Then & Now: 10 Best Teen Idols of All Time

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Published January 01, 2009

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Our hearts skipped a beat when we caught wind of Scott Baio's new reality TV show, "Confessions of a Teen Idol," starring seven former heartthrobs praying for a comeback.

But then we got hold of VH1's list of "Teen Idols" who'll be on the show.

Oh my.

VH1's website defines the term as "guys who were famous as teenagers." Apparently, they have expanded the meaning of "teen" to dudes who were pushing 30 before we had ever heard of them (Adrian Zmed in "TJ Hooker" was a "teen" idol?) as well as some D-list reality show stars (Eric Nies from MTV's "The Real World").

We give them props for Christopher Atkins ("Blue Lagoon"), Billy Hufsey ("Fame"), and David Chokachi ("Baywatch"), but if you want a list of REAL teen idols, read on.

Check out our Best Teen Idols EVER: Then & Now FlipBook.

10. Donny Osmond

We confess. It was puppy love. Sure, maybe the Osmonds weren't as cool as the Jacksons (in fact, they were downright dorky), but you gotta admit that Donny was kind of cute. And we weren't the only ones who thought so. He graced the cover of Tiger Beat more times than anyone can count and had hit songs like "Puppy Love" and "Go Away Little Girl" that had teens swooning around the world. As an adult, Donny has had most of his success onstage, but this past year he reunited with his family for a 50th anniversary show and started a two-year Vegas run with Marie.

9. Duran Duran

We loved these handsome English boys with (what seemed at the time to be) great hair and songs you could bop along to but also were just a little bit naughty. Make no mistake about it: Duran Duran looked good, but they didn't necessarily sound good, churning out hit pop chart versions of New Romantic rock to screaming preteens. Yet somewhere along the way, the unthinkable happened: cool people forgot that Duran Duran were lame. Now you can turn on alternative rock stations around the country and hear their '80s hits. Not surprisingly, the band has never broken up, and despite countless lineup changes, the beat goes on.

8. Joey Lawrence

Joey was the "It" boy of the '90s. The long-haired pretty boy swaggered onto the scene as Joey Russo on "Blossom," a role that spawned his singing career in the mid-'90s. Two albums and a few U.K. hits later, Joey's star started to fade. But it was nothing a stint on a good reality TV show couldn't cure. His third-place finish on "Dancing With The Stars" in 2006 brought a shaved-headed Joseph Lawrence back into the limelight and landed him a gig hosting his own TV dance series. Whoa!

7. Hanson

MMMBop. Say no more. They were cute, they could sing, and there were three of them (Isaac, Taylor, and Zac), so you and your best friends could each pick one and not fight over them. What more does any teenage girl need? These days, the brothers still tour and release records on their own indie label. They also work tirelessly to raise money to end poverty and AIDS in Africa with their "Walk Around The World" tours. Before each show, they walk one mile, barefoot, with their fans as a symbol of the plight of African children. We always knew we loved Hanson.

6. Scott Baio

Scott came into teen idol fame as Chachi Arcola, the Fonz's almost-as-cool cousin. We all got just a little jealous when Joanie married Chachi, but we still tuned in to watch him as "Charles in Charge" every week. Off-screen, Scott lived out his teen idol fantasies by dating just about every girl in Hollywood, including Pam Anderson, Denise Richards, Heather Locklear, and 24 Playboy Playmates (in one year!) until a jealous Hef put a ban on his mansion privileges. Today Baio has settled down and married his longtime girlfriend (as we all witnessed on his reality TV shows Scott Baio Is 45...And Single and Scott Baio Is 46...And Pregnant). And, of course, we are on the edge of our seats anticipating his new show, "Confessions of a Teen Idol."

5. Johnny Depp

Depp set out for L.A. to become a rock star with his band, The Kids. But when 21 Jump Street came knocking, Johnny rose to TV teen idol status in a heartbeat, and his musical aspirations were put on hold. Still, that rock star attitude remained, giving Johnny a harder edge than your typical teen heartthrob. Twenty years and 41 (and counting) films later, the bad boy has reached superstar status with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" blockbuster series. We are eager to see his next Tim Burton collaboration in 2010's "Alice In Wonderland," playing the Mad Hatter, of course!

4. David Cassidy

When "The Partridge Family" debuted in 1970, David Cassidy had a #1 hit with "I Think I Love You," and his face graced the covers of teen magazines worldwide. By age 21 he was the highest-paid solo live performer, and his fan club was bigger than the Beatles'. Currently, he's touring to support his latest CD release, "Dance Party Remix" (a collaboration with Craig J of Kelly Clarkson and Mariah Carey fame), featuring dance mixes of all your favorite Keith Partridge classics. And you may want to be sitting when you read this next item: there are rumors that he is in talks to return to TV in a musical sitcom. Fingers crossed!

3. John Travolta

Like all the best teen idols, John Travolta had an acting AND a singing career. While starring on TV as Vinnie ("Up your nose with a rubber hose") Barbarino in Welcome Back, Kotter, he released his first single, "Let Her In," which hit #10 on the Billboard chart. He followed that up with Saturday Night Fever, strutting his stuff down the streets of New York. Next thing you knew, there were posters of him on every teenage girl's bedroom wall. These days, when he's not jetting around in his private 707, he's starring in such animated films as Disney's "Bolt."

2. Davy Jones

Is there a girl born between 1960 and 1970 who didn't wish she were Marcia Brady taking Davy Jones to the prom? The adorable Brit, famous for being a Monkee, started his career onstage playing the Artful Dodger in London and Broadway productions of "Oliver!" After the Monkees series ended, he kept playing and touring with various members of the TV band and has continued to do theater, including another go-around in Oliver! (this time playing Fagin). When he's not acting or singing, Davy can be found on a horse. Yup. Davy might have been a jockey if he hadn't discovered acting. Probably wouldn't have gotten as many girls in those multicolored riding frocks, though.

1. Shaun Cassidy

Long before the days of multimillion-dollar payments by magazines for celebrity baby pictures, Shaun Cassidy's birth announcement was printed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. Mom (Shirley Jones) and dad (Jack Cassidy) were big celebrities at the time, paving the way for Shaun's path to superstardom. While still in high school he signed a record deal, and at age 19 he released "Da Doo Ron Ron." The same year he landed the lead role in "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries," sealing his place in the Teen Idol pantheon. These days Shaun is a success behind the camera, producing such TV shows as Invasion and "Cold Case."

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