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"'And I'll root, toot, shoot myself to fame
Every kid alive is gonna know my name
An overnight phenomenon like there's never been
A motivated, supersonic king of the scene"
"I'll be a teenage idol, just give me a break
I'll be a teenage idol, no matter how long it takes
You just don't know what it means to me
I'm gonna find myself a place in history
A teenage idol, that's what I'm gonna be"
, "(I'm Going To Be A) Teenage Idol", written for his friend Marc Bolan (T-Rex).
An entertainer who is idolized by teenagers.
People have been declared teen idols for as long as being a teenager has been recognized. Many, but not all, have been specifically groomed for this purpose. They generally have several things in common:
- Either they are teenaged themselves when they first become stars, or they are in their twenties and can pass for teenage with Dawson Casting (or both).
- They are attractive and photogenic, often becoming the target of the Celeb Crush (Beauty Equals Goodness, right?).
- They act, sing, or both. It tends to be both if their managers have a say in it. Their talent is irrelevant to being a Teen Idol in the first place, but it makes a difference about whether they're Vindicated by History.
- They create a Periphery Hatedom for anyone not a teenager, and of course some teenagers.
The most basic way to tell if a celebrity is truly a Teen Idol
is by whether they wind up in magazines aimed at the teenage market (like Sassy
, Tiger Beat
, and Teen People
) and by whether they become a poster celebrity.
Often, if the teens of the era have a social conscience, a Teen Idol will be the way The Man Is Sticking It To The Man
Often overlaps with the Idol Singer
, although not all teen idols are singers.
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Live Action TV
- Farrah Fawcett during her Charlie's Angels days.
- Nina from Just Shoot Me! was said to have been this in her former days as a model. She would frequently run into men who had had a poster of her on their wall as teens.
- The Dukes of Hazzard with John Schneider and Tom Wopat (Bo and Luke) for the girls, and Catherine Bach (Daisy) for the guys, although only Schneider was the only actual teenager when the series began (Schneider was 18, while Wopat was 26 and Bach 25).
- The Brady Bunch:
- Barry Williams, who played oldest son Greg, began getting his fan mail — most from teen-aged girls — relatively early, but it really started picking up midway through the 1970-1971 season when his voice deepened to its adult pitch and he physically matured. (FWIW, Williams was an aversion to the rule that the kids only matured physically and otherwise at the start of each new season; his happened during the second season, all the others followed this basic rule.)
- Incidentally, the only episode where Greg is truly presented as a teen idol — and then, only briefly — is in a scene in "Adios, Johnny Bravo," where a bunch of paid teen-aged actresses mob Greg and tear off all his clothes during a photo shoot for the (intended) first Johnny Bravo album.
- Williams' co-star, Maureen McCormick (Marcia) became a teen queen during the fourth season, when she really started getting hot. Chris Knight finally developed his following in 1973, just as Year 5 got underway.
- Step by Step: Although oldest teen star Staci Keenan was supposed to be the designated teen queen of the series — and at least in the early going it was this way — by 1995 her popularity was completely eclipsed by co-star Christine Lakin (who played youngest daughter Al Lambert), once she entered puberty, became completely hot and became the apple of many young men's eyes (and those in their late teens).
- In contrast — and as an aversion to rule that the oldest teenage boy character being a family sitcom's designated teen idol — Brandon Call never came close to achieving true teen idol status, and the followings of Angela Watson (middle daughter Karen, who fancied herself as the teen queen of the family) and Christopher Castile (who in the later years of the show was a teenager) were modest at best. Sasha Mitchell, who was in his mid 20s when the series started, was the one who got the most fan mail from teenaged girls.
- The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet: Ricky Nelson, who parlayed his TV fame into a legitimate music career, and carried on his family's tradition (Ozzie was also a huge star, but in the 1930s and 1940s).
- Seven-Of-Nine in Star Trek: Voyager. While a part of the fandom hated her for being Ms. Fanservice, she still had a sizable following.
- Several Power Rangers, to most people when they think of the Pink Ranger they think of Amy Jo Johnson's Kimberly.
- Deanna Troi.
- David Cassidy of The Partridge Family. Interestingly, he's one of the few real-life Teen Idols who was also portrayed that way on the show.
- Shaun Cassidy, half-brother to David, on The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries. His singing career never quite got in the way of solving mysteries.
- His co-star, Parker Stevenson, also had a sizable teen following & teen mag status.
- The Monkees, for both their music and TV Show.
- All three of the brothers on Here Come The Brides, although Robert Brown was way up at the top end of the Teen Idol age range. Most teenaged girls were enamored of Bobby Sherman, but some preferred David Soul (which turned out to be a wise choice). Bridget Hanley (the youngest bride) was the female Teen Idol from the same show.
- Practically all of the Disney Channel's teen actors since 2002. Most of them are also Idol Singers.
- Nickelodeon's now catching up to Disney Channel too, with 2 starting ones:
- Fictional example: Robin Sparkles in How I Met Your Mother.
- Brian Austin Green.
- Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street (though it bothered him).
- All of the stars of High School Musical, especially Zac Efron.
- Heroes: Ali Larter was clearly intended to be the pinup of choice from this show, but Hayden Panettiere turned out to be the one teenage guys (and more than a few post-teenage guys) really went for.
- Any Boy Band.
- As noted by this trope's association with Idol Singer, the J-Pop industry is full of these.
- Same goes for the K-Pop scene.
- Frankie Avalon (also in films, frequently with the previously-mentioned Annette Funicello)
- The Bee Gees, particularly in their pre-disco stage of their career (late 1960s and their rise to stardom to the early 1970s).
- The Gibbs' youngest brother, Andy, was also a teen idol in the late 1970s. Unlike post teen pop of the 1960s and later, Gibb's music made as a teen still gets heavy oldies/classic hits airplay — espeically "I Just Want to Be Your Everything," his ultra smash from 1977 — due to his music being substantially and stylistically different from peers such as Shaun Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, etc.
- Debbie Harry from Blondie.
- Britney Spears was the late 1990's/early 2000's version.
- The Beatles!
- Elvis Presley.
- Debbie Gibson.
- New Kids on the Block.
- T-Rex, in England.
- Ricky Nelson. His sons, Matthew and Gunnar (who performed as Nelson), also became teen idols for a time in the early 1990s, extending the family tradition to a third generation. As patriarch Ozzie Nelson had No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts in the late 1930s/early 1940s, and Ricky followed with his string in the late 1950s/early 1960s, Nelson became one of the few multi-generation families to each have No. 1 hits, turning the trick in 1990 with "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection."
- Frank Sinatra, in the '40s and '50s.
- The Jonas Brothers, part of the Disney marketing machine.
- The Jackson 5 (featuring Michael Jackson), and Michael Jackson the solo singer when he was in his teens. The "King of Pop," incidentally, was one of the few teen idols whose teen stardom parlayed into a career in adulthood, and to say it was successful would be a gross understatement.
- Miley Cyrus
- Taylor Swift
- Alanis Morissette (We do not talk about that.)
- Justin Bieber
- Leif Garrett, who actually started his career as an actor but got into music full-time in the late 1970s.
- Donny Osmond and the Osmonds.
- Cody Simpson
- Grayson Chance
- Wham! in The Eighties (George Michael would also be a Teen Idol at first as a solo singer).
- New Edition in the beginning.
- Shaun Cassidy
- The Bay City Rollers are probably the Trope Codifier in the UK, if not the Trope Maker. Unlike most examples they had enough creative control to go through several changes of lineup, fire their manager, fall out spectacularly over Creative Differences and eventually split into two warring factions and start suing each other.
- One Direction
- Pin-up girls of World War II (and onwards) fame.
- Many a Page Three Stunna, but most notably Samantha Fox, Linda Lusardi, Melinda Messenger and Keeley Hazell.