Heart-throbs Throughout History

Every generation has a teen idol. These icons inspire, captivate, and set the trend for a new era. While there is no real formula, these kids, without fail manage, to stand out from the crowd, yet at the same time, remain totally relatable.
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Whether they’re singers, actors, or just pretty faces, these teen idols have left a permanent mark in the hearts and minds of their fans and in pop culture history.

The Beach Boys

Breakout Year: 1963

Best Known For: “Good Vibrations”

Est. Net Worth: $245 million*

Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson originally had humble beginnings as a garage band but when it became clear that the boys (along with cousin Mike Love and their friend Al Jardine) were better than your average group, their father Murray Wilson stepped in to manage them. By 1963, the music lovers had become a sensation, as their music became the soundtrack to the laid-back, West Coast, surfing culture.

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The Beach Boys had some incredible hits, including 1966’s “Good Vibrations.” Brian Wilson was the lead singer but it was Carl who took over as the band leader till the later 1970s. Tragically, Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983 and Carl died of lung cancer in 1998, leaving Brian as the only surviving Wilson brother. When all members were still around, they had a cumulative worth of $245 million.

Bobby Darin

Breakout Year: 1958

Best Known For: “Splish Splash”

Est. Net Worth: $5 million*

Bobby Darin (whose real name was Walden Robert Cassotto) possessed the classic, all-American good looks that made the girls want him and the guys want to be him. Darin first broke into the industry as a songwriter for Connie Francis, but eventually went solo with the 1958 smash hit “Splish Splash.” After that, Darin’s career grew rapidly, but as everything appeared successful on the outside, his personal life began to unravel.

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Darin suffered from depression and took a much-needed step away from the limelight. In the ‘70s, Bobby was back in the public eye and appearing on television, but his health began to decline rapidly. Sadly, he passed away in 1973 at the age of thirty-seven from complications following a heart operation.

Frank Sinatra

Breakout Year: 1942

Best Known For: “My Way”

Est. Net Worth: $200 million*

With a velvety voice, inviting smile, and sky-blue eyes, Frank Sinatra sang his way into legendary status. Sinatra was not only striking and talented but was also charismatic. He had always had a passion for singing, but his solo career didn’t come to fruition until 1940 when he had his first hit with “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.” By 1941, Sinatra was one of the most famous men in the world, dubbed “Swoonatra” and “’ Ol’ blue eyes” by the media.

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Over the years, the New Jersey native had hits with songs like “The Best Is Yet to Come”, “My Way,” and “I Get A Kick Out of You” which have become timeless songs in the lives of so many.

Ricky Nelson

Breakout Year: 1957

Best Known For: “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”, “Poor Little Fool”

Est. Net Worth: $500,000*

Ricky Nelson first got a taste of the big time when he starred alongside his family on the radio and TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Along with his “boy next door” good looks, this opportunity helped to launch Nelson’s career in the entertainment industry, allowing him to eventually break away to form a solo career as an actor and a singer.

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His 1957 song, “Poor Little Fool” was the first-ever number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1959 he starred opposite Dean Martin and John Wayne in Rio Bravo and made various tv appearances. While Nelson was one of the most recognizable faces throughout the ‘60s, his popularity began to fade by the start of the next decade. The star tragically passed away in a plane crash in 1985.

Shaun Cassidy

Breakout Year: 1977

Best Known For: “Da Doo Ron Ron” Est.

Net Worth: $20 million*

Shaun Cassidy first entered the public eye in 1977 on “The Hardy Boys Mysteries”. Also a talented musician, Cassidy signed a contract with Warner Bros and his first album went multi-platinum, spawning the number one single “Da Doo Ron Ron.” In his early years as an actor, he also worked on Broadway and in London’s West End.


As with many teen idols though, Cassidy found that his young stardom was growing dim but, in a savvy, showbusiness move, he began to focus on doing behind the scenes work and went on to write and produce for tv shows such as “American Gothic” and “Roar”. Today, Cassidy is a wonderful example of how to successfully reinvent a career in the entertainment industry.

Donny Osmond

Breakout Year: 1971

Best Known For: “Puppy Love” Est.

Net Worth: $18-20 million*

Donny Osmond’s career launch began as a family affair when he appeared, along with his brothers, as a part of the “The Osmonds” music group in 1971. By the 1970s he went solo and quickly rose to fame with his thousand-watt smile and captivating voice.

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Donny had several big tracks, including “Go Away Little Girl” and “Soldier of Love” Osmond may have lost the teen idol status as he grew older, but he’s still considered one of the most affable and recognizable faces in the entertainment world. Until today, the icon has remained active and appeared in shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Masked Singer” as well as a handful of film projects.

Molly Ringwald

Breakout Year: 1984

Best Known For: “The Breakfast Club”, “Sixteen Candles”

Est. Net Worth: $12 million* Molly Ringwald

first appeared on screen in 1979 on the show, Diff’rent Strokes and later, on the show “Facts of Life”. Ringwald became a muse of sorts to filmmaker John Hughes and starred in his 80s cult classics: “Sixteen Candles”, “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club”. She was beloved by fans for her vulnerable, authentic, and relatable performances.

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Ringwald is another child actor success story, having only had brief breaks in her career into adulthood. Presently, Ringwald has starred in Riverdale as Mary Andrews since 2017.

Justin Bieber

Breakout Year: 2009

Best Known For: “Baby” Est.

Net Worth: $285 million*

Justin Bieber first came sliding onto the music scene with his hit song, “Baby”. Bieber had all the makings of the next teen idol including a strong falsetto and cute baby face. As he went through his teen years into his early twenties, Bieber had many other hits like “Believer”, “What Do You Mean” and “Let Me Love You”.

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Girls were, and still are, wild about Bieber, creating a fanbase affectionately called “Beliebers “Over the last ten years, Bieber has continued to be one of the most listened to artists and one of the most reported-on public figures. Despite some personal struggles, he has maintained his fanbase.

Backstreet Boys

Breakout Year: 1996

Best Known For: “As Long As You Love Me”

Est. Net Worth: $250 million*

The ‘90s were peppered with boybands and, along with NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys led the way. They debuted their first album, “The Backstreet Boys”, in 1996 and “Backstreet’s Back” in the following year. The harmonized melodies, the coordinating outfits, the perfectly gelled hair, and smoldering photo shoots all culminated to create the perfect teen idol ensemble.


Teens sang their songs and bought their records and merchandise, making the group very lucrative. With over 100 million in record sales, the Backstreet Boys are the most commercially successful boy band of all time. They continue to tour together to this day.

David Cassidy

Breakout Year: 1971

Best Known For: “The Partridge Family”

Est. Net Worth: $500,000*

David Cassidy (half-brother to Shaun and Patrick Cassidy) rose to fame in 1970 as Keith Partridge on the musical TV show “The Partridge Family”. A natural performer, Cassidy won over audiences with his floppy hair and winning smile. He provided backup vocals for singer George Michael but also focused on his own music, releasing albums like “Old Trick New Dog” and “Then and Now”. Though he was talented and successful early on in life, Cassidy struggled with the overwhelming pressure of being a teen icon which ultimately led to an alcohol problem in later life.

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David continued to write new music and tour, right up until he became gravely sick in 2017. He had extensive liver and kidney damage as well as dementia and, while he was awaiting a liver transplant, the singer passed away on November 21 at the age of sixty-seven.

Annette Funicello

Breakout Year: 1955

Best Known For: “Beach Party”

Movies Est. Net Worth: $15 million*

Annette Funicello was considered a triple-threat in the entertainment industry; she could sing, dance, and act. Funicello started out as a child star and was a Mouseketeer on the “Mickey Mouse Club”. After the “Mickey Mouse Club”, the New York native focused further on her acting career and appeared in shows like Disney’s “Zorro” and “Make Room for Daddy. She first appeared on the big screen in “The Shaggy Dog” and in the musical “Babes in Toyland”.


Later, she became the face of the “Beach Party” movie genre that was a part of the 60s pop culture, alongside Frankie Avalon. Funicello took a step back in the 1970s to focus on her family and by 1992, the actress had publicly announced that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Sadly, Annette passed away from the complications related to the condition in 2013 at age seventy.

Debbie Gibson

Breakout Year: 1987

Best Known For: “Foolish Beat” Est.

Net Worth: $5 million*

After a few years of producing and writing her own material, Debbie Gibson caught public attention in 1987 when she released her debut album, “Out of the Blue”, under the Atlantic Records label. She also created a set of hit singles like “Foolish Beat”, “Shake Your Love” and “Lost in Your Eyes.” Like many musicians, Gibson also crossed over into acting and appeared on Broadway as well as in tv shows like “Beverly Hills 90210” and in smaller films.


The songstress has continued to write and perform over the decades, including a duet in 2006 with Jordan Knight called “Say Goodbye.” Debbie’s album “Electric Youth” celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019, which was commemorated by a special show on SiriusXM Radio’s ‘80s on 8 Channel. Her latest hit was the single “Girls Night Out” which landed at spot number four on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

James Dean

Breakout Year: 1955

Best Known For: “Rebel Without A Cause”

Est. Net Worth: $2 million*

James Dean first emerged in a Pepsi commercial and in an Easter film called “Hill Number One”. Dean wasn’t just a pretty face and he later proved himself to be a serious actor who was committed to bringing characters alive on-screen. After struggling to obtain serious parts, Dean finally found a steppingstone in director Elia Kazan’s, “East of Eden”. Shortly after, he found his breakout role as Jim Stark in “Rebel Without A Cause”.

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With his bad-boy looks and maverick attitude, James Dean glamorized the character of the misunderstood, angst-ridden youth. In one of the most tragic events in Hollywood history, Dean was killed instantly in a high-speed car crash in 1955, just as his career was starting to flourish. To this day, James Dean remains a timeless icon whose talent influenced a generation.

Leif Garrett

Breakout Year: 1978

Best Known For: “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” and “I Was Made for Dancing”

Est. Net Worth: $1,000*

Leif Garrett and his sister, Dawn Lyn, pursued acting together, co-starring in the horror flick, “Devil Times Five”. After a couple of smaller roles, Garret found a more sizeable opportunity in the role of Jimmy Henderson in “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice”. Pivoting from acting, Garrett began pursuing music in the 70s which ultimately landed him the label of “teen idol.”

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He played piano, drums, keyboard, and guitar and his first album spawned several modest hits including “Come Back When You Grow Up.” Garrett’s career has fluctuated over the years. His stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2010 was not a high pointUnfortunately, the former child star hasn’t released any new music or acted in quite some time and has most recently been in the news, discussing his substance abuse struggles.

New Kids on the Block

Breakout Year: 1986

Best Known For: “Please Don’t Go Girl”

Est. Net Worth: $20 million*

Johnathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood, Mark Wahlberg, and Donnie Wahlberg made up the 80s sensation, “New Kids on the Block”. Their self-titled, debut album was released in 1986 when they were just teenagers. Mark Wahlberg was briefly replaced by Jamie Kelly when he left the group in 1985. The band’s popularity exploded when they supported pop star, Tiffany on her U.S. tour, but they later split in the mid-90s.


After this, Wahlberg turned his attention to acting as he took roles in movies like “Saw”, “Zookeeper”, “Ransom”, and the acclaimed wartime series “Band of Brothers”. The group reunited in 2008 and still performs together, their most recent music video “Boys in the Band” debuted in March of 2019.

Pat Boone

Breakout Year: 1955

Best Known For: “Ain’t That A Shame”

Est. Net Worth: $50 million*

Pat Boone has had a glittering career since he first exploded onto the scene in 1957. In the ‘50s, he was second in popularity to “the King” himself, Elvis Presley. Boone had modest beginnings, first performing in Nashville’s Centennial Park but he later rose to fame after he began recording for Republic Records and then for Dot Records. Interestingly, the singer found success covering songs previously released by African American artists, but he also received criticism for this.


Like many music stars, Boone transitioned into the world of television and movies but never became a notable, Hollywood star. Not one to shy away from reinvention, Boone also released a collection of Heavy Metal covers called “In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy”.

Andy Gibb

Breakout Year: 1977

Best Known For: “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”

Est. Net Worth: $10 million*

Andy Gibb (the youngest sibling to Bee Gees band members Barry, Robin, and Maurice) first began experimenting in the world of music at age thirteen and in 1974, started his first group, “Melody Fayre” with John Alderson and John Stringer. After a lot of hard work and unreleased material, Gibb finally made a name for himself in 1976 with the hit single, “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and with “Love is Thicker Than Water” in 1977.

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Over his short career, Gibb had a lot of collaborations with musicians like Olivia Newton-John, ABBA, and drew the acclaim of Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury. However, by the ‘80s Andy was struggling with a barrage of personal problems. He had landed a co-hosting gig on two tv music shows but was fired due to his unreliability and wild lifestyle. Despite seemingly beating his habit, the damage to Andy’s heart was so irreversible that he passed away in 1988 at age thirty.

Elvis Presley

Breakout Year: 1956

Best Known For: “Hound Dog”, “Heartbreak Hotel”

Est. Net Worth: $350 million*

Elvis Presley, known to the world at “the King” is the best example of a teen idol. Elvis became synonymous with rock n’ roll as he burst onto the scene in 1956 when he recorded for RCA in Nashville, Tennessee. With controversial dance moves and a look and sound so different from other musicians of his day, he quickly caught attention when he first performed publicly. Little did Presley know just how famous he would become.

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Over the years, he won three Grammys and had eighteen Billboard number one songs. He also appeared and performed in films like “Blue Hawaii”, “G.I. Blues” and “Return to Sender”. While Presley’s rise to fame was an example of the quintessential, American dream, his demise is still mourned by fans today. By the end of the ‘70s, Elvis was in both poor physical and emotional health and passed away on August 16, 1977, after suffering a heart attack.

The Beatles

Breakout Year: 1964

Best Known For: “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “Strawberry Fields” Est.

Net Worth: $2 billion*

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison formed the rock band, “The Beatles” in 1960 and, after a few years of performing in clubs in Hamburg and Liverpool, they eventually erupted onto the music scene in 1964. The local record store owner, Brian Epstein, effectively discovered the group and helped them gain international stardom.

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The Beatles ruled music in the ‘60s producing a fandom so intense the phenomenon was termed “Beatlemania”. With John Lennon and George Harrison gone, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are the only two surviving members. Ringo Starr is worth roughly 350 million and Paul McCartney alone is worth over $1.6 billion. However, after decades of success, after adding up the estates of all four members, their combined net worth is over $2 billion.

Frankie Avalon

Breakout Year: 1961

Best Known For: “Beach Party” movies, “Why”, “Venus”

Est. Net Worth: $35 million*

Frankie Avalon was one of the last crooners of his era, with hits like “Why” and “Venus” but his first public performance was playing the trumpet on “The Jackie Gleason Show” after being discovered by a talent scout at a party. After this public performance, Avalon began working on his singing career and created thirty-one Billboard singles by the time he was twenty-two. He was well-known for his acting career and starred opposite another teen idol, Annette Funicello, in the “Beach Party” movies.


Since the height of his fame, Frankie branched out to other ventures including developing his own line of health and cosmetic products and publishing an 80-page recipe book called Frankie Avalon’s Italian Family Cookbook. He shares eight children with his wife Kathryn Diebel whom he married in 1963 and the two are still together today.


Breakout Year: 1999

Best Known For: “Bye Bye Bye”

Est. Net Worth: $30 million*

After the domination of the Backstreet Boys in the ‘90s, came a new era led by NSYNC. Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass were the ultimate fangirl material, producing hits like “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.” Rolling Stone called dubbed one of the Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments of all time.


Over the years, NSYNC has performed at the Olympics, the World Series, and the Super Bowl. They have had many collaborative performances with artists like Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Céline Dion and Gloria Estefan. Since the dissolution of the group in 2002, the band members have all chosen different paths with Justin Timberlake remaining one of the biggest pop stars and actors in the world.

John Travolta

Breakout Year: 1978

Best Known For: “Grease”, “Saturday Night Fever”

Est. Net Worth: $250 million*

John Travolta’s acting career began after he dropped out of school and started performing in the touring company production of “Grease”. Later, he moved to Los Angeles and divided his time between singing and acting. He eventually landed two of his most notable roles, Tony Manero in “Saturday Night Fever” and Danny Zuko in the film version of “Grease.”

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“Saturday Night Fever” was released in 1977 but it was “Grease” that proved to be his key to stardom. Ever since, Travolta has become one of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood who has had a career that spanned from the ‘70s until today. He has enjoyed a glittering career over the years thanks to parts in movies like “Pulp Fiction”, “Face Off”, and many more.

Britney Spears

Breakout Year: 1998

 Best Known For: “Hit Me Baby One More Time”

Est. Net Worth: $60 million*

Britney Spears first started out as an opening act for NSYNC and shortly after released her debut album, “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” This debut album became the largest-selling album by a teenage artist. The following year, she released her second studio album “Oops!… I Did It Again” which was equally as successful.

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Over the years, Spears’ image has largely rested on her physicality, especially as a teen. Having said that, she has also managed to evolve her work as an artist. She has also faced some intense, personal struggles as she dealt with a highly public divorce and mental breakdown in 2007. Presently, Spears hasn’t released any new music as she is focusing on more personal, domestic obstacles.

The Monkees

Breakout Year: 1967

Best Known For: “Daydream Believer”

Est. Net Worth: $50 million*

The Monkees began as a tv show concept from Filmmaker Bob Rafelson. Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Davy Jones were the real-life musicians who also starred in “The Monkees” tv show about a struggling music group. At the heart of their fun-loving group was lead singer Davy Jones.

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Aside from being in the tv show, the group also toured and produced albums, like “Headquarters” and “The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees”. The foursome parted ways in 1971 but later reformed to record music and to play reunion shows across the years. Only two of the original four members survived, as Davy Jones and Peter Tork have passed away.

Katy Perry

Breakout Year: 2008

Best Known For: “I Kissed a Girl”, Firework” and

“Teenage Dream”.

Est. Net Worth: $330 million* Singer Katy Perry is notable for creating multiple pop hits that became upbeat anthems for young and old alike. Perry burst onto the music scene in 2008 with her album, “One of the Boys”, which contained the provocative song, “I Kissed A Girl”.


Perry has created music that is quirky, controversial, and upbeat but she also manages to continually surprise her fans with her creativity. “Firework” and “Roar” are still some of her trademark hits and since her debut in 2008, Perry has gone on to release five more albums, with a sixth set to be released in late 2020.

Post Malone

Breakout Year: 2015

Best Known For: “Sunflower” and “Circles”.

Est. Net Worth: 20 million*

Post Malone, whose real name is Austin Richard Post, first got his big break into music in 2015 after he released a self-produced, music video that received recognition from already established artists, Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa. He ultimately signed with Republic Records and began collaborating with a few other rappers such as Kanye West and Young Thug.


His sound garnered public attention but it was his eccentric and down-to-earth personality that grew his fan-base. His first album was called “Stoney” released in 2016 and since then he has also released “Beerbongs and Bentleys” in 2018 and, most recently “Hollywood is Bleeding” in 2019.

Sandra Dee

Breakout Year: 1957

Best Known For: “Gidget”

Est. Net Worth 33 Million*

The doe-eyed blonde, Sandra Dee, started out as a model and later moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. Her first appearance on-screen was in the 1957 film “Until They Sail” and after this, she appeared in a few other films until she landed the starring role in the comedic, beach movie, “Gidget”.

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She was married to a fellow-teen idol, Bobby Darin whom she divorced a few years later, though they share a son. By the end of the ‘60s, Dee was dropped by Universal pictures as her career declined. Sadly, she struggled with an eating disorder and self-image problems throughout her life and in 2005 passed away from kidney disease complications.

Ariana Grande

Breakout Year: 2013

Best Known For: “Dangerous Woman” and “Thank U, Next”

Est. Net Worth: 150 Million*

Ariana Grande was first an actress on the Nickelodeon show, “Victorious” before becoming one of today’s biggest pop stars. The Victorious audience was wowed by Grande’s powerful voice and vocal range when she would occasionally sing on the show and in 2013, she released her first album, “Yours Truly”.

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With a powerful, sultry voice, multiple hits like “Love Me Harder” and “Break Free”, and multiple concert tours later, Grande maintains a huge fanbase. Her most recent album, “Thank U, Next” was released in 2019.

Frankie Valli

Breakout Year: 1962

Best Known For: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”

Est. Net Worth: 50 Million*

Frankie Valli’s singing career began as a part of the group, “Variety trio” with Tommy DeVito and Nick Macioci. Valli later became a part of “The 4 Seasons” group and though the other four members came and went, Valli remained the lead singer.


Over the years, Valli sang several hit songs including: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “You’re Ready Now” and “Fallen Angel”. Valli’s voice and style became essential to the classic, feel-good genre of ‘60s swing and he still performs to this today.

Zac Efron

Breakout Year: 2006

Best Known For: “Highschool Musical”, “The Greatest Showman”

Est. Net Worth 24 Million*

Zac Efron stole teenage hearts as the golden-haired, blue-eyed basketball star in the 2006 Disney movie, “Highschool Musical”. After two sequels to “Highschool Musical”, Efron’s escape from Disney was found in the film, “Me and Orson Welles”. Once proven a solid actor, Efron went on to star in “The Lucky One”, “Baywatch” and “The Greatest Showman”.

Getty Images Photo by Jim Spellman

His grittiest role to date was playing Ted Bundy in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”. Efron’s career has aged well over the years as he went from teen heartthrob to leading man to Netflix documentarian with his new 2020 series, “Down To Earth”.

Miley Cyrus

Breakout Year: 2009

Best Known For: “Wrecking Ball”

Est. Net Worth 160 Million*

Miley Cyrus was born to famous country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and while many know her from the Disney series “Hannah Montana”, Cyrus’s music career really took off after she released “The Climb” in 2009.

Getty Images Photo by Ethan Miller

Her catchy song, “Party in the U.S.A.” was also a hit but it was the release of her album “Can’t Be Tamed” and her new, controversial image that followed that kept fans along for the ride. Today, Cyrus is still a household name having appeared in a smattering of tv shows and films along with the release of her most recent album, “She Is Miley Cyrus”.

Joey Lawrence

Breakout Year: 1991

Best Known For: “Blossom” Est.

Net Worth $250,000*

As a child, Joey Lawrence had guest roles on “DIff’rent Strokes” and “Silver Spoons” but it was his role of Joey Donavan in “Gimme a Break!” that helped garner him more attention from Hollywood. After this, he turned into a full-on, teen idol when he became one of the lead stars on the show, “Blossom”.


Lawrence also dabbled in music and, although he had some hit songs, it was not as a lasting career for him. It was recently announced that Lawrence has filed for bankruptcy, but he does have a few film projects coming up that will hopefully restart his career.

Lady Gaga

Breakout Year: 2008

Best Known For: “Born This Way”, “Applause”, and “The Shallow”

Est. Net Worth 320 Million*

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, caught the ear of the public when she released her singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” in 2008. Though she was first known for her popular dance anthems, Lady Gaga has demonstrated tremendous versatility and talent across music genres.

Getty Images Photo by Samir Hussein

She performed a handful of songs with jazz artist, Tony Bennett and, in 2018, she wowed fans again with her acting and singing performance in the film “A Star is Born”. Because of this outstanding performance, she is now pursuing more acting opportunities along with her music career.

Rudolph Valentino

Breakout Year: 1921

Best Known For: “The Sheik” and “The Eagle”

Est. Net Worth 1-5 Million*

Silent film actor Rudolph Valentino may be one of the earliest, documented teen idols. An Italian immigrant who was dark and exotic to American audiences, he was originally typecast as the villain in his earlier films like “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”.


Later, he was known as the “Great Lover” in Hollywood and became the heart-throb of the 1920s after he was cast as every girl’s dream in films like “The Son of the Sheik”. Sadly, at just thirty-one with a lot of potential in his career, Valentino died from complications following an appendectomy.

Marlon Brando

Breakout Year: 1951

Best Known For: “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Godfather”

Est. Net Worth 1-5 Million*

Marlon Brando was a method actor who got his start on Broadway but broke out to stardom for his performance in “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Brando brought a virility and unmatched intensity to his performances that captivated both male and female audiences.

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He went on to star in Elia’s Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” and took on the role of Mark Antony in “Julius Caesar”. His later work included playing the patriarch of the Corleone crime family in “The Godfather”. With a career spanning sixty years and multiple awards, Marlon Brando will remain a legendary, Hollywood star.

Corey Feldman

Breakout Year: 1986

Best Known For: “The Goonies” and “Mork and Mindy”

Est. Net Worth 2 Million*

Corey Feldman was a busy, child star who took on roles in “The Goonies”, the “Bad News Bears” and gained even more acclaim for his role in the dramatic film, “Stand By Me”. As Feldman grew into his career, he was surrounded by fellow stars and droves of fans. He struggled to endure the fame and pressure and unfortunately fell into substance abuse.

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These personal problems marred his career and, though he continued to act and even tried to find success as a musician, he did not find nearly as much success as an adult. Today, Feldman is facing further legal troubles, the latest of which has been accusations of harassment.

John Stamos

Breakout Year: 1982

Best Known For: “Full House”

Est. Net Worth 25 Million*

John Stamos landed his first role on the daytime soap, “General Hospital” and in 1984, he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy. However, most everyone today remembers Stamos as Uncle Jesse on the feel-good, family sitcom, “Full House”. Stamos desired to break away from his wholesome persona in order to expand his range as an actor, but he struggled to obtain the parts that he hoped would redirect his career.


Outside of acting, Stamos also showed an interest in music and has independently produced his own projects. Recently, he has reprised his role as Uncle Jesse on the “Full House” reboot, “Fuller House” and has also appeared as Dr. Nicky on the Netflix thriller series, “You”.

Emilio Estevez

Breakout Year: 1985

Best Known For: “The Breakfast Club”

Est. Net Worth 18 Million*

Emilio Estevez is most recognizable from his role in “The Breakfast Club” as detention-bound jock, Andrew Clark. He also garnered fame for his part in the 1985 drama, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, co-starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore.

Getty Images Photo by Steve Granitz

In the ‘90s, Estevez tried his hand behind the scenes and, along with acting, wrote and directed the comedy, “Men at Work” with his brother Charlie Sheen. Estevez has continued directing and acting through today and will soon be seen in the tv series “The Mighty Ducks”.

Duran Duran

Breakout Year: 1981

Best Known For: “Girls On Film” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” Est.

Net Worth 60+ Million*

From the group’s formation, Duran Duran has had many members come and go, but it was Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor that became mainstays in the minds of fans.

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Duran Duran first emerged in 1981 with the hit single, “Planet Earth” but it was their third single, “Girls On Film” that really sparked a serious fan-base and led the group to affectionately be called “The Fab Five”. Over their career, the group endured creative differences, burnout, career decline, comebacks, and more group member departures. They have more projects they are working on including a new album that has yet to be released.

Michael Jackson

Breakout Year: 1970

Best Known For: “Thriller”, “Beat It” and “Man in the Mirror”

Est. Net Worth 500 Million*

Michael Jackson started out as part of a sibling, singing group called “The Jackson 5” in 1964. Though only six at the time, Michael quickly began to stand out from the rest with his powerful, melodic voice. The group’s song, “I Want You Back” became the number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and many hits followed, such as “I’ll Be There” and “It’s Your Thing”. Michael’s talent only grew with him and he eventually went solo, creating hits like “Thriller”, “Bad” and “Man in the Mirror.”

Getty Images Photo by Michael Ochs Archives and Phil Dent

The glamor, fame, and publicity surrounding Jackson became larger-than-life which led to some extreme, personal struggles and disturbing accusations of inappropriate behavior. Sadly, Jackson died in 2009 from cardiac arrest but this has only served to immortalize his stardom.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Breakout Year: 1987

Best Known For: “Full House” and “It Takes Two” Est.

Net Worth 500 Million*

As twins, both Mary-Kate and Ashley starred on “Full House”, as infants sharing the role of Michelle Tanner. During “Full House”, the twins also appeared in other tv shows and films, and, at just seven years old, the girls became media moguls, establishing the production company, “Dualstar”. “Dualstar” produced their future projects, including a short, video series called “The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley”.

Getty Images Photo by Gregg DeGuire

When they reached their teens, the Olsens were most remembered for their sitcom, “So Little Time” and the film “New York Minute”. Today, the two have shifted their focus away from acting entirely to make a name for themselves in the fashion world.

Avril Lavigne

Breakout Year: 2001

Best Known For: “Complicated”

Est. Net Worth 50 Million*

Folksinger Stephen Medd first discovered Avril when she performed at a community theater. Medd invited her to collaborate with him on his song, “Touch the Sky” and she also contributed her vocals to a few more of his songs. In 1999, she was finally noticed by industry professionals, Cliff Fabri. After working to make a name for herself, she eventually caught lasting attention with the release of her song, “Complicated”.


Lavigne was not the typical, bubbly pop star, but her earthy, emotionally driven lyrics produced devoted fans and she went on to create hits like “Sk8er Boi” and “My Happy Ending”. She most recently released her sixth album, “Head Above Water” and is still actively songwriting and performing.

Lindsay Lohan

Breakout Year: 1998

Best Known For: “The Parent Trap” and “Mean Girls”

Est. Net Worth $800,000

Child star Lindsay Lohan began modeling at age three for big-name brands, but it wasn’t long before her precociousness and comfort in front of the camera led her to her breakout role in the film, “The Parent Trap”. Lohan continued acting through her teens, and her most famous roles were that of Anna Coleman in “Freaky Friday” and Cady Heron in “Mean Girls”. It was also discovered that Lohan had vocal talent, and in her teens, she released a debut album in 2004 called “Speak.”

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Into adulthood, Lohan continued to primarily find her success as an actress and starred in a handful of tv shows and movies like “Labor Pains” and “Just My Luck”. In recent years, after a series of legal and substance abuse problems, Lohan has quietly tried to rebuild her career. Her most recent project was a reality show based in Mykonos, Greece called “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club”.

The Jonas Brothers

Breakout Year: 2007

Best Known For: “Lovebug”, “Sucker”

Est. Net Worth 150 Million*

Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas hit the music scene with their catchy song “Please Be Mine” in 2005 which got the attention of Columbia Records president, Steve Greenberg. After touring and awaiting the release of their first official album, their single “Mandy” was featured on the Nickelodeon show “Zoey: 101”. In 2007, the Jonas Brothers were dropped by Columbia but then were signed by Hollywood Records.

Getty Images Photo by Rob Kim

They released their second, self-titled album in 2007 which reached number five on the Billboard Hot 200. From here, the Jonas Brothers really took off, recording, performing, and acting; primarily in Disney shows and movies like “Camp Rock” and “Jonas”. After a few more hits like “Paranoid” and “Send It On” the brothers went silent and it was discovered that they had split. Nick, Joe, and Kevin each attempted to go solo in their careers but, to the delight of fans, they ultimately reunited in 2019.

Jesse McCartney

Breakout Year: 2004

Best Known For “Beautiful Soul”

Est. Net Worth 10 Million*

Jesse McCartney started out as a soap star on “All My Children” but broke into music after becoming a member of the boy band, “Dream Street”. At age fifteen he went solo and produced his first album, “Beautiful Soul” in 2004 which became number fifteen on the Billboard 200. He released his second album, “Right Where You Want Me” in 2006 and also lent his talents to various Disney soundtracks. He had brief acting roles on Disney shows, “The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody” and “Hannah Montana”.


Though McCartney has not necessarily created a larger-than-life career, he still acts, writes and produces his own music. His most recent album “The Resolution” was released in 2019.

Daniel Radcliffe

Breakout Year: 2001

Best Known For: “Harry Potter”

Est. Net Worth 110 Million*

Daniel Radcliffe was born to actor parents in London, England and soon began acting himself when he starred in the BBC adaptation of “David Copperfield”. In 2000, Radcliffe received the opportunity that would change his life forever when he was asked to audition for the lead role in “Harry Potter”. Seven Harry Potter films later, Radcliffe became radically famous and beloved by fans.

Getty Images Photo by Andrew Toth

Though he has tried, Radcliffe has struggled to separate himself from the Harry Potter fandom so he could expand his range as an actor. Since leaving the franchise, he has also starred in the dramedy, “Horns”, “Victor Frankenstein” and the action-drama, “Jungle” but to most everyone, he will always be best known as, “Harry.”

Selena Gomez

Breakout Year: 2007

Best Known For: “Same Old Love” and “Come & Get It”

Est. Net Worth 75 Million*

Singer and actress, Selena Gomez, got her start on “Barney and Friends”, with her role lasting from 2002 to 2004. She was picked up by Disney and appeared on various tv shows like “Hannah Montana” and “The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody”. She finally landed her own Disney show, “The Wizards of Waverly Place” in 2007 which made her the next Disney starlet. Gomez simultaneously worked on her music career and became the lead singer for “Selena Gomez and the Scene”.

Getty Images Photo by Tibrina Hobson

After a brief music break to focus on acting, Selena returned without “the Scene” and began creating her own solo albums such as “Stars Dance”, “Revival” and, most recently, “Rare”. Today, some of her most beloved songs are: “Same Old Love”, “Hands to Myself” and “Lose You to Love Me.”

One Direction

Breakout Year: 2011

Best Known For: “What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing”

Est. Net Worth 150 Million*

In 2011, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson competed individually on the British singing competition, “The X Factor” but were joined together as a boy band by the end of the recording. Harry Styles came up with the band name, “One Direction” and, in 2011, they released the catchy single, “What Makes You Beautiful.” The song almost instantly made them a household name and they went on to release other hit singles like “One Thing” and “Live While We’re Young”.

Getty Images Photo by Karwai Tang

After a few years of touring, tv appearances, and album releases, Zayn Malik left the group in 2015. The group continued without Malik and released other singles, most notably “Drag Me Down and “Perfect”. One Direction eventually dissolved, and each member worked on their individual careers, but it has been Harry Styles and Zayn Malik who have had the most success to date.

Noah Centineo

Breakout Year: 2018

Best Known For: “To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before”

Est. Net Worth 3 Million*

After receiving small roles on shows such as “The Fosters” and the Disney show, “Shake It Up”, Noah Centineo found true fame when he landed the role of Peter on the Netflix film, “To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before”. With his big brown eyes, bedhead hair, and unassuming, on-screen presence, Noah Centineo has become one of the most recent heartthrobs.


Centineo reprised the role of Peter in “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” and received a notable, big-screen role in the reboot of “Charlie’s Angels”. Still a rising star, with a slate of projects coming up, Centineo appears to have all the makings of an unforgettable, teen idol.