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Child Stars of the 1960s

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Every generation has a crop of young kids who come to prominence and stardom through TV, music and the movies. The 1960’s were no different in this and there were many child stars throughout the decade, some of who went on to greater things and others who didn’t follow this through into adulthood. Here is a list of some of those 1960’s stars, detailing what made them famous and how they fared in their adult lives.

Ron Howard

This is a fairly straightforward one to start of with as most people will know of Ron Howard. He was born in 1954 and actually started his acting career in the 1950’s, but he really came to prominence in the early 1960’s when he was cast as Opie Taylor in the hit TV show The Andy Griffith Show. The show ran for eight seasons throughout the 1960’s with Howard playing the role of a Sheriffs son in a fictional town called Mayberry. The show was a great success and he also acted in a few movies and other TV series during this time. When he got into his late teens and early 20’s he got into the most famous phase of his acting career starring in the hit movie American Graffiti and then in one of the most successful series in American history, as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. These days he has become more famous for his work behind the camera and is one of the highest profile directors in America. The list of films he has directed includes Apollo 13, Cocoon, The Da Vinci Code and Backdraft. The films he has directed have won 9 Oscars and Howard himself was named Best Director for the movie A Beautiful Mind.

Butch Patrick

Patrick was born in 1963 and first gained stardom in the TV series the Munsters which ran from 1964 to 1966. The show depicted the comedic life of a family of monsters with Patrick playing Eddie Munster the son of Herman and Lily Munster. He also played the role in a movie of the Munsters life and had starring parts in other TV shows and movies during the decade. In adult life Patrick has remained in acting although not with the same prominence and stardom that he achieved as a child. He has provided voices for some of the characters in the Simpsons cartoon and is also the co-host of Macabre Theatre which shows some of the classic horror movies of yesteryear.

Mark Lester

Mark Lester was born in 1958 and started his acting career in the 1960’s when he was only six years old, landing a part in the movie Allez France! However he really came to prominence in the late 1960’s thanks to his role as Oliver in the Academy Award winning musical version of Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist. However this was to be the highlight of his career and although he continued acting as a child the roles he got never hit the heights of Oliver. His final movie The Prince and the Pauper was not well received and at the age of 19 Lester quit acting. He went on to study and work as a osteopathic physician and still carries this on. He did however get another 15 minutes of fame following the sad death of Michael Jackson when he entered into the debate over whether Jackson was actually the biological father of his children. That aside his days of fame were really in his childhood.

Luke Halpin

Halpin sprang to fame in the 1960’s after one of his teachers encouraged him to take up acting. He turned out to be a natural at this and by his mid teens he had worked on many of the famous TV series of the 60’s including The Phil Silvers Show and The Defenders. However the role he is best remembered for is as Sandy Ricks in Flipper. Originally a hit film, it spawned a sequel and then a TV series which ran from 1964 to 1967. As he came into adulthood Halpin continued in acting and played roles in a number of movies although these did not match the fame of his youth and he eventually retired from acting in the 1990’s. He now works for a film production company.

Kevin ‘Moochie” Corcoran

Corcoran was born in 1949 and became famous for playing roles in Walt Disney productions in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s who always had the name Moochie, hence his nickname. He also starred in other roles both for Disney and others during the 1960’s and these include Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson and A Tiger Walks. Following A Tiger Walks and at only 15 years old he retired from acting and subsequently went to college. He achieved a degree in Theatre Arts and in his adult life he has worked behind the camera. He worked again for Disney as well as other production companies and continues this to date.

The 1960’s were a golden era for child stars and many came to fame and fortune. Some carried this into their adult life, while others went back to a more ordinary lifestyle without the fame. The five named above were some of the most prominent child actors of the 1960’s and, as can be seen, their lives have gone in different ways since this time

More about this author: Ian Farquharson

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