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The Most Popular Teen Idol Guys of All Time (Then and Now)

Updated October 29, 2020 75.4k views29 items

The teen idol is more than just a young celebrity, they're an American institution. Hot singers, young singers, young actors---teen idols are indeed a special kind of rock star. They can fall as fast as they rise. Or they can go on to have long careers as major superstars. But what makes a teen idol? There's no special requirement, save for the ability to entrance hordes of teenagers for as long as their attention spans allow. You don't even have to be a teenager----just an entertainer of sorts who strongly appeals to the teen masses. 

They don't necessarily have to be the best singers or best actors or make the best pop music. They just have to be LOVED by teenagers everywhere. 

This list is compiled of the most popular male teen idols of all time---with before and after pics. That means teen idol legends who are deceased, such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Andy Gibb, aren't on it. Just the living ones. So here they are-----the most popular teen male idols of all time----then and now. Some went on to become major superstars and others... well, read the list to see what they've all been up to.

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  • Sing along now: "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl!" 

    Ah, yes, the Osmond Brothers. Who would've thought a bunch of clean-cut cherub-faced Mormon boys would strike at the hearts of millions of teen girls across the nation? But that's exactly what the Osmonds did back in the '70s with heartthrob Donny at the epicenter. Donny wasn't one of the original Osmond Brothers. But once he joined the group, their popularity soared with teen girls. Makes sense that he eventually emerged as a solo artist before pairing with sis Marie to star in their own highly successful weekly variety show Donny and Marie

    Now a grandfather, Donny has managed over the years to keep himself pretty busy since the end of the Donny and Marie Show. While he stopped enjoying the immense popularity he had as a teen idol, he continued to record and tour as a solo act and sometimes with Marie. The two eventually headlined a very successful Las Vegas show that ran from 2008-2012. 

    During the '90s, he starred on Broadway in the long-running musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, as well as snagging the lead role in the 1999 film. In 2010, he won the Dancing With the Stars competition.

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  • Many of the biggest teen idols of our time got their start as members of a musical act. While Justin Timberlake is no exception, he actually cut his celebrity baby teeth as a Mouseketeer (along with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and JC Chasez) on the All New Mickey Mouse Club in the early '90s. 

    Then came 'N Sync. The band formed in '95 with Timberlake and Chasez serving as the lead vocalists. The rest, as they say, is history. 'N Sync with Timberlake mostly at the helm went on to become the third best-selling boy band ever. As we all know, Timberlake eventually went solo. 

    So whatever happened to Justin Timberlake? That's a laugh indeed. His first solo album Justified, which was released in 2002, debuted at number #2 on the Billboard charts, selling three million in the U.S., 7 million worldwide. In 2004, he caused a huge furor with fellow performer Janet Jackson during half-time at the Superbowl when he exposed her on national television.

    Timberlake (now married to Jessica Biel) has also made a splash in movies starring in several vehicles such as The Social Network and Friends With Benefits. The Grammy-winning artist is a bona fide superstar and has transitioned quite smoothly from teen idol to one of pop music's top dogs. The consensus is Timberlake's gonna be around for quite a while. 

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  • Justin Bieber
    Photo: Flickr / Flickr

    The Bieb. Justin Bieber's phenomenal success is still something of a wonder. Discovered by R&B star Usher, it seems like Bieber came out of nowhere and conquered the world within a relatively short time. 

    His first album My World, which was released in 2009, quickly went platinum in the U.S. The follow-up drop My World 2.0, repeated the same feat, also going to number one in several countries. His fan base? Teen girls. His influence among teens of both sexes was so profound that legions of boys and girls imitated the Bieber look: the androgynous hair and bangs wind-swept to the side.  

    Bieber is an adult now, but he's no less the teen idol than when he released My World in 2009. Now with 15 million album sales under his belt and a gigantic fan base who label themselves "Beliebers" (he also has 40 million followers on Twitter), Bieber's star continues to shine big time. 

    Of course, it can be difficult for a kid who literally grows up in front of the world. While he may have started out with a squeaky clean kid-next-door kind of mass appeal, Bieber had his fair share of strife. He's suffered a string of arrests, and each time this guy gets into trouble it makes headlines.

    But none of this so far has tarnished the appeal of Bieber. As it stands, he is currently still the reigning king of teen idols. 

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  • Another '70s teen icon, Leif Garrett got his start as a child actor appearing in TV shows like Wonder Woman and Gunsmoke. But Garret didn't become a teen idol until his appearance in the TV series Three for the Road, which starred Alex Karras. It was then that teenie boppers took sudden notice of the long-haired blonde boy; he was quickly a regular in teen mags like Tiger Beat making him a top teen dreamboat for girls all over. After the series folded, he later appeared in the film The Outsiders in a small role. 

    Garrett also started his own band in the mid-'70s. While he had a few modest hits, he never quite achieved the rockstar status enjoyed by many of his teen idol peers. But he continued his acting, appearing on the popular TV show Family, as well as several film roles throughout the '80s.   

    Most of Garrett's life after teen idolhood has been marred with addiction problems and run-ins with the law. His problems actually started fairly early. At the height of his fame back in '79, he crashed his car while under the influence, and the person with him became a paraplegic as a result. 

    Since then, he's been arrested several times for possession between rehab stints and appearances on celebrity reality shows. In 2013, he offered his advice to Justin Bieber about the dark side of being a teen idol: "Don't believe your own hype."

    Hopefully, Bieber will listen to a former teen idol who has truly had his ups and downs.      

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