My Favorite Child Stars Of All Time

Categories: Film

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Mara Hobel in Mommie Dearest. She hung tough alongside Faye just like Tina did with Joan.
Before you chime in with "But you forgot...":

No, I didn't.

These are my personal favorites.

Feel free to tell me yours.

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"The Goodbye Girl" said "Hello, girl" to funny and likable Quinn Cummings.

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Huckleberry Fox was extremely endearing in "Terms of Endearment." His cuteness had real poignancy.

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I worship at Shirley's Temple. She was the all-time best child star, with humor, smarts, professionalism, curls, and dimples.

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Baby Peggy was a sassy silent star with a wicked wit far beyond her years.

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Tatum O'Neal found out that stardom is only a paper moon, but she proved to be talented and charismatic enough for a lifetime of lens grabbing.

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Pre-"Blossom," Mayim Bialik (left) was a divine Bette Midler mini-me in "Beaches."

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Anyone who could look at Cosby's Keisha Knight Pulliam and not go "Awww" wasn't human.

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Billy Mumy was great on "Lost in Space" and priceless in two Twilight Zones--one where he talks to his dead grandmother on the phone and another where he's a pint-sized tyrant who terrorizes the grownups.

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When Gary Coleman hosted a party for me at a NYC club in the '90s, he really learned about diff'rent strokes!

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Rupert Grint is the real star of "Harry Potter."

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Haley Joel Osment: "I see precocious people!"

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Jodie Foster was outrageously brilliant and wave-making even then.

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Bonita Granvile was sort of the original Patty McCormack, with a hint of Macaulay Culkin.

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Matthew Garber was genius in Mary Poppins! He died at 21 after eating raw meat in India!

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Jackie "Butch" Jenkins. I just love this kid!

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Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin was the original honey boo boo child.

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Hayley Mills was doubly delightful in the original Parent Trap.

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So was Lindsay Lohan in the remake. Remember when two Lindsays were even better than one?

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Natalie Wood's charm was a miracle on ANY street.

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Smiling baby monkeys in homeless chic. The Olsens are weird but riveting.

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Jackie Cooper was an amazingly real and powerful movie performer who started in the Our Gang flicks. Oh, I also want to include the entire Our Gang cast, plus Anissa Jones from Family Affair, Patty Duke, Jane Withers, Brooke Shields, Ron Howard, Linda Blair, Anna Paquin, Justin Henry, Charles Herbert, Butch Patrick, Jonathan Lipnicki, Robbie Rist, Mason Reese, Rodney Allen Rippy, Liz Taylor, Roddy McDowall, Judy Garland....

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Brandon DeWilde always had an otherworldy quality I liked in movies like "Member of the Wedding" and "Shane," if not necessarily in this dog thing.

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And look how he grew up.

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22 comments
snoboy
snoboy

I like your list quite a lot, but was surprised to see Robbie Rist on it.

timmmyk
timmmyk

Jeez, almost forgot the very BEST crier of all time, Margaret O'Brien.

latenitebump
latenitebump

nobody greater than the king of pop. and brooke shields. drew barrymore. 

danielle spencer. regina king. linda blair.

FrankLloydWRONG
FrankLloydWRONG

I like your "edgy" choices, Michael. You're so right about Tatum O'Neal. She gets easily dismissed with the facile excuse that she was merely a Bogdanovich puppet. But like it or not, she gave an indelible performance that hit on so many cylinders. One of the all-time great American child performances, I'd say. My personal favorite--in fact, I think the most affecting (and effective) film performance by any child performer EVER is an actor named Nicholas Gledhill in an under-appreciated minor masterpiece out of Australia called "Careful, He Might Hear You" (1986). I've seen in many, many times and it never fails to completely pull me in. Brilliant film, brilliant performance...and a total weeper, too, so wear your water-proof mascara!

nostradavid
nostradavid

My cuteness lessons came from Theodore Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver.

Forget Jody & Buffy from Family Affair - Mr. French was the best old bear.

mjm2273
mjm2273

TCM's Summer Under the Stars Fest had a whole day of Freddie Bartholomew movies and I forgot how talented he was. Didn't he go into real estate when he left movies (that's what I've heard)?

 

also on my faves list: Judy, Liz, Natalie Wood,  Margaret O'Brien, Shirley Temple (even though she became a hardcore GOP'er as an adult, she campaigned heavily for former costar/lover Ronald Reagan), Darryl Hickman, Virginia Weidler, Jackie Cooper, Sybil Jason (Warner Bros.'s answer to Shirley Temple, she passed away last year) was good in the campy 'I Found Stella Parrish' with Kay Francis, 'Andy Hardy' era Mickey Rooney, Bonita Granville (she played the best brats, i.e. 'It's Love I'm After' ['37] as Bette Davis's sister)...

williamHK
williamHK

the girl who starred with Michael J. Fox in "Life with Mikey" was good, weht?

Used2BMelinda9
Used2BMelinda9

Great list, Michael! People diss them but I've always loved child actors. Those two kids in The Others made the movie. Didn't realize Baby Peggy rolled her own.

steve
steve

Patty McCormack...the Bad Seed.

nammer
nammer

and Brandon DeWilde died at 30 in 1972...what a loss!  and I'm a huge fan of Mayim Bialik now that she's on Big Bang Theory!

bethesda
bethesda

So glad u left out the more-annoying-than-ever Drew Barrymore.

 

But wow, Brandon DeWilde grew up HAWT!

exackerly
exackerly

Virginia Weidler in The Philadelphia Story. And speaking of first crushes, how about Ricky and David Nelson? It's OK to say that because I was underage myself at the time...

bethesda
bethesda

Tiffanny and Brissette and Soleil Moon Frye are possibly the two worst child actors of all time.

So sad to hear about the Mary Poppins kid!

 

queerheaven86
queerheaven86

Wonderful list!  So glad you included Brandon DeWilde... totally my first crush

timmmyk
timmmyk

While I agree with all of your choices, I need to add: Tiffany Brissette, who played Vicki on the greatest bad TV show of all time, 'Small Wonder.'

 

Timmee
Timmee

Mara had such an old face for so little a girl.

ikeavelli
ikeavelli

EXCELLENT..I remember them all!!

bethesda
bethesda

PS: I'm suddenly crazy in love with Baby Peggy.

bethesda
bethesda

Brilliant! And thanks for not including Peggy Ann Garner and Claude Jarman.

ricwarren
ricwarren

 @MrScorpio I loved Pamela Ferdin in Clint Eastwood's 'The Beguiled' but my real favorite was Pamela Franklin in 'The Innocents' and many other films. Nod to her role in 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brody'. 

 

MissNormaDesmond
MissNormaDesmond

 @FrankLloydWRONG Oh, "Careful, He Might Hear You" is such an amazing film.  Thank you for reminding me of it.  Wish it were on DVD.

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