Tom Cruise – Top Gun

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Tom Cruise is one of the highest-paid actors in the world. Playing the role of Ethan Hunt in the mega-famous Mission: Impossible franchise has certainly helped him a lot in that regard. But the three-time Golden Globe winner will also have his early beginnings in the ’80s to thank for his success.

Cruise gained recognition as a young, handsome, and promising actor after playing lead roles in “Risky Business” and “Top Gun.” He made another addition to the Mission Impossible franchise in 2018 by releasing the movie “Mission Impossible—Fallout.”

Demi Moore – St. Elmo’s Fire

The ’80s was a very lucrative period for Demi Moore. Why? She was one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood during that time. Thanks to her incredible acting talent and gorgeous looks, Moore was able to establish herself as one of the leading female symbols in the 80s.

After making her movie debut in 1981, she gained major attention by starring in movies like “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “About Last Night.” But it was with the 1990 movie “Ghost” that she truly made a statement as it became the highest-grossing film that year. She’s still going strong in the 21st century, having appeared in the 2020 movie “Songbird.”

Tiffani Amber Thiessen – Saved by the Bell

A young Tiffani Amber Thiessen started her showbiz career as a model in the ‘80s. Thanks to her attractive features, she quickly found success in that career path and eventually became Miss Junior America in 1987. Her modeling fame helped her land her first television role on the NBC sitcom “Saved by the Bell.”

She played the role of Kelly Kapowski on the series, and although she’s starred in several other series since then, it undoubtedly remains one of her most popular characters to date. To the delight of “Saved by the Bell” fans, she reprised her role as Kelly Kapowski in the 2020 revival of the series.

Julia Roberts – Steel Magnolias

It’s hard not to love Julia Roberts. She’s undoubtedly one of the most prominent actresses of her generation, and that’s saying a lot, since the ‘80s and ‘90s were filled with emerging stars. Roberts started to experience major fame at the beginning of the “90s with her iconic role in “Pretty Woman.”


But it wouldn’t be fair to not make mention of truly impressive late ‘80s movies she starred in—“Steel Magnolias” and “Mystic Pizza,” anyone? As a testament to her prowess, not only has she aged like fine wine, she’s continued to star in major projects, such as the 2021 series “Gaslit.”

Nicole Kidman – Dead Calm

There’s no denying Nicole Kidman’s affluence. Not many actresses can boast of being listed by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world twice or being ranked as one of the greatest actors of the 21st century by The New York Times. Clearly, Kidman wasn’t as influential in the ‘80s as she was in the 21st century, but she wasn’t entirely off the grid either.


Her most notable film during that period was the thriller “Dead Calm”, which also starred “Jurassic Park” star Sam Neil. Despite her success, she’s rarely gotten off her busy schedule—in 2021, she appeared in a mini-series titled “Nine Perfect Strangers.”

Johnny Depp – 21 Jump Street

Long before he became the world-renowned Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Johnny Depp had already established himself as a leading man and teen idol on the ‘80s series “21 Jump Street.” Depp is mostly known for his unusual roles and he got into that act as soon as possible.


After “21 Jump Street,” he rarely took mediocre roles and only opted to portray special characters. That decision has paid off, as it’s given him a reputation as one of the most talented actors in the industry. He delivered an equally unique performance as Eugene Smith in the 2020 movie “Minamata.”

Winona Ryder – Beetlejuice

Winona Ryder is now known across the world for playing the character of Joyce Byers in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Most of the people who recently discovered her might not know that she was also prominent in the “80s. She only fell off the radar for a while after she took a break from movies in the early ‘00s.


A younger Ryder became popular in the late ‘80s after starring in the fantasy comedy “Beetlejuice.” Following her career resurgence with “Stranger Things,” she seems keen on remaining popular. She was in a 2020 short video titled “Cadillac: How Do You Drive with Scissorhands?”

Don Johnson – Miami Vice

Of the several fictional crime series that were rampant during the ’80s, “Miami Vice” was one of the most popular. As the star of the show, Don Johnson gained massive popularity as a Hollywood star. Not only that, he also won some accolades, bagging a Golden Globe award for his efforts.


Although he vacated the role of James “Sonny” Crockett as early as 1989, he has by no means left the movie scene. He’s since starred in several popular flicks, including “Django Unchained.” He bagged the role of Rick Noble in a series titled “Kenan” in 2021.

Matt Dillon – Little Darlings

Teen idols were a thing even in the ’80s. The older generation also had young stars they were crushing on during their teenage years. Matt Dillion was one of such stars. By playing the high-school stud in teenage movies like “Little Darlings” and “My Bodyguard”, he raised his profile as a talented and very promising star.


Thankfully, Dillion didn’t fail to meet his high expectations over the course of his career. He continued to impress in more mature roles, bagging an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination in the process. In 2021, he starred in the movie “Land of Dreams.”

Mel Gibson – Mad Max

Like several Hollywood legends today, Mel Gibson also got his start to fame in the roaring ’80s. Who would ever forget Max Rockatansky, the wild character he played in the apocalyptic franchise “Mad Max.” The movie catapulted Gibson to stardom, but that was only the beginning for him, as he went ahead to achieve massive success as a director.


“Braveheart,” “The Passion of Christ,” and “Apocalypto” are just some of the critically acclaimed blockbusters he’s directed in his lifetime. Although Gibson suffered a slump at one point in his career, he’s bounced back. He starred in “Boss Level” in 2021.

Kiefer Sutherland – Lost Boys

We all remember Kiefer Sutherland from “24.” But before he was playing the role of skilled counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the Fox series, Sutherland was plying his trade as a vampire in the 1987 movie “Lost Boys.” His career in the ’80s was arguably not as famous as the ’00s, but he would be glad for the wealth of experience he gained in the early days.


For his role as Jack Bauer, Sutherland won an Emmy and a Golden Globe award amongst several accolades. Since “24” ended in 2010, he’s hardly been short of noteworthy roles. He also guest-starred in a series titled “Creepshow” in 2020.

Samantha Fox – Page 3 Model

It wasn’t rare to see pictures of Samantha Fox on the walls of college and high-school students alike in the ’80s. She was perhaps the most sought-after model of her era. Her popularity increased so much that she became one of the most photographed British models of the ’80s.


Fox appeared in a few movies, but it was her glamour modeling for publications like The Sun that brought her the most fame. During that period, she capitalized on her fame and launched her music career. She released three top ten singles as a result. She also released the music video to her single “Hot Boy” in 2018.

Richard Simmons – The Richard Simmons Show

People have always been passionate about getting fit since ancient times, and in the ’80s, exercising was a pretty common topic. It’s no wonder that personalities like Richard Simmons were able to acquire wealth and fame by being fitness trainers.


But of course, Simmons was no ordinary trainer, he taught his audiences through the famous training videos he branded “Sweatin to the Oldies” and even had his own health-related talk show called “The Richard Simmon Show.” For reasons unknown to anyone but him, Simmons abruptly went under the radar in 2014 but he resurfaced in 2020 after posting content on his Youtube channel.

Harrison Ford – Raiders of the Lost Ark

Whether it’s as San Holo in the epic franchise Star Wars or as Indiana Jones in the mega-popular Indiana Jones franchise, Harrison Ford is a world-famous actor known to many. After achieving international fame with “Star Wars” in 1977, the Oscar nominee proved that the sky was only the beginning for him by playing Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1981.

Now he’s one of the highest-grossing domestic box-office stars of all time, with his movies grossing over $9.3 billion globally. Even after so much success, Ford is still very much active. He starred in “The Call of the Wild” in 2020.

Jenilee Harrison – Dallas

Hollywood discovered Jenilee Harrison after she appeared as Cindy Snow in “Three’s Company.” But it was her role as Ewing Barnes in “Dallas” that really catapulted her to major fame. Dallas was one of the most popular shows during its run, so it’s no wonder Harrison was able to experience stardom.

After her time on “Dallas,” Harrison’s popularity began to dwindle until she sort of disappeared from the movie industry in 2002. That year, she appeared in the film “The Power” and she’s barely been seen in the limelight since then.

Patrick Dempsey – Can’t Buy Me Love

From a professional high-school juggler to a world-class actor and race-car driver, Patrick Dempsey’s career path is more unique than most. Of course, we mostly know him for his acting career, where he’s gathered quite a fanbase for playing the role of Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd in “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Dempsey is one of those that can boast of achieving early success—from a young age he’d already started to gain attention for starring in “Can’t Buy Me Love.” To the dismay of his fans, he left “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2021 to pursue other projects.

Matthew Broderick – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” turned out to be one of the most loved teen comedies of the ’80s. The star of the 1986 movie was none other than Matthew Broderick. Of course, he became hugely popular as a result, and while he didn’t feature in many popular teen comedies after that, he did star in several blockbusters.

He was in “Godzilla” and he also voiced Simba in “The Lion King.” Movie acting is not the only thing Broderick is good at, as he’s won two Tony awards in his illustrious theatre career. He’s arguably more active in movies, telling by his appearance in the 2020 movie “Lazy Susan.”

Sylvester Stallone – First Blood

Boxing aficionados like to refer to Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, while action movie fanatics would prefer to call him Rambo. Both of these names are characters from his two most popular movie franchises.

He played the role of Balboa in the 1976 movie “Rocky” and became a star as a result. But what brought him the most success was his portrayal of John Rambo in the Rambo movies, beginning with the 1982 movie “First Blood.” Stallone has since become one of the most accomplished action stars in the world. He bagged a role in the 2021 movie “The Suicide Squad.”

Eddie Murphy – Coming to America

Eddie Murphy became a darling of comedy fans after appearing on “Saturday Night Live” during the ’80s. Of course, that was only the beginning for him as he went on to gain massive prominence on the international comedy scene. “Coming to America” was just one of the several comedy blockbusters he released during the ’80s, and it’s still one of the most remembered.

If you watched the movie, you might be delighted to know that Murphy released a sequel to it in 2021. It was titled “Coming 2 America.” Interestingly, he did some work behind the camera too, as he was credited for writing the story.

Bruce Willis – Die Hard

Bruce Willis is a household name for action movie fans. Only a few lovers of the genre wouldn’t have watched the big screen action franchise Die Hard. Willis played the role of John McClane in the franchise from 1988 to 2013 and subsequently established himself as one of the world’s highest-grossing action stars.

Even after ending the Die Hard franchise, Willis has continued to enjoy massive relevance in Hollywood. He still does what he does best in front of the camera: holding a pistol and saving lives. In 2021 alone, he starred in at least four action movies, one of them being “Midnight in the Switchgrass.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Terminator

From being a world-renowned star to being the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent his lifetime achieving major feats. He can attribute his affluence to his intense devotion. As a teenager, he was so devoted to exercising that he would rarely skip a day of training.

This same devotion led Arnold to bag his famous role in the 1984 movie “The Terminator.” The film spawned several sequels and contributed to his rise as one of the world’s biggest stars. He’s continued to reprise that role over the years, and he did the same in the 2019 movie “Terminator: Dark Fate.”

Steve Guttenberg – Police Academy

He might not immediately strike a chord with the younger generation, but during his time, Steve Guttenberg was one of the funniest guys around. Just ask people who watched comedy classics like “Police Academy” and “Three Men and a Baby.” As a matter of fact, he was also one of the busiest actors around, starring in nine major movies in just four years!


Gutenberg’s name might not be so rampant anymore but he’s no less busy. Far from it, in 2020 alone, he was involved with five film projects. He clearly has time for the camera, as in 2021, he also starred in a series titled “Paper Empire.”

Michelle Pfeiffer – The Witches of Eastwick

Michelle Pfeiffer is one of the few actresses that were able to break away from the blonde bombshell stereotype and make a name as a truly talented actress. A Golden Globe award and three Oscar nominations certainly speak for her in that regard. She’ll always be remembered for the unique characters she played in “Scarface” or “The Witches of Eastwick.”


Pfeiffer enjoyed most of her success in later years, eventually becoming one of the highest-paid actresses of the ‘90s. She’s been no less successful in the 21st century, thanks to her roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 2020 movie “French Exit.”

Meryl Streep – Out of Africa

Of course, the much-adored Meryl Streep makes this list. Who would ever forget ‘Mamma Mia!’ or “The Devil Wears Prada”? These popular movies were made in the ‘00s, although Streep had become a major thing in Hollywood from as far back as the ‘70s and ‘80s.


Many movie watchers in that period would be familiar with her 1985 movie “Out of Africa,” because it was such a massive box-office success at the time. With the massive amount of awards and nominations she’s won, you’d think she’d give it a rest. But she’s clearly not, telling by her performance in the 2020 movie “Let Them All Talk.”

Patrick Swayze – Dirty Dancing

At the height of his fame, Patrick Swayze was recognized as one of the most attractive men in Hollywood. But it wasn’t just his looks that caught the eye. His incredible acting and dancing skills also gave him a lot to boast of, and he put these to good use in the 1987 hit classic “Dirty Dancing.”


Swayze spent most of his career playing romantic lead roles and tough-guy characters. He starred in the movie “Powder Blue” just before his unfortunate demise in 2009. He left behind a legacy of great accomplishments, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which he was honored with in 1997.

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