Former Teen Idol Leif Garrett Releases ‘Idol Truth,’ The Roller Coaster Story Of His Life, As He Turns 58

The actor and singer fell hard after his teen idol status expired in the late 1970s.

Leif Garrett shows off the star on his dressing room door before a taping of Former Child Star Week on Hollywood Squares at CBS Studios August 3, 2003 in Hollywood.
Carlo Allegri / Getty Images

The actor and singer fell hard after his teen idol status expired in the late 1970s.

Leif Garrett is opening up about his life behind the music. The former teen idol, who turns 58 on November 8, has just released his long-awaited memoir, titled Idol Truth.

Garrett — who shot to fame in the 1970s with bubblegum hits such as “I Was Made for Dancing” and covers of Dion’s “Runaround Sue” and the Beach Boys classic “Surfin’ USA” — had one of the most notorious career falls in an era that featured fellow teen idols such as Donny Osmond, Shaun Cassidy, and Scott Baio. While he made headlines for his troubled teen life, this is the first time Garrett is sharing his whole story with his fans in his own words.

Garrett started as a child actor alongside his sister, Dawn Lyn, who played Dodie on My Three Sons. At age 8, he got his first big break in the 1969 movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, according to the book. Before long, he was a frequent guest star on 1970s TV and even scored a 1975 series, Three for the Road, until music monopolized his career. Garrett’s high life came crashing down a few days after his 18th birthday, in 1979, when he crashed his car, paralyzing his passenger, Roland Winkler, after a night of partying.

In Idol Truth, Garrett explains why he fell so hard once his teen idol status expired. He also details his relationship and breakup with his first love, actress Nicolette Sheridan, with whom he lived as a young teen.

Much of the book focuses on Garrett’s later addiction to heroin. Garrett even admits he was on heroin during the filming of his infamous 1999 Behind The Music episode, which showed him reuniting with a wheelchair-bound Winkler 20 years after their tragic car crash, according to AV Club.

The former teen idol also shares stories of partying with John Belushi and recalls outings with fellow young stars Robert Downey Jr., Brooke Shields, ex-girlfriend Justine Bateman and her brother Jason, and later, rocker Dave Navarro.

Garrett also writes of his unlikely casting in the 1983 film The Outsiders alongside fellow teen heartthrobs Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, and Patrick Swayze.

While promoting his new book in an interview on Bernie & Sid in the Morning, Garrett revealed he hasn’t spoken to any of his Outsiders co-stars since wrapping the film, with the exception of Cruise, although he described Macchio as one of the nicest guys he has ever met. Macchio recently explained that the famous Outsiders poster that showed the greaser gang cracking up instead of looking serious spawned after he cracked a joke about Garrett’s questionable acting talent.

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But before the fame and the fall, Garrett lets Idol Truth readers in on a tumultuous childhood with a story of his abusive father and his mother Carolyn’s brave decision to leave his father in the mid-1960s.

“Most of the memories I have of my dad, Rick, involve him yelling at and berating my mother,” Garrett writes. “The lack of a father figure is something I have struggled with my entire life and, looking back, I am sorry things started out this way in my life. But there was no other choice.”

On the day Idol Truth was released, Garrett posted a Facebook message to tell fans his dad passed away in August.