The life and struggles of ‘Family’ and ‘Empty Nest’ actress Kristy McNichol

Kristy couldn't speak of her sexuality back in the day and that broke her emotionally.


Emmy award winning actress Kristy McNichol entered the film industry from early age and became famous with the role of tomboy “Buddy” in the hit series “Family” which aired from 1976 until 1980. This role made her a teen star of the era and all eyes were on her.

In fact, Kristy only became an actress because her mother pushed her into it. Her mom wanted to be part of the Hollywood glam herself, but only managed to play an extra in some movies, so she somehow wanted to compensate for her ‘failed’ career through her kids.

After “Family” was over, Kristy’s career was just beginning. She went on to be part of very successful movies, including the box office hit “Little Darlings” with Tatum O’Neal. Other movies Kristy starred in were “Women of Valor”, “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Two Moon Junction”, as well as the television series “Empty Nest”. She and her brother Jimmy even tried themselves in the music industry, releasing a disco album and the hit song “He’s So Fine.”

However, as fans believed everything was going smooth for their favorite actress, the truth was that Kristy was facing struggles in her personal life. She was having hard time revealing her true sexuality and dated men, including actor and television director Scott Baio whom she got involved with in 1977 and singer and actor Leif Garret.

Fans and magazines speculated that she dated women after that. According to DatingCelebs, Kristy fell in love with actress Ina Liberace during the 80’s and was later associated with Canadian actress Elisabeth Brooks, who sadly passed away at the age of 46 in 1977.

Below is a photo of Kristy and Baio the Sixth Annual People’s Choice Awards, at the Hollywood Paldium, on January 24, 1980.

Kristy had her demons. She had a hard time finishing filming a movie in France and took a year off before she could return on set again. Back then, not much was known of her psychological condition as bipolar disorder wasn’t something medicine was still familiar with back in the day.

Speaking of that experience Kristy told NewsAmomama, “I couldn’t eat, and the whole month I was in France I hardly slept. When I did sleep, I was dreaming strange things. I was crying all the time. My weight dropped down to about 96 lbs. Nonstop anxiety. I was always shaking like a leaf. Freaking out, crying, confused, I didn’t know what was going on.”

Finally, after number of speculations, Kristy spoke openly about her sexuality in 2012. She told her fans and the world that she was married to the love of her life, Martie Allen. And that’s about all we know of Kristy’s private life that she tends to keep it exactly that, private.

We are glad she played all those roles that were part of our lives and wish her only the best. However, we do feel sorry she’s no longer part of the movie industry.