I was at home early yesterday waiting for the cable company to come and install my high speed connection. TCM aired a Private Screenings interview with Dickie Moore, Margaret O’Brien, Darryl Hickman, and Jane Withers.
The Private Screenings usually make for an entertaining and informative program; this was no exception. Moore, O’Brien, Withers, and Hickman were child actors from the 30s and 40s with an impressive number of credits to each of their names. The first three were bonafide stars in their own right, but even Hickman had some great roles. Like a lot of child actors, they struggled with adolescence and adulthood.
Some of them had horribly spotty education. All of them felt like they missed out on a childhood. Both O’Brien and Withers evidently had a bit of an easier time in that they both wanted to act and had supportive parents who helped with the transition. That said, what kind of a life is that for a kid? And how much of it is fulfilling their parents dreams? I’m actually reminded of someone from the reality show, Showbiz Moms and Dads (I watch crap, deal with it). There was a little girl about 5 or 6 who was doing beauty pageants galore. The mother and grandmother kept insisting it was because the child wanted to do it. But honestly, does the kid want to do it? How much of her saying yes, it’s okay is because she wants to please her mom.
At one point, Darryl Hickman related an anecdote. As an adult he asked his mother why she’d had him doing the acting. She replied “well you always wanted to do it.” He laughed. She didn’t. As he went on to say: what three-year old decides to go on auditions and find themselves an agent?
Says a lot, doesn’t it?