Child Stars Touched Our Hearts, In Death, They Tell the True Story

TV kids
For those of us who are “old enough to know better” classified as Baby Boomers, early life was a Candyland existence with the arrival of the television sitcom. We were served up the life of innocence and perpetual family harmony beginning in the 1950’s.

Never would Ozzie and Harriet Nelson have to discuss opioid addiction with their boys. Never would June Cleaver have to deal with both of her children “coming home to the nest” when they couldn’t find a job. Never would Lucy and Ricky Ricardo have to worry about if their relatives were legal US citizens and therefore find a sanctuary city!  Never would  the character of Richie Petrie have to worry about how to come out as a gay young man to his parents, Laura and Rob. Such problems did not exist  in the public eye… and were most certainly taboo!   Just imagine any of these scenarios in the 50s and 60s. Just mind boggling!

However, in truth, there were many behind the scenes struggles with child stars – abuse of labor, time, schooling, sexual abuse, etc. In 1900, 18 percent of all American workers were under the age of 16.  The National Industrial Recovery Act served to reduce child labor. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which for the first time set national minimum wage and maximum hour standards for workers in interstate commerce, also placed limitations on child labor. In effect, the employment of children under sixteen years of age was prohibited in manufacturing and mining.

In 2010, Eighteen states still had no laws to protect child performers and only half of states require child work permits.

In 2010, Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Murt watched a TV panel discussion with former child actors led by Paul Petersen, an original Mouseketeer who later appeared on The Donna Reed Show Pennsylvania became the latest state to update its labor laws for child performers with new requirements for work permits, on-set teachers, special trust accounts and limits on work hours.

The problems – The  provisions of the 1938 Reform Act  didn’t apply to child performers and child farm workers because of the FLSA’s so-called “Shirley Temple Act” exemptions. Several entertainment based states, now require 15 percent of their child actors funds to be set aside in a trust account. This measure was enacted after a 1930’s child star, Jackie Coogan’s parents  mismanaged and spent his fortune prior to him reaching childhood.  However, (Caution, Will Robinson!) according to many former child actors, parents  do not always safeguard properly – exploitation, misuse of funds…and the ever-present pedophelia reported in the entertainment industry!

In 2017, Child and Entertainment laws – California  (Example)
Extensive requirements for theatrical employment: The Labor Commissioner issues permits to minors to work in the entertainment industry with required documentation from appropriate school districts as applicable and/or permits permitting employment of minors in the entertainment industry.
Sec. 6-1308.7-Work permit to work not more than 5 consecutive days in the entertainment or allied industries; excused from school for up to 5 absences per school year; school districts are to allow pupils to complete all assignments and tests missed during absence.
Sec. 6750 Family Code – Courts may require a portion of earnings be set aside for the minor in a trust.

Non-Profit - A Minor Consideration -

Past President, former child actor, Paul Peterson, began the non-profit, “A Minor Consideration” in 1991  to raise awareness, advocate for child actor in the Industry today and change legislation.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter- Where they are Now

Larry Matthews– Ritchie Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show, was always fascinated with the behind the camera action. Has had a successful career in post production sales and married for 30 years!

Lauren Chapmen Father Know BestLauren Chapin – The youngest child on Father Knows Best- She actually rose to the top of 78 other applicants in the search for 9 year old,  Kathy or :Kitten” as she was called. However her later life was fraught with trouble – drug abuse-addiction and three times divorced. She is now 70 years old. Sad to have had to play the perfect precious child. Did she receive the needed emotional support? Was she able to “be her own person outside of the role? Probably not.

Elinor Donahue - Father _ Andy GriffithElinor Donahue – Multi-talented singer, dancer, actor beginning her career in vaudeville, Elinor played many parts, including in  Father Knows Best and as a romantic interest for Sheriff Andy Griffith! She also acted in daytime soaps and In 1998, she published a memoir entitled “In the Kitchen with Elinor Donahue”, in which she relived some of her memories of Hollywood along with providing more than 150 of her top-grade recipes.!  It appears she escaped “the Hollywood life” relatively unscathed! Good for her!  Here she is reporting for a date at the Mayberry jail! LOL

Rusty Hamer- Make Room for DaddyRusty Hammer, aka Rusty Williams of “Make Room for Daddy” played  the cute little red headed son of Danny Thomas. Danny stated he was the most talented child actor with whom  he had ever worked. But, it appears he may have been one of those 1950 typecast actors who could not steer their career in a different direction. In addition family members reported he suffered from severe back pain, but refused to seek medical attention.  Tragically, Rusty committed suicide in 1990, in his trailer home in  DeRidder, Louisiana. I can’t imagine anything more sad, and preventable!

Angelia Cartwright – Was another of the most versatile actresses for decades – Make Room for Daddy, Lost in Space, the movie ,the Sound of Music”, etc, etc. No scandals reported. That’s not to say she didn’t have problems sacrificing her entire childhood to acting. But an image is worth a million words – In her early 60’s – an attractive and successful photographer.

Keith Thibodeaux- aka “Little Ricky Ricardo”  He appears to have made it…despite the on and off camera goings-on of the “I Love Lucy “ Show of the 1950’s and 60’s. Reportedly, he manages his wife’s Christian Ballet Company called, Ballet Magnificat.  (Don’t Know if he gets to do his drumming” with them! Congrats “Big Ricky!  Your TV parents would be so proud!

Jay North - Dennis the MenaceJay North- The Menacing kid , particularly to neighbor, Mr. Wilson in “Dennis the Menace” was an icon and worked in other industries including health foods, and according to a 2017 article, working as a corrections officer for the Florida Department of Corrections  for the past 20 years! Wow! He reports being typecast, and pushed out of the industry, as well as helping to found the non-profit, A Minor Consideration with Paul Peterson.

Anissa Jones, _ Mrs. BeaselyAnissa Jones– “Buffy” on A Family Affair” OMG!  What a life lesson – This little girl whose Mom drove her to stardom, working seven days a week, not having a real life, with brother, Paul (whom she cherished and insisted on others sharing generosity with him, ) headed in a downward spiral BECAUSE OF the monetary royalties finally awarded to her as a teenager. Hanging out with the wrong crowd, and mixing unlimited access to money and drugs, she became the ultimate party girl and died tragically of a drug overdose at age 18.  Apparently, someone claiming to be a friend, wrote this blog regarding her life and demise with some suspect corrections at the end. Regardless this is a very sad tale!

Danny BonadoucheDanny Bonaduce–  The wise guy kid of the Partridge family clan, Danny got in trouble on camera and off. Third time in married life is apparently the charm with marriage to a considerably younger women whom  he met at Starbucks and wed in 2009.  He has struggled with drug addiction, with re-invented careers as a “bad boy radio host”, wrestler and is dabbling in the reality show circuit. Life is not perfect with the big family clan portrayed on TV.

 

Melissa_Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert – Ahhh “Little House on the Prairie “- taught us good family values of a bygone era! But what was life really like for  Melissa, beyond the character of Laura Ingalls?
She had a tough family life and was adopted by a childless couple. In later years, she married, including actor Bruce Boxleitner and gave birth to a premature child, has suffered  chronic head and neck injuries. She was present of the Screen Actors Guild X2 and tried to run for Congress, but stepped down due to her orthopedic problems. She is now happily married to actor Timothy Busfield since 2013 and lives in Michigan.
Through trials and tribulations, Melissa and Laura Ingalls ultimately survived the prairie and has evolved!

Conclusion-
When I was a child, it was about innocence and trying to figure out the world in the simplest of terms. It should have been the same for these child actors. But, the brass ring was for the benefit of others, vicariously and financially. Some children were more resilient than others.  Is it better today with the advent of social media and a “tell all society?” Only time will tell.


DonnaGore-2

To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn

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My Lily Pad

bull-frog-2525989_960_720
When you are at my juncture and status in life, it can sometimes be a rollercoaster. Too often, as a single person with no feedback to rely on, I have trouble mentally balancing it all. I tend to lament about my multiple responsibilities and simultaneously think that things aren’t happening quickly enough.

Sometimes, when you have climbed the first, second, and third rung up the ladder of success, you think to yourself, “I’ve definitely paid my dues. It’s been so long at this 24/7 journey. I have sacrificed much, spent oodles of time, effort, energy and money. Why hasn’t “X” happened yet?”

It’s during those times that I can’t see the forest for the trees because I’m too close to it. In addition, my goals have changed over time. I’ve never wanted to be the Oprah of Crime or the person on the talk show circuit. That’s when a trusted person, who has also been along for the ride, steps in to provide objectivity and remind me that there has been tremendous progress and that there were never any promises made of instant or guaranteed success no matter how hard you work! This last part is a bitter pill to swallow, for I have succeeded all my life with dogged perseverance, drive and resilience.

Having an online presence of any importance is indeed an adventure that is constantly changing, most often without an end destination. I now realize through trial and error and a lot of guidance, that if you can’t ride the wave, maybe you shouldn’t surf!

When I embarked on my public relations- social media partnership in 2010, I knew something about marketing in terms of event planning but the rest was all new to me, especially social media. What should I expect from a publicist?

I was flattered that I was taken on as a client with ImaginePublicity, and that my talents were recognized. It was cool to have a publicist and the fact that I didn’t have to be famous to deserve one! In fact, I wrote a little satirical blog imagining what the role of a publicist must be, called, Life in the Cockpit at Imagine Publicity.

I was now in the company of high profile activists, advocates, authors and more.

Fast forward to 2017. When I scan the landscape at ImaginePublicity, I see many permutations of Donna R. Gore on a weekly, monthly,  and daily basis. I’ve grown in many areas of social media, written hundreds of blogs, published my first book about homicide in an anthology series, created my national radio show with a quality 5 year track record, actively participate as a Connecticut State Outreach Coordinator for the Cue Center for Missing Persons.  I’ve done book signings, newspaper interviews, presentations and speaking engagements, all which I have proudly pursued in the name of creating a better path for others!

Recently, I looked at my journey from this perspective and I think I have a great lily pad in comparison to where I started in 2010! I would never try to say I’m top frog in the neighborhood, for that’s not my goal. However, I know that I’m someone who has achieved great heights from my present view on the lily pad.

Should I be content? No, for I am a voracious learner with an intellectual curiosity for diverse life experience! In the meantime, I will try to enjoy my lily pad as it is for now!

Thanks to all who have helped me along the way!


DonnaGore-2

To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn

The Endless Pursuit of Something

Many of us want to be productive. We don’t want to miss an opportunity in life, can never seem to slow down, just because. Maybe it’s the workaholic gene, I don’t know. When I compare myself with my siblings and how we operate, there are vast differences. It’s not bad or good, but different.

Conventional wisdom says less stress, less heart disease and a plethora of other medical maladies. But, that is also somewhat determined by genetics as well. Just look at former comedian George Burns, he died at age 98, smoked 10 to 15 cigars per day for 70 years including second-hand smoke. What a great set of genes! However, for those of us in the middle of the Bell curve, I estimate we will not be quite as lucky as George burning all of those cigars.

Is This You?

 

If we are perpetually spinning our wheels, sometimes through no fault of our own, what can we do?

1) First of all, disengage in the race. The RoadRunner and Wile E Coyote just NEVER gave up!

2) Secondly, if your roost is permanent, find like people and play with them often. If your roost isn’t permanent, you can do this as well by carving out time occasionally, if you find a commonality. I’ve been told and researched the Myrtle Beach MeetUp.  However, trying to browse and get true feedback, while getting through the security was impossible and finding a group that wasn’t mostly athletically based or “”too senior focused”  was a real challenge for me. I want to know what I’m committing to before I commit. You could not get access unless you signed up. Maybe I’ll try again someday, for it is part of my future. I think a friend who is already in the system is in the best position to assist.

3) Scale down your projects such that you spend less time in your endeavor. Even if it is your passion, it doesn’t need to be 24/7. If you are a crime sleuth, and solving crimes is a hobby, realize that taking time out to do other things is not a betrayal. I was really worried about someone I met who sacrificed everything in her life in order to keep the case alive!

In 2013, a former Los Angeles homicide detective shared with The Guardian that, “Every year detectives solve anywhere between 60-70% of the cases, but only about 30-40% are from that calendar year. The rest of cases, which make up the difference, are from the previous years’ cases.

Knowing this information up front, taking a few hours off will not be seen as disloyal by the family you are helping, if there is a family, or the memory of the victim.

4) Pursue an old hobby again. As I need more physical activity even with a permanent disability, I have thought of resuming a former pastime of years ago, bike riding with a special adult tricycle. It looks like this, now with gears:  

Westport-Adult-Folding-Tricycle-1024x866

However, there is a transport issue with this kind of bike. At my Connecticut condo, there is no safe terrain to ride, nor to store it. At my Myrtle Beach condo, there is also currently nowhere to safely store it. But, I will continue to pursue this. There has to be a way!

5) Distract yourself by changing your former tried and true habits with new ones. A simple example is that the limited TV watching I do was replaced a few weeks ago. Rather than my nightly dose of ‘Law & Order,” I discovered computer access to some HGTV shows and even the “Great British Baking show” which is truly fun!

6) Learning the fine art of relaxation. There are a number of ways that work for many people. Admittedly, I have failed at finding my “inner peace” through meditation. I cannot relax my muscles due to spasticity throughout my body . My theory (or my excuse) is that it carries over to my mind.

Massage is wonderful, and I had many sessions years ago. However, the per session rate in Connecticut is, on average $100.00 per hour, too pricey with my other financial responsibilities. And, just in case you are wondering, this profession is not universally covered by health insurance, as is physical therapy.  Soothing music. This one is easy to do, but just puts you “in the mood” for a little while.

7) Find a buddy, I have a few work buddies, but in my off hours, family nor friends have had any of my same interests for several years.  This has always been a challenge with being single, without children, and not relating to everything family style.  I’m still hoping to find this situation.

8) Travel – Ahhh! Yes! I used to be the “Queen of Cruises” prior to buying a second property! I still love it! Relaxation, culturally, intellectually stimulating, pure escapism! Any vacation is fine with me!  One particularly discriminatory experience on a cruise, out of the nine cruises I’ve participated in, still is somewhat traumatic. But, my fondness for them overall doesn’t waver.  I’m not really fussy, a short road trip will do too! I just have to convince others I am a good travel buddy! I really am! In the meantime, I don’t let it deter me from solo travel. I have perfected it to a science.

9) Sleep, Sleep, Sleep! At times this too is a luxury! I have to share that a few years ago I often couldn’t sleep through the night. But, who knows, good diet and supplements may help now.  According to the well credentialed WebMD site, more sleep can help you in the following ways: better overall health, lower risk of injury, contribute to a better sex life, improved memory and concentration, stronger immunity and, believe it or not, even weight control! See this article for details: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more#1

Now, I just have to take my own advice! Ahhh ,Ladyjustice is always a work in progress!  How about you? As the RoadRunner would say, Meep, Meep!

References-

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/The-Ultimate-Cigar-Aficionado_6004

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/25/homicide-detective-lapd-daily-life

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more#1


DonnaGore-2

To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

You can find me here, please follow or friend! Facebook,  Shattered Lives,  Twitter, LinkedIn