‘Family’ Star Kristy McNichol Described Not Feeling Like Child Star on Set

by Megan Molseed

Kristy McNichol found stardom at a young age when she broke into the business starring as the youngest daughter on the popular 1976 television drama Family. In this series, McNichol portrays young Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence. McNichol’s stay-power as a television star became clear even during these early days of her career as the actress was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress In A Dramatic Series Emmy Award three years in a row. McNichol took home the prestigious accolade in both 1977 and 1979.

After Family ended its time on television, McNichol’s prolific career in acting continued into adulthood. However, the pressures of Hollywood would soon take a toll on the actress. She later attributed these feelings to her time working as a child star.

“From the time I was very young, I was a professional,” Kristy McNichol has said of her days working as a child star.

“Making money and assuming responsibilities,” the actress continues describing the pressures that stardom brings, even for the younger generations.

“I didn’t live the life of a child,” McNichol continues. “I was living the life of a 30-year-old.”

After her time portraying the youngest Lawrence daughter in Family, McNichol went on to star alongside Tatum O’Neil in the 1980 coming of age drama Little Darlings. Then, for several years, the actress continued to find roles on television. She appeared in The Love Boat, guest-starred on multiple episodes of The Golden Girls; later starring in the sitcom’s spin-off Empty Nest.

Kristy McNichol Faces The Pressures Of Being A Child Star

These television appearances were a welcome escape for the longtime actress after experiencing some traumatic mental health challenges while filming Just the Way You Are. 

According to a 1989 discussion with People magazine, MicNichol began to suffer as sleeping did not come easy. And, when the actress was able to finally get some rest, she was plagued by strange dreams. During her time filming the 1984 movie in which McNichol was cast as the female lead, the actress lost a shocking amount of weight. The cause of these concerns, she feels, is rooted in the pressure she felt working as a child star. So, moving to television as an adult actress was a move the star welcomed until she retired from the business in the 1990s.

​​”I was on the big stage between ages eight and 30,” McNichol says of her career.

“I left show business for a variety of reasons,” the actress adds. “But a big one was my interest in learning what else there is in life.”

And, it seems, retirement has been looking good on the actress. Even though she has said she would “never say never” to returning to show biz.

“My home life is happy and serene,” McNichol has said.

“I love singing,” she adds. “I also enjoy traveling and seeing the world.”