Trout. The brothers spent three years living an unstable life before being reunited with their mother, after which their father disappeared from their lives.
His mother married former race car driver D.K. Ulrich, and the actor adopted his stepfather's surname, while his coach called him Skeeter because he was a sickly child. At age 10, Ulrich had to have an operation for a heart defect.
Ulrich chose to slow down his acting career when he and his wife, actor Georgina Cates, divorced in 2005, and he got primary custody of the couple's twins, Jakob and Naiia Ulrich.
Coming from a broken family, Ulrich said he decided it was more important to be a dad:
I would never let my kids feel unwanted. That was the prime motivation. You know, they’re just a lot of fun to be with and be around. I had an analyst in New York. When I went there, we went over and over and over my childhood. I came to the conclusion it would never be fixed. He told me when I had kids it would be. I didn’t understand that when I was 23, but he was right. I get to re-experience my own childhood in a new way and be the parent I wish I’d had.
- Photo: 7th Heaven / CBS Television Distribution4239 VOTES
Barry Watson was a child model before he landed a six-month contract in the soap opera Days of Our Lives. After finishing school, he landed small gigs on Baywatch and other TV shows before being chosen to play Matt Camden on 7th Heaven in 1996.
At the time, Watson later said, he took on the role just to pay his bills, not realizing how popular the show would become.
After two failed marriages, Watson started dating Natasha Wagner, daughter of Natalie Wood. Oscar-nominated actor Wood had drowned in the waters around Santa Catalina Island in California in 1981 while vacationing aboard a motor yacht with her husband, Robert Wagner.
Watson and Wagner's daughter was born in 2012, and the couple married in 2014. They named their daughter Clover Clementyne as an homage to Wood, from a role she played in the 1965 movie Inside Daisy Clover.
Watson said he turned down many roles to make sure he was home with his family, which also includes two boys from a previous marriage:
I said "no" to probably too many things in the past and it affected my work. But I have no regrets. I'm proud because I can coach my daughter's basketball games, go to the games, really be a part of their lives. And hopefully, my kids will recognize that Dad was always there.
- Photo: Beverly Hills 90210 / Fox
Jason Priestley was one of the teen heartthrobs in Beverly Hills 90210, which also starred Shannen Doherty, Luke Perry, and Jennie Garth. Priestley's role as Brandon Walsh catapulted him to stardom, and his acting career continued after the show ended, although not on the same scale as that of his former roommate, Brad Pitt.
Before Priestley landed the Brandon role, he and Pitt lived together, auditioning for roles and doing odd jobs to make ends meet. Priestley wrote in his 2014 memoir:
We lived on ramen noodles and generic beer - the kind that came in white cans labeled "beer" - and Marlboro Light cigarettes. We were broke.
The two had competitions about who could not shower and shave the longest, and Priestley said Pitt usually won. The unsanitary streak would end only when one of them received an audition call.
Priestley has since starred in, directed, or produced numerous shows and movies, most recently playing Matt Shade in the Canadian series Private Eyes. He also shares a son and daughter with wife Naomi Lowde-Priestley, whom he married in 2005.
- Photo: The Luck of the Irish / Buena Vista Television
Disney movie star Ryan Merriman tugged at everybody's heartstrings when he appeared as Benjamin "Ben" Cappadora/Sam Karras in the 1999 movie The Deep End of the Ocean starring Michelle Pfeiffer. But what truly got him noticed were two Disney Channel movies. In Smart House, he plays computer whiz Benjamin "Ben" Cooper, who ends up programming his "smart home" into a maternal figure. In The Luck of the Irish, he plays teenage basketball player Kyle Johnson, who is half-leprechaun - and full dreamboat.
In 2013 he starred in 42, a film starring the late Chadwick Boseman in the lead role of Jackie Robinson, the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball. Merriman played Robinson's teammate, Dixie Walker, and had to learn how to play left-handed to be true to the character.
Merriman recalled how he and Boseman became close during filming when they were in the batting cages. Boseman was learning how to play baseball from scratch, while Merriman was learning how to play left-handed. Merriman said in an interview he thought Boseman was the purest soul he had encountered, with no big airs:
When he talked to you, he looked you in the eyes and he listened. He was truly engaged with people. He really felt things. He wasn't there for a paycheck or to become famous.