04:05 PM EDT 01/06/2016
Originally posted 06/25/2015 02:00PM
More than two decades have passed since Kristy McNichol, who starred in Family and Empty Nest, stepped away from her life as one of the biggest child stars of her day in the hopes of leading a quiet life of her own design.
Although she rarely gives interviews, she spoke to PEOPLE this week about her passion for singing in the Los Angeles Valley Community College choir and her support for the Los Angeles Valley College Foundation. "Music can make such a difference," McNichol says. "It has in my life, and I've seen how it transforms others."
"I enrolled in the Los Angeles Valley College Music program four years ago because I wanted to sing in choir," says McNichol, 51. "I always liked singing. When people come together to sing, it's very relaxing and spiritual and healing. So I kept coming back."
Originally posted 11/06/2014 07:00PM
In the '70s and '80s, Kristy McNichol was one of the most popular actresses of her generation, starring in movies like Little Darlings and TV shows like Family and Empty Nest.
Then in the '90s, she stepped away from the spotlight – for good.
On Wednesday night, PEOPLE caught up with the actress at the Love Boat reunion in Fort Lauderdale, where the cast gathered to christen a new Regal Princess cruise ship and celebrate 50 years of Princess Cruises. McNichol, who appeared as a guest star on the show, said she left show business to "see what else was out there."
Originally posted 01/11/2012 07:40PM
Since she decided to come out about her sexuality to help kids who have been bullied, Kristy McNichol says the response has been tremendous.
"I'm overwhelmed with the love and support of my family, friends and fans," McNichol, 49, tells PEOPLE exclusively.
Originally posted 01/06/2012 06:20PM
Kristy McNichol has been out of the public eye for 20 years. Now she's chosen to come out – to try to help kids who are being bullied.
McNichol, 49, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen, also 49, for the past two decades, decided to make a statement about her sexuality and share this photo because she is "approaching 50" and wants to "be open about who I am."
She "is very sad about kids being bullied," her publicist Jeff Ballard tells PEOPLE. "She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different."
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