More than twenty years after scoring his big break, Kelly Reno remains Colorado's most famous contribution to the firmament of child stars.
Reno was thirteen years old in 1979 when his cattle-ranching parents, Bud and Ruth, responded to an open audition call for The Black Stallion. Reno got the job, which would prove to be one of the coolest kid parts ever. In the lead role of Alec Ramsey, Reno got to ride a huge Arabian horse, sail the seas, run around a deserted island and hang out with Hoyt Axton. Filming for The Black Stallion Returns, a sequel issued in 1983, took place on location in Morocco.
But the fun was not to last. Shortly after Reno graduated from high school in 1984, a nasty accident with an eighteen-wheel truck caused injuries sufficient to take him out of the acting game for good. Reno returned to civilian life in Pueblo, where he lives with his wife and children and reportedly works for Wagner Equipment Company, driving an eighteen-wheel truck. How's that for dramatic irony?
No other Coloradans have yet matched Reno's former glory, but plenty are trying.
Keri Russell: Though born in California (where she did time on the New Mickey Mouse Club with Justin, Britney and Christina), Russell graduated from Highlands Ranch High School before moving to Hollywood and into the title role on Felicity, a college drama on the WB network. The series took a serious hit when Russell lopped off her long locks: Never have curls, or the absence of curls, been so controversial. (Take note, Matthew Helm.) The show was canceled in May 2002, after only one season of the short 'do. Maybe Russell should consider following in the footsteps of her former Mouse Club mates and pursue a career in music.
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Luke Eberl: The Boulder native captured the attention of director Tim Burton, who cast him as a little monkey man in his 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. Eberl's other credits include a role in The Painted House, a made-for-TV movie based on the John Grisham novel. Now 21, Eberl's hoping to write, produce and direct his own films. In a recent L.A. Weekly cover story on kids who act, he was quoted as saying he has "no use for television." Must be that Boulder upbringing.
Jessica Biel: Raised in Boulder, the now-21-year-old Biel once had a regular role as Mary Camden on 7th Heaven, the WB's impossibly good-natured family drama. She purposely shocked those who'd typed her as a good girl by posing nude for Gear magazine, a move that eventually led to her leaving the show. Biel, who had a small role in Ulee's Gold, still makes guest appearances on Heaven, but she's yet to earn her wings as a real Hollywood player. A role as Laura Holleran in a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is her most recent credential.
Zachery Ty Bryan: Bryan grew up in Aurora, which may have been the best preparation for his role as Tim Allen's oldest son, Brad, on Home Improvement. The show was mercifully canceled in 1999 after an eight-year run. Now 22, Bryan has acquired other credits, including First Kid, with Sinbad, and Carrie 2.
Justin Torkildsen: Also 22, Torkildsen currently holds the role of Rick Forrester, son of Erik and Brooke, on The Bold and the Beautiful. His burgeoning hunkiness was rewarded with a daytime Emmy for Outstanding Young Actor in 2001; Torkildsen was nominated again the following year.