14 Things You Didn't Know About Nostalgic 'It Girls'

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Vote up the facts about nostalgic "it girls" that make you say, "Whoa."

Defining an "it girl" (or boy) has never been an easy task. While generally said to describe famous women who seem to captivate the public's attention, "it girls" always seem to have some elusive but alluring quality you can't quite put your finger on. We might not know what "it" is, but we know she's got it. And it was enough to make some of us chop our hair into terrible cuts and spend our hard-earned allowance on ill-fitting clothing that would never look the same as it did on our idols.

The 1980s and 1990s were an opportune time for groundbreaking, bold women who set their own rules and trends that we all took notice of, for better or worse. From actresses to singers to models, these nostalgic "it girls" were a forceful presence in our formative years and remain fan favorites today. Despite the constant tabloid attention on these charismatic celebs, you might not have heard these surprising stories. Some "it girls" have stepped out of the spotlight while others have only become more famous, but these women all brought main character energy wherever they went.

Whether you wanted to date them, befriend them, or straight up be them, vote up the nostalgic "it girl" stories that have you totally buggin'.

  • Liv Tyler Didn't Know Steven Tyler Was Her Father Until She Met Him And Confronted Her Mother
    Photo: Stealing Beauty / 20th Century Fox

    Some girls dream of having a rockstar father, but Liv Tyler ended up growing up with two. Liv Tyler's mother, Bebe Buell, was a singer and Playboy model who had a brief fling with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler in 1976. Liv was born the following year.

    While she knew there was a chance Steven was the father of her daughter, Buell named her boyfriend, Utopia singer Todd Rundgren, as the father on the birth certificate. Buell was concerned about Steven's drug use at the time, and said that she and Rundgren "made a pact that he would be Liv's father and if it ever became an issue, we'd tell her at 18."

    But it didn't take Liv that long to connect the dots. She recalls meeting Steven at Rundgren's concert around age 8 or 9, where he bought her a Shirley Temple:

    It must be chemical somehow - DNA and genes... I felt a connection in a very strong way when I met him as a little girl and I didn’t know why at first, but I figured it out rather quickly.

    Liv eventually confronted her mother and discovered Steven was her biological father. She later changed her last name from Rundgren to Tyler and appeared in an Aerosmith music video along with Alicia Silverstone. Aerosmith later debuted their hit "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for her film Armageddon.

    While Buell and Rundgren later broke up, Liv still counts Rundgren among her "eclectic mix of parental figures." As she put it, "I’m so grateful to Todd for choosing to be a father figure to me. It's a big thing for a man to say, 'I know this kid might not be mine, but I still want to be her father.'"

  • Winona Ryder's Agent Begged Her Not To Do 'Heathers'
    Photo: Heathers / New World Pictures

    The 1989 movie Heathers is a cult classic that paved the way for a different kind of high school film from the feel-good John Hughes variety of the time. Heathers walked so Mean Girls could run. But despite its endlessly quotable quips, this comedic film about teen suicide that included lines like "f*ck me gently with a chainsaw" had many '80s actors turning it down like the lonely girl at prom.

    One such naysayer was Winona Ryder's agent. Ryder, who played the film's lead, Veronica Sawyer, was a relatively unknown 15-year-old when she got the script. Her biggest film credit at the time was Lydia Deetz in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, a role nearly the exact opposite of the pretty, popular, serial-killing teen of Heathers. Ryder recalled:

    My agent at the time ­literally got on her knees and begged me not to do [the movie]. She had her hands together, and she goes, “You will never. Work. Again.” We parted ways later.

    Fortunately, she didn't listen. While the film was a box office flop, it later picked up steam on TV and home video, and remains one of Ryder's favorite and most memorable roles. Heathers director Michael Lehmann remembered that the first time he filmed with Ryder, he turned to the cameraman and said, "This girl is a movie star."

  • Halle Berry was a rising star in the '90s, and if that feels like yesterday, it's probably because she hasn't seemed to age since then. Her memorable acceptance speech in 2002, after becoming the first Black woman to win the Best Actress Award (for Monster's Ball), is legendary Oscar history. But when she earned a Razzie Award a few years later, she managed to make losing look cool.

    Catwoman came out in 2004 and was a huge bust both critically and commercially. Berry later said that she agreed to be the character after a spin-off film for her Bond character, Jinx, was nixed, and she hoped to show that Black women could be action stars and superheroes. The film received multiple Razzies, including "Worst Actress" for Berry.

    While a lot of actors aren't champing at the bit to publicly accept an award for being terrible, Berry was game. She attended the "ceremony" and gave a bitingly funny acceptance speech where she parodied her tearful Academy Award moment and got in on the joke:

    I’ve got so many people to thank, because you don’t win a Razzie without a lot of help from a lot of people... First of all I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of sh*t God-awful movie. You know, it was just what my career needed. I was at the top and then Catwoman just plummeted me to the bottom. It’s hard being on top, it’s much better being on the bottom...

    When I was a kid my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser then there’s no way you could be a good winner. If you couldn’t take criticism, then you were not worthy of getting praised. So I ventured into my career of acting; I started off in beauty pageants... and I won the first three in a row... I got to the Miss USA pageant and there I was on the stage with the first runner up... and one of us would win. And she was this buxom, blond, blue-eyed Texan. And I looked her and I thought "Oh God, I’m probably going to lose."

    Sure enough, they called the winner. It wasn’t me; it was her. I looked at her and all I could hear was my mother’s voice in my head, and I thought, "OK, here’s my chance." But all I wanted to do was f*cking slap the sh*t out of her. So, as you can imagine, I want to f*cking slap the sh*t out of these Razzie people that brought me here tonight. But I won’t do that. I’ll do what my mother taught me and I’ll stand here graciously. I’ll take the criticism, take it as a lesson learned, and hope to God I never see these people ever again.

  • Alicia Silverstone Became Emancipated At 15 To Work In Movies
    Photo: Clueless / Paramount Pictures

    She became an "it girl" playing "it girl" Cher Horowitz. But as a teen, Alicia Silverstone was a far cry from the spoiled but lovable character who made us all go gaga for plaid skirts. An aspiring actress, she dropped out of high school as a sophomore and emancipated herself from her parents at age 15, reportedly to work 40+ hour weeks.

    Speaking to Star News at 18, Silverstone said she had no time to date and was constantly surrounded by adults - her agent was her best friend. When discussing the downsides to her career choice, she said:

    The worst part is having this false attention or having people think they know you or being a commodity to everyone.

    Her ambition paid off, as she worked her way from Domino's Pizza commercials and Aerosmith music videos to leading film roles in The Crush and Clueless. But by 20, Silverstone found herself already jaded with the cutthroat industry.

    Her appearance in the box office flop Batman & Robin earned her a "Worst Supporting Actress" Razzie Award and the unwanted attention of tabloids that ridiculed her body, labeling her "Fatgirl" for her part as "Batgirl." She took a step back from the limelight and "stopped loving acting for a very long time," although the fans never stopped loving her.

  • Drew Barrymore Is Frances Bean Cobain's Godmother
    Photo: Boys on the Side / Warner Bros.

    Drew Barrymore had such an early start to her career that she's rubbed elbows with most of the who's who of Hollywood. And during the early '90s, she was BFFs with Hole singer Courtney Love. Love's child with Nirvana's late frontman Kurt Cobain, Frances Bean Cobain, was born in 1992, and Barrymore was named her godmother.

    While it's not clear what (if any) relationship the two have, they seem to have walked similar paths. Barrymore and Frances were born into famous families and had difficult upbringings, and both were able to achieve sobriety after struggling with addiction.

    In 2007, Barrymore told Jane magazine that she hadn't seen Love or Frances for a few years, but she hoped to reconnect with her goddaughter. She still holds fond memories from her relationship with Love, though. When asked for her best story about Love on Watch What Happens Live, Barrymore recounted:

    Courtney and I were at the backstage of a Seattle club. We’d just come from seeing Green Day. We were going to see Beck play at a coffee house and the bouncer said, "I’m sorry, you can’t come in; you don’t have a backstage pass." Courtney looked at him and goes, "My face is a backstage pass," and then swept him aside and just walked in, and I was just left still standing there, [saying], "I mean, kinda awesome!"

  • Perhaps the only time prom has ever lived up to the hype was in 1996 at Lower Merion High in Philadelphia, where prom-goers were blessed with the presence of Cinderella herself, star of Moesha, no-last-name-needed Brandy, who was 17 at the time. Oh, and her date was a young man by the name of Kobe Bryant.

    Cued up to become the next big thing in basketball, Bryant was a 17-year-old senior when he met Brandy Norwood at the Essence Awards in New York City. At the time, Brandy had already released her first album, toured with Boyz II Men, and was starring on the popular sitcom Moesha.

    Smitten with her kindness, beauty, and intelligence, Bryant later reached out to see if she would go to prom with him, which Brandy agreed to, assuming she could convince her mother, Sonja, to let her attend a dance across the country with a boy she didn't know. A former classmate of Bryant's recalls:

    We were in English class together, and he had one of those teen magazines and it had a picture of Brandy... He showed me and he said, "I'm gonna bring this girl to prom." And I was like, "Whatever, you're crazy." Every day, he would be like "I'm bringing this girl to prom."

    Brandy and her mother ended up flying to Philadelphia, where Brandy, who had a private tutor, got to have the quintessential high school experience, dancing the night away with her peers. She said she kissed Bryant twice, and the pair continued a friendship after prom. Still, conflicting schedules made it hard to take the relationship to a "The Boy Is Mine" level, and Bryant ended up meeting his future wife, Vanessa, in 1999.