Child Stars of 1940s

by BatBanks | created - 12 Jun 2015 | updated - 05 Apr 2016 | Public

Not particular order.

1. Luana Patten

Actress | Fun & Fancy Free

One of the first two contract players for Walt Disney Studios, she made her debut in Song of the South (1946) as a poor white child fascinated by the stories told by Uncle Remus. She made several more films as a child star, then left film for 8 years. She returned as an ingénue in Rock, Pretty Baby!...

2. Natalie Wood

Actress | Rebel Without a Cause

Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her parents, Maria Zudilov and Nikolai Zakharenko, were Russian-born émigrés who spoke barely comprehensible English; they changed the family name to Gurdin after becoming US citizens. When she was...

3. Shirley Temple

Actress | Captain January

Shirley Temple was easily the most popular and famous child star of all time. She got her start in the movies at the age of three and soon progressed to super stardom. Shirley could do it all: act, sing and dance and all at the age of five! Fans loved her as she was bright, bouncy and cheerful in ...

4. Peggy Ann Garner

Actress | A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Actress Peggy Ann Garner was was born Feb. 3, 1932, in Canton, Ohio. Her father was an English-born attorney, William H. Garner, who served as a U.S. Army officer during World War II. Virginia, her determined mother, got Peggy into summer stock and modeling before she was six. Estranged from her ...

5. George 'Spanky' McFarland

Actor | Bedtime Worries

George 'Spanky' McFarland was born on October 2, 1928 in Dallas, Texas, USA as George Robert Phillips McFarland. He was an actor, known for Bedtime Worries (1933), General Spanky (1936) and Mush and Milk (1933). He was married to Doris and Paula Jeanne Wilkinson. He died on June 30, 1993 in ...

6. Karolyn Grimes

Actress | It's a Wonderful Life

At age 6, Karolyn Grimes played the role of Zuzu Bailey in the holiday film It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Her childhood film career spanned 16 movies, but she is best remembered for playing the daughter of George and Mary Bailey (James Stewart and Donna Reed). The petals from her rose symbolize the...

7. Bobby Driscoll

Actor | Peter Pan

Bobby Driscoll was a natural-born actor. Discovered by chance at the age of five-and-a-half in a barber shop in Altadena, CA. and then convincing in anything he ever undertook on the movie screen and on television throughout his career spanning 17 years (1943-1960). Includes such notable movie ...

8. Petula Clark

Soundtrack | Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Petula Clark was a star at the age of 11. She starred in British concert halls and on BBC radio singing for the troops during WWII. She was a child star in a series of British films from the end of WWII through to the early 1950s,and by 1954 was having hit records. After a move to France in 1960, ...

9. Billie 'Buckwheat' Thomas

Actor | General Spanky

Billie 'Buckwheat' Thomas was born on March 12, 1931 in Los Angeles, California, USA as William Thomas Jr. He was an actor, known for General Spanky (1936), Ye Olde Minstrels (1941) and Night 'n' Gales (1937). He died on October 10, 1980 in Los Angeles.

10. Claude Jarman Jr.

Actor | Rio Grande

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Claude was the son of a railroad accountant. With no intentions of becoming a screen actor at the time, 12-year-old Claude Jarman, Jr. was discovered during an MGM nationwide talent search for their upcoming film, The Yearling (1946), and won the coveted role of Jody ...

11. Robert Blake

Actor | Lost Highway

American actor who began as a child in Our Gang comedies and reappeared as a powerful adult performer of leading and character roles. Born in New Jersey, the young Mickey Gubitosi won a role in MGM's Our Gang series at the age of 5. As one of the more prominent children in the Gang, he gained ...

12. Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer

Actor | Night 'n' Gales

Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer was born on August 7, 1927 in Paris, Illinois, USA as Carl Dean Switzer. He was an actor, known for Night 'n' Gales (1937), Rushin' Ballet (1937) and Feed 'em and Weep (1938). He was married to Dian Collingwood. He died on January 21, 1959 in Mission Hills, California, USA.

13. Donnie Dunagan

Actor | Son of Frankenstein

Born in Depression-era Texas, Donnie Dunagan moved with his parents to Memphis as a young child. There, as a three-year-old, he was taught to tap dance by a neighbor and entered in a talent contest at the Orpheum Theatre. Donnie won the $100 prize and caught the attention of a movie talent scout in...

14. Dwayne Hickman

Actor | How to Stuff a Wild Bikini

Boyishly handsome Dwayne Hickman, the younger brother of Darryl Hickman, followed in his sibling's tiny footsteps as a moppet film actor himself, appearing in such features as Captain Eddie (1945) (with Darryl) and as "Nip Worden" in The Return of Rusty (1946) and the rest of that dog adventure ...

15. Roddy McDowall

Actor | Fright Night

Roddy McDowall was born in Herne Hill, London, England, to Winifriede Lucinda (Corcoran), an Irish-born aspiring actress, and Thomas Andrew McDowall, a merchant seaman. Roddy was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family (1938), ...

16. Diana Lynn

Actress | The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

She was a child prodigy and pianist at age 10; her first movie role was as one of the children in They Shall Have Music (1939), in which you see her playing the piano. She made another film, The Hard-Boiled Canary (1941), under the name Dolly (a short version of her real name, Dolores). She signed ...

17. Dean Stockwell

Actor | Quantum Leap

Photogenic American child actor of the 1940s, popular due in no small measure to his air of innocence and his beautiful, cherubic face with its dimples and his sparkling eyes, topped with a crown of curls. Still an actor in demand while well into his middle years, he is one of the few juvenile ...

18. Anthony Newley

Actor | Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?

Anthony Newley was born in Hackney, London, England, to Frances Grace Newley and George Kirby, a shipping clerk. He was attracted to acting, after seeing an ad for a child actor in a Fleet Street window. He attended the Italia Conti Stage School from the age of 14 and, two years later, played the ...

19. Darla Hood

Actress | The Bat

Darla Hood was born in a small rural Oklahoma town on Sunday, November 8th, 1931, she grew up as dark-banged cute girl, Darla Hood began her association with the motley "Our Gang" group at the tender age of 2 1/2, as she stated on the The Jack Benny Program (1950). Her father, James Claude Hood, Jr...

20. Russ Tamblyn

Actor | West Side Story

Russ Tamblyn might as well face it...he will be a Jet "till his last dying day." Indelibly linked to the "womb to tomb" role of Riff, the knife-wielding, rocket-tempered, Edward Villella-styled gang leader of the streetwise Jets in the musical film masterpiece West Side Story (1961), it's not a bad...

21. Elizabeth Taylor

Actress | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was considered one of the last, if not the last, major star to have come out of the old Hollywood studio system. She was known internationally for her beauty, especially for her violet eyes, with which she captured audiences early on in her youth and kept the world hooked ...

22. Ann Blyth

Actress | Mildred Pierce

The dark, petulant beauty of this petite American film and musical star worked to her advantage, especially in her early dramatic career. Anne Marie Blythe was born of Irish stock to Harry and Annie (nee Lynch) Blythe on August 16, 1927 in Mt. Kisco, New York. Her parents split while she was young ...

23. Johnny Sheffield

Actor | Tarzan's New York Adventure

His father was the actor Reginald Sheffield who began as a child star and later turned to character acting. Johnny appeared at age seven on Broadway in the original cast of "On Borrowed Time". When Maureen O'Sullivan wanted out of her Jane role in the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan series, it was ...

24. Margaret O'Brien

Actress | Meet Me in St. Louis

Born Angela Maxine O'Brien on January 15, 1937 in San Diego, California. Her film debut was one-minute shot in MGM's Babes on Broadway (1941). Her big moment came when she was cast in Journey for Margaret (1942). This film shot her into instant stardom and also resulted in Angela changing her name ...

25. June Lockhart

Actress | Lost in Space

Born in New York City on June 25, 1925, the daughter of actors Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart, June Lockhart made her professional debut at age eight in a Metropolitan Opera production of "Peter Ibbetson", playing Mimsey in the dream sequence. In the mid-1930s, the Lockharts relocated to ...

26. Teresa Brewer

Soundtrack | Those Redheads from Seattle

Teresa Brewer made her debut on "The Major Bowes Amateur Hour" radio program in 1936 and toured with the show until 1943. She made her first recording in 1949 and her first big record was "Music! Music! Music!" It debuted on 4 February 1950 and was Number 1 on the Top 10 charts for four weeks.

27. Ann Carter

Actress | The Curse of the Cat People

Ann Carter was born on June 16, 1936 in Syracuse, New York, USA. She was an actress, known for The Curse of the Cat People (1944), Blondie Hits the Jackpot (1949) and The North Star (1943). She was married to Crosby Newton. She died on January 27, 2014 in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

28. Juliet Mills

Actress | Avanti!

An English actress of stage, screen and television, sister to Hayley Mills and daughter of Sir John Mills, Juliet first came to notice in films, actually after her sister Hayley started her career. Juliet, however, was first plucked onto the screen and signing a contract with Warner Brothers and ...

29. Sabu

Actor | The Thief of Bagdad

Sabu Dastagir (or Selar Shaik Sabu, depending on your resource) was born on January 27, 1924, in the little town of Mysore, India, which is nestled in the jungles of Karapur. The son of an elephant driver (mahout) in service for the Maharajah of his town, the young stable boy learned responsibility...

30. Billy 'Froggy' Laughlin

Actor | Robot Wrecks

His mother enrolled him in a dramatic class to overcome his self-consciousness. His gravel voice was exploited by an MGM talent scout. After his test and positive public reaction he was signed to a term contract to Our Gang. His favorite sport was bicycling. After Our Gang was over, Froggy was ...

31. Scotty Beckett

Actor | A Date with Judy

Scotty Beckett was one of the cutest, most successful child actors of the 1930s and 1940s. His descent into a life of alcoholism, drugs, and crime remains one of the most tragic of Hollywood stories.

Born Scott Hastings Beckett on October 4, 1929, in Oakland, California, he and his family moved to ...

32. Dickie Moore

Actor | Oliver Twist

Dickie Moore made his acting and screen debut at the age of 18 months in the 1927 John Barrymore film The Beloved Rogue (1927) as a baby, and by the time he had turned 10 he was a popular child star and had appeared in 52 films. He continued as a child star for many more years, and became the ...

33. Stanley Clements

Actor | Spook Chasers

Stanley Clements realized he wanted a show-business career while he was in grammar school, and when he graduated he toured in vaudeville for two years. He then joined the touring company of Edward Bowes' (aka Major Bowes) Amateur Hour. In 1941 he was signed to a contract by 20th Century-Fox and ...

34. Kathryn Beaumont

Actress | Alice in Wonderland

Kathryn Beaumont was just ten years old when she was chosen for the voice of Alice, in Disney's animated version of the classic children's tale, Alice in Wonderland (1951). Walt Disney was so impressed with Kathryn's long curly blonde hair, sparkling eyes and acting ability, that he chose her as ...

35. Dickie Jones

Soundtrack | Avengers: Age of Ultron

American actor who achieved some success as a child and as a young adult, especially in B-Westerns and in television. The son of a Texas newspaper editor. Jones was a accomplished horseman from infancy. At the age of four he was billed as the World's Youngest Trick Rider and Roper. At the age of ...

36. Faten Hamamah

Actress | Orid hallan

Faten Hamama (known as "The Lady of the Arabic Screen") has become an icon and the most important actress of Egyptian and Arabic cinema. She is also the most honored actress in the Middle East. Every decade of her life represents a new era of acting and witnessed the reshaping and progression of ...

37. Peter Behn

Self | WGN Morning News

Peter Behn was born on October 24, 1934 in Prescott, Arizona, USA as Peter Christian Behn. He is an actor, known for WGN Morning News (1994), The View (1997) and Bambi: The Magic Behind the Masterpiece (1997). He is married to Pam Pease. He was previously married to Ulla Nielsen.

38. Cammie King Conlon

Actress | Gone with the Wind

Cammie King Conlon was born on August 5, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Eleanore Cammack King. She was an actress, known for Gone with the Wind (1939), Change in the Wind (2010) and Living Famously (2002). She was married to Michael W. Conlon and Walter Ned Pollock. She died on September 1...

39. June Preston

Actress | Anne of Green Gables

June Preston (born December 29, 1928 -) is an American Hollywood child star who went on to become one of the world's most famous Opera stars of her time. Preston made her debut at the tender age of 24 with The Metropolitan Opera "Stars of the Metropolitan Opera" tour in 1952 with the lead roll of ...

40. Virginia Weidler

Actress | The Philadelphia Story

Delightful child/juvenile actress Virginia Weidler (her friends called her "Ginny") had that knowing gleam in her eye that usually spelled trouble in one form or another for anyone at arm's reach. She was born in Eagle Rock, California in 1926, one of the six children of former Wagnerian opera ...



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