If you were a kid back in the ’80s, then there’s a good chance that you were a fan of Soleil Moon Frye. Of course, you likely knew her as the star of Punky Brewster. While the show only lasted from 1984 to 1988, Frye still managed to make her mark as the quirky kid with signature pigtails. In fact, the character was so popular that in January 2020, Variety reported that Punky Brewster would be getting the reboot treatment.
Almost a year later, Frye took to Instagram to share a photo of herself back in the role along with her co-stars, which now includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as the title character’s onscreen ex-husband. Admitting that she “cried tears of thankful joy pretty much every day going to set,” Frye told her followers, “I feel such gratitude and love for our Punky Power and this amazing journey on the rainbow.”
Granted, Frye has done more than play Punky. She had a small role on Friends in 1999 — yes, she was Katie, the short woman with the boxer-like punch in “The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey.” She also turned up as Screech’s short-lived girlfriend, Robin, in an episode of Saved By the Bell. And if you watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch, then you surely adored Frye as Roxie King, a role she took on from 2000 to 2003. Let’s dive into some other untold truths about the fabulous Soleil Moon Frye.
Soleil Moon Frye grew up on TV sets
Soleil Moon Frye — who was “named for a song in Annie Get Your Gun, ‘I Got the Sun in the Mornin’ (and the Moon at Night),” according to TV Guide — was born on Aug. 6, 1976, in Glendora, Calif. to actor Virgil Frye and Sondra Peluce, who became her daughter’s manager. Soleil also has two half-brothers, Sean Frye and Meeno Peluce, who are also actors.
But how did she get into acting? The star told Parents, “I started when I was 5. I begged my mom to help me get into the business.” Although Soleil noted that she “was so shy,” she explained, “I think it really helped me come out of my shell. I had a great time — my playground was running around sets and I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
As for Soleil’s life growing up, along with attending San Fernando Valley Professional School and The New School, she gave Us Weekly a little insight into who she was, saying, “As a kid, I added ‘pomegranate’ to my name because I loved them so much.” When she got a little older, she “was a teenage journalist and went on tour with hip-hop group House of Pain to document them” and “was obsessed with Wet n Wild lip liner in shade 666.” Perhaps because she had such a fun childhood, Soleil revealed that she’s “kept all of [her] home videos, diaries, and voicemails from childhood” — which is pretty impressive, considering this was before the ease of cloud storage.
The star was sued for $80 million when she was 10
Punky Brewster originally aired on NBC, and came about when then-president Brandon Tartikoff noticed that there was a lack of television series that featured a young girl in the lead role. After a hefty audition process that ended in the hiring of Soleil Moon Frye, Punky Brewster was born and ran for two seasons before losing a ratings battle with 60 Minutes, which ran at the same time. NBC pulled the show, which is when, according to En Academic, “Columbia … acquired the rights to Punky from NBC because fin-syn regulations prevented the network from producing more episodes for syndication after they canceled it.” Columbia Pictures Television then continued with the show, running another two seasons in syndication, but not without some legal hiccups.
According to a 1986 article in the Rome News-Tribune, Frye reportedly “violated her contract by not showing up for work” to film Punky Brewster. The suit claimed that “the girl work[ed] for the production company because it acquired a 20-year license from NBC … to syndicate the 44 episodes already shown on the network and produce at least 40 more episodes.” On the other hand, according to Mental Floss, the actor’s “attorney, Dennis Ardi, asserted Frye was under no legal obligation to perform once the series left NBC.”
In the end, Mental Floss concluded that “since the show ran for two more years, it’s safe to say things were worked out and no Punky punitive damages were assessed.”
Soleil Moon Frye had a breast reduction
It’s not uncommon for actors (as well as non-famous folks) to go under the knife in order to help them feel better about themselves. In fact, in 2017, “some 229,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients aged 13 to 19,” according to Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (via Market Watch). As for Soleil Moon Fry, she “suffered from a medical condition termed gigantomastia,” which Healthline explains “is a rare condition that causes excessive growth of the female breasts.” While “only a couple hundred cases have been reported in the medical literature,” the Los Angeles Times reported that “by age 15, the five-foot-one Frye had a size 38-DD chest, which caused her back pain and lowered her self-esteem.”
In 1993, Frye told People that “it was hard for [her] even to give somebody a hug,” adding that her “breasts became an insecurity.” She also talked to People about her decision to undergo surgery, admitting that “it was scary.” She added, “It was a time when I was confronting my fears about becoming a woman. I needed to be sure that I was doing this for myself — not for producers or boyfriends or my family. It takes a lot of courage.”
After the surgery, the Times noted that Frye “saw her highly publicized breast-reduction surgery as another way to help people.” She explained, “I didn’t go public for publicity reasons. After having my surgery, instead of saying, ‘No I didn’t have it,’ I wanted to turn a negative into a positive.”
The actor dated two other stars when she was younger
Soleil Moon Frye dated some (what young fans at the time considered to be) serious heartthrobs back in the ’90s. Amid all the neon clothing and puffy bangs in 1990, Frye was in a relationship with Edward Furlong, who you might know from his roles in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and American History X. Entertainment Weekly noted in 1991 that Furlong’s “social life may have gone through a seismic shake-up” at the time, “but there [was] at least one advantage to this Hollywood stuff. Furlong got his publicist to wangle a date with Soleil Moon Frye (TV’s Punky Brewster) and the two have become as inseparable as teenagers living in different cities can get.” That seemed to be just as true when they were seen together at the premiere of Point Break that same year.
While Frye and Furlong eventually went their separate ways, she also found herself in a relationship with Mark Wahlberg (then known as “Marky Mark”). She opened up to Parade about the past romance in 2011, saying, “I had a mad, crazy crush on him — the biggest crush of my life! He was great and such a nice guy. Yes, it was totally crazy love. Who wasn’t crazy about him?”
In September 2020, Frye also shared a throwback pic of herself and a baby-faced Wahlberg with Will Smith, which prompted one follower to tweet back, “Wow, the Fresh Prince and Marky Mark, you’re sooo lucky Punky!!!”
Inside Soleil Moon Frye's family life
Soleil Moon Frye and The Butterfly Effect producer Jason Goldberg first met in 1996, when the actor was studying film at NYU’s New School, according to People. While she used their introduction to “[pitch] a movie script to Goldberg,” the two found more than just someone to work with. Frye explained, “We became the best of friends. Then we fell madly in love.” By 1998, they were married.
The two now have four kids together: Poet Sienna Rose, Jagger Joseph Blue, Lyric Sonny Roads, and Story. Back in 2008, People reported that the couple “renewed their vows at their Hollywood Hills home … along with close friends, including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Eric Dane.” At the time of the special occasion — which marked the couple’s 10th year of marriage, featured “Poet and Jagger plant[ing] a pomegranate tree,” and ended with guests being “sent home with their own tree to plant” — she told People, “Besides the days my children were born — and my first wedding — it was the best night of my life.”
However, a representative for Frye told USA Today in December 2020 that the star and Goldberg had “quietly separated” after 22 years of marriage. The statement noted that their “priority will continue to be their four beautiful children as they move forward with love and compassion.” In January 2021, The Blast reported that Frye had officially filed for divorce.
Demi Moore was there for the birth of Soleil Moon Frye's children
The fact that Soleil Moon Frye is friends with fellow star Demi Moore may seem like a rather random Hollywood connection, but it turns out that Frye’s ex-husband, Jason Goldberg, was also partly responsible for Punk’d, a show that Aston Kutcher co-created and hosted. In fact, Goldberg is “a reality TV veteran and longtime producing partner of … Kutcher,” according to Variety. Because of that, Frye, Goldberg, and Kutcher were friends when the latter was married to Moore.
Frye talked to Parents about her admiration of and close bond with Moore, saying, “She’s incredible and she is one of the closest people in our lives.” Indeed, the two women are so close, that in Frye’s book, Happy Chaos, she opened up about the fact that Moore was in the room each time she gave birth. She even recalled that during her labor with her daughter, Poet, “Demi soothed me and gave me a leg massage while I happily sucked on Popsicles.” While talking to US Weekly, she discussed how Moore “has literally been the doula to me with all my births and right in there as much delivering my children as the doctor.”
Frye explained, “She’s always shown up, and that to me is the greatest advice she can ever pass on — which is, you show up for the people you love and you are honest with them, and you’re kind, and so she’s taught me that by living it.”
The star made a documentary about her famous friends from the '90s
For better or worse, in the ’90s, capturing those special blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moments wasn’t as easy as reaching for your phone and hitting record. Back in those days, if you wanted to grab ahold of those radical memories and keep them forever, it took a little more commitment. Thankfully for those who want to enjoy some nostalgia, “Soleil Moon Frye did something very few were doing at the time — she carried a video camera everywhere she went,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. What she gathered was a decade’s worth of footage of life with her famous Hollywood friends.
THR explained that Frye “had no plans to share the footage and she eventually locked it away in a vault where it stayed for more than 20 years.” However, she admitted, “I often wondered if things had happened the way that I remembered them and I finally decided to unlock the vault.” When she checked out what she had, the footage led to the idea for a full-length feature based on what she found. Frye revealed, “What started as a documentary about my friends and our lives soon became a coming-of-age story about myself that has changed me forever.”
In 2020, Hulu bought the rights to Frye’s documentary, entitled Kid 90, which, according to People, will give viewers a chance “to see interviews” and “never-before-scene footage” of stars like David Arquette, Brian Austin Green, Stephen Dorff, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the late Jonathan Brandis, and more.
Soleil Moon Frye owns an eco-friendly children's clothing company
It’s always a good idea for environmentally-aware parents to start their little tree-huggers out on the right foot — however, that’s not always easy. Indeed, Pop Sugar noted that when Soleil Moon Frye “had her first child, she became acutely aware of how difficult it was to find eco-friendly goods for tots.” That’s why the star “went on to open The Little Seed, a one-stop shop for healthy, nontoxic goods for kids.”
While the company’s brick-and-mortar location in Larchmont, Los Angeles opened in 2007 and closed in 2012, The Little Seed blossomed into an online store. “The Little Seed is now one of the leading lifestyle brands for eco-friendly and organic products for children. It now reaches devoted customers across the globe!” according to its website. So, what does The Little Seed offer? The brand boasts gift baskets, environmentally friendly toys, and colorful outfits that are “green in every color.”
In 2008, Frye opened up to Parents about her thoughts on being both eco-friendly and a parent, saying, “I think we are raising the next generation of activists because this is the only planet we have and we have to treat it well. I love that my daughter is aware of recycling and has an awareness of the planet already.” The star added, “None of us are perfect, but we are just trying to do our little part and it feels really good to have something you can be really proud of.”
Have you read Soleil Moon Frye's books?
With four children of her own, Soleil Moon Frye is no stranger to being a mom, which is why she put her experiences with parenting into print. In 2011, she wrote Happy Chaos, a journey “from Punky to parenting,” in which she “shares insightful, realistic, in-the-trenches parenting advice, inspiration, and fun.”
When she was asked by Pop Sugar about why she wrote her debut book, she explained, “The majority of the parenting books that I read before I became a parent were so much about ‘this kind of parent, this is how to do this, this is how to do that.’ There was nothing that told me about what was going to happen in the hospital … So I was like how do we not share this with the sisterhood?”
Frye then followed Happy Chaos with 2013’s Let’s Get This Party Started, which “is a guide to more than 15 parties you can throw for your kids that are inexpensive, wildly inventive, and fun.” That year, she talked to WebMD about her second book, saying, “We realized that so often when you get ideas from blogs or magazines, the end result doesn’t look anything like the picture.” That’s why she “wanted to create fun crafts at home that are both doable and accessible.” Frye also explained, “The book was a family affair. My brother is the photographer, and my kids are on the pages, as are my friends. It was a labor of love.”
Not only an actor, Soleil Moon Frye is also a producer and director
For Soleil Moon Frye’s 2021 Punky Brewster revival, she was set to return not only as the beloved (and now-adult) title character, but also took on the role of the show’s executive producer. However, it wouldn’t be the first time she did work behind the camera. On top of her Kid 90 documentary, she was also co-director and co-writer of the 1998 drama, Wild Horses, with her brother, Meeno Peluce. The film, which featured performances by James Duval, Heather McComb, and Marissa Ribisi, tells the story of a “group of teenagers [who] mistakenly believe they only have 24 hours to live and decide to live life to the fullest,” according to IMDb.
Beyond that, in 2004, Frye directed Sonny Boy, which takes a look at the relationship between the actor and her father, Virgil, as he faces Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Chicago Reader, Frye described her father as “a violent, womanizing, drug-abusing, alcoholic bit actor — ‘a Renaissance man.'” The film follows the two “on a riveting cross-country odyssey,” and “as the snapshots of his life pass them by, father and daughter attempt to reconcile their difficult past and deal with the pain of worsening Alzheimer’s disease,” per Turner Classic Movies. The movie is also “a race against time” and “a raw and often joyous struggle before his memories are forever lost.” For Frye’s efforts, the San Diego Film Festival called the film that year’s best documentary.
Soleil Moon Frye has a pretty decent fortune
It might not be too surprising to find out that Soleil Moon Frye has a decent amount of money, due to the fact that she’s been in the entertainment industry since she was a child. However, she has hardly had the same kind of career as other child stars of the time, like Sean Astin or Drew Barrymore. So, how did she end up earning her fortune? Well, along with her breakthrough Punky Brewster role, Frye has also put cash in her pockets by taking on various acting, writing, producing, and directing roles over the years. On top of that, she has obviously also banked on her eco-friendly kid’s brand, The Little Seed, as well as her two books, 2011’s Happy Chaos and 2013’s Let’s Get This Party Started.
When Frye was asked by Grow in 2016 what “financial success look[s] like now” for her, she explained, “When you’re younger, you think, ‘I’m going to build a billion-dollar company.’ But when you get older, you just want to help your family and do some good. I want to be able to give my kids enough to let them know they have the support.” The star also pointed out that “if you’re only focused on the money, you don’t enjoy the ride.”
Granted, Frye can afford to kick back a bit thanks to the fact that she has a fortune that sits at $5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Punky Brewster would surely be proud!
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