How Did Leif Garrett Get Famous + Net Worth (2023 UPDATED)

Find out how Leif Garrett became famous. See their net worth, salary and pay from music career sales and other ventures.

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Leif Garrett, along with Shaun and David Cassidy and the Bay City Rollers, is one of the names that spring to mind when people think of 1970s adolescent idols. Garrett, like modern-day contemporaries like as Justin Bieber, won the hearts of young fans all around the world with his mix of boyish good looks and earworm-worthy bubblegum pop tunes. Garrett was presumably the wholesome, inoffensive alternative to the predominantly sexually-charged disco performers and alcohol-fueled rock bands of the day, not just for his pre-teen and adolescent girl following, but also for their parents.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Garrett appeared to be all washed up, having succumbed to the temptations that destroy the adult careers of many a former child actor or adolescent pop idol — of which he was both. Garrett’s singing career was effectively ended by the mid-1980s, and when he did return to acting, it was primarily in forgettable B-movies. Worse, he was suffering from a severe drug addiction and was struggling with remorse about his role in a car accident that crippled one of his close friends. Here’s a look at Leif Garrett’s terrible life and tumultuous career, beginning with his days as an actor-turned-musician. Born on November 8, 1961, in Hollywood, Leif Garrett first got involved in the entertainment industry at 5 years old, and appeared in movies such as 1969’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and 1973’s Walking Tall.

From Child Actor To Pop Star: Garrett Felt His Musical Career Was A Lie

From Child Actor To Pop Star: Garrett Felt His Musical Career Was A Lie

There were likewise TV appearances on Family Affair, Gunsmoke, and Three for the Road. As indicated by Biography, Garrett was in his mid-teenagers when he entered the music business, and in 1977, he acquired an agreement with Atlantic Records, delivering his debut album soon thereafter.

The majority of Garrett’s early singles were renditions of iconic 1960s tunes, such as Celine Dion’s “Runaround Sue” and the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA.” He would soon achieve even greater success playing original songs; after signing with Scotti Brothers Records, he released the album Feel the Need in 1978. That album provided his most popular chart single, the No. 10 Billboard smash “I Was Made for Dancin’.” However, Garrett was growing increasingly unhappy behind the scenes with a musical career he felt was largely a “lie.”

Garrett told Fox News in 2020 that his producers once hired in a backup vocalist whose voice was so loud that “if you listen attentively, it’s simply not me at all” on some tracks. He also mentioned “surf music” as a genre he didn’t want to return to as a musician since he wanted to “make more innovative stuff.” Per Biography, Leif Garrett was “on a path for self-destruction” away from the stage; he claimed to have started using drugs at the young age of 14 and was known behind the scenes as a hard-partying individual. All that came to a head on November 3, 1979.

The Car Accident That Rendered Leif Garrett’s Friend Paraplegic

The Car Accident That Rendered Leif Garrett's Friend Paraplegic

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Five days before his 18th birthday, the performer and his buddy Roland Winkler were in a catastrophic vehicle accident. According to the Los Angeles Times, both young guys had allegedly drunk their fair share of drugs and drink at a party before driving away in Garrett’s leased Porsche. The automobile rear-ended another vehicle and went over a motorway embankment, paralyzing Winkler – a particularly devastating consequence for someone who earned a profession as a dancer. Garrett, the driver, escaped relatively unhurt. Following the accident, Garrett and Winkler were involved in a messy legal battle with each other for several years. But the incident had a lasting impact on Garrett that went far beyond any financial settlements he and his family’s insurers had to pay, as it left him feeling guilty over his role in the car crash that rendered his friend paraplegic. The two estranged friends would tearfully reunite, however, on a 1999 episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, (posted on YouTube), when Winkler said that Garrett somehow saved his life and that he wouldn’t trade places with him if he had the chance to relive the night of the accident.

Roland Winkler passed away on May 25, 2017, at the age of 57, after suffering from “continuous bodily issues following the injury that finally led to his demise,” according to his Find a Grave website.

Leif Garrett’s Rocky Relationships With Famous Actresses

Leif Garrett's Rocky Relationships With Famous Actresses

Given his adolescent idol status, it’s only logical to expect Leif Garrett to have had his fair share of high-profile romances. Unfortunately, as he admitted to Closer Weekly in 2020, not all of them were fully delighted.

Garrett’s most noteworthy previous relationship was with Nicollette Sheridan, a future Knots Landing and Desperate Housewives actress (pictured above). He admits to falling head over heels in love with the young actress shortly after meeting her, but he also told the newspaper that their relationship was “extremely turbulent.” “We were both getting a lot of attention at the time, and I was immature and quite jealous,” he added. “I didn’t realize you couldn’t stop everyone from staring at your girl. She was lively, witty, entertaining, and athletic – everything I want in a woman. When we got along, it was perfect; but when we didn’t, we cleared rooms. It was that crazy — there was no in-between. The passion was insane.”

Aside from Sheridan, Garrett dated Tatum O’Neal for a short time, and while he didn’t reveal much about their relationship, the singer implied that Tatum’s tumultuous connection with her father, Ryan O’Neal, “really messed her brain up.” He also revealed some information about his relationship with Justine Bateman from Family Ties, saying that their time together was “wonderful until she went off the deep end” owing to her own personal troubles with her father. After his music career started winding down in the early 1980s, Leif Garrett slowly returned to full-time acting.

Leif Garrett’s Drug Problems Continued Well Into His Adult Life

Leif Garrett's Drug Problems Continued Well Into His Adult Life

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However, other from a brief appearance in 1983’s The Outsiders, in which he co-starred with future Hollywood giants Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, and Patrick Swayze, the erstwhile teen idol largely featured in a spate of mediocre B-movies, as seen by his IMDb profile. Apparently, he was also deep into heroin addiction as he faded from his glory days as a musical artist. According to Biography, Garrett announced on his Behind the Music episode in 1999 that he had recently defeated his heroin addiction, and this, along with the rekindling of his relationship with Roland Winkler, appeared to be the conclusion of the former hitmaker’s story. That wasn’t the case after all, as shortly after the episode premiered on VH1, he was arrested in Los Angeles by undercover cops posing as drug dealers.

Garrett’s drug troubles persisted through many unsuccessful musical endeavors and a self-parodying appearance in the 2003 David Spade film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, as demonstrated by separate arrests in 2004 and 2006, the latter of which ended in jail time. According to CNN, his most recent narcotics arrest occurred in February 2010, when cops at a Los Angeles train station discovered some black tar heroin in his shoe. Later that year, he was cast in season 4 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, however he later claimed in 2011 that the show’s producers sought to create drama by encouraging him to consume drugs on camera, according to Today.

Garrett Documented His Tragic Life In His 2019 Memoir

Garrett Documented His Tragic Life In His 2019 Memoir

Although Leif Garrett has generally been silent in the decade following his last incarceration, he released his memoir, Idol Truth, in November 2019 and talked to Fox News in January 2020 to discuss some of the book’s significant issues. The article stated that he was clean and sober at the time and eager to speak honestly about his prior habits.

Garrett indicated in the interview that he lacked sufficient “parental direction” as an adolescent idol since his father abandoned the family when Leif was only 5, and his mother was very trusting of the bad individuals who openly did drugs around him, among other dubious activities. This, along with dissatisfaction over how his musical career was being micromanaged, supposedly helped lead him down the path of drug abuse. “I wanted to be an adult artist with longevity,” he said. “And yet I was made to record these oldies. Disco was on its way out. There were so many other things I wanted to do, but they just wanted me to be this California surfer boy, the Tiger Beat cover star.”

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Garrett also displayed some long-overdue wisdom and maturity in 2013, when he provided advise to Justin Bieber, who was then at the peak of his troubled-teen-star phase (also via Fox News). Garrett cautioned, “Do not believe your own PR.” “It takes a lot of effort to figure out who your true pals are. Every thug, drug dealer, and poultry hawk wants a piece of you.”

Acting career Highlight

Acting career Highlight

Garrett and his sister Dawn Lyn performed as actors in a variety of roles. They co-starred in the horror film Devil Times Five as young mental patients who embark on a murder rampage in an isolated ski resort almost innocently. Dawn and Leif also appeared in an episode of Gunsmoke and Wonder Woman. Garrett’s most noteworthy roles were Jimmy Henderson in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), the protagonist’s son Mike Pusser in the Walking Tall films (1973, 1975, 1977), and Zack Russell on the ABC TV series Family. He also played the role of Leonard Unger, the son of Felix Unger (Tony Randall), on the ABC series The Odd Couple, a part that had been previously played by Willie Aames.

Garrett played Endy Karras in the 12-week CBS drama series Three for the Road in late 1975, alongside Alex Rocco as his father, Peter Karras, and Vincent Van Patten as his elder brother, John Karras. Garrett’s presence on the show elicited a strong reaction from adolescent girls, resulting in his first appearances in teen magazines such as Tiger Beat. Garrett also co-starred with Lee Van Cleef in two Spaghetti Westerns, Kid Vengeance It and God’s Gun, which were primarily shot in Israel. He starred in the television film Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion, as well as the film Skateboard. In the early 1980s, Garrett returned to acting, appearing in a small role as Bob Sheldon in the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film The Outsiders. In 1985, he starred in Thunder Alley as the lead singer of a pop band that is torn apart by drugs, and in Shaker Run as a mechanic. Other notable Garrett movies from the decade include Delta Fever and the horror film Cheerleader Camp. He played a deranged murderer who was in love with his sister in Party Line.

Music career Highlight

Music career Highlight

Garrett got a five-album recording manage Atlantic Records in late 1976. In mid 1977, he delivered a tune called “Return When You Grow Up” and recorded his presentation collection, Leif Garrett. The album was delivered in July 1977, and his initial four melodies appeared marginally on the US Billboard Hot 100. All of these successes were versions of late 1950s and early 1960s classics, such as Celine Dion’s “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer.” In mid-1978, he signed with Scotti Brothers Records and released his second album, Feel the Need. Its debut hit, “I Was Made for Dancin’,” peaked at number 10 on the US Hot 100 and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart in early 1979. It became his greatest hit in the US and the UK. Subsequent singles failed to crack the Top 20 in either country, but he continued to record, releasing the albums Same Goes For You (1979), Can’t Explain (1980) and My Movie of You (1981) in quick succession. In May 1979, he hosted a TV special, Leif, with guest stars Brooke Shields, Marie Osmond, Bob Hope and Flip Wilson. in 1981 Leif Garrett recorded “I Am a Rebel”, words and music expressly composed for him by Victorio Pezzolla and produced by Richard Finch of KC and the Sunshine Band which became the theme song for an Italian TV program entitled “Il Barattolo”. He mostly stopped recording music in the early 1980s and concentrated on acting for the rest of the decade. He later claimed the producers would not allow him to make music aimed at an adult audience when he reached his early twenties. In 1986, he provided lead vocals to the song “The Way to Happiness”, and backing vocals to the title track of the L. Ron Hubbard album The Road to Freedom.

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Leif Garrett Net Worth

Leif Garrett Net Worth

He is estimated to have a net worth of $10 thousand.

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