Baby Jessica and other kids I'd forgotten about...
Sure, you remember their stories. You might even be able to remember their names. But here's the real question: it's 7am, do you know where these kids are right now?
That Kid: Who Got Stuck Down a Well
The Story: Back in 1987, an 18-month old "Baby Jessica" McClure captured the nation's attention when she tumbled into an old well in her aunt's backyard. Emergency workers piped fresh air and heat into the well, and expert miners spent 58 straight hours digging a parallel shaft 22 feet into the ground to rescue her. While healthy at the moment, The Today Show reported that Jessica has undergone 15 surgeries and 9 blood transfusions since reemerging.
The Post-Puberty Report: Adult Jessica seems to be, pardon the phrase, well-adjusted. Now 21, she's married, has a child, and according to all reports, remains thoroughly down-to-earth. In fact, she's refused to get plastic surgery to cover up her scars because it reminds her to be thankful for her life. Of course, she'll probably be even more thankful for her life in 4 years. That's when a trust fund, set up in her name with public donations, should kick a few million dollars her way.
That Kid: Who Was Too Old to Play Little League
The Story: Back in 2001, Danny Almonte didn't just pitch his Bronx, NY team to a third-place finish in the Little League World Series; the 12-year old phenom also pitched a perfect game along the way. Of course, there was just one problem: turns out little Danny wasn't so little. After a rival Staten Island team hired a private investigator to look into the case, Sports Illustrated followed-up with their own investigation. Unbeknownst to Danny, his father had falsified his birth certificate by two years to hand his son an arm up on the competition.
The Post-Puberty Report: Well, to be accurate, the story actually started post-puberty. That said, while the team was stripped of their Little League title, all the players including Danny Almonte were cleared of any wrong-doing (since he didn't know his own age at the time). As for where Danny is today: after helping his high school team win 2 public school athletic league championships (and garnering MVP honors), ESPN is reporting that he's now pitching professionally, throwing "90s plus fast-balls" for the Southern Illinois Miners.
PLUS: We catch up with rock 'n' roll's favorite baby, a 13-year old cover model and the kid who outspelled Dan Quayle after the break.
That Kid: from Nirvana's Nevermind album
The Story: According to CommonGate, when Nirvana initially brainstormed on CD artwork, they started by looking at stock photography of babies swimming. But when the costs proved too stiff for their slim wallets, the band hired a photographer who in turn paid a friend's couple $200 to use their 4-month old baby in the shoot. Supposedly Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were so pleased with the pic, they vowed to take the kid out to dinner when he grew up as thanks for his contribution to the album. As for the hook and dollar also featured in the pic? Those were actually Photoshopped into the scene later.
The Post-Puberty Report: Now 16, Spencer Elden has been featured in various Nirvana documentaries and magazine features. He claims to be a big fan of the band, and proud of his child labor for the album. And while there's no word on whether Courtney Love has followed up on her promise to feed the kid, Nirvana's isn't the only album on which he's been featured. Elden also appears on the cover of Skinny Puppy founder cEvin Key's 2003 album The Dragon Experience.
That Kid: Who Spelled Potato Right (until the VP corrected him)
The Story: In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle made a pit stop in Trenton, NJ, where he acted as judge in a 6th grade spelling bee. Unfortunately for Quayle, the cards he'd been handed hadn't been spell-checked. So when William Figueroa, who'd been bused in for the event, spelled out his word correctly, Quayle told him "You're close, but you left a little something off. The e on the end." The press immediately picked up the story, Figueroa appeared on Letterman and Quayle's reputation as a mental midget was solidified in the public's mind.
The Post-Puberty Report: Not good, from what we've read. In 2004, a New York Times reporter met up with Figueroa, who'd since dropped out of high school, had his first child by 16, two more by age 24, and was reportedly working a low paying job.
That Kid: from the National Geographic
The Story: While visiting a Pashtun refugee camp in Pakistan, photographer Steve McCurry snapped a pic of a 13-year old orphan with hauntingly beautiful eyes. The image made the cover of a 1984 National Geographic, and the girl became an international celebrity. Well, sort of. Despite securing a great shot, McCurry never took down the girl's name, and despite taking more than 10 trips back to the region to locate her, it would be another 17 years before she was tracked down.
The Post-Puberty Report: Now a wife and mother of three, Sharbat Gula lives in a remote village in Afghanistan. She lives in purdah, and while only female reporters were allowed to visit and photograph her for National Geographic's long awaited follow-up, supposedly she's now "being looked after" by the magazine. Of course, as the BBC reports, the most amazing part is that she hates the iconic photo. She never liked the red scarf she was photographed in, she doesn't like media attention, and has since moved to avoid future interviews.
Plus, a few more tykes you might've forgotten about:
Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, has had her own baby.
Elian Gonzales is now a Cuban celeb, has a lot of pets, gets front row seats to Castro speeches, and apparently helped land his father a plush gig in Cuba's national assembly.
And Heather DeLoach, who tapped danced her way into MTV viewers' hearts as a tap-dancing bee in Blind Melon's "No Rain" video, has since landed several acting jobs, including 2 episodes of ER.
Special thanks to Kara Kovalchik for all her research work on this piece.