Hollywood's Hottest Stars of the 80s and 90s

It may be a fresh new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the old…especially when we’re reminiscing back to the ‘80s and ‘90s. Those fun decades brought us iconic shows and characters that will go down in TV history as being some of the best in entertainment. And, lucky for BELLA, we had the opportunity to travel back down memory lane with some of the hottest stars from that time to talk about the shows that made them famous and what they’re up to today. Listen in…

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Ricky Schroder

Anyone who grew up in the ‘80s remembers the adorable Ricky Stratton, played by Ricky Schroder on the popular show “Silver Spoons.” But even before he made his television debut, the actor was already a bona fide star. In 1979 he appeared in the hit movie “The Champ,” a role that earned him a Golden Globe award at just 7 years old for Best New Male Star. Schroder starred in the film alongside Jon Voight, and recalls that time as a “great experience.”   

“Silver Spoons,” on the other hand, was more of a frightening experience at first because it was taped in front of a live studio audience. “It was the first time I ever performed in front of a live audience,” says Schroder. “After a few shows I built up my confidence and started to have fun.”

After working hard for five years straight, Schroder took time off before his next TV project, “Lonesome Dove,” which established him as an adult actor. “As I reflect back, I didn’t realize then how important for my career it was, or how epic the miniseries would be,” he says.

Schroder went on to star in another two hit television shows: “NYPD Blue,” where he spent three seasons as Detective Danny Sorenson, and “24,” where he played Agent Mike Doyle. Each role was different but allowed him to further transition into an adult performer. He credits “NYPD Blue” with making him a better actor – it’s the work he is most proud of as an adult, as well as his favorite character he’s played.

This past December Schroder starred in the TV movie “Coat of Many Colors,” which documented the story of Dolly Parton’s upbringing. Playing the role of Parton’s father, the actor, who is a big fan of country music, describes the legendary singer as “kind” and “giving of compliments.”

In addition to acting, Schroder has also added the titles of writer, director, and producer to his resume. “In between acting jobs a man has to do something to occupy his time,” he says. “I love producing and getting to not only tell stories that mean something to me, but ones that others aren’t telling.”

He’s also begun work on “The Fighting Season: Solider Edition,” a new series that will continue the conversation on America’s longest running war. Through a combination of real footage filmed by military members while deployed, as well as interviews and reenactments, viewers will get an inside look at these heroic men and women. The show is slated for release in May on the Audience Channel on Direct TV.

In his previous six-part documentary “The Fighting Season,” which premiered last May, Schroder and his team gave a never-before-seen look into the experience of the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Spending three months with the troops, he says, was a “life-changing experience.” 

A family man at heart, the actor has been married for 23 years and is a father of four. Schroder worked hard to stay out of the limelight and parlay his career into adulthood. “I became a dad young and I had kids to raise and a wife to take care of, so I didn’t get caught up in that lifestyle so many young actors find themselves in today.”

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Ian Ziering

No introduction is needed for the actor who spent a decade playing the privileged, thrill-seeking Steve Sanders on the hit show “Beverly Hills, 90210.” What you probably don’t know is that Ian Ziering’s career began when he was just a kid. “I was the class clown and took the show on the road when I was 12 years old,” he says.

But it wasn’t until 1990 that he scored his breakout role and became a household name. “90210” also marked his first appearance on a prime-time television show – one that would go on to become a huge success in the states and around the world.

“To find instant success is ridiculous,” says Ziering. “We knew it was a good show, but the global phenomenon that it became was something no one predicted.”

“For me it was a 10-year jungle gym,” he continues. “It was fun playing Steve without paying the price for the things he did!” The character had a nice arc – he started as a spoiled rich kid and evolved into a family man, something Ziering doesn’t think anyone would have predicted.

After the show ended, the actor took some time to transition, heading out to Colorado to build a house in the mountains. He traveled back and forth to LA for work, and says it was difficult at times to find quality roles. “As an actor I know the work is always temporary. I consider myself a journey actor, always trying to reinvent myself.”

Since then he’s tackled a variety of projects, from a stint on season 4 of “Dancing With the Stars” to a month-long guest appearance with the popular Chippendales in Las Vegas. “DWTS was a lot of fun because it was the exact opposite of what I had been doing,” says Ziering. “It was great to learn something new and challenge myself.” Having performed in front of a live audience from his days on Broadway as a child, the star was not afraid to lace up his shoes and get out on the dance floor. “When I was tapped to have the first dance I wasn’t nervous or scared,” he says. “I looked at it as excitement – it was fun for me.”

Ziering’s experience with Chippendales was a challenge of a different kind, one he equally enjoyed. Working for a classy organization that has been entertaining audiences for more than 30 years, the actor was proud to put on the infamous collar and cuffs.

Fans also had the opportunity to see the actor in a completely different light when he appeared on “The Apprentice” last year. Describing the experience as “emotionally and physically draining,” the most difficult part was being away from his wife, Erin, and two daughters for six weeks. On the positive side, the experience allowed him to leverage his celebrity status for a greater good, he says. He competed to raise money for research on Epidermolysis bullosa, a group of rare inherited skin disorders.

While Ziering’s experience was challenging, time spent on “The Apprentice” supercharged his business mind. Since then he’s put those skills to use, starting his own clothing line (ChainsawBrands.com), a travel website (CelebrityHideaways.com), and an indoor activity play center for kids.

As he’s evolved, his story is more about personal growth. “When I was young I was motivated by glory; as an adult I’m motivated by accomplishment, what can I give back,” he says.

Ziering is also motivated by love for his family, which led him to accept a role in the breakout sci-fi film “Sharknado” and gain a new fan base.

He was apprehensive at first, and was tempted to turn it down. “There were a lot of holes in the script when it came to the visual effects,” he says. “But my wife said, ‘You have to go to work,’ so I took one for the team.”

Her advice paid off and the film was a huge hit. “No one was more surprised than I was,” says Ziering. The “Sharknado” phenomenon took audiences by storm; a fourth film is planned for July.

These days, the funny and lovable Ziering says his greatest joy comes from being with his family. Being a father has shifted his perspective, and it has become his greatest role. “They are my ‘why’ for everything.”

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Lori Loughlin

Best known for her role as Rebecca Donaldson Katsopolis (aka Aunt Becky) on the hit sitcom “Full House,” actress Lori Loughlin proves that after many years you can go home again. This year she’ll reprise her role in the sequel series that made her a household name.

Loughlin’s career began when she was young; at age 11 she was modeling and at 15 she landed her first role on a soap opera. She went on to star in a number of films and television guest spots, but it was her role on “Full House” that brought her recognition. Originally contracted for only six episodes, her character caught on with viewers and she became a regular for the remainder of the series.

“I knew the first week on set that I would be on the show for the duration of the run,” says Loughlin. “I had no idea how many years that would be – no one did – but you could tell my character completed the circle.”

Now, 21 years later, going back to film with a cast that has remained good friends feels surreal, she says. “In some ways it’s like we never left.”

After the original series ended, Loughlin went on to star in other projects, including the WB drama series “Summerland,” which she co-created and produced. She also joined the cast of “90210,” a spin-off of the iconic ‘90s hit show, in which she starred for the first three seasons. “I loved being a part of the show,” she says.

In addition to “Fuller House,” which premieres early this year on Netflix, Loughlin is starting the new year full steam ahead. Her latest Garage Sale Mystery movie, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent,” premiered in January on the Hallmark Channel, and in February she’s starring in the third season of “When Calls the Heart,” also on Hallmark, alongside Jack Wagner.

On the home front, both of Loughlin’s teenage daughters have expressed interest in following in their mother’s footsteps, each with her own respective projects currently in the works. “I’m fine with them going into the business – but after college,” says the actress. “I’d like them to have that experience.” Her stepson, on the other hand, hasn’t shown any interest in acting, and none of the kids have ever watched “Full House.” “Go figure,” she says.

As a working mom, finding a balance between acting and family can be challenging, she says. “I love what I do for a living; it makes me happy. And when you’re happy, you can parent from a healthier place.” She credits her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, with helping her navigate the parenting waters. “It’s certainly not a perfect science,” she says.

Happiest when she is spending time with her family, Loughlin is also looking forward to improving her golf game with a little help from costar Jack Wagner. “Right now I don’t even have a game,” she says. “But I’m addicted!”

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Josie Bissett

Josie Bissett, best known in the 90s for her role of Jane Mancini on “Melrose Place,” began her rise to stardom when she started modeling at just 12 years old. She grew up in Seattle, Washington, and then moved to Japan at 16 for work, rooming with a girl from Santa Monica. That friendship led Bissett to California, where she settled down, intent on paving her place in Hollywood. “My parents were very supportive of my decisions,” she says.

Within a short time of arriving, Bissett indeed found her “place” – the prime-time soap opera “Melrose Place.”

“It was so exciting, but such a different time than today,” says the actress. “Social media didn’t exist; we were really focused on the work and in our little bubble, filming.” 

In addition to Bissett ad her fellow actors’ commitment, the show’s success can be also attributed to the great storytelling produced by Aaron Spelling. At the time, “Melrose Place” was the only show of its kind, and Bissett believes the dramedy was people’s “guilty pleasure.” Without the distractions of today’s technology, the show brought college students and young adults together every Monday night.

When the show wrapped in 1998, Bissett went on to star in other hits such as “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” as well as a slew of television films. Her favorite piece of work was the Lifetime movie “Dare to Love,” based on a true story about a woman with schizophrenia. “I enjoyed learning more about mental illness and taking on the challenge of such a role,” says Bissett.

In addition to acting, the single mother of two is also a successful author, having written books for both adults and children. “Tickle Monster,” her first book for kids, is interactive, with the goal of bonding parent and child through tickling and laughter. “The book was created by tickling my son one evening,” she says. “The story just kind of flew out of my mouth. It took me seven years to complete it but that’s what happens when you have kids.”

Her most recent book, “Boogie Monster,” is based on Tickle Monster’s pal who has a mission to inspire kids to dance; in the process, dancing builds kids’ confidence and they have fun exercising. Plans for a third monster book are already in the works.

Bissett says her ideas and inspiration come from her children, Mason and Maya; listening to the way in which they tell stories and what they’re drawn to fuels her. “I’ve realized that we can’t wait for only the special events to create memories; they’re around us every day.”

With the start of a new year, Bissett is starring in three new TV movies: “Pregnant at 17,” “In Their Own Hands,” and “Her Own Justice.”

Happiest when immersed in the things about which she’s most passionate – family, friends, art, and loved ones – the actress is looking forward to a fresh start and new beginnings after her home caught on fire last year. “It was a huge loss so this year is all about rebuilding.”

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Jackée Harry

Known to her fans as “Jackée,” actress Jackée Harry has been entertaining audiences since the ‘80s. Popular for her roles on the hit shows “227” and “Sister, Sister,” this NYC native started her career on a slightly different path.

As a child growing up in Harlem, Harry studied music and the arts, including acting. “Before I knew it I started getting jobs from 13 years old and on,” she says. Continuing her education, the future actress earned a degree in education and became a history teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School, but left a few years later to pursue acting full time. 

Once Harry focused solely on acting, she starred in numerous productions on and off Broadway. She made her TV debut on the now defunct soap opera “Another World” before setting her sights on comedy. Originally set to star in only seven episodes of NBC’s hit show “227,” Harry poured her heart and soul into her performance. “I was trying to be funny for the audience; I was from New York and wanted to give it my all,” she says. “I did, and the audience loved it.”

That role earned her an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987, which she describes as “surreal.” “It really took me a couple years to realize what it meant and the impact it would have as the first African American to win [in that category].”

In the mid ’90s, the funny woman found herself at home on another popular hit, “Sister, Sister.” Playing the cool and crazy mom, Harry says she was the opposite of her character in real life. “She was always around the kids; I wasn’t like that. My ex-husband was very present in our son Frank’s life, but with a full acting schedule I couldn’t be there as much.”

Harry admits that becoming a mom made her a much “softer” person. “Motherhood created more depths of emotions than I realized I had,” she says. “I didn’t think I could love my son any more than I did when he was younger… but as he has gotten older, my love for him has grown.”

This year, the actress has a lot going on – from guest starring on the CBS comedy “2 Broke Girls” and voicing a character in the film “Captain Underpants” to appearing in the TV movie “Ladies Book Club” and on “Celebrity Food Fight” on the Food Network.

Not one to believe in resolutions, Harry describes herself as more of a dreamer than a planner. “I love to live in the moment and just take it all in as it’s happening.”

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