In 2018, Hollywood raked in $148 billion in revenue. That is a combination of box office and home entertainment funds. One of the highest beneficiaries of such a booming business is actors who tend to make some serious cash especially when they are an A or B-lister. Thus, it came as a huge shock when Kristy McNichol announced her exit from the movie business.
Kristy made this decision at such a young age while she was making her way to the top. The decision boggled everyone’s mind and sent us in search of why and how it has all worked out for her so far.
The Swansong Days of Kristy McNichol’s Acting Career
Being in the full glare of the public took a toll on Kristy McNichol. She experienced her parents’ divorce when she was 3. Her mother subsequently pushed her and her brother, Jimmy McNichol, into the world of showbiz. They first began appearing in ads before Kristy was able to make guest appearances in shows like Starsky & Hutch: The Bionic Woman, Love, American Style, and The Love Boat.
It was a pretty busy schedule for one so young and did not afford her much time to have a normal childhood. The young girl had to grow up fast. Having gotten her breakthrough role as Letitia ‘Buddy’ Lawrence on Family at the age of 14, Kristy was thrust into fame early. This role won her two Emmys for best supporting actress and announced her arrival to the big time.
As Kristy McNichol appeared in more shows and films, a significant moment occurred that eventually influenced her decision to quit acting. In 1982, she flew to France to film Just the Way You Are. She endured a tumultuous period while there as she spent a lot of time crying and keeping sleepless nights. It eventually led her to flee the country and head to California. Production was then delayed for a year for the star to regain her mental strength.
Kristy was overwhelmed by her responsibilities and felt her life was moving too fast. This was when she began questioning her career. Rumors later began circulating that she was difficult to work with, an alcoholic, and had even started doing drugs.
A Poor Hollywood Response and Her Official Retirement
Due to the event in France, Kristy McNichol became blacklisted by Hollywood filmmakers. They stopped considering her for movies or TV shows. She would, however, eventually make a gradual comeback in 1986 when she featured in Empty Nests, a spinoff of The Golden Girls.
However, a few years after, in 1992, another significant moment came that influenced her decision to quit the industry completely. Kristy got diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which directly led to her exit from the show. She subsequently unofficially retired from acting after this revelation.
Empty Nest marked her last on-screen appearance as an actress. The last time she was seen on the screen was the final episode of the show in 1995. She, however, still managed to have a minimized career as a voice actress. Her last two projects before she officially retired were Extreme Ghostbusters and Invasion America, in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
In June 2001, Kristy McNichol made her retirement official. Through a statement from her publicist, she said she was quitting the profession to play the biggest role of her career, herself.
Kristy Has Lived a Quiet Life Since Retirement
Since giving up the fame and luxury that came with being an actor, Kristy McNichol has lived a quiet life. She has been teaching acting at a private school and has also been hugely involved in charity works since leaving Hollywood. In her personal life, she claims to enjoy yoga, tennis, traveling, and gardening. It seems she is at peace with her decision and is enjoying life away from public glare.
Her Sexuality Has Since Come to Light
Kristy McNichol faced a lot of scrutiny and speculations regarding her love life while she was an actress. The media wondered if she was gay, and she neither confirmed nor denied the allegations. During her active years in the industry, she prided herself on not feeding media tidbits and gossips.
McNichol also rarely gave personal interviews throughout her career. She was always worried about her words being misconstrued or taken out of context. On January 6, 2012, she officially came out of the closet and revealed that she was, indeed, a lesbian.
According to Jeff Ballard, her publicist, she decided to come out with the official statement to help children who were victims of bullying over their sexuality. She hoped it would help them to see that they were not so different, and they could become more comfortable. The revelation, along with its noble intentions, finally put an end to years of tabloid speculation.
With her sexuality confirmed, the gravity of certain moments in her past carried more weight. One of them was the loss of her friend and then-suspected lover, Elizabeth Brooks, on September 7, 1997, four days before McNichol’s birthday. Not long after, she met and began dating Martie Allen. The two have lived together for over two decades and look like they are still going strong.
Kristy McNichol is Doing Alright Financially
Kristy McNichol was destined for the top right from the start of her acting career. She was the first teenager to earn a 6-figure salary. She hit the milestone in 1980 for her role in the movie, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. However, since walking away from movies in 1995 and acting in general in 2001, her fortunes have not exactly been overflowing.
Early in her career, she made some dodgy investments that left her finances in disarray. She did, however, bounce back. As of August 2020, Kristy McNichol’s net worth has an estimated value of $8 million. Earnings come from royalties; television series and movies she starred in, being a brand ambassador, and also investments made.
McNichol was ranked no 49 on VH1’s list of 100 greatest kid stars. She should be worth a whole lot more had she prolonged her stay in the movie industry. But with $8 million and an ever-hungry media off her back, we doubt she would mind.