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Rich or Rehab: Whatever Happened to 'Curly Sue'?

porterthenAfter the recent, sad passing of John Hughes, plenty of Gen Xers — and, for that matter, movie lovers of any generation — have been revisiting the writer-director’s filmography. The whereabouts of most of the stars of his many successful comedies — Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Matthew Broderick, Macaulay Culkin, Jon Cryer — are pretty well-established. But few may know what path was taken by the actress who played the title role in Hughes’s final directorial effort.

But that’s what today’s Rich or Rehab will determine: whatever happened to the girl who played Curly Sue?

Alisan Porter got her first big break in show business at the age of five, when she become a singing champion on “Star Search.” Here’s a clip of her performing “Over the Rainbow.” And no, it’s not possible for her to be more adorable:

Several small parts in TV shows — surely you remember her in the role of “Girl” in an episode of “Family Ties” — and movies followed, eventually leading to her first major starring role: as the smart alecky homeless kid in Hughes’s “Curly Sue.”

That comedy wasn’t exactly one of the director’s biggest hits. So eventually, Porter put her Hollywood career on hold. Her family moved to Connecticut, where she attended high school and continued to focus on theater and dance. Once she reached the age of 18, she moved to New York to pursue a career on Broadway and landed a role in the musical “Footloose.”

After that, she came back to California for a while, taught dance and shared the Kodak Theatre stage with Val Kilmer and Adam Lambert in a production of “The Ten Commandments: The Musical.” Then it was back to New York to appear in a Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line.”

On top of all that she has performed in multiple bands, including her current effort, The Alisan Porter Project. You can see footage of her onstage last fall as part of a pseudo-cabaret called The Zodiac Show, which, yes, also featured Adam Lambert.

She’s clearly got a heck of a voice. And, it would appear, a strong sense of self, too.

In a recent essay for Movmnt magazine, Porter talked about dealing with her own former-child-star issues:

“I often reflect about who exactly I am,” she writes. “It is sometimes hard for other people to see me as anything but Curly Sue. I ask myself if they know I’m a dancer. A choreographer. A teacher. Do they know I write my own music and play with my own band? Do they know I have struggled with addiction and am now proudly a sober woman? Yes, even I didn’t escape the child star curse! To me, all these things make up who I truly am. I know that all the things that I have been through, all the ups and downs, could never stop me from moving forward as an artist.”

Call me crazy, but it sounds like Porter actually did escape the child star curse. And I’m sure she has many fans who wish her much success as she continues to move forward.

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