The Troubled and Redeemed Life of Former Teen Idol Leif Garrett, Who's Now 61

Herbie J Pilato

According to journalist Lia Beck and Yahoo! Life, "In the 1970s, Leif Garrett came to fame as a teenage actor on shows including Three for the Road, Family, and The Odd Couple. From there, he launched a successful singing career—though it wasn't always his voice on those recordings—and was a fixture in Tiger Beat magazine and on the walls of his teen fans. But, in the years since Garrett was a teen idol, he has been through hard times, including drug addiction and legal problems. Now 60 years old, the actor has opened up about his struggles and his career in a memoir and in interviews."

"In 2019," Beck continued, "...Garrett's memoir Idol Truth was published. In it, he opens up about his life, including his legal woes and early career. For instance, he shared that he was rushed into a singing career and since he wasn't trained, he wasn't always singing by himself on his albums. Instead, his voice was mixed with another singer's to the point that he couldn't recognize it."

"I feel people don't really know who I am," he told Fox News of his book in January 2020. "There have been so many misconceptions about me. For years, there are certain things about my life that just didn't sit well with me. I went through so much as a teen idol. I needed to share those truths."

As Beck went on to document, "Garrett very publicly struggled with drug addiction and the arrests that resulted from it. For instance, when he was nearly 18 years old, he got into a car accident while drunk and high that left his friend Roland Winkler paralyzed. More arrests involving drugs came in the years that followed.

Garrett is presently sober. Asked how he quit drugs by Closer in 2020, he said, "I had a 90-day sentence in county jail. I was in court-ordered rehab before that, and then my mom visited and told me she had stage IV lung cancer. I said, 'I'm leaving to take care of her—nobody lives with her.' So dealing with that, I started using again. So it was like, 'Cuff him, bring him in,' and I did the 90 days, and that was it."

Garrett appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2010 and 2011. "I did not want to do that," he told Studio 10 in 2016. But, he thought, "It's been in the press getting high. Let's do the press of not getting high."

In addition, Garrett appeared on the TV reality programs I Love the '70s, Fear Factor, and World's Dumbest. He also released five albums between 1977 and 1981 but has put out music more recently, too. In 2003, he released the album, titled, F8, and in 2007 one titled Three Sides Of...

"I play music because I love it," he told Fox News. "I will always love it. But I'm not in a rush to do more with it unless it's absolutely right. It has to be as real as possible."

Of his more recent resume additions, Garrett told Closer, "I'm writing a script, I've got a follow-up book in the works, and I'm concentrating on getting television and film work."

"I've kept every photo or letter that a young lady sent, telling me about being on their walls and kissing me good night before they went to bed," Garrett concluded to Closer. "It's very surreal and a bit embarrassing, but how flattering! I can't thank [my fans] enough, because I'm still able to do something I enjoy and get paid for it."

That said, he wishes that some things had been different. "I look back at my life and there are many things I got to experience that other people never get to do. And I'm grateful for that," he said in the Fox News interview. "I just wish it could have been a better situation. I wish I had made better decisions."

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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