These Stars Used To Be Instantly Recognizable – But Not Any More

Once upon a time, you would have definitely recognized these celebrities. They were massive in their day, so you’d have seen them on television or on movie posters. Now, though, things have changed. If you saw any of these folks in the street, you’d probably stop a second to think, “Wait, is that really them?”

40. Mark McGrath

There’s no denying that musician Mark McGrath looks pretty damn different these days, but he swears he’s never had any work done. In March 2018 the Sugar Ray frontman wrote on Twitter, “I have NEVER had any plastic surgery done, I’m just naturally beautiful.” That being said, during a show with Dean Butterworth in 2019 he was heard to joke, “For the first time ever, I’m the ugly guy in the project.”

39. Jennifer Hudson

Actress Jennifer Hudson shed 80 pounds and now she looks like a completely different person. How did she do it? She started off by walking for half an hour every day, and then gradually added on other activities, such as bike riding and basketball. And instead of sticking to a diet, she simply eats carefully balanced portions.

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38. Mara Wilson

Everyone remembers Mara Wilson as an adorable child star, the title character of the popular film Matilda. But then, of course, she grew up. If you passed her on the street you might have a feeling in the back of your mind that you knew her without actually being able to place her. Wilson no longer acts, but she does write: in 2016 she published an autobiography called Where Am I Now?

37. Pamela Anderson

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A few decades ago Baywatch star Pamela Anderson was a major sex symbol. But some people think she’s tried too hard to freeze herself in that time. Though in 2011 she claimed she wouldn’t have any more plastic surgery, according to many she has since gone back on that. But she also contracted hepatitis C, which unfortunately will change your appearance.

36. Patrick Ewing

NBA star Patrick Ewing retired in 2002, and since then he’s become more and more unrecognizable. Part of that is because he lost his hair, a thing lots of men will have to deal with at some point in their life. On the other hand though, if you saw him now and were trying to work out how you knew him, his height would be a big clue that you might know him from the world of professional basketball.

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35. Anjelica Huston

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In 2014 Anjelica Huston told The Guardian newspaper, “I’m scared of the knife. I’ve been under for a few operations, not of the vanity form. It really takes away your taste for voluntary surgery… You see these terrible plastic surgery victims who are addicted to it.” But some people thought she had already gone too far with Botox.

34. Lark Voorhies

During the ’10s Saved by the Bell star Lark Voorhies started to not only look different but act differently too. Her mother Tricia Holloway claimed that the actress was suffering from bipolar disorder, but the TV sitcom actress herself denied this. There was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, though. In 2020 it was announced that Voorhies would appear in the new Saved by the Bell.

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33. Dolly Parton

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Beloved country music star Dolly Parton is perfectly open about having had lots of plastic surgery, which has changed her appearance a lot over the years. In 2011 she quipped to newspaper The Guardian, “If something is bagging, sagging or dragging, I’ll tuck it, suck it or pluck it.” But she also said, “I may look fake, but I’m real where it counts.”

32. Ethan Suplee

For a long time, Ethan Suplee played “funny fat guy” roles on television – but no more. In 2020 it transpired that the actor had lost a staggering amount of weight, enough to render him completely unrecognizable from his former self. He’s determined to keep the weight off, and he’s probably going to be sent very different scripts in the future.

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31. Priscilla Presley

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Elvis’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley looks very different now than she did in her heyday, but it’s not really her fault. Her plastic surgeon Daniel Serrano turned out to be an unlicensed conman who was injecting the wrong type of silicone into his clients. Serrano went to federal prison, but some think Presley continued to have surgery after that too.

30. Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter was a tween heartthrob back in the ’00s. Girls of his age group adored him and plastered his posters all over their bedroom walls. Now, though, they’re probably not doing that anymore. Carter grew up, got less cute, and is now better known for his controversial tweets and erratic behavior rather than his singing.

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29. Val Kilmer

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Val Kilmer’s drastic change in appearance was the result of a horrible illness over which he had no control: throat cancer. He revealed in 2017 that he’d been fighting it for two years. His own daughter didn’t think he’d pull through, but he did. He had to have a tracheotomy, and now his voice as well as his appearance is altered. Yet more importantly, he’s alive.

28. Taylor Momsen

During the ’00s Taylor Momsen was a child movie star best known for her role in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But then she got older and changed. She became a rebellious rock ‘n roll type often accused of bad behavior, and her acting career faded. Now you might not recognize her even if you saw her in Gossip Girl.

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27. Lil Kim

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Rumors have spread for a long time that hip-hop star Lil Kim has had a lot of plastic surgery, including skin bleaching. Her story seems like it’s a sad one though. In a 2000 interview with Newsweek magazine she said, “All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough… Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.” And she’s also alleged she needed facial surgery after injuries from domestic violence.

26. June Shannon

You know June Shannon better as “Mama June,” the mom of TLC child star Honey Boo Boo. She might not look how you remember her anymore, though. Originally she weighed 460 pounds, but then she started chronicling a weight-loss journey for the show Mama June: From Not to Hot. She had a gastric bypass, which worked: she dropped down to a size 4.

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25. Daryl Hannah

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Has Daryl Hannah had plastic surgery or not? No-one in the media knows for certain. She’s denied all the rumors that she has and even slammed other people who’ve gone under the knife. Yet others think she must have at least had Botox, as her face got a lot puffier. Whatever happened, she looks very different these days.

24. Dan Fogler

Dan Fogler played the portly Jacob Kowalski in the first two Fantastic Beasts movies. Then, before the third one started filming, he suddenly lost a lot of weight and looked like a completely different person. But at the Wizarding World convention LeakyCon 2019 he suggested some plot-relevant ways to explain Jacob’s new look in Fantastic Beasts 3.

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23. Jaleel White

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Jaleel White went down in pop-culture history as Steve Urkel from the sitcom Family Matters. However, the actor has worked hard to get out of his most famous character’s shadow. He voices Sonic the Hedgehog on the small screen now and he looks so different that – maybe thankfully – most people wouldn’t recognize him as Steve.

22. Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz’s moustache was very famous. During the 1968 Olympics a Russian coach asked him if it slowed him down in any way while swimming, and Spitz responded that it actually helped him go faster by deflecting water away from his mouth. The next year every Russian swimmer had facial hair! So it’s not surprising that without it, Spitz is almost unrecognizable.

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21. Amanda Bynes

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Former child star Amanda Bynes was on the rise when suddenly everything changed. She began to display more and more erratic behavior, and all of it was in full view of the world. Eventually, she was placed on an “involuntary psychiatric hold.” Thankfully she’s doing better now and is rebuilding her life. But arguably her past struggles still show on her face.

20. Gabourey Sidibe

Precious star Gabourey Sidibe lost a lot of weight after her rise to fame, thanks in part to keyhole obesity-prevention surgery. It wasn’t to do with appearance however, it was for health reasons. In 2017 the actress told People magazine, “I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes.”

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19. Angus T. Jones

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Angus T. Jones shot to fame as a child star with the show Two and a Half Men. Alas, as he got older, he became more famous for publicly slamming the show than for appearing on it. These days Jones works for the company Tonite, which is managed by P. Diddy’s son. And he probably doesn’t get many people recognizing him as Jake.

18. Ray Liotta

For years people have been obsessed with working out what happened to Ray Liotta’s face. He once sued a company who used his image to promote “age-defying” cream, and he’s never confirmed nor denied that he’s had plastic surgery. That didn’t stop people from tweeting things such as, “Jeez! Not just female actors feeling the need to go under the knife,” during his appearance at the 2016 SAG Awards.

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17. Brigitte Bardot

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There’s very little chance that the average person would recognize former superstar Brigitte Bardot these days. She’s 86 years old now, and looks incredibly different. But she’s also been found guilty of inciting racial hatred five times in her native France, so maybe that beauty was always only skin deep.

16. Kelly Osbourne

Reality TV star Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy, has lost weight (and changed her hair a lot) since she first found fame with her family’s show. And she stuck with her exercise regime, too. In October 2020 media outlets reported that she had lost 85lb thanks to a vegan diet. She’d also reportedly gotten injections in her jaw to ease a condition called temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

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15. Lara Flynn Boyle

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It must be said that Lara Flynn Boyle looks a far cry from when she was in her first flush of youth. Back in 2012 a plastic surgeon told the website Radar Online, “I suspect that she’s either undergone corrective surgery to reverse some of the work that was previously performed, or has just plain allowed the plumping fillers to dissipate, leaving her with sagging cheeks.” Whatever happened, if you Google her name now you just get articles talking about how unrecognizable she is.

14. Haley Joel Osment

Everyone remembers Haley Joel Osment as the child actor from movie The Sixth Sense and other hits. But then he did the thing all child actors do eventually: grow older and change. Chances are not many people would recognize him now as the little boy who took Hollywood by storm, but he still very much has an acting career.

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13. Alan Faneca

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Alan Faneca weighed 316 lbs when he was an LSU Tiger. But now the new, thinner Faneca looks utterly different to his former self. Now he runs marathons and eats healthily. In 2014 he told Runner’s World magazine that he and his family “stay away from heavy carbs and gluten, but we’re heavy on vegetables and protein.”

12. Nick Nolte

Back in 1992 Nick Nolte was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine. However, Nolte doesn’t appear to have aged gracefully, and his later DUI arrest didn’t exactly help matters much either. Who knows for certain if he’s had plastic surgery? Still, he is noted for pranking journalists about that matter.

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11. Melanie Griffith

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Melanie Griffith can’t be blamed for wanting plastic surgery. After all, a lion mauled her face when she was filming the movie Roar in 1977 and she had to have 50 stitches. She regrets going under the knife for aesthetic reasons though. In 2017 she told Porter magazine she felt “hurt” when people started saying “Oh my god, what has she done?” about her.

10. Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding was an ice dancer, but it’s not that specifically for which people remember her. Instead, they know her as the woman who hired goons to beat her opponent Nancy Kerrigan and break her knee. This story was told in the biopic I, Tonya, with Margot Robbie playing her, but the real Harding looks nothing like Robbie anymore.

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9. Kenny Rogers

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Kenny Rogers is another of many celebrities who regret having plastic surgery. In 2012 he told Gayle King that the question that had led him to having work done had been, “Could I be better if I did this or I did that?” He went on, “The guy who did it was one of the world’s best. But he just had this concept that the edge of your eyes had to be higher than a certain place. And I regret that.”

8. Heidi Montag

Reality TV star Heidi Montag had ten plastic surgeries in one day back in 2010, and it wasn’t a good idea at all. In 2018 many years after her face had changed for good, Montag told Paper magazine, “I died for a minute. With that much surgery, I had to have 24-hour nurse care.” A reminder that looking young isn’t worth your life.

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7. Lindsay Lohan

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Lindsay Lohan was once a promising young actress, but now she’s unfortunately the archetypical “child star gone off the rails” with multiple arrests and 250 days in rehab to her name. She’s never confirmed if she’s had plastic surgery or not, but her lifetime of struggles very much shows on her face.

6. Shelley Duvall

Shelley Duvall of movie classic The Shining looks very different now, but more worrying is her mental state. In 2016 she appeared on an episode of Dr Phil, and many were horrified. Vivian Kubrick, daughter of The Shining’s director Stanley Kubrick, even wrote an open letter condemning the “lurid and exploitative” treatment of Duvall.

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5. Matthew Lewis

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Very few people would recognize Matthew Lewis as the sweetly dorky Neville from the Harry Potter movie series now, if they didn’t already know about his bewildering transformation. Lewis himself was taken aback by the rush of interest once he got buff. In 2017 he said at a Universal Orlando panel, “I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘It’s such a nightmare, people keep saying I’m good looking!’ It’s incredibly flattering, it’s lovely. But honestly, I don’t really get it.”

4. Mickey Rourke

Poor Mickey Rourke now gets almost as much attention for his botched plastic surgery as for his acting. In 2009 he told the MailOnline website that he’d turned to it after being constantly injured from boxing, but he “went to the wrong guy to put my face back together.” Unfortunately, he still looks nothing like his former self.

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3. Adele

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Singer Adele shocked everyone in 2020 when she debuted a new, much thinner look. Reportedly it was all with the help of something called the Sirtfood Diet, which involves eating foods containing “sirtuin activators.” She also hired a personal trainer and began doing Pilates on the regular. The results were, as you can see, amazing.

2. Kelly McGillis

Kelly McGillis knows she looks very different from her earlier days, but she doesn’t care. In 2019 TV show Entertainment Tonight asked her if she was returning for the Top Gun movie sequel, and she said, “Oh my god no. They did not, nor do I think they would ever. I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about.”

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1. Jennifer Grey

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Unfortunately, Jennifer Grey’s nose surgery turned into a cautionary tale about changing your looks too much. During a Dirty Dancing movie anniversary event in 2012, she said, “I went into the operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous. It was the nose job from hell. I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody recognizes because of a nose job.”

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