The Wrath of the “Fire Gods” Took Nine Lives in South Carolina

CORRECTION Charleston Fire

The Charleston 9 Will NEVER Be Forgotten

It happened on June 18, 2007, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Victims of the Sofa Super Store Warehouse

Rodney Bradford Baity, age 37 was the first firefighter to be located-  Described as a “gentle giant, a man of few words, with a prankish nature at work and a dedicated  husband father who always got down on the floor to play his kids;

James a Drayton, age 56, with 32 years experienced, he was very dedicated to helping others in any way possible.He was a former Marine with a myriad of interests including – cooking‚ crabbing‚ vacationing on cruise ships‚ fixing things‚ working on cars‚ listening to James Brown‚ dancing‚ and being around children, and being a stagehand in local theater.

Melvin Champaign, 46,  struggled in childhood and was raised by his Grandmama “for his safety”. Melvin  was beloved by many and talented beyond compare – always the role model and paying it forward for others. A black belt in karate, working with youth, a carpenter, musician and songwriter, a member of the Army, who also had a passion for the ministry and earned his  Associate’s degree in theology. He married, had three children and also worked as an ironworker.  He returned to Charleston from Tacoma Washington in 2003 and  fulfilled another life long dream of becoming a firefighter until the time of his death in 2007.

Michael French, age 27, aka “Frenchie”  or “Mikey”, began his career as a volunteer firefighter at age 14,. He worked for several departments and ultimately achieved assistant Engineer in one year versus the 2 to 3 years for others to achieve. He was born on Valentine’s Day and a sweetheart from the beginning. He was laid back‚ never in a hurry‚ rarely got excited‚ but always busy. He ever stopped according to his mother. Frenchies was a devoted husband and father to a girl and boy. Frenchies was also an avid hunter and fisherman who never lost his primary passion for firefighting.  

Theodore “Mike” Benke, age 49, had nearly a 29 year firefighting career. He was the consummate soccer and all other activity” Dad  to  3 children and 3 grandchildren – always doing for others! For example He was always driving kids to soccer and baseball practices/games‚ school‚ field trips‚ working in the yard‚ homework‚ housework‚ (especially laundry‚) cleaning the pool‚ or whatever needed to be done. He ALWAYS found time to have fun with his family. He especially loved racing and telling people how proud he was of his family. He was described by his wife as a gentle soul who disliked confrontation , but filled his life with love and laughter.

William Hutchinson III, age 48, rose through the ranks of firefighting beginning at age 18 and progressed from firefighter to engineer to Captain and had the reputation as a trusted and skilled mentor. He was also a barber, bringing those tools of the trade to the firehouse for haircut. He was married with two daughters. Billy enjoyed vacationing and competing in golf tournaments in Myrtle Beach, where he won trophies for his golf skills. Billy’s wife, Phyllis remembers pinning his badge‚ collar brass‚ and name tag on every duty day for 18 years.

Mark Kelsey lost his life at age 40, after a 26 year career in firefighting in the Ashley River and then the Charleston City SC Fire Department following nine years in the US Navy. His ranks included Captain, Certified Fire Investigator and Engineer prior to his death. His hobbies included motorcycle riding, on a custom chopper with “the Wolf Pack.”
Lous “LuLu” Mulkey, age 34, achieved Captain status as well as numerous awards in the line of duty, during his 11.5 year tenure with the Charleston City Fire Department  including saving the life of a fellow firefighter. He also was very involved in coaching “his boys” in basketball and football. LuLu was married to his wife  Lauren with a wide array of friends and players who loved him dearly.  

Brandon K. Thompson was the youngest of three brothers, originally from Mobile Alabama with all boys following the volunteer firefighter track. He embraced the role of firefighter , excelled in many aspects. He held awards of firefighter of the year at Pine Ridge and was the Assistant Chief and station Captain. He also wrote grants to obtain needed safety equipment.He joined the Summerville Fire Department in 1999 and joined the City of Charleston Fire Department in 2003, foregoing a potential position as engineer to “be on the nozzle and fight fires.”    

Sadly, Brandon was not scheduled to work the day of the fire, as he had swapped shifts and parshished with his colleagues from Ladder Company #5.   Brandon’s body was the last firefighter to be removed from what remained of the furniture warehouse. He  was the youngest of the Charleston 9.

The Fire Event

The fire began at 6:15 p.m. at the Sofa Super Store warehouse 1807 Savannah Highway. It was comprised of a retail store  with 42,000 square feet and a 17,000 square foot warehouse at the back of the single story building. Firefighters arrived in three minutes addressing the initial fire in the loading dock area and with adequate visibility and occasional wisps of smoke until a rear door was opened where the fire raged.

image2950731

A description from the Center for Disease Control Report-

The right showroom addition to the loading dock was opened. Within minutes, the fire rapidly spread into and above the main showroom, the right showroom addition, and the warehouse. The burning furniture quickly generated a huge amount of toxic and highly flammable gases along with soot and products of incomplete combustion that added to the fuel load. The fire overwhelmed the interior attack and the interior crews became disoriented when thick black smoke filled the showrooms from ceiling to floor. The interior fire fighters realized they were in trouble and began to radio for assistance as the heat intensified. One firefighter activated the emergency button on his radio. The front showroom windows were knocked out and firefighters, including a crew from a mutual-aid department, were sent inside to search for the missing firefighters. Soon after, the flammable mixture of combustion by-products ignited, and fire raced through the main showroom. Interior fire fighters were caught in the rapid fire progression and nine firefighters from the first-responding fire department died. At least nine other firefighters, including two mutual-aid fire fighters, barely escaped serious injury.”

Contributing Factors for  the Death and Destruction-

  • Firefighters becoming disoriented;
  • Lack of  a sprinkler system;
  • South Carolina didn’t follow Federal regulations for two firefighters to stay outside a burning structure for every two firefighters that enter on “rapid intervention missions.” Rather, South Carolina previously followed a “two firefighters in, one firefighter out rule.”(Reference New York Times article below)

Many of the 43 NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety) incident report  recommendations included this sampling-

Several examples of lack of Standard Operating Procedures:

  • lack of continuous risk assessment by those in charge outside, communicating     with those inside;
  • adequate protection of fire equipment;
  • improved training of safety techniques, improved radio equipment and communications with other entities;
  • provide compliant  fire work station garments;
  • use thermal imaging cameras to assess  the fire situations;
  • require the use of sprinkler systems and automatic ventilation systems in commercial structures, especially ones having high fuel loads.

The Controversy of Flame Retardant Chemicals in Furniture and Health Risks-  

In the Charleston Fire,The burning furniture quickly generated a huge amount of toxic and highly flammable gases along with soot and products of incomplete combustion that added to the fuel load.

A Brief History of Toxic, Flammable Furniture- (According to the National Resources Defense Council-(a New York City-based, non-profit international environmental advocacy group)-

Since 1975, furniture foam has been laden with flame retardant chemicals to meet the standards of California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117). But recently, (2014) studies by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other groups have found that ame retardant chemicals in furniture are ineffective at preventing, limiting, or slowing down res.2 Further, the chemicals don’t stay in the furniture—they migrate out and collect in indoor dust. When people touch, inhale, or accidentally eat contaminated dust, ame retardants enter their bodies. Young children are especially vulnerable to flame retardant exposures.Flame retardant chemicals are associated with a variety of health risks, including cancer, hormone disruption, and diminished cognitive capacity.

Eleven responses were obtained  from 16 major furniture manufacturers , with 9 completing their survey. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/safer-sofas-FS.pdf

On June 18, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown directed the state to revise TB117. The revised standard, TB117-2013, improves re safety by addressing how fires actually start, eliminating the need for ame retardant chemicals. Effective January 1, 2014, companies can voluntarily comply with TB117-2013. The standard became mandatory on January 1, 2015.”

Even in 2018, I would estimate that this is still very much a work in progress. However, the two larger questions regarding loss of life for the Charleston families would be; How much of the toxic chemical load contributed to the loss of life in the Charleston fire?And, how do you weigh the need for fire retardant against the potentially harmful health risks today?

I would say ask a firefighter.  They care about saving lives. A balance between the two concerns must be achieved!

 

 

19cnd_fire.650.2

Eleven Years Later-

There is no doubt that safety standards, procedures, equipment, staffing,  and communication has vastly improved since the Charleston Nine Fire. Although there was much devastation and loss of life, invaluable lessons were learned in the midst of fire, black soot,  toxic chemicals, tears and everlasting grief.

One positive outcome was the formation of the FAST team – The Firefighter’s Assistance and Support Team was an outgrowth of this tragic Charleston event designed to help firefighters on a peer to peer basis for their grief in the performance of their jobs,  in assisting others, dealing with their  loss and making professional referrals and resources available to these brave first responders. This program has grown to include other departments.

Listen to my Shattered Lives podcast- http://www.blogtalkradio.com/insidelenz/2015/11/14/shattered-lives-firefighter-assistance-and-support-team-fast 

References- https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200718.html

https://www.firehero.org/fallen-firefighters/

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/us/20charleston.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston_Sofa_Super_Store_fire

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/safer-sofas-FS.pdf


DonnaGore-2

To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

Advertisements

Paying the Price Over and Over: Still More Victimization for Crime Victims!  

 

justice-2071539_960_720

Once upon a time there was a crime victim advocate who received a mysterious message from a State’s Attorney via her website. Ahh, yes, it was me.  With considerable trepidation I listened to the message which concerned a very high profile Connecticut case of long ago that had international press that stretched from West Hartford, to Israel and Mexico, and even the TV show, “America’s Most Wanted” several times!

Background

This case was one in which I was personally invested beginning in the 80’s. I had bonded with the matriarch of the family with whom I attended support meetings. I was there as a court escort during every ghastly minute of the trial and sentencing to try to educate and support the family.   In later years, I did a radio podcast with this wonderful woman who conveyed her ordeal after a 23 year wait for justice and after having survived many additional  family tragedies. This elderly lady was resilience plus!

We would touch base every so often and, admittedly, we have not been in touch for a long time.

It is so hard to know when someone in their 70’s, 80’s or nearly 90 wants to “put it all away,” like sealing an envelope, locking the door and moving on forever, however, not at peace, their heart remains.  This becomes the moral question when you are faced with a choice.

The Conversation

The attorney was a post conviction attorney and was in charge of representing the victim’s family in still another judicial hearing. The murderer was now requesting an appeal on the basis of ineffective counsel. All of the rules and procedures of ineffective counsel appeals are complex and speaks primarily to the plight of indigent clients. 

However, in this case, the defendant was anything but poor, with a wealthy family able to hide him out for years in other countries undetected! Although money talks, the attorney told me that these appeals are seldom successful.

The Shocker

I was contacted as the attorney was scrounging around the internet to try to find contact information for the victim’s family.

What?? How could this be?  

Was it because the attorney newly assigned attorney didn’t have access to the original case file? Was it because there was such a huge timeline from the initial crime convictions, years on the lamb, and actual capture and family members are now not able to be accessed?

This was a HUGE case with the FBI and the murderer being one of the most sought after criminals in history! Apparently, they don’t keep track of family once their job is done!

No, No, No… The real reason was that all of the funds in post conviction Connecticut cases currently have to be put into the judicial process. That means there are no investigators to assist and no victim advocates to notify victim families!  No funds whatsoever on the victim side of the equation such that an attorney is relegated to doing his own internet searches and being as creative as possible to get the job done.

As a homicide survivor from Connecticut I am horrified! How many other post conviction cases are there with absolutely no victim services for investigation and the all important notification?

(The actual timeline spanned from the date of the murder in March 1987 to July of 2011 when the evil perpetrator was finally escorted to prison in Connecticut  to begin serving his 60 year sentence.)

The Request and Follow-Up

Can I contact the victim’s family and notify them that this proceeding is taking place soon and provide contact information to the attorney?  There was another option of a former  retired investigator assisting.

I  was truly torn.  To receive a communication out the the blue, involving this family who has gone through so much already. In addition, I did not know how my very elderly friend’s health could withstand such news or whether she had any interest at all to disrupt her life yet again! And wait a minute – It is the responsibility of the State of Connecticut and affiliated Victim Services to provide notification and follow up support!

I tried to research and locate an older family sibling in and out of Connecticut and made calls, but was unsuccessful in reaching the correct person.  

I then decided to check out the situation further and went to the West Hartford Police to speak to a detective. The young detective listened and agreed to check on the veracity and the circumstances, which he verified with a follow up call to me. However, it was clear that they were still putting the ball in my court.

I still did not feel comfortable calling this family’s matriarch after so many months to deliver such news! It didn’t feel right.  I think I was correct. This is why… In July 2011 the perpetrator’s sentence was disposed and he was ordered to begin his long overdue sentence in a secure facility.

At this proceeding, the following were Addie’s words-

I’m not here to see Adam Zachs. My family is not here to see Adam Zachs. I’m here to support some of the people [who captured Zachs] – the West Hartford police, the U.S. marshals. They were relentless.”

“The reason I don’t want to see Adam again is I’ve had enough of the Zachs family,” Carone said. “Three weeks at the trial they looked at us with hate in their eyes and their faces, anger at us, and arrogance. No words of any kindness or sympathy. Shame on the entire family. I will never, never forgive that family.”

Parting Thoughts

What has our criminal justice system become when there are absolutely no funds to notify victims of still more turmoil in a scenario that has dragged on for years and years? How many more families are affected by this situation?  Why are survivors of crime a mere afterthought in such cases?

There is no doubt that this murderer was guilty and that thousands, maybe millions of dollars were expended in investigating and trying to capture this worthless human being- a person with no conscience and was all about privilege to get through life?

This is the responsibility of our State as a matter of public safety and our Constitutional Victim’s Rights. We must inform  in a timely matter with sensitivity, the perils of crime -wounds that never seem to heal.

References-

https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/criminal_justice_section_newsletter/crimjust_cjmag_24_3_primus.authcheckdam.pdf

https://patch.com/connecticut/westhartford/convicted-killer-zachs-taken-away-to-prison

https://patch.com/connecticut/westhartford/convicted-killer-zachs-taken-away-to-prison


DonnaGore-2To 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

Going Postal, or Manipulating the Postal System. It’s All Bad…

mailbox-595854_960_720

 

“No one is innocent and everyone is a victim when any agency is allowed to police themselves” (From a 2006 Letter Carrier Publication)

It’s been decades of maligning the  U.S. Postal Service for one thing or another –  poor service,  indifferent employees, government mentality at its worst…and of course, notable homicides beginning in 1970 through 1997 in which  more than 40 people were killed by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace violence. 

Homicides at the Post Office

I examined some the more prominent cases in this 2011 blog-   Disgruntled Workers: “Going Postal” and Other Human Tragedies from Connecticut to California….

Patrick Henry Sherrill - Postal“Crazy Pat” Sherrill who killed 14 employees, and wounded six others was described in contradictory terms regarding work performance- misdirected mail, late to work, good worker who scored high on the exam, filled with anger over “something”, talked of Vietnam but had never served, was a neighborhood peeping Tom, taunted by neighborhood children.  Of course, he would be on edge when he received verbal reprimands by two supervisors the day of the deadliest massacre occurring on August 20, 1986. Somehow, he exhibited a “window of compassion” the day before, telling a liked co-worker to “stay home from work the next day.”

Did this mass murder pave the way for permission for others to do the same?

As of August 2000, researchers have found that the homicide rates at postal facilities were lower than at other workplaces;  0.22 per 100,000 versus 0.77 per 100,000 workers in general.

In major industries, the highest rate of 2.1 homicides per 100,000 workers per year was in retail.

In 1993, a Congressional hearing on violence in the U.S. Postal Service found that “despite the postal service accounting for less than 1% of the full-time civilian labor force, 13% of workplace homicides were committed at postal facilities by current or former employees.”

A Female Mass Murderer

On the evening of January 30, 2006, Jennifer San Marco killed a total of seven victims.Jennifer San Marco Mass Murderer Reportedly,  the Postal Service had forced San Marco to retire in 2003 because of her worsening mental problems. This incident is believed to be the deadliest workplace shooting ever carried out in the US by a woman.

She began as a police dispatcher prior to becoming a postal employee. She received the standard background check and psychological evaluation. After several months as a dispatcher, she left the job due to the high stress conditions (which is not unusual for such positions). Jennifer eventually pursued an entry level clerk job at the mail processing plant.  However, in 2003, she had to be removed by police for acting strangely and “was put on a psychological disability for her own protection.”

Her rampage began by shooting two employees in the parking lot, and forced her way into the building with someone else’s key card. She used a semi automatic pistol, shooting all  victims in the head and then fatally shooting herself.

What was known about her? She formerly lived in New Mexico and appeared to have racist leanings, publishing something called “The Racist Press.” Police also discovered written material that  she thought she was the target of a conspiracy centered at the Goleta postal facility. The motive remains unclear. There was no evidence she was angry at her boss and no supervisors were killed.

What is clear was that she experienced severe mental illness, characterized by paranoia  depression, anger and suicidal ideation.

My question, have the Feds sufficiently changed their protocols and psychological evaluation processes in order to pick up such at risk persons prior to working at a police station or Federal job? Clearly, this should have been foreseen given her instability and behaviors!

Post Office Crime of a Different Kind –

caroline.zarate.boyleDeceit, fraud, misuse of time, funds and playing on the emotions and compassion of your employer and the masses! This is what con artist, Caroline Boyle of Aurora, Colorado did! 

Boyle, age 60 when she was convicted, began constructing her scheme to defraud her employer in 2015.  Several news sources report that she forged notes from two different doctors about treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

In total she was granted 112 days of sick leave, was allowed to work part-time or from home and received paid administrative leave.

Formal Charge – Boyle was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 16, 2017 on felony counts of forged writings, wire fraud and possession of false papers to defraud. In April, she pleaded guilty without a plea agreement.

The Denver Post reported, “Although she did not have cancer or any other serious illness, she took 112 days of sick leave from the USPS Customer Products and Fulfillment Category Management Center in Aurora over the next 20 months and was allowed to work part-time or from home. She also was granted paid administrative leave that did not count against her sick-leave balance.”

The Jig is Up and… Why She Did It-

The sick time was nearly exhausted and others “put two and two together.” Caroline Boyle carelessly misspelled the name of one of the two physicians names whom she emailed to supervisors in order to carryout her ruse.  In addition, it was learned that in the past, as a postal supervisor, she denied a subordinate accommodation when requesting leave time for that person’s cancer and accused this employee of faking it. This employee truly did  have cancer and ultimately testified against her! (Yay!) Was Boyle “just tired of working” and this former incident “planted the seed?”

No… a retirement plan was hatched in which she planned to continue to defraud the government until her upcoming retirement in April, 2017. She planned to “celebrate” with a Hawaiian cruise….  Why? Supposedly because she was “passed over for a promotion” in the summer of 2015.

(Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!)

Punishment

Boyle did not know who she was up against when it came to punishment with U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore. Moore ruled that Caroline Boyle be sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. She also must pay $20,798.38 in restitution to the U.S. Postal Service AND must spend 652 hours doing community service at a cancer treatment center, cancer research center or hospice!  This may be poetic justice!

Women Embezzlers-  According to a 2011 narrative written by Dr. Linda Grounds, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist,(Portland Oregon) “there is very little research regarding the psychological characteristics of women who embezzle. What little psychological data that we do have about women who embezzle suggest that the motivations of women who embezzle and the rationalizations that women use to justify their embezzlement may differ notably from those of men who embezzle.”

Dr. Grounds and her residents did an initial study in which 28 women charged with embezzlement, ten facing federal charges and eight in state court. The amounts of money stolen by these women from their employers ranged from a low of about $3,000 to a high of $750,000.

Often, women had no prior criminal history or convictions, nor did they implicate co-defendants and they appeared to accumulate small to very large sums of money over a period of several years. “I was only borrowing the money.”

Researchers have postulated that women embezzlers are motivated by “higher loyalties” desire to meet a variety of needs of their families (e.g., shelter, medical care) or their response to a direct request or indirect, but clear pressure from a male partner, spouse or boyfriend in order to preserve that relationship. Among this latter group, there was a good deal of psychological control or abuse by the male partner, though this was frequently denied by the accused woman.

In some cases, women studied had significant gambling problems and the rest were primarily motivated by their need to “buy stuff,” often a lot of it, to distract themselves from emotional or relationship problems or to please a partner or child.

However, in the case of  postal supervisor, Caroline Boyle, the motivation appears to be pure revenge and greed!

  

References

1) https://donnagore.com/2011/03/14/disgruntled-workers-“going-postal”-and-other-human-tragedies-from-connecticut-to-california…/

2) http://murderpedia.org/male.S/s/sherrill-patrick-henry.htm

3) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/08/23/a-postal-worker-faked-cancer-and-got-paid-to-miss-two-years-of-work-heres-how-a-judge-punished-her/?utm_term=.ebff5dbcb80d&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief

4) http://www.westword.com/news/meet-seven-colorado-women-accused-of-faking-cancer-8939414

5)http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/08/24/postal-worker-who-faked-cancer-sentenced-to-community-service-at-treatment-center.html

6) http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/22/faked-cancer-to-get-paid-leave-highlands-ranch-community-service/

7) http://www.drlindagrounds.com/2011/forensic-psychological-evaluations-women-embezzle/


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

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