Icons Of The ’90s: Then And Now

by Jason Daugherity

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Let us take you back in time …to a world of wonder! In a land full of denim, snap bands and bowl cuts, a society where rental movies were a thing (and even had to be rewound upon return), TGIF had an entirely different meaning. People had beepers, car phones, and answering machines instead of social media accounts. The ’90s were truly a marvel compared to today’s standards.

Even with all of its differences from the present day, the ’90s still brought about some of the biggest heartthrobs and idols any adolescent could ask for. However, not all of them turned out to be a Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston, or Michael Jordan. So what exactly happened to some of the hottest celebrities (at the time) from that magical decade?

1. Alicia Silverstone

90s celebrities then and now

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AS IF she wouldn’t make our list. Alicia Silverstone made her biggest claim to fame with any teenager whose parents were cool enough to let them watch her in Clueless. She starred as rich, social butterfly Cher, who takes it upon herself to play matchmaker to two of her teachers, gives a new student a makeover and falls in love with her ex-stepbrother — yeah, we know, it all sounds odd, but you can’t help but root for her. She had a real hot streak in the ”90s after Clueless, even landing herself the role of Batgirl in Batman & Robin.

90s celebrities then and now

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Silverstone has kept a steady career, acting-wise, since then. Being a heavy animal rights and environmental activist, she’s also written a book titled “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving The Planet” to showcase a vegan lifestyle. If you care to catch her work on your television, you can find her playing the lead role of Bonnie Nolan in the new Paramount Network comedy series American Woman.

2. Macaulay Caulkin

90s celebrities then and now

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Perhaps the most notable child actor of the ’90s — or ever — was Macaulay Culkin. He’s best known as Kevin McCallister, the poor boy whose parents keep forgetting to bring him on vacations, so he terrorizes two burglars instead. Besides Home Alone, the ’90s were very good to him. Even before his claim to fame, he starred in Uncle Buck before going on to play roles in My Girl, The Nutcracker, The Good Son, The Pagemaster, and Richie Rich. By then, it appears Culkin wanted a break from acting and lead a normal life until about 2003, when he guest starred on Will & Grace.

90s celebrities then and now

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From then on, Culkin began taking on roles outside of what he was known for, published semi-autobiographical novel “Junior” about stardom and his relationship with his father, and even started a comedy rock band “The Pizza Underground” (which has since broken up). He’s been showing up more and more in present day, on podcasts with Anna Faris, and he’s even slated as starring in Changeland, an upcoming film written and directed by Seth Green.

3. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

90s celebrities then and now

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Before Justin “JT” Timberlake, there was JTT. Jonathan Taylor Thomas: the one all the girls talked about. We all remember him from his role as Randy Taylor opposite Tim Allen on television’s Home Improvement. JTT also had roles on In Living Color and The Bradys, as well as memorable ’90s movies like Wild America, Tom and Huck, Man of the House, and I’ll Be Home For Christmas. Plus, let’s not forget he voiced Young Simba in The Lion King. JTT left acting to focus on his schooling in 1998, but appeared in a few TV guest spots in the early 2000s like Smallville and Veronica Mars.

90s celebrities then and now

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As for now, JTT has apparently mended wounds with his old co-star Tim Allen since leaving Home Improvement years ago, and has even guest starred in a few episodes of Last Man Standing. Beyond that, word is he’s been shopping around a pilot script with old Home Improvement co-star and big brother Zachery Ty Bryan.

4. Jennifer Love Hewitt

90s celebrities then and now

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Surely a poster on every admirer’s wall back then, Jennifer Love Hewitt ruled the ’90s. With acting roles on Party of Five, I Know What You Did Last Summer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and Can’t Hardly Wait, how could you blame her? Could you blame us? Not only does she act, she’s also had four studio albums produced as a singer: Love Songs, Let’s Go Bang, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and BareNaked.

90s celebrities then and now

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Since her big roles in the ’90s, Hewitt has stayed relevant in her career, landing roles in Garfield: The Movie, Tropic Thunder, and Criminal Minds. She has also been doing work behind the camera, producing and directing on her lead role series Ghost Whisperer and The Client List. In 2010, she even wrote a book titled “The Day I Shot Cupid,” highlighting her dating experiences and advice. More recently, Jennifer Love Hewitt is enjoying being a mother of two, and is now starring as Maddie Buckley in Season 2 of Fox’s 9-1-1.

5. Brandy

90s celebrities then and now

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Brandy Norwood, better known to us as Brandy, was born into a musical family. Yep, Snoop Dogg is her cousin, her father is a gospel singer, and her brother is Ray J. That didn’t stop Brandy from making her own mark on the music world, though. She’s released six albums in her lifetime, the first two setting the tone for her career. First, a self-titled album paved the way towards grabbing the role of Moesha in her own series on UPN. Moesha ran for 127 episodes. During the success of the sereis, Brandy brought out her sophomore album Never Say Never and championed the hit duet single “The Boy Is Mine” with R&B artist Monica.  Not only did it remain at number one consecutively, the track would go on to become the best selling female duet of all time.

90s celebrities then and now

Photo: Aaron J. Thornton (Getty)

Since then, Brandy has continued making music, touring, and starring in Broadway productions of Chicago. She also continued her acting career with other lead roles in Zoe Ever After and The Game, guest roles in House, Reba, and 90210, plus a load of reality TV ventures. Now you can find Brandy starring in Fox’s Star as a series regular for Season 3 after a recurring role in Season 2.

6. Sarah Michelle Gellar

90s celebrities then and now

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Probably best known for her title role on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar kicked a lot of evil ass in the ’90s (and all the way into the 2000s). Her time dealing with scary situations didn’t end there either, since she also landed roles in famed slasher films I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2. We also loved her in Cruel Intentions as the spoiled bad girl.

90s celebrities then and now

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Beyond the ’90s, Gellar has continued to keep busy. In efforts to escape her Buffy persona, she’s taken roles in the live action Scooby Doo movies, The Grudge, and CBS’s The Crazy Ones alongside the late Robin Williams. In early 2016, she even starred in a Cruel Intentions pilot which was never picked up to series. Afterwards, Gellar wrote a cookbook called “Stirring Up Fun With Food” in 2017. One must wonder if the announcement of a Buffy The Vampire Slayer reboot will woo Sarah back into the slayer universe somehow.

7. Freddie Prinze Jr.

90s celebrities then and now

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The yin to Gellar’s yang, Freddie Prinze Jr. was a heartthrob among a lot of the same movies as Gellar (his now wife). With roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Prinze Jr. made his mark. His success lead to roles in classic ’90s romcoms She’s All That, Boys And Girls, Summer Catch, and Scooby Doo (again, alongside his wife).

90s celebrities then and now

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Ever since, Prinze Jr. has kept working in entertainment at a steady pace, landing gigs on Boston Legal, 24, and even spent some time with the WWE as a producer/director, a guest host and a creative staffed blogger. Lately, he’s lent his voice talents to Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus (for 75 episodes thus far). He also co-hosts a podcast called Prinze and The Wolf with comedian Josh Wolf.

8. Neve Campbell

90s celebrities then and now

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Hailing from Canada, Neve Campbell won over the American audience with her role as Julia Salinger on Party of Five. It didn’t stop there, though. She soon received her most notable role as Sidney Prescott in the biggest slasher film of the decade Scream. Scream even brought Campbell plenty of ’90s fame in the sequel (and two others beyond the 2000s), as well and other staples The Craft, Wild Things, and Three To Tango.

90s celebrities then and now

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Campbell continued acting since her breakout in both minor and large capacities. In 2011, Scream 4 was released, arguably bringing her back into the spotlight. Recently, she’s starred in Netflix’s House of Cards. Now a mother of two, she was last seen opposite Dwayne Johnson in 2018’s Skyscraper.

9. Luke Perry

90s celebrities

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Not everyone can achieve “Coolest Sounding Voice” status, but we think Luke Perry takes the cake. Concerning Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210, you either wanted to be him or date him. Along with his breakout role, Perry starred in the feature film version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Fifth Element and 8 Seconds.

90s celebrities then and now

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Since the ’90s, Perry’s career took a turn into the made-for-TV/direct-to-video realm along with some sporadic guest spots. There were some jolts, though, most notably in the series Jeremiah where he played the lead. At the smooth age of 51, Luke Perry has had a resurgence starring in the CW’s Riverdale as Fred Andrews (Archie’s father). And yes, he stills sounds just as cool.

10. Jaleel White

90s celebrities then and now

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Last but not least is Jaleel White, the man responsible for everyone’s favorite nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel. Or Stefan Urquelle, if that’s what you’re into. With 204 episodes under his belt, it was hard for White to go unnoticed as his famed character. So much so, the character of Steve Urkel crossed over into other hit ’90s comedy shows like Full House and Step By Step.

90s celebrities then and now

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS (Getty)

Life after Urkel wasn’t over, though. White has still had a good career in acting, landing a slew of guest spots on television shows like Atlanta, Psych, NCIS, Castle and Hawaii Five-O. He even voiced Sonic The Hedgehog in his own animated series (but that was technically in his ’90s heyday). Lately, White starred in the 2017 series Me, Myself and I, though it has since been cancelled. His most recent role was in Clint Eastwood’s 2018 film The 15:17 to Paris.

By our count, that’s ten. Tell us, what other ’90s celebrities are you dying to hear about?




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