Leif Garrett had a promising start to his music and acting career at a very young age. But all of that potential was squandered when he turned to drugs. In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at exactly what caused his career to tank, as well as what he’s doing today. Make sure you stick around, because we’re also going to reveal how one poor decision as a young teen left his friend tragically paralyzed. We hope you like this video, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!
His Promising Career Beginnings
Leif Garrett had a promising start to his life. He was born to Rik Nervik and Carolyn Stellar in Hollywood. His mother was an actress, and so he began making appearances on television when he was only five years old. Sadly, his father was never around, which was difficult for young Leif Garrett, but he was still able to find success starting at a young age.
Not only did he have a natural talent for appearing on camera, he was also academically gifted. He was only 15 years old when he graduated high school, although he never elected to pursue a higher education. Instead, he worked harder to establish his acting career. Both he and his sister, Dawn Lyn, found work all over Hollywood. The two even acted side by side in the horror film Devil Times Five when he was only 15. Despite this promising start to what should have been a long and prolific career, however, Leif’s life was turned upside-down by poor decisions.
How Poor Decisions Caused a Tragic Accident
Leif Garrett was exposed to drug use at a horrifyingly young age. In fact, he admitted that he was only 14 when he began using illegal substances. This kicked off a habit that would last years. Just before his eighteenth birthday, he drove with a friend, Roland Winkler, from a late night party. Both had been drinking heavily, and toxicology reports later found that Garrett’s blood alcohol level was three times higher than the legal limit. And he was also high on another illegal substance. The two were driving from the party to purchase even more drugs, but then tragedy struck.
Garrett crashed his mother’s car, and his friend, Winkler, was left a paraplegic after the horrible incident. Winkler later sued Garrett for his tragic injury, as well. This accident left a huge stain on his career, but he was still young. And the public was ready to forgive him for the mistake. Even though the accident had terrible consequences for Winkler, it seemed as though Garrett’s career might be able to pull through.
Turning Into a Teen Idol
One of the main reasons Leif Garrett’s tragic accident didn’t immediately ruin his career was because he was an enormous teen idol at the time. The same year as the accident, Garrett had launched his music career, signing a five album deal with Atlantic Records. After releasing his first album in 1977, Leif Garrett, which included the hit single “Come Back When You Grow Up,” teenage girls all over the country were swooning over him. In the 1980s, however, he switched back to his acting career, which was met with equal amounts of praise. He starred in popular movies such as Cheerleader Camp, Party Line, and Thunder Alley, among others. For a while, the tragic accident due to his negligence as a drunk driver was left behind. And it seemed that his career had fully covered.
As we all know, however, more poor decisions eventually led to the destruction of Leif Garrett’s career, and he lived a much quieter life for decades after, staying out of the public eye. But is there a chance Leif Garrett might be making a comeback? Make sure you stick around until the very end of the video, where we’ll reveal what Leif Garrett’s plans are for the future!
Messy Relationships and Heartbreak
While a teen idol, it seemed that, on the surface, Leif Garrett had it all. Behind the camera, however, he was far less satisfied with his life. Not only did he feel that he wasn’t contributing anything original or entirely his own to the world when he was a musician, he had a hard time building lasting relationships.
He fell in love with Nicollette Sheridan, a young actress who would eventually star in Desperate Housewives and Knots Landing. Looking back, Leif Garrett recalled that he was intensely possessive and jealous, and their relationship eventually ended in shambles. He also dated Tatum O’Neal and Justine Bateman, but those relationships would also end in heartbreak. These difficult relationships were likely a huge part of why Leif Garrett continued to party hard and do lots of drugs, even despite the horrible accident he had gotten into.
More Run-Ins With the Law
In 1997, Leif Garrett had yet another run-in with the law, this time for the possession of cocaine. Whatever reputation he had managed to rebuild since nearly killing his friend while driving under the influence was shattered when headlines announced he was arrested. He was arrested yet again in 1999 for trying to buy illegal drugs from a police officer, and his poor reputation only grew even more notorious. Throughout the 2000s, he was sent to rehab time and time again, with bad results. The teen idol people had once known was no more. Leif Garrett was now only used as fodder for ruthless tabloids tearing him apart for his drug addiction.
This, combined with bankruptcy due to the legal battle with Roland Winkler, left Leif Garrett bankrupt. Of course, this only exacerbated his depression and increased his drug use. His life as a celebrity vanished in the 2000s, and he virtually disappeared from the limelight.
The Road to Redemption
Many former celebrities fade away and are never heard from again after they are exposed for drug use and other illegal activity. Leif Garrett, however, was determined to turn his life around. He released an autobiography called Idol Truth, where he delves into the horrors that go on in the music and acting industries, particularly when it comes to young and up and coming stars. While he may not be much of an actor nowadays, Leif Garrett is continuing to work as a musician. He may be 56 now, but he’s still got a few decades ahead of him. And with any luck, he’ll win back the affections of the public as he continues to make music!
Leif Garrett has had an incredibly tumultuous career, fraught with difficulty from his drug abuse. Were you more surprised to learn that his drunk driving left his friend a paraplegic, or that his career is finally making a comeback? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!