What Ever Happened To Frankie Muniz? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Does anyone remember Malcolm in the Middle? You know, that Fox sitcom with that child actor who always narrated the episodes about how dysfunctional his family was? With Bryan Cranston from the AMC drama Breaking Bad as his dad? And Jane Kaczmarek as his consistently irritated mother? Perhaps this song will jog your memory:

If you don’t remember, it’s because it’s been 21 years since the series premiered and 14 since it ended. Malcolm in the Middle was a series about a flawed lower middle-class family that starred child actor Frankie Muniz in the lead role of Malcolm, a genius-level teen trying to navigate his crazy family life and dealing with the effects of being a gifted child in a public high school. 

The show was popular in the early to mid-2000s and well-received by audiences. It was so good that it’s even been on several lists as one of the greatest TV sitcom series of all time. It won seven Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award. In fact, the popularity of the show opened doors to other gigs for a few of its actors. It put Bryan Cranston in the spotlight again late in his career and led to his eventual casting as Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad. For its lead star, Muniz, it promised an equally bright future in acting, or so we thought.

After Malcolm in the Middle ended in 2006, Muniz seemed to disappear from Hollywood. This was quite puzzling for a teen that didn’t have any public scandals or drug problems to hold him back from working. Many fans just assumed that like any other teen actor taking a sabbatical, Muniz was focusing on school and would eventually return to film or TV at some point. Once again, it’s been 14 years and we still haven’t seen Muniz in anything since his time on Malcolm in the Middle.

So what happened to him? Let’s start at the beginning.

Who is Frankie Muniz?

Frankie Muniz was born on Dec. 5, 1985 in Wood Ridge, New Jersey, and his family moved to North Carolina when he began to dabble in acting. He earned his first role as Tiny Tim in a regional production of A Christmas Carol and from there began auditioning for television commercials. After a few advertisements, he then began winning parts in television films including To Dance With Olivia and What The Deaf Man Heard in 1997. 

He started to get homeschooled so that he could have a flexible schedule that would allow him to accept more acting gigs. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for those gigs to come. Muniz guest-starred on several sitcoms including Spin City with Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox, but it was in 2000 that he earned his breakthrough role when he was cast as Willie Morris in the autobiographical tale My Dog Skip

The young actor received great reviews for his performance and soon after, he was cast in his iconic role on Malcolm in the Middle. After the show’s success and Emmy win, Muniz returned to the big screen in 2001 to play the lead role of Jason in Big Fat Liar alongside fellow teen star Amanda Bynes.

Ah, the good old days. This is when teen star power was really on the rise in Hollywood⏤that Hilary Duff era that predated the reign of Twilight and its many imitators. At the peak of that era, Muniz became a bankable staple thanks to the popularity of Malcolm in the Middle and he soon won the lead role in the popular teen action film Agent Cody Banks, with none other than Hilary Duff as his costar. The film was so successful that it returned for a sequel the following year: Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, this time with another rising comedic star⏤Anthony Anderson⏤attached. According to Biography, the two films together brought in $75 million and earned Muniz a sizable $7 million dollar paycheck. 

From 2004 to 2006, Muniz continued to play his role as Malcolm until the series finale. During his last year as the titular character, he also starred as Swink Sylvania in the horror thriller Stay Alive. Weirdly enough, at the peak of his career, this was the last movie Muniz appeared in before mysteriously disappearing from the scene.

For someone to walk away from a potentially lucrative career in Hollywood, Muniz must have been sitting on a decent nest egg. Just how much money did he make from all of those projects before he left Hollywood?

How much did Franke Muniz make for Malcolm in the Middle?

A lot, apparently. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Muniz was earning $30,000 per episode for the first few seasons of Malcolm in the Middle. That means that earned $480,000 for the first season, $750,000 for the second season, and $660,000 for the third season. For the 4th, 5th, and 6th seasons, Muniz’s salary increased to $75,000 an episode, giving him a grand total of $4.95 million. As for the series’ final season, Muniz’s salary was raised again to $150,000 per episode and earned him another $3.3 million.

Just in salary alone, Muniz made $10.15 million from Malcolm in the Middle. As part of the acting union, he’s more than likely entitled to the standard union royalty rate of 80% anytime the show runs in syndication. Muniz definitely could have sat out for a few years and easily come back to acting without missing a beat. Even still, why walk away when you have the potential to make even more money? Well, it seems that there are a couple of reasons.

Life after acting

After Muniz finished his stint with Malcolm in the Middle, he decided to focus on a career change into race car driving. Muniz wasn’t new to the sport⏤he’d actually been a car and racing enthusiast for years. He even trained as a racer during his time as an actor. As a legitimate racer, he signed on with Jensen Motorsport as a driver in 2005, and then raced in the Formula BMW USA series (2006) and the Champ Car Atlantic series (2007). He even competed in 32 races for the Atlantic Championship from 2007 to 2009. However, in 2009, Muniz suffered terrible injuries from a car accident that put an end to his racing career.

Frankie Muniz’s battle with memory loss

Muniz also had another issue, as it turned out, one that he’d been dealing with since he was a child. According to Honey, the former child actor, now 34 years old, suffers from transient ischemic attacks. The condition has caused the former star to have multiple concussions since the age of seven that have led him to experience severe memory loss and mini strokes. So far, he’s had nine concussions, but the mini stroke he suffered in 2012 is what has scared Muniz most of all. “I felt like I was getting stabbed in the head⏤the worst headache you could ever think of. I couldn’t see anything,” Muniz told People in December 2012.

Since 2009, Muniz has not returned to acting, which is understandable given his condition. He did, however, make an appearance on Dancing With the Stars as a competitor in 2017, so at least there’s a chance that we could see him make a similar return to the entertainment industry. Thanks to his memory loss, Muniz has had a hard time remembering his time on the set of Malcolm in the Middle as well as his other projects. To this day, he still struggles with gaps in his memory.

“Truth is, I don’t remember much of Malcolm in the Middle,” he said during his appearance on Dancing With the Stars. “It almost feels like it wasn’t me. It makes me a little sad. Things pop back into my mind that I should have remembered. I’ve gotten to do anything that I really wanted to do. But the truth is, I don’t really remember much of that.”

Muniz addressed his memory gaps again when he returned to People magazine for a 2019 interview: 

“I’m only reminded of how bad my memory is when people I see, they come to me and go, ‘Oh, you remember when we did this? Remember we went on this trip to this country?’ And I have no recollection of it, but in my head, it’s not like I feel bad or sad about it.”

It makes one wonder how Muniz is able to live with such an affliction. The answer? The same way everyone else copes with their own physical and mental health struggles. Of course, that’s not to say he doesn’t have a little help. He gets lots of assistance from his wife. Muniz first announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Paige Price on Nov. 18,  2018. The couple tied the knot a few months later on Feb. 21, 2020 and welcomed their first son in March. 

Before their engagement, Muniz bought a small specialty shop called Outrageous Oils & Vinegars in Arizona, which he ran with Price. Although Muniz’s condition can make working difficult for him at times, he now has Price to keep him on track. And with all of his earnings from Hollywood, neither of them should have to worry about paying the bills. But how much is Muniz worth now that he’s been out of the spotlight for well over a decade?

Frankie Muniz’s net worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Muniz is estimated to be worth $30 million⏤not bad, considering that he quit acting 14 years ago. It’s actually a pretty tall accomplishment for someone as short as Muniz, who stands at 5 feet 4 inches. Of course, had he stuck around the entertainment scene, that figure would have probably been drastically higher by now.

Then again, it’s not always about the money or fame, at least not for Muniz. The actor once said in an interview, “I don’t consider myself a good actor at all. I just do what I want to do, and I’m just having fun doing it.” For Muniz, acting was an enjoyable hobby that he just happened to get paid for and when he was ready to stop playing, he stopped. 

Now strapped with more than a reasonable amount of money to retire with and health complications that will make acting a lot less fun, it makes sense why Muniz would put his acting days behind him. And with a budding business and a growing family, Frankie Muniz is more than happy to live the simple life from here on out.