Leif Garrett: Latest Fallen Former Child Star

There seemed to be no trace of the golden-haired child star who wore an easy smile on the cover of Tiger Beat in Leif Garrett's mug shot. He was arrested on drug possession charges in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"That was the most horrendous thing I'd ever seen," said Garrett's mother, Carolyn Stellar. "It wasn't my son. It was heroin's son, and it was horrendous to look at it."

On Wednesday, Garrett, 44, pleaded not guilty to drug possession charges after he was arrested for allegedly trying to ride the subway without a ticket. He was charged with felony possession of heroin and fare evasion.

Garrett -- best-known for singing and acting in the late 1970s -- is just the latest of a string of former child stars who have run into troubled times in adulthood. Stellar blames herself for her son's problems.

"There are a lot of things I could have done differently," Stellar said. "You have to be the most protective parent in the world, even if it irritates others."

Former child star Danny Bonaduce told Stellar she should not feel guilty.

"When exactly do we start to blame Leif?" Bonaduce asked. "Because I'd like to start blaming Leif right about now, because that way I can help him."

Bonaduce met Garrett while they were filming the 2003 movie "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star," in which they spoofed their status as child stars.

Bonaduce can also relate to Garrett's drug problems. The former darling of "The Partridge Family" has been in and out of rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, and is currently documenting his struggle on the VH1 reality show "Breaking Bonaduce."

Despite his own problems, Bonaduce said child stars did not always end up failing as adults.

"For every Leif Garrett, there's a Ron Howard," Bonaduce said. "In fact, for every Leif Garrett, there are three or four or five Ron Howards, child actors who grow up and keep it together."

But more often the troubled former child stars grab the headlines.

Brad Renfro, best-known for his screen debut at age 12 in "The Client," was also arraigned Wednesday morning on charges of heroin possession. Todd Bridges of "Diff'rent Strokes" fame was acquitted of manslaughter and is now competing on the reality show "Skating with the Stars." MacKenzie Phillips, now 47, who starred in "One Day at a Time," was arrested for alleged cocaine possession and entered rehab several times.

In the most serious instances, the price of child stardom has been death.

Anissa Jones of "Family Affair" died in 1976 at the age of 18 from a massive drug overdose. Dana Plato, best-known as Kimberly Drummond from "Diff'rent Strokes," died at age 34 in 1999. A coroner ruled her death a suicide by overdose of painkillers.

"Their egos are fragile enough as it is because they're young," said Peter Castro, executive editor of People magazine. "But after they've had all that fame and adulation -- and suddenly overnight you're history -- who can deal with that?"

Drew Barrymore has dealt with her past. After overcoming a drug and alcohol problem at an early age, she is now one of Hollywood's hottest stars.

Stellar is hoping her son can join the ranks of child stars who have found peace, sobriety and success.

"This is the first time I am totally convinced [Garrett will get sober] because now it is his decision to stop and only when it's his decision will it stop," she said. "He has had enough."

Bonaduce believes Garrett's mug shot may help him get sober.

"There is a low point you do have to hit to get some help, and I do have to tell you that mug shot is going to haunt him for the rest of his life," Bonaduce said. "That may just be what it takes."

Garrett is facing the maximum sentence of three years in prison. He could get more time if he tells the judge that he will not voluntarily enroll in the court's drug program.

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