Leif Garrett stole the hearts of millions of teens when he landed a career as an actor back in the day. He later turned to music and was regarded one of the most famous teenage stars of his time.
When he first appeared on screen, in the film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in 1969, which was the sixth highest-grossing film of the year, Garrett was just five years old. His performance, however, was so good that everyone predicted a successful career for him.
Following that role, the sleepy-eyed heartthrob landed a part in the film Walking Tall, along with its two sequels. In 1983 he joined a number of fellow teen sensations, including Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise, in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders.
Other series Garrett took part in, among the rest, are Family, The Odd Couple (1974), Wonder Woman (1978) and CHiPs (1979).
As his career as an actor skyrocketed, he decided to try himself as a musician and was as successful. His first album, Leif Garret, was released in 1977, and it didn’t come as a surprise that it gathered the attention of many. Soon, tours followed, and Garrett felt like he was on top of the world, which wasn’t far from the truth.
”I was on a public appearance tour in Sydney, Australia, and they had to fly me in by helicopter and then I jumped into an armored car and drove into the theater by back door. I’ve tried using a lim there before, but the fans almost tipped it over. I guess it’s an adrenalin push for them. They just freak out. It’s very weird,” Garrett told New York Daily News in 1979.
He, however, faced challenges, and one of them was his transition to adulthood, as well as issues with his managers.
“I think I was a good performer from the get-go but I wish they had offered me singing lessons before ever making a record and doing the typical punching in a sentence here or there or words or whatever,” Garret said in an interview.
“There’s a particular track (I Was Looking for Someone to Love) that doesn’t even sound like me at all. I would even possibly say I wasn’t even on that track. And to me, that IS fraud. That’s like a Milli Vanilli situation, the difference being, of course, mine was blended many times with myself and somebody else.”
Garrett started using substances and alcohol and that affected his career. He was involved in a car accident which left his friend Ronald Winkler a paraplegic in 1979.
He then started hanging out with famous names, including the members of the band Queen, and the frontman, legendary Freddie Mercury, who showed young Garrett the world of sex, drug, and rock and roll, according to Garrett’s book Idol Truth.
“I don’t think I was a very mature 16-year-old. I became mature very quickly because I was always surrounded by adults who were drinking and doing coke, I was a child, but being treated as an adult… And all of this was coming out of my pocket.”
He continued: “You know, I probably have the greatest fan base that I could ever imagine for myself. They have stuck with me through thick and thin. And as you know, I’ve gotten myself in plenty of bad situations. There was a lot of bad decision-making. But at the same time, I didn’t have the parental guidance that I should have at that time.”
Garrettgot involved in troubles with the law and dropped in and out of rehab. Then, he was somehow forced to take part in the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew which he later accused of having him relapse for drama.
In an interview the LA Times, Garrett said: “They asked to get some footage of me using, and I said, ‘I haven’t been using. They said, ‘We really have to get footage of you using.’ Anyway, I was easily talked into showing them.”
Today, Leif Garrett, the once widely adored child star, is 61 and sober.
”I had a 90-day sentence in county jail. I was in court-ordered rehab before that, and then my mom visited and told me she had stage IV lung cancer. I said, ‘I’m leaving to take care of her—nobody lives with her.’ So dealing with that, I started using again. So it was like, ‘Cuff him, bring him in,’ and I did the 90 days, and that was it,” he shared with Best Life.
”I’ve kept every photo or letter that a young lady sent, telling me about being on their walls and kissing me good night before they went to bed,” Garrett told Closer. “It’s very surreal and a bit embarrassing, but how flattering! I can’t thank [my fans] enough, because I’m still able to do something I enjoy and get paid for it.”
We are glad Garrett managed to turn his life for the better.
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