Acting came naturally to teen icon Kristy McNichol, who starred in Family on ABC for five seasons. The two-time Emmy winner walked away from Hollywood years later, but not before establishing an incredible legacy as a television star.
Kristy, born in 1962, started appearing in commercials, much like her older brother, Jimmy McNichol, when she was just a child. Their mother, Carolyn McNichol, worked as an extra in films, ultimately helping her children land gigs on television.
“My mother was working on the movie Big Foot,” Kristy told the New York Times in September 1981. ”My brother loved monsters, so my mother brought us to the set one day. I was scared, so I stayed in the car. But a lot of people saw us that day, and they said to my mom, ‘You have two cute kids. They should do commercials.’ My mom asked us what we thought about it, and we thought it sounded exciting. That’s how it started.”
Once she landed the role on Family in 1976, Kristy became one of the most popular teens on television. She also snagged appearances on The Love Boat, Starsky & Hutch and Murder, She Wrote in the years that followed. From 1988 to 1992, the California native played Barbara Weston on Empty Nest, a spinoff of The Golden Girls. She left the show midway through and returned for the series finale in 1995.
In 1998, Kristy voiced a character in the animated series Invasion America, one of her last television credits before announcing her retirement from acting in 2001.
“A lot of people have wondered what I’ve been up to,” she said in a statement at the time. “I retired from my career after 24 years. My feeling was that it was time to play my biggest part — myself! I must say that it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. So many fans are disappointed that I’m not currently acting; however, some may not realize that the process I’m in at this time is necessary and vital for my personal happiness and well-being.”
Keep scrolling to learn five interesting facts about Kristy.
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