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Former Child Star Alisan Porter: After 30 Years, Curly Sue Is Dead! ‘I Am Now the Girl Who Won The Voice!’

So long, Curly Sue!

It’s been 25 years since Alisan Porter graced the big screen as the curly-haired, pint-sized orphan. Now, with her win on The Voice, the 34-year-old has moved on from “former child star” to singing sensation.

“I have retired Curly Sue, she is dead! I am now the girl who won The Voice,” Porter told reporters after taking home the crown in the season 10 finale on Tuesday. “I would like you all to know. I’ve waited 30 something years for that! She’s dead!”

Image zoom Alisan Porter Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Porter beat out Adam Wakefield to take home the coveted crown, and she said the moment was years in the making.

“It’s so cool that’s how my career started and I’m honored to have had a great career when I was young,” she told PEOPLE. “It’s been years, decades since that was over and since I’ve been wanting this.”

Porter has been ready to shed her child star fame since the beginning, revealing in her impressive blind audition that she has long dreamed of being a singer.

Image zoom Alisan Porter in 1991 Everett Collection

“I was an actress when I was very young. It’s not my passion. This is my passion,” she told the coaches in February.

Months later, as the final moments of the highly competitive season drew near, Porter couldn’t help but become emotional.

“I stood on stage in the dress rehearsal and cried my eyes out. Literally, like the ugly Oprah cry,” she told PEOPLE on Tuesday. “Because I have envisioned that moment, that particular moment for some reason struck such an emotional chord with me.”

YOU. GUYS. I WON THE VOICE!!!!!!!!!! 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 thank you from the deepest part of my heart. Everyone who voted and supported me!!!!!!

— Alisan Porter (@alisanporter) May 25, 2016

Image zoom Alisan Porter (left) and Christina Aguilera Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The mom of two previously opened up about her past struggles with alcohol and told PEOPLE that landing a spot on Aguilera’s team was a step forward.

However, her win in the music competition is just the beginning for the former actress.

Image zoom Image zoom Alisan Porter with daughter Aria Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“The ride doesn’t end here,” she previously told PEOPLE. “I’m going to keep going and making as much music as humanly possible.”

Aguilera, who is the first female coach to have a winner, echoed Porter’s statements on Tuesday.

“Alisan Porter is born!” she said.

  • By Christina Dugan

Then and Now: Alisan Porter’s Journey from ‘Curly Sue’ to Battling Alcoholism to ‘The Voice’

Warner Bros. / Instagram / @iam_alisanporter

Who knew Curly Sue had such an incredible voice?

Former child star Alisan Porter made a big splash in John Hughes’ 1991 hit Curly Sue, but things haven’t always been so easy for her. After battling alcoholism, Porter chose to focus on a music career and things have been looking up for her since then. Currently Porter is making big waves as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice.

Let’s take a closer look at the opportunities that made Porter a child star and those that led up to her triumphant professional return.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” A Star Is Born.

When Porter was 5 years old, a producer from Star Search heard her singing in a hotel lobby and asked her to come on the very next episode of the show. Porter became the youngest contestant to ever win Star Search.

Working with Big-Screen Legends.

Universal Pictures

Most six year olds don’t hang out with Hollywood legends, but Porter was clearly an exception. In 1989, she starred as Taylor Buckman in Ron Howard’s popular family comedy Parenthood. Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, and Keanu Reeves were also featured in the film. Parenthood debuted in the top spot on opening weekend and went on to gross over $100 million domestically and $126 million globally.

Bring on the Laughs

In 1990, Porter starred in the black comedy I Love You to Death with an impressive ensemble cast that included River Phoenix, Kevin Kline, Joan Plowright, William Hurt, and Keanu Reeves.

It’s All About Comfort Food

Yabadabadoo! Porter looked super duper cute in a Flintstones-themed commercial for Denny’s.

The Breakthrough Moment

John Hughes’ 1991 romantic film Curly Sue transformed Porter into a bonafide child star and she was even compared to the great Shirley Temple. “I remember going in and knowing that this was my role,” Porter said about her Curly Sue audition. “My hair was very straight. I did not have curly hair. I think I had two perms, and then they would curl my hair everyday anyway.” Jim Belushi and Kelly Lynch also starred in the film.

In the same interview, Porter explained that people most likely made comparisons between herself and Macaulay Culkin because they both appeared in Hughes’ films. “I can remember like lying to people and telling them that he was my boyfriend. I never met him, so he wasn’t my boyfriend, but I think that in my head he was my boyfriend because we were in the same club.”

Hanging with the Cool Chicks

Buena Vista Television

During season 7 of The Golden Girls, Porter guest starred as Blanche’s granddaughter, Melissa Devereaux.

Leaving Hollywood

RT @asmeretyemane Hey @alisanporter, recognize those girls? pic.twitter.com/rRNpvNLl. OMG ULTIMATE VANILLA LADY TIME!!!

— Alisan Porter (@alisanporter) December 26, 2011

When Porter made the decision to walk away from her acting career, she knew it was the right thing to do. “I was just getting to the point where it just wasn’t fun for me anymore,” she said of her experience as a child star. “There was no joy in it for me. I think I just wanted to be doing normal kid things. I went to high school. I had a boyfriend who was on the soccer team. I went to parties.”

Making the Move to Music

In 2006, Porter was featured in the hit musical The Ten Commandments: The Musical, alongside Val Kilmer and Adam Lambert. She played the role of Moses’ sister, Miriam.

Porter developed a close friendship with Adam Lambert while they worked on The Ten Commandments, and she helped write his song “Aftermath” from the 2009 album For Your Entertainment.

Revealing Her Battle with Addiction


In 2014, Porter disclosed her difficult battle with alcoholism. Her journey to sobriety started in 2007 and in 2012, she chose to document her experiences and struggles on her personal blog.

“I don’t drink because I don’t want to miss one second of the responsibilities I get to have today. I don’t drink because I can’t. I want to, a lot of days, because I’m human and because life gets hard. But I don’t. Sobriety offered me everything I ever wanted and never got. I have always had the image in my head of rushing to put my kids to sleep, being so frustrated and angry. Rushing just so I could go disappear into a bottle or take a trip on cloud of smoke. When I think about that my skin crawls, because that’s in me. Everyday I work to take contrary action against that poor unfortunate girl. I know how fast this beautiful life I get to live could all be a distant memory. I get to live this way today and everyday if I decide to and if I’m willing to do the work,” she wrote.

Finding Her Voice.

Porter is currently a contestant on NBC’s The Voice. All four judges (Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Pharrell Williams) turned around during her Blind Audition performance of “Blue Bayou.” Porter ended up choosing Aguilera as her coach.

A photo posted by Alisan Porter (@iam_alisanporter) on

Despite achieving success from a young age, Porter has experienced her fair share of struggles. Maintaining her sobriety has been a top priority for her and with all the success she’s already achieved on The Voice, it’s clear that big things are in her future.

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You might not recognize the name or the face because the last time you probably saw Alisan Porter was back in 1991 when she starred in Curly Sue as, you guessed it, Curly Sue. Over 20 years later and Porter is now working on a singing career, so auditioning for The Voice made perfect sense.

And perfect is putting it mildly. In her blind audition Porter earned a four-chair turn and standing ovation from Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton. Her performance of “Blue Bayou” will give you chills, as will her story.

“I was an actress when I was very young. It’s not my passion. This is my passion,” Porter said, before revealing she played Curly Sue.

When asked by Pharrell about her decision to focus on music instead of acting, Porter got emotional. “I was going through a hard time in life, and I actually got sober almost eight years ago. I fell in love and I had children, and that was my goal: to be a good mom. I really feel like the universe just had a plan for me, because you guys turned for me today.”

If you’ve seen Curly Sue, then you know Porter has some chops as she belts out “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a memorable scene.

But if you also happened to catch her appearance on Star Search when she was a mere five years old, her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” will complete you.

Adorable. But we can’t wait to see how she does on The Voice.

Season 10 of The Voice premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV

Alisan Porter became famous when she was 10 years old, most notably as the ringlet-haired child star of the John Hughes movie Curly Sue. More than two decades later, she’s opening up about leaving Hollywood — and revealing one shocking secret.

Get ready for it: Curly Sue never had curly hair to begin with. In an interview on Oprah Where Are They Now, she says they gave her “two perms” and then curled her hair every day on the set. During her brief career, she was also the youngest kid to ever win Star Search and also played Rue McClanahan’s granddaughter on The Golden Girls.

But after a while, little Alisan was done with acting. “I was just getting to the point where it just wasn’t fun for me anymore,” she said. “There was no joy in it for me. I think I just wanted to be doing normal kid things.”

Now 33, the wife and mom blogs at thelilmamas.com and has been working as a singer. Porter released her second solo album last year. Here she is with her little ones:

Getty Images

She’s also struggled with addiction later in life, but she is seven years sober. “I don’t drink because I don’t want to miss one second of the responsibilities I get to have today,” she wrote in a blog post. “I don’t drink because I can’t. I want to, a lot of days, because I’m human and because life gets hard. But I don’t. Sobriety offered me everything I ever wanted and never got.”

Feeling nostalgic? See how much Alisan has changed since her big iconic role in the snippet of her interview below.


Alisan Porter became famous all over again when she won season 10 of “The Voice” in May.

A former child actor, Porter starred in commercials as a toddler, became the youngest winner on “Star Search” and soon after graduated to films and TV shows.

Her biggest job came at age 9, starring as a young street-savvy vagrant who follows in the footsteps of her surrogate father (Jim Belushi) in John Hughes‘ 1991 family comedy “Curly Sue.”

Also Read: Rae Dawn Chong Blames Spike Lee for ‘Soul Man’ Racial Stigma 30 Years Later

The movie is chock full of adorable moments from the spirited young actress in her first leading role, and Porter remembers the late Hughes tailoring the part to her own unique talents.

“The singing for my character was added after I got the role,” Porter, now 35, told TheWrap of the points in the film when she belts out some tunes, including the Star-Spangled Banner. “He put a lot of me in there.”

Hughes also left a lot of room for the exuberant young talent to improvise.

Also Read: Fireworks, Pranks and Pot: ‘Stand by Me’ Stars Look Back on River Phoenix After 30 Years

“The ‘Hubba hubba’ line was an improv,” Porter recalled.

She remembered it from her time filming 1989’s “Parenthood,” in which the boy who played her brother used the phrase in one of that movie’s most memorable lines.

“I plagiarized at 9,” Porter said with a laugh about the two words which also became memorable in “Curly Sue.”

Now see Porter’s version of the line in “Curly Sue” at the 1:26 mark:

The film, also starring Kelly Lynch, employed a lot of “Three Stooges”-style physical comedy.

In one early scene, Curly Sue hits her streetwise father figure (Belushi) in the face with a two-by-four. “We had to do that take a million times,” said Porter, remembering that she was afraid of hurting her co-star. “I was a total wuss. It got to the point where Jim said, ‘Just hit me!’”

In another scene, Sue shows her deft skills with cards. “I had lessons for about a month before that scene,” recalled Porter. “I remember the card guy coming with the decks.”

Also Read: ‘Stand By Me’ Stars Share 25 Memories of 1986 Classic (Photos)

The toughest bit of physical comedy in the movie, according to Porter, came when she and Belushi threw themselves in front of a car as part of a scam for free food and whatever else the could con out of their mark, played by Lynch. “It was late and a freezing cold night in Chicago,” Porter said.

But that didn’t compare to her key scene in “Parenthood.” “Puking on Steve Martin is a lot harder than anything I had to do on ‘Curly Sue,’” she said.

Porter, who has been open about her past struggle with alcoholism, has been clean and sober for almost a decade.

Also Read: ‘Growing Pains’ Star Jeremy Miller: ‘I Began Drinking at 4’ (Video)

And part of what set her down that dark path, she told TheWrap, was her struggle to adjust to life after stardom.

“As a young adult I thought, ‘What am I doing now’?,” said Porter. “Getting a regular job didn’t feel like an option. My ego was definitely in charge a lot. Sometimes it takes going down the wrong road a couple of times. I found a way out and a way to harness what I want to do to get another chance.”

Now married with children, Porter is working on a new album and preparing to tour. She also plans to bring her family with her on the road. “You only live once and there are no rules,” she said. “We’re writing our own story.”

Also Read: ‘Spider-Man’ Reboot ‘Inspired’ By John Hughes Movies, Will Feature New Villains Says Marvel’s Kevin Feige

Showbiz runs in Porter’s blood. Her mother, a longtime dance instructor to the stars, also appeared on Broadway.

“Like that Lady Gaga song ‘Born This Way,’ it runs in my family,” she said, revealing that she has already spotted some natural abilities in her own young son and daughter.

“It’s part of that waiting to see if they want to do it,” she said, making it clear that she’s not applying any stage mom-style pressure.

Indeed, Porter said she is the one who first expressed her own wish to perform as a young girl, with no extra pressure from her parents. And even when it came to carrying a feature film with her 9-year-old performance, she said she didn’t feel any added stress.

“I didn’t have training with acting,” she said. “I just kind of knew what to do. I don’t know if that’s luck or DNA.”

Writer-director Hughes, who’s best remembered for “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” didn’t apply any added pressure to Porter on the set of “Curly Sue” either, she recalled.

“He never made me feel like he was the adult talking down to the kid,” she said. “He was director and I was the actor. He was loving warm, kind, giving, patient and really funny. I remember him having great ideas and I also remember really respecting him.”

16 Scene-Stealing Animals in Movies, From ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to ‘Captain Marvel’ (Photos)

  • There are a lot of fun animal movies, including “A Dog’s Journey,” which opens this weekend. But the animals that most jump out at us are the ones that come from movies that are NOT about animals. They’re the ones that genuinely steal the spotlight for a moment from their human counterparts and deserve just as much acclaim. Here are 16 that stole the show.

  • Toto the Dog – “The Wizard of Oz”

    Is there a more famous dog in the history of movies? Capable of infiltrating an army of Oz soldiers and making sure you pay attention to that man behind the curtain, we’d choose Toto, whose real name was Terry, as a pet over Lassie or Rin Tin Tin any day.


  • Asta the Dog – “The Thin Man”

    Another classic animal star, the wire fox terrier Skippy portrayed Asta in “The Thin Man” films and over a dozen movies overall throughout the 1930s. Skippy starred opposite William Powell, Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and more.


  • Capuchin Monkey – “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

    The Indiana Jones question that has plagued fans for decades centers on the capuchin monkey perched on the shoulder of a Nazi soldier that manages to do the Seig Heil salute. Does that mean the monkey was a Nazi or was it just taught to perform the gesture? And either way, did it deserve its untimely fate at the hands of the face-melting Ark?

    Paramount Pictures

  • Norman the Calf – “City Slickers”

    Winning the part through a literal cattle call, Norman won the part after Billy Crystal came to the ranch where the calf was raised and picked it for having a “sweet Bambi look” and the “cutest face of all,” according to EW.

    Columbia Pictures

  • Phil the Groundhog – “Groundhog Day”

    Punxsutawney Phil gives a pretty good performance “for a quadraped” in the classic romantic comedy “Groundhog Day,” in which Murray’s character Phil Connors snaps, kidnaps the groundhog and gets in a high-speed chase. “Don’t drive angry!”

    Columbia Pictures

  • Mr. Jinx the Cat – “Meet the Parents”

    Deep down every cat owner wants to believe that they might train it as well as Robert De Niro figures out how to train Mr. Jinx to use the toilet. Just don’t try to milk your own cat.


  • Baxter the Dog – “Anchorman”

    “You know I don’t speak Spanish!” Ron Burgundy’s multi-lingual, cheese-loving, pajama-wearing pet deserves some sort of medal for getting punted into the San Diego Bay. The original dog that played Baxter, Peanut, died in 2010, and a replacement, Quince, was cast to play Baxter in the sequel.

    DreamWorks Pictures

  • Tiger – “The Hangover”

    Yes, Mike Tyson really does have three pet tigers. The screenwriters even rewrote the script to include Tyson when they decided they wanted a tiger to appear in the Wolfpack’s hotel suite.

    Warner Bros.

  • Joey the Horse – “War Horse”

    We’ll give that “War Horse” is technically a movie about an animal, but Steven Spielberg’s sweeping war epic is actually so effective in part because of the 15 horses that managed to give an expressive, unified performance as the wonder-horse Joey.


  • Uggie the Dog – “The Artist”

    A true performer and in a way inspired by Asta from the Golden Hollywood era, Uggie often stole the stage from star Jean Dujardin both onscreen and off, making the rounds during the film’s press cycle and even getting his paw prints at the Chinese Theatre. Sadly, Uggie was put down in 2015 at age 13 after a battle with prostate cancer.

    Warner Bros.

  • Cat – “Inside Llewyn Davis”

    The cat Oscar Isaac’s Llewyn Davis holds in the Coen Brothers’ film isn’t just a lost house pet: it’s a symbol for all of Davis’s failures as a person, as a musician and as someone who can feel empathy. Plus it’s surprisingly comfortable on the subway.

    CBS Films

  • Daisy the Dog – “John Wick” (2014)

    Lesson learned: do not mess with John Wick’s dog. This adorable, 1-year-old beagle at the time of filming won the job over a dozen other puppies in the filmmakers search for “the cutest dog in the world” and managed to warm the heart of even the most cold-blooded of assassins as played by Keanu Reeves.

    Summit Entertainment

  • Black Phillip the Goat – “The Witch” (2016)

    The goat in Robert Eggers’s indie horror gem “The Witch” is a very real, 210-pound billy goat named Charlie that gives such a devilishly good performance, turning completely demonic in a surprise twist, that A24 actually made an awards campaign promo for it. The same goat even later showed up in A24’s “It Comes at Night.”


  • Little Man the Bird – “I, Tonya”

    The bird perched on Allison Janney’s shoulder in “I, Tonya” might’ve won her an Oscar. Janney actually “auditioned” three separate birds for the role and this one “just sat there and was so sweet,” she told the New York Times. But when the time came to film, it kept pecking at her oxygen tank, forcing her to step up her game and focus.


  • Olivia the Westie – “Widows” and “Game Night”

    This fluffy star in the making appeared in not one but two 2018 hits, the thriller “Widows” and the comedy “Game Night.” Olivia gave an especially good performance when Brian Tyree Henry’s character in “Widows” was forced to violently pick her up by the scruff. But all’s well that ended well when the two reunited on a talk show.

    Fox/Warner Bros.

  • Goose the Cat – “Captain Marvel”

    The important thing to know about Goose is that he’s not actually a cat, but rather a “flerken,” a vicious, multi-tentacled space beast who can gobble up an army of alien soldiers and leave a permanent scratch for one Nick Fury.


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“A Dog’s Journey” opens this Friday

There are a lot of fun animal movies, including “A Dog’s Journey,” which opens this weekend. But the animals that most jump out at us are the ones that come from movies that are NOT about animals. They’re the ones that genuinely steal the spotlight for a moment from their human counterparts and deserve just as much acclaim. Here are 16 that stole the show.