Historical Context is a series in which I share excerpts/information from my ever-growing collection of vintage publications. Today’s installment in the series features the 1954 issue of Who’s Who in Hollywood, an annual publication highlighting the biggest stars of the previous year as well as the “stars of tomorrow.”
The ‘Who’s Who in Hollywood’ 1954 issue featured a section dedicated to the year’s best child actors, who seemed ready to take over as the next generation of great talent. Were they ever able to fulfill their potential and break out of the ‘child star’ mold to have strong careers as adults?
Born in 1942, Christian Fourcade began acting in France before he had even reached ten years of age. Little Boy Lost (1953), starring Bing Crosby, turned him into a Hollywood child star worthy of a place on Dell’s list of promising talents. Unfortunately, his Hollywood career never really took off. Fourcade’s career remained mostly confined to French film and television and he had his final role in 1969.
Lee Aaker was born in 1943 and began taking uncredited roles in the early 1950s. He landed on the list after appearing in Jeopardy, Take Me to Town, Arena, Mister Scoutmaster, A Lion is In the Streets and Hondo in 1953. Though a decade later his career would be finished, Aaker racked up over 40 film and television credits and appeared alongside greats including Barbara Stanwyck and Lucille Ball.
Born in 1944, Mandy Miller gained her spot on Dell’s list by appearing in 1953’s Edge of Divorce as one of two sisters struggling with their parents’ divorce after the war. Her career was quite short, spanning only until the early 1960s and ending with television work, but she was nominated for a BAFTA in 1952.
Richie gained his place on the list by appearing in 1953’s Little Fugitive, which was his only film role. He appeared in one television episode two years after the film, but his credits end there. Very little is known about him or what he went on to do after his brief stint in acting.
Gigi is still alive and still acting! Her most recent film role was in 2011’s Time Again. Her long-lasting career includes appearances in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and Journey to the Center of Time. She had already been acting for eleven years when she landed in the Who’s Who yearbook and has nearly 80 credits on IMDb.
Billy got his first two credited film roles in 1953 (Affair with a Stranger and The Kid from Left Field), also appearing in the TV series of Topper. By the time the decade ended his career did as well, but he got to work with some pretty great talents during those few short years as an actor, including Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter.
From the 1940s through early 1960s, Tommy found steady work, with his biggest claim to fame being the Lassie television series. He made a mini-comeback appearance in The New Lassie in 1991, but other than that his success was confined to the 1950s.
From 1951 through 1955, Donna found fairly steady film work. She appeared in Angels in the Outfield and Don’t Bother to Knock, among other films. She made a few television appearances in the late 1950s, with a final performance in 1963. Donna’s siblings (Noreen, Hugh, Kevin, Brian and Kelly) also found some success in Hollywood.
Elsbeth only appeared in three films, and again not much is known about her. Her claim to fame is two Heidi films from Switzerland.
Billy Gray made three films in 1953 and went on to have a career in film and television until the mid-1990s. He is possibly most famous for suing Leonard Maltin for libel in the late 1990s. He also found success in competitive racing, particularly with motorcycles.
Though he has a few more credits than some of the other performers on this list, his career was certainly one of the shortest-lived, lasting only from 1949 to 1954.
Jimmy racked up 39 roles during his career, and though he was most successful in the 1940s and 1950s, he also has two more recent roles in 1986 and 2004 (spin-offs of one of his 1950s sci-fi roles). He even appeared in Sorry, Wrong Number – a Stanwyck film I’ve talked about numerous times here!
With a career beginning on television in 1949, Joey continued to find work until the 1990s. The majority of his work was in television, but he made a few films, including Poltergeist.
Sherry Jackson found the most success of any performer on this list, with over 100 credits to her name on IMDb! Her film and television career began in 1949 and lasted until 1980. Successfully making the transition from adorable child star to beautiful starlet, Sherry did a lot of her work in television, but she also had the honor of working alongside the talents of Donna Reed and Michael Curtiz, among others. She is probably best known for her role as Terry Williams in the television series “Make Room for Daddy.”
Though he had his final screen role in 1958, George Winslow has bragging rights over some of the others who appear on Dell’s list because he appeared alongside Cary Grant not once, but twice! He had the role of Teenie in Room for One More and the role of “Little Indian” in Monkey Business.
I recognize a few of those names, like Tommy Rettig and Jimmy Hunt, but most importantly…hello, Sherry Jackson!