This is a popular topic, as child stars have more time before the camera (in their careers) than most other actors – especially if they live a long and prosperous life!
From the Web:
The child actors who grew big stars – IMDB
26 child stars who made it – Entertainment Weekly
The 10 Most Successful Former Child Stars – Goliath
The Most Successful Child Actors – Fortune
If you take time to look at these lists, we can see actors across decades of film and Television projects. This makes monetary comparisons difficult, due to differing dollar values and payment structures, unless we adjust for estimated lifetime earnings. Money should not be the only measure of success. Many child stars had rough upbringings with drug issues, familial mismanagement, famous parents, and more. Shirley Temple black leveraged her fame into a successful career in politics:
Shirley Temple Black was an American actress, singer, dancer, businesswoman, and diplomat who was Hollywood’s number one box-office draw as a child actress from 1935 to 1938. As an adult, she was named United States ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia, and also served as Chief of Protocol of the United States. From Wikipedia
Many became directors like Ron Howard and Drew Barrymore. some faded into the background and live off their residual check, in relative obscurity.
We all know who we like as a grown up actor, but this is a question worthy of months of review – my answer is that there are many stars who have done well acting and become successful, given back to their fan base, and evolved into adults who are positive role models.
Here is a picture of my Grandson, now age 10, who is available for acting roles. get in touch with me (as his agent) to discuss auditions.
Best of luck to all the child actors, and success on their path to adulthood.